After a false start, I finally landed in the Smart phone arena armed with lots of knowledge about data plans. The idea was to add a data to our wireless arsenal, without a contract, with hopes that it may some day become the "one and only," and yet not end up doubling our monthly wireless bill.
As with so many users, the "ideal" collection of features, cost and deal-killers are very personal. For example, my top concerns were price and mobile email. Yours may be staying in touch with Facebook or YouTube. What they all have in common is data and what you pay for it. Until a few weeks ago the best value for that data was the SIMple Mobile $40 Unlimited plan that comes on a SIM and accesses the T-Mobile network. There are others, but this was our best choice. SIMple Mobile only provides the SIM, you need to bring your own T-Mobile-compatible phone, unlocked GSM device, or they'll help you find one linked from their web site. The $40 plan gives you 3G coverage, which is probably more than good enough for most of us.
Since then I discovered T-Mobile's own generous non-contract $30 plan which gives you 5Gb of 4G data per month (really 30 days), Unlimited Texts, but only 100 minutes of Voice calls. That's perfect for a 'data-only' phone, but most of us use more than 100 minutes a month. This is where people start looking at the likes of Google Voice, Vonage and a bunch of apps that help you bypass the regular carriers' "minutes." This $30/5Gb plan has a curious twist, voice overages are only .10 per minute. This puts you on a semi-'pay-as-you-go' basis which might make wireless data charges a far easier pill to swallow. Once those overages hit an additional $10, though, you'll be wishing for the SIMple Mobile plan. Like always, "Do the math."
If you're interested in the T-Mobile $30 data/text/100 minute plan there are some restrictions, but they're workable. The most important is that it is for new plans only but that may only mean a new SIM, which may also mean a new phone number, but there are ways around that, too.
Then there's the latest news about who might own T-Mobile, look for that in our next article.