Eleven months: Ongoing review of Ting, a mobile phone company using the Sprint network.

Ting adds a dedicated Android app  (link in Play)

App shows your, minutes, texts and Data usage by device on account.

Lists call, text, and data record for each device.

Costs so far for month.

Help, via calling, Forums and request web links

You can customize update interval or have it never update.

January 28, 2013

Eight months into using a Ting smartphone, replacing my Verizon smartphone as a secondary phone, I have saved about $386.

My choices going forward include getting the latest, greatest Android handset or just pocketing the money until I actually need a phone. If I were to purchase a new phone every nine months (reselling old phone), it would cost the same as one phone on a two year Verizon contract.

The original $464 (un-subsidized) price for the handset doesn’t seem that expensive looking at the long-term options. The nine month cycle option, eliminates the liability for not paying for insurance on the handset since on average I don’t destroy a phone every year and if I did I could actually buy a better one rather than get stuck with the same handset for two years even if it’s replaced with insurance.

Pros: Scalable (pay for what you use and change use at any time), no contract, excellent human support.

Cons: Sprint’s 3G data network is slow (but York, Harrisburg, Gettysburg Chambersburg and surrounding areas have 4G LTE shown in dark orange on map.)

The whole experience has made me rethink how I pay and use smartphone service. I once never questioned a two year contract and a $100 a month bill, but options in phone service are growing. Devices change too quickly and new ways to customize my service (to pay less) evolve. Ting allows me to scale what I am paying for to match new ways of doing things on the fly. I will never sign on to a two year contract again.

I have moved from using one phone tied to one number to a Google Voice/text number on all devices (tablets, phones, Chromebook and Windows destop). The device and mobile network carrier matter less.

I recently started using my Google Voice number on Wifi only which doesn’t count against mobile minutes. I just dropped back to the $3 tier on Ting (you can shut voice off all together) and let those calls go to Google Voice mail.  My WiFi only Nexus 7 tablet can also be a voice “phone” using this method.

I use very little mobile data, using the handset mostly on WiFi. I use under 100 mb on the Ting phone, that costs $3 a month.

The cost to use the Ting phone will actually go down for me going forward using the WiFi connection for calling, making the turn around for a new Android device sooner.

As a secondary device to my Verizon work phone, the Ting Galaxy SII has been the perfect tool for a scalable secondary phone service. I can pay from $6 to whatever I want if it suddenly becomes my primary device. I can pick or choose any service talk/text/data that I choose to use, and pay for just what I use, as I find new ways to use my handset.

Other money saving ideas:

T-mobile no contract pre-paid sim 4G card 100 talk/unlimited text/5+ gig data $30/month  (idea via @diehl)

FreedomPop – A 4G/wifi “sleeve” for your device with 2 gigs free per month (idea via @jrishel)

06.26.12

Almost 30 days in using my Galaxy S II tester with Ting on the Sprint network…

I am pleased with the options to save me money.

My cost to use the Ting smartphone for the

month should be under $30 vs. $90 for my Verizon Android smartphone that usually gets the same use.

I am using the Galaxy as a secondary (personal) phone. I have a RAZR MAXX on Verizon as my primary (work) phone.

My personal phone, I primarily use on WiFi, shoot a few picture messages, and call less than 30 min a month.

Ting is perfect as a limited use phone that can be scaled up big for a month, (vacation, emergencies) without penalty. The phone can just sit there for $8 a month if I don’t use it at all. I don’t need to pay $90 a month for 450 min, texts and data I don’t use.

I chose to take the XS ($0) plan and pay as I go for each service. I can select a larger plan and will be credited if I only use a lower tier of any of the services.

The Sprint WiMAX 4G network has provided fast, reliable, service in York and Harrisburg. Sprint’s 3G can be slow. Calls and txt messages always went though and voice was clear.

WiMAX has a limited footprint in the US and Sprint is in transition to LTE. Definitely go for a WiMAX 4G device on Ting if this is available in your area. WiMAX is supposed to be supported by Sprint going forward. LTE on Sprint is almost non-existent although they are shipping LTE phones which will be useless in many markets for some time.

You have no contract with Ting and with the cost savings, you can always update your device, or cancel, before the traditional 18 month contract window if the network situation changes.

The Galaxy S II provides a convenient built in 3G/4G widget in the notification slider to easily toggle between 3G/4G and WiFi. Verizon should do this with all their LTE phones.

There are plenty of tools in your control with Ting to save you money. Via your account dashboard , you can turn on and off any function that Sprint provides – voice, text messaging, data. At anytime, you can turn on and off services.

In the event the handset is stolen, you can shut off everything faster than you can get though a call menu on an 800 number. Using Google 2-step verification will allow you to remotely cut your Google cloud services to the phone. You can even forward your number via the dashboard to different numbers for “no answer” and and a different number if “busy” or if the handset is lost or stolen.

I used the forwarding phone number function to use my free Google Voice voice mail to text and forward calls between my handsets. This works despite Google Voice saying it doesn’t with Ting phones.

The call/text and data usage almost updates real-time in the dashboard (picture at top left). I set my account homepage as the homepage in my mobile browser, no need for an app.

The dashboard provides a tool to estimate your total monthly usage of each service (text, voice, data) at any time based on prior behavior. You can set an alert to text, email or call you at any level you determine to prevent you from going into the next tier.

There are no night and weekend minutes with Ting, but calling is cheap, and $0 if you don’t want to use calling.

Data appears to be more expensive at first glance, but taking into account the low cost of other services or lack of need to subscribe to them it comes out cheaper. Your own usage may compare differently. After a 3 gig tier for data, you are charged 2.25¢ per mb, which ends the fear of a big jump on overages.

A link off your data page breaks down you data use by day.

You are paying a phone provider for services you use as you use them. And if you don’t like Ting – no contract – they give you a one button click cancel.

The whole experience has been refreshing.

6.2.12

I like this Galaxy SII so much, I would pay the $8/month network standby fee and just use on wifi, but Ting and Sprint network have been fine

6.1.12

Interesting to watch the Ting pay as you go meter. I started with a plan that cost $0. So far $3 for 75 MB, $3 for my 26 (100) txt messages and $3 for 1 (100) min of calling.

So far in York I have hit on the Sprint 4G which is much better then most 3G connections and not quite as fast as verizon LTE 4G. Sprint 3G seems somewhat slower than Verizon 3G.

05.30.12

I have a Motorola RAZR MAXX for work running on the Verizon network. My personal phone is a Droid X , also on Verizon, with a contract that is about to expire. I was thinking of ways that I can reduce the $90 per month bill for my personal smartphone and not be stuck in the same contract with the same phone for two years.

I mostly work and thus use my work phone. I really don’t talk on phones. If I use my personal phone at all, it’s mostly on WiFi. I use Google Voice to sync my texting and voice mail across multiple Android devices.

I pay $90 a month for my personal phone for using about 60 min of personal talk time, about a gig of data and 200 picture messages.

My thought is that even if the Sprint network is weak in places, I can fall back on the Verizon phone.

Another issue is contracts. Two years is too long for a contract. My aging Droid X was tired about six months ago. It costs me $6 a month for insurance, and about $100 to replace a broken phone through Asurion. I might break a phone every year. A new top tier phone from Verizon is now well over $200, plus a $30 new device charge, with a new two year contract. Ting has no contract.

I purchased a current Galaxy S II outright from Ting for  $$464. My usage will come to about $40 a month using their calulator. I figured that for the $50 a month savings, over the Verizon contract, in four months I am pretty close paying for the ting phone. I would be able to replace the phone every six months, adding in the gamble of breaking the phone and needing to buy another at full price.

And the big bonus is no contract, and newer phones faster!

The Galaxy S II arrived without an issue, activating was a one click affair from the ting website. I activated with a new number, reserving the right to port my current number at a future date if Ting works out. There are several dashboard options that allow picture messaging, international calling, blocking, and a free hotspot using your data pool, etc. It blocks picture messaging by default.

To start, I picked a plan that cost nothing. My card was charged $8 ($6+taxes for one phone) for the month. You can pick a plan with Ting, or not. You are billed for what you use or refunded for what you don’t use. By picking no plan, I am paying for the my useage at the end of the month. My usage shows on the site real-time. You can add alerts. You can pick what you want to use. If you just want data and don’t want to talk, or just texting. If I don’t use the smartphone at all for the month, I will be charged $8. Every additional phone adds $6 to the account, using the pool of data, texts and calling.

The Galaxy S II runs on Sprint’s WiMAX 4G in Emigsville, Pennsylvania (York) downloading from 5-12 mbs. It makes calls, receives calls, texts…so far, just like my $90 Verizon 2 year contract. This is a really nice phone! I can see why Samsung sold so many.

I called tech support one time because Emigsville uses post office boxes and this screws up web based FedEx ordering systems every time. A human answered named Rodger, who sounded like a Rodger, answered all my questions regarding shipping and future porting. He sounded like a tech guy who was actually making things work at his small business and getting me off the phone in ten minutes rather than a multi-tiered bank of nitwits who eventually hang up during the process.

So 12 hours in, I’m pleased with my experience.

Ask me any questions.

 

About Paul Kuehnel

Paul Kuehnel has worked for the York Daily Record/Sunday News since 1984. Follow him on Twitter @paulkuehnel.
This entry was posted in Sprint Galaxy SII 4G, Ting on the Sprint network 4G. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Eleven months: Ongoing review of Ting, a mobile phone company using the Sprint network.

  1. Ben Lucier says:

    Hey Paul… saw your link on Twitter. Love the post, thanks for the write-up and the kind words… I’m glad to hear that Ting is meeting your expectations so far! If there’s anything else we can do to help, you know where to find us. :)

    -Ben

  2. Thanks for your blog. I just landed up in your blog and I really appreciate your blog. It is full of resourceful information.

  3. ryan b says:

    Paul,
    I live in Mount Joy and wondering if you have been in Lancaster at all to comment on coverage in this area? I would love to ditch AT&T, but am concerned about Sprint coverage.

    Also, you seem to indicate that you are using this only as a secondary phone. Have you considered dropping Verizon fully and converting to Ting fully?
    Thanks,
    Ryan

    • Paul Kuehnel says:

      I can’t speak for Mount Joy coverage. I would try to find someone with a sprint phone and see what it’s like at your house. I live in Emigsville and it’s fine so you can compare the map with that. My experience with 3G is that is considerably slower for data but voice n texts work just like everything else. When I can turn it on 4 G it’s very good. I use this as a secondary phone because work pays for my primary phone a razor maxx on Verizon. So I only really need a phone for personal calls. I actually use it mostly on wifi. So signal doesn’t really matter much for data. Another option might be to get the phone try it then sell it if it doesn’t work well. And don’t port number out until you are sure you like it. This is what I did. There is no contract with ting. In any case, for under 20 dollars compare to 90 for secondary phone I can deal with some slow 3 G

  4. Brad Van Fossen says:

    This month-by-month blog re: Ting is just the thing I need as I try to get my daughter off our AT&T cell plan and onto something she can handle on her own. Thanks!

    • Paul Kuehnel says:

      That’s the beauty of it. You can crank it back to 6 dollars a month if your broke. Pay as you go. About 6 months and I’m still very happy. Make sure Sprint works well where you are.

  5. Pingback: Green Mesh | Review of the simple, loud Samsung M400 on Ting, Sprint network

  6. Jay says:

    a correction: FreedomPop is 500MB free a month, or $18/month for 2GB

  7. Pingback: Green Mesh | Review: Moto X smartphone on Ting (Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile)

  8. mca says:

    Do you have to activate the other items (googlevoice, grooveIP) first to get the significant savings, or do you get the ting phone first and you add those times on afterwards….?

    • Paul Kuehnel says:

      Google services are independent of Ting, which is just a phone and network provider. So you could just buy a device and never activate it and just run on WiFi, or just have a connected phone to ting and only used their data, txt msgs and voice as you like. If you buy a WiFi only Nexus 7 tablet you can use all the google services without a network provider at all, including Google Voice.

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