FreedomPop expanding free wireless plan to all Sprint smartphones, iPhones included

FreedomPopFreedomPop, the wireless service provider offering free and cheap no-contract plans on Sprint’s network, today announced it’s now allowing customers to bring their old Sprint phones to activate on its $0/month wireless plans. We’ve confirmed with the company that will also soon include iPhones.

The company has been around since 2011 with various hotspot products and recently launched its first smartphone direct to customers alongside the world’s first completely free mobile service. A guaranteed 500 MBs of data, 500 text messages, and 200 anytime voice minutes for free each month would sound enticing to anyone, but previously customers would have to pay $99 for an almost two-year old HTC Evo Design to get it. Despite that, FreedomPop says it “immediately sold out” of stock when it launched last month.

That’s about to change today as FreedomPop will now let Sprint customers bring their own device to activate on its free and cheap plans. Although there is no mention of it in the carrier’s press release and some are reporting iPhones aren’t supported, we’ve confirmed FreedomPop will support the iPhone 4 and 4S as well as 20 other Sprint devices initially. Stephen Stokols, FreedomPop’s CEO, tells us it will be another few weeks before the iPhone is compatible, and eventually all Sprint smartphones will be supported. Around 600 devices, including iPhones, will be supported by the end of the month.  Read more

iPad Air now available in the U.S. through Apple’s Online Store and carrier websites, shipping November 4th

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The Apple Online Store has just come back online after about two hours of downtime in preparation for the iPad Air launch in the United States. All four major carriers are also offering the fifth-generation iPad on their own stores.

The iPad Air is the newest version of Apple’s iconic tablet. The latest model features the same 64-bit A7 processor found in the new iPhone 5s, improved cameras, and a new form factor that’s thinner and lighter than the previous generation. It ships with Apple’s new iOS 7 software. Pricing starts at  $499 for the Wi-Fi model with 16 GB of storage and goes up to $929 for the 128 GB LTE-equipped model.

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iPhone 5s takes top slot from Samsung Galaxy S4 at U.S. carriers; good showing by 5c too

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The iPhone has long been the best-selling phone on AT&T, but the Samsung Galaxy S4 has for some time held that slot at Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, with the iPhone 5 in second place. No more. September sales figures from Canaccord (reported in Fortune) show that the iPhone 5s now has top billing on all four major U.S. carriers, with the iPhone 5c also beating Samsung on AT&T and Sprint. While the news isn’t unexpected, the numbers do seem to put the lie to one rumor …  Read more

Virgin Mobile offers the iPhone 5s for $549, 5c for $449 (both $100 off) unsubsidized

From 9to5Toys.com:

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We knew Virgin Mobile was launching the iPhone 5s and 5c today, but we weren’t expecting a $100-off starting price. That’s what’s on offer today from the Sprint subsidiary (Sprint will also knock off $100 the subsidized plans if you are a new customer – so much for loyalty benefits).

Virgin’s plans are the least expensive out there, especially considering they include unlimited data and start at $30/month.

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Another Sprint pre-paid subsidy, Boost mobile is likely going to offer the iPhone in coming days/weeks/monthsRead more

iOS 7 How-to: Blocking FaceTime calls, Phone calls, and iMessages

Before iOS 7 it was rather inconvenient to block a phone number, and there was nothing built into iOS that would allow you do so. If you got phone calls from Telemarketers you can always register your number for free on the National Do Not Call Registry. If you wanted to block specific people, you had to contact your carrier to do so. For example, with AT&T, you can pay $4.99 per month per line to block up to 30 numbers with their Smart Limits. With Verizon Wireless, you are able to block up to five phone numbers per line with no charge. With Sprint you fill out a form on their website and it appears there is no additional fee.

Dealing with your carrier can be a rather tedious, and with the new iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch operating system, you no longer have to…

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Walmart iPhone pre-orders start tomorrow, 5c at $79, 5s at $189

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Walmart has announced that it will be offering both of the new iPhone models in their 16Gb versions, the 5c at $79 (a $20 saving) and the 5s at $189 (a $10 savings). Walmart offers the phones on Verizon, AT&T and Sprint.

What’s interesting here is that Apple Stores usually do price matching so it might be worth a try after waiting on line on launch day. Best Buy will also price match often, so this could trigger markdowns all over …  Read more

Sprint debuts new unlimited plans with lifetime guarantee, ‘My Way’ feature

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Following T-Mobile’s new “Jump” plan announcement, and preceding AT&T’s forthcoming network-related announcement, U.S. carrier Sprint has announced new versions of its unlimited plans. The new service goes into effect tomorrow.

The first element of the new offering is a lifetime guarantee (for the life of your service line) to receive unlimited calling, texting, and data. Sprint has also introduced a new My Way plan, that starts at as little as $80 for unlimited usage, that allows flexibility and additional savings when it comes to multiple lines begin attached to the plan:

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iPhone closes gap on Android during May, grabs 31% of T-Mobile smartphone sales

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Following stats from comScore late last month for smartphone market share by vendor and OS, research firm Kantar Worldpanel is out today with its own numbers for the three month period ending in May. While Kantar puts Android at the same 52% of the market during May as comScore, it has Apple slightly higher at 41.9% of the market (up 3.5% from the same period last year) compared to the 39% comScore reported:

Through the 3 month period ending May 2013, Android continues to lead smartphone sales at 52%. Close behind is iOS with 41.9% of sales.

Kantar notes that Apple’s increase is thanks to T-Mobile picking up the iPhone 5, which is now the best selling smartphone at the carrier despite only being available since mid April. Thanks to iPhone, T-Mobile could soon increase its share of smartphone sales in the US, as Kantar notes all iPhone models counted for 31% of the carrier’s smartphone sales during the quarter. Currently the carrier holds just 10.1% behind Verizon (34.6%), AT&T (29%), and Sprint (12.7%).

The report notes T-Mobile has been attracting a lot of first time smartphone buyers since getting the iPhone with around 53% upgrading from feature phones: Read more

Walmart reportedly slashing iPhone 5 price indefinitely to $129 beginning Saturday

Walmart is set to dramatically cut iPhone prices starting Saturday, according to Mashable, which points to an impending iPhone hardware refresh in the coming months. Walmart will reportedly slash the already low iPhone 5 cost from $189 to $129 and the iPhone 4S will go from $89 to $39 on contract with AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon (Uncarrier T-Mobile, which Walmart doesn’t support, is not included in the deal).

Walmart isn’t the only retailer jumping on the discounted iPhone wagon. Best Buy will reportedly offer substantial discounts to iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 customers offering in-store credit or credit toward the purchase of a new iPhone. Such promotions tend to hint at upcoming hardware refreshes as retailers look to move out existing inventory. Read more

AT&T explains its new 61 cent/month administrative fee policy

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Thanks reader Kory for screenshot

AT&T started this month charging an administrative fee of $.61/month/user for its mobile customers in addition to its current fees. While the fee may be small, as the Verge notes it adds ‘up to hundreds of millions of dollars’ over 24 month contracts and millions of customers. What gives?  An AT&T spokesperson told us:

Consistent with similar fees charged by other carriers, the monthly fee of 61 cents per line will help cover certain expenses, such as interconnection and cell site rents and maintenance

The fee applies to consumer mobility lines as well as IRU lines –  the kind of business lines where the employee pays the bill directly.

AT&T isn’t alone in this endeavor. Verizon charges admin fees of $0.91 and Sprint charges $1.99.  (Plus more for regulatory fees.)  T-Mobile’s combined regulatory programs fee is $1.61.  On this basis, AT&T’s is still the lowest of all carriers.  It still sucks though. “expenses, such as interconnection and cell site rents and maintenance” seems like it should be part of the current fees and that fee is easier to raise because it isn’t part of the publicized rate plan.

Update: TheTechBlock notes that you may be able to cancel your plan because of this fee. A nice way to slip out of your subsidized plan? Read more

‘Zact’ launches customizable, no-contract data plans on Sprint, coming to iOS soon

Earlier this month we told you that Verizon-backed ItsOn, a company building software for carriers that provides users with dynamic pricing plans on mobile devices, was planning on introducing a new mobile service that takes advantage of its software. Today ItsOn has officially announced Zact, a mobile service that provides flexible, adjustable data plans that allows users to pay for only what they use, customize voice, text, and data plans in real-time at any time, and share data on an unlimited amount of devices: Read more

How much does T-Mobile’s contract-free iPhone plan save over two years?

Now that T-Mobile offers the iPhone, how do the four national carriers compare in terms of costs? A couple of websites have done the sums.

Our friends over at Zagg did a blog post that suggested three of the four networks come out at exactly the same annual cost when attempting to get as close as possible to like-for-like tariffs, while going with T-Mobile’s contract-free option will save you $580 over two years.

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Based on unlimited talk and text, and 4GB of data per month. Sprint offers only ‘unlimited’ data (claiming not to throttle), though is not noted anyway for fast data speeds.

While this is true for individuals, it doesn’t tell the whole story … Read more