Get a No-Contract Android Phone for $25 Per Month

Last Updated Oct 22, 2010 11:40 AM EDT

Think buying a smartphone means paying a minimum of $70 per month for a minimum of two years? Think again: Virgin Mobile now offers the Android-powered Samsung Intercept without a contract, with voice and unlimited-data plans starting at just $25 per month.

That's huge. There's no other smartphone deal that comes close. The BlackBerry Storm, Droid Incredible, iPhone 4, Palm Pre, Samsung Focus Windows phone -- every modern smartphone requires a two-year contract and a monthly plan that costs at least $60 (usually closer to $70 once they tack on all those damn taxes and fees).

Virgin's version of the Intercept costs $249.99 -- about what you'd pay for some contract-subsidized phones -- but doesn't tie you down with a contract. Use it one month, skip the next month, whatever.

Even more amazing: Virgin's monthly plans. For $25, you get 300 anytime minutes and unlimited data (including texting, e-mail, Web, etc.). Most other carriers cap you at 5GB. Need more talk time? The $40/month plan bumps you to 1,200 minutes -- more than enough for most users, and still 33 percent less than you'd pay elsewhere.

Oh, and for whatever plan you choose, the taxes and fees are included. Your $25 per month doesn't turn out to be, say, $29.87.

Am I jazzed about this? Damn right I am. The phone itself is not the crown jewel of the Android universe, but it's still a full-featured, app-tastic smartphone. No wonder it's already out of stock at Virgin Mobile (having appeared there just a week ago). Luckily, I scored one yesterday at my local Target (currently the only retail chain that carries it).

Downsides? The Intercept's screen is a bit smallish at 3.2 inches, and I noticed considerable lag time when snapping photos with the 3.2-megapixel camera. The phone runs Android 2.1, not the newer 2.2 version, but an update is said to be forthcoming.

Bottom line: If I wasn't under contract with AT&T and a daily contributor to iPhone Atlas, I'd jump ship for the Intercept in a heartbeat. It would literally save me $55 per month, or $660 per year.

Your thoughts? While you're mulling it over, read this: New to Android? Start Here.
  • Rick Broida On Twitter»

    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.



Live Video

Market Data

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Market News

Stock Watchlist