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

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.

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