Review: LG Optimus Elite for Virgin Mobile

eliteYou might recall a post I wrote in April in which I was debating whether to stick with Virgin Mobile or move on to T-Mobile since Virgin was going to make it practically impossible for users to avoid rate increases by implementing said increases upon the activation of any smartphone released after May 2012.

I thought long and hard about it and decided to stick with them by buying the Optimus Elite, and here is my review of the device which I’ve had for a couple of weeks.

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Virgin Mobile’s Latest Android Phone: Motorola Triumph (Update: MSRP)

Just I had reported way back in February and as was obvious by the survey I had taken, Virgin Mobile definitely had a new smartphone in the works.

And as Engadget had reported on June 9, 2011, it will be the Motorola TRIUMPH, which was one of the names I had to choose from the list Virgin Mobile was considering:

Personally, I chose Theory because it sounded much cooler – at least I thought so.

Here’s the list of purported specs from the survey:

All of those specs match up to what is posted on the Motorola Theory’s…I mean, Motorola TRIUMPH’s Fact Sheet. And now comes word from my friend CHESSNOID – I get to call him by his real name since I’ve known him for years – that this new Android phone will be making its debut in less than a month on July 19, 2011.

This will be Virgin Mobile’s third entry into their line of Android phones which I can practically guarantee will make people wish they hadn’t signed a two-year contract with their current carrier for a phone that can do pretty much the same stuff this one can – at a fraction of the cost in terms of phone price and monthly service. In addition to all of that, the phone is a beauty:

moto triumph

As for me, well, while the phone definitely a looker and something new to behold, I am still enjoying my LG Optimus V and have no regrets about buying it. I only wish it had more internal memory to do the things I’d like it to do.

The TRIUMPH will be a perfect phone for those wanting to jump ship from their current contracted carrier but honestly, it offers only a few more upgrades over the Optimus that I can’t justify spending the money on it no matter how pretty and shiny it may be. The most obvious upgrades – HDMI output, larger screen, faster processor (1GHz vs. 600 MHz), and the front-facing camera – might be enough of an incentive for some current Virgin Mobile customers to upgrade but not quite enough for me, at least not at this point. About the only thing I could use from that list is the faster processor; the rest are just nifty but not entirely useful to me (although a larger screen would be nice but not essential). The only way I’d consider it at this point is if Virgin Mobile went ahead with their Free Phones for Life or the Virgin Mobile Phone Fund programs, which I wrote about here.

Speaking of price, no word of the phone’s MSRP has been mentioned but I’d wager that this one could be somewhere in the high- to mid-$300 range. My guess would be $349 but don’t quote me on that.

UPDATE: My buddy CHESSNOID now reports that the phone will have an MSRP of $299.

But hey, all of this is just me talking. Have anything to say about it? Go ahead and say it below and as I had mentioned before, you can now sign in with your Twitter or Facebook accounts to comment.

By the way, if my stats are any indication, the interest in Virgin Mobile continues rise as my traffic has been more steady and heavier than usual with all of my Virgin Mobile posts being the most popular. Maybe people are now starting to realize what an incredible value this prepaid service really is, without the “shame” of admitting that they are on a prepaid plan.

After all, with phones like these, there’s not a lot to be ashamed of.

A Virgin Mobile Survey Worth Looking At

Hey, guess what? I got another Virgin Mobile survey in my inbox today and let me tell you, this one is definitely worth sharing.

First of all, it seems that Virgin Mobile is considering a few new interesting options that include “free” lifetime upgrades and, what I will cover first, The Virgin Mobile Phone Fund:

Concept 1

Just as the image dictates, this plan will give payment-punctual users a cool $5 credit each month which can then be applied toward the purchase of a brand-spanking-new phone of their choice (a year from the start of the program, I assume). Seems like a pretty good deal provided you are on a Beyond Talk plan and if you’re not, well, then I guess you wouldn’t qualify. But hey, $60 a year toward the purchase of a new phone is not bad at all and might be enough of an incentive to get people to switch over. This also might imply that Virgin Mobile has a few new models coming up so hey, it’s a win in my book.

I guess my only question would be if this plan is available for those who have the auto-payment option (like yours truly). This pretty much means that I’ll always be on time and that those extra $5 a month are in my pocket just waiting to be used at the end of the year. No other details were given, such as if the credits can be carried over to the following calendar year.

The next feature is also kind of cool provided you want to spend some extra money. This one is called Virgin Mobile’s Free Phones for Life:

Concept 2

“Free” does, however, come with a few caveats:

  • You must pay a one-time $300 “initiation fee” when you join the program, and
  • You must select the $60 Beyond Talk Unlimited monthly plan and make your payments on time (penalty for late payment was not listed)

I suppose that is a good deal if you go through phones like toilet paper or just want to upgrade sans contract every year as I wished I could have when I was with Verizon. I would have no problem paying a initiation fee under one condition: different initiation fee levels for different Beyond Talk plans. For example:

  • $100 for the $25 plan
  • $200 for the $40 plan
  • $300 for the $60 plan

As it is, I rarely come close to using up my 300 minutes under my current plan and the way I’ve been getting Kickback* minutes (thanks to all of you fantastic readers and for your comments as well), there are months that I don’t use my paid minutes. And at home, I use Skype to save even more of my minutes. The $60 plan is definitely out of my league but if things were a little more the way I mentioned in the bullet list above, they might have me on this one. I wish they’d consider such a pricing schedule.

So should these plans come to fruition, and I certainly hope they do, upgrading to a new phone comes down to these options:

  • Get up to $60 a year toward the purchase of a new phone without a fee and stay on a cheap Beyond Talk plan, or
  • Get free phones for life with a one-time $300 fee and a $60 Beyond Talk plan

As for me, the first choice is the best. While I’d love a free phone for life, the point of our switching to Virgin Mobile was to save money on our monthly cell phone bill. I like paying $50/month for two lines; there’s no way to get me to pay $120/month for minutes that will go to waste. I was paying that when I left Verizon so it’s just not going to happen and, quite honestly, I can’t afford that.

Unless, you know, they take my suggestion of initiation fees based on your current monthly plan…

Lastly, there’s this future plan that is more of a feature than anything else. Dig this:

Widget Concept2

At long last, Virgin Mobile is considering a My Account widget that actually does something. Currently, at least on my Optimus V, the My Account widget does nothing but take me to the Virgin Mobile site which, in most cases, can never be accessed. It’s a real pain when I want to check how many minutes I have remaining and as such, I’m always in the dark until I can get access to a computer. And that totally sucks.

With the planned widget, users will have a choice of access options that include the following (my preferences shown below in order of what I deemed important):

widget

Really, Virgin Mobile? You need a consumer panel to tell you that we need this widget? I could easily access my available minutes and account info on all of my previous Virgin Mobile dumbphones yet on my Android OS, this has yet to materialize? While I’m all for this, I’m wondering what the heck took them so long to offer this widget.

If anything, I’m glad that I was given the choice of which features I wanted on it. I’d be happy with my first four choices seen in the image above; everything else is just superfluous.

UPDATE 6/12/11: As an eagle-eyed reader pointed out, two of the options listed above are “Available Data” and “Available Messages” which could imply that Virgin Mobile has plans for limiting both and mark the end of unlimited data and text messages under their Beyond Talk plans. My only guess for those would be that the widget would also be on phones under their PayLo program which does limit both, and that’s what I am certainly hoping for because killing unlimited data and text messages would be a stupid move from a consumer’s standpoint. That’s one of their biggest selling points at the moment. But as for now, pure speculation. [Thanks, Wadya]

So there you have it. Looks like the future is bright for us Virgin Mobile customers. Any thoughts on all of this? Leave a comment below and, thanks to WordPress, you can now log-in using either your Facebook or Twitter accounts!  And as always, I will continue to post surveys as I get them and as long as I remain a customer.

Now go and have your say!

*My Kickback code is dJWQc09H

Review: LG Optimus V for Virgin Mobile

optimus

I’m making this post a Sticky again. Watch for constant UPDATES when I decide to post something new or am corrected on something. Thanks!

LATEST UPDATES
2/12/11:
Now includes sample video (bottom of post, fixed)
2/14/11: Widgets (below Apps section)
2/15/11: Should you pick one up and you like what I’ve put together here, enter my Kickbacks Code when activating online: dJWQc09H
2/18/11:
Special thanks to whomever used my Kickbacks Code! I earned an extra $10 (30 minutes) in airtime, which is used until it is all exhausted. The Plan then switches to your regular Anytime Minutes.
3/1/11: For those of you who had difficulty viewing the video, my apologies. I uploaded it as Private and forgot to switch it to Public. This has been fixed and it should be good to go. (Thanks to reader Mike for the tip!)
3/4/11: I got two $20 Kickbacks (or 120 minutes) today! Thanks for using my code (dJWQc09H)!
3/13/11: Updated the “No Visual Alerts” section to “No Visual Alerts in Silent Mode since that is what I have the real issue with.
4/3/11: $50 Price increase! The unit currently has an MSRP of $199.99. I guess Virgin Mobile saw what was going on and decided to make the most of it.
4/15/11: The problem with visual alerts has been solved. Check under “No Visual Alerts in Silent Mode”.
10/17/11:
Price has been reduced to $129.99.

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