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T-Mobile $49 plan vs Straight Talk $45 plan – Unlimited plans battle

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If you’ve read our other posts – I’ve talked about Straight Talk $45 unlimited minutes, text and web, and how you could take a sim out of your Nokia E71, and put it into an AT&T-compatible GSM Android phone of your choice, and get great service and your own phone (not being limited to ancient Nokia brick). This is referred to as “SIM swap”. Early this year, Straight Talk started offering you to buy a Straight Talk sim card for $15, and get $45 unlimited plan. This would not be limited to just AT&T phones any more – you can order a sim card that would work on either T-mobile or AT&T network (but not both at once).

The sim card offering makes “sim swap” obsolete for new Straight Talk customers. I will review this option soon, with details of how it works, data speeds, reception, and other nuances (like limits on “unlimited” data).

In this article, I want to discuss the alternative to a budget virtual carrier (MVNO) like Straight Talk / Metro PCS, etc. And this one is from a major carrier – T-mobile.

T-Mobile $49.99 unlimited plan for “small businesses” – preamble:

After unsuccessful takeover by AT&T (which I personally think is the best thing that happened in US mobile market in many recent years, as this would essentially create a duopoly between AT&T and Verizon, and would REALLY suck for all the consumers), T-mobile found itself with $4 billion in contract cancelation fee and extra network spectrum from AT&T. At the same time, T-mobile lost almost a year, during which, they signed up very few customers, and did not get the iPhone (one of the biggest driver of new contracts – just look at Sprint).

Essentially T-Mobile is now the smallest major carrier in US, and needs to catch up to the big boys, and even Sprint. What’s good with T-mo – they did not give up on expanding and upgrading their “4G” HSPA+ network, and even installed several 1900MHz towers here and there. They now have huge bandwidth capabilities and not too many people using the network – so their speeds are great (when you have reception).

T-mobile's Carly Foulkes increases 4G speeds :)

Now, trying to revamp themselves, and get more customers, T-Mobile has offered a new plan that is in the same price range as the MVNO’s (budget carriers) – $49.99 / month, with unlimited minutes, text and web (up to 5GB full speed data, which then gets throttled to EDGE speeds – but you don’t pay for extra traffic). In the age of no unlimited data plans in US – this is great and inexpensive. For $39.99 / month, you can get same plan, but only a 1000 anytime minutes (which is NOT enough for many people – myself including).

There is a catch however – this is a plan for Small Business customer – though I think if you come in and tell them that you are a DBA (“doing business as” non-incorporated small business), they will still hook you up.

Second catch – this plan assumes that you use your own device. If you want a subsidized phone – you will be paying $20 more per month to a total of $69.99. Over 2 years duration of the contract you will pay $480 more, which will cover the phone subsidy.

I personally usually buy my phone outright, and this is great for me – I will be paying less every month, and if I already have my own phone that I want to keep using – I don’t have to pay extra every months. Really like this T-Mo!

Just compare this to AT&T – there to get unlimited minutes, texts and ONLY 3GB of data, you will have to pay $119 + taxes ($69 unlimited minutes, $20 for unlimited SMS, and $30 for 3 GB of data, with extra traffic costing you $10 / 1GB). AT&T does not offer any bundled plans – only “a la carte”.

Of course there is an argument that T-mo has spotty coverage – and they do. But if you live in a major metropolitan area – you are good on coverage and data speeds, and you can’t beat T-Mobile’s prices.

T-Mobile vs. Straight Talk

As I mentioned – Straight Talk is only $45 / month, and also unlimited. But there is a catch – unlimited is actually limited. If you start using too much data, you WILL be cut off, and will loose your prepaid time, and they will disable your sim card / phone from working on their virtual network. Read fine print to understand the details of unlimited “web browsing” (that is no tethering, no downloading, no youtube). In a nutshell – Straight Talk will cut off heavy data users after about 2-3 GB in one month, and if you are not cut off right away, there is always that chance. If you use mobile web moderately, you are safe. I will explain this in details, in my next article.

By contrast – T-Mo give you 5GB of full speed data (up-to 42Mbps, which is comparable with LTE speeds), and even if you go over 5GB, they will throttle your speed to 2G – not cut you off or charge you extra.

If you are a business user – consider Nokia Windows phone or their new HTC One S Android phone, or even other (older) Android devices that are still very much fast and powerful – eg. HTC Amaze 4G or Galaxy S2.

Walk the walk:

Well – i’m not just talking about this – I will be getting an Galaxy Note from AT&T and porting it to T-Mobile 4G network as soon as the bugs and data speeds are ironed out by XDA devs who hacked AT&T Galaxy Note modem to work on T-Mobile 4G 1700MHz HSPA+ network.

I will report my finding to you, as soon as I do it.

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April 20th, 2012 at 2:13 pm

AT&T Galaxy Note ICS leaked

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Fresh off the rumor mill – an Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0.3) rom for AT&T Galaxy Note LTE version (i717) has leaked, and is now Rooted, Deodexed, and Zipaligned. Any band all bloatware (AT&T just loves to fill up their phones with useles and NON-removable apps) is still there, but you can sure expect these to be removed very soon – as soon as dev get some time to clean it up. Remember – this has just leaks a few hours ago.

image of AT&T Galaxy Note ICS leaked rom - app drawerimage of AT&T Galaxy Note ICS leaked rom - home screenImage of AT&T Galaxy Note ICS leaked rom

Get the 4

Besides all the good stuff that very talented devs will do to this rom in coming days, this actual rom is already flashable with CWM (ClockWorkMod recovery), which will make it easy to do for anyone who has already rooted their i717 Note.

Another great news is that this ICS rom already has a flashable modem / radio which will allow your AT&T Galaxy Note to work on T-Mobile 4G HSPA+ network (which we reported back in March).

There is a number of CWM flashable files already available on XDA-developers. Links to ROM and T-Mobile modem files download and installation instructions, are at the end of this article.

AT&T Galaxy Note (i717) ICS rom compared to international Note (n7000)

The good news for i717 owners, is that this is an almost OFFICIAL AT&T rom – not the Chinese ICS leak for Galaxy Note n7000, which came out almost a month ago, and is still very much unusable as a daily rom.

I anticipate this Ice Cream Sandwich rom for Galaxy Note to be very stable. I assume it is almost ready for OTA update, and will be released soon after Samsung officially releases ICS for Galaxy Note N7000.

Most n7000 ICS roms are very unstable due to multiple bug, force closes, freezing, random rebooting (which I experienced with MIUI beta rom on my Galaxy Note n7000), etc.

Read my MIUI for Galaxy Note n7000 review, to see what it looks like, and for a full list of bugs that come with it.

Reference info, Rom and Modem files download:

ICS rom for AT&T Galaxy Note:

i717 ICS modem files for T-Mobile:

AT&T Samsung Galaxy NOTE now works on T-Mobile 4G (HSPA+)

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This is a great development for anyone who wanted to have an AWESOME Galaxy Note to work on T-Mobile 3G/4G network. As you may know, out of the box, AT&T branded phones do not work on T-Mo’s 1700 MHz network, and up until now you could only get EDGE / 2G speeds.

Yesterday, great folks over at XDA Developers have hacked AT&T’s Galaxy Note (SGH-i717) to take full advantage of T-Mobile’s 4G (HSPA+ 42 Mbps) network, by just flashing a new modem (radio) onto an unlocked / rooted Note.

This only works for AT&T Galaxy Note – international / European Note (N7000) owners are still out of luck on this – read below for explanation as to why.

So if you want to have a Galaxy Note on T-Mobile, what you will need to do, is head over to your local “friendly” AT&T store, and buy a new Note (for $650 + tax), and then root / unlock it, and flash the T-Mobile 3G/4G mod files.

XDA Developers user tomin.fhl has provided all necessary files and instructions in this AT&T Galaxy Note on T-mobile thread, and there is even a bounty of $690 (so far, with more folks committing money, for his great work).

Head over to XDA for instruction on how to do this, if you are interested in having your Note working on T-Mobile network. Keep in mind, that your Note must be unlocked and rooted first, before you can flash new 1700 MHz radio. Check out XDA’s AT&T Galaxy Note Android Development section for instructions and all necessary tools to root your Galaxy Note.

Also keep in mind, that roofing will void your warranty and you may also brick your phone if you do not follow the directions correctly.

Why European / International Galaxy Note (N7000) still does not work on T-Mobile 4G network?

The problem with N7000 Galaxy Note not working in T-Mobile 3G/4G vs AT&T Note (i717) is in the hardware. I717 has a Qualcomm’s 1.5 GHz dual-core processor and LTE modem, which was pretty much the only LTE modem available before nVidia released its new Icera soft-modem, paired with Tegra 3 quad-core chipset.

N7000 has Samsung’s own 1.4 GHz Exynos dual-core processor and 1900 MHz HSPA+ chipset (modem). In a nutshell, Samsung does not release the source code for it’s modem drivers, and this makes it very difficult to hack, compared to Qualcomm’s modem used in i717. Here is more info on hacking N7000 to work on T-mobile 4G network.

In the word of bedwa – a lead “hacker” behind making N7000 to work on T-Mobile 4G network:

I have mentioned from day one this was going to be harder. Despite having the same hardware as the G-Nex or other devices with the x-gold 6260 chip, unlike qualcomm’s chips, they are not coded similarly. Thus, I have to hack at a base hex level. Much harder stuff.

For more info on this development, head over to XDA’s Euro Note on T-Mobile US UMTS/3G thread.

When will Galaxy Note N7000 be hacked to work with T-Mobile?

Well – now one knows really. Hopefully very soon, and if or when that happens, I will definitely let you guys and gals know, as I myself am an N7000 owner, and would love to have an option of using T-Mobile. However, it is possible, that this may never happen, or will be too late, when Galaxy Note 2 comes out (most likely fall of 2012), and original Note will no longer be relevant. But let’s not lose hope!

In the mean time, you can get your Galaxy Note to work on Straight Talk $45 Unlimited plan, which essentially runs on AT&T HSPA+ network with “advanced backhaul” (non-LTE 4G) and still get great speed!

image of Straight Talk $45 unlimited plan Speed Test

And now you no longer need to buy the E71 and do SIM Card swap, as was described in our original article. You can now buy a Straight Talk SIM Card for $15 and put it into your unlocked Galaxy Note (or any other unlocked phone), and get same great deal, with fewer hassles and without the risk of being disconnected for not using “approved device”, which was always the part of sim-swap. We will have full coverage in this in just few days.

Written by admin

March 13th, 2012 at 6:53 pm