Small Carrier Showdown: Switch and Save Up to $1,500

US Cellular

Headquartered in Chicago, US Cellular services customers within many Midwestern states, including Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. Currently, the most competitive smart phone plan on offer is the Primary Plus package, which includes 5GB of data, unlimited text, and 450 minutes of voice for $69.99 per month. In an original twist, US Cellular runs the “Belief Project” rewards program, through which customers can earn points each month toward a new handset. Even so, it takes 1,000 points to qualify for a phone upgrade, and you’ll only be able to get the device one month ahead of when you’d typically be eligible (about 18 months).

US Cellular’s device selection trumps that of most other smaller carriers. There are five Android devices available, including the HTC Desire ($99.99 after rebate) and the Samsung Mesmerize ($74.99 after rebate), a Galaxy S phone. The Samsung Galaxy Tab Android-based tablet is also available for $399, but you’ll have to purchase a separate data plan to go with it. More up-to-date BlackBerry phones can be had too, such as the Bold. Sorry, no BlackBerry 6 OS here.

Pros: Unlimited text plans with voice and data start at $69.99. Relatively wide range of Android devices. National coverage without roaming fees.

Cons: Plan pricing more expensive than other smaller carriers. Can’t sign up if you live outside regional service area.

4G Coverage: Trials currently underway.

Small Carrier Showdown

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  1. Dave Miller Says:


    Thanks for the post on Cellular South. We actually are the largest privately owned wireless carrier in the U.S. – a super regional carrier according to industry definitions.

    As you pointed out, we are aggressively promoting Android-powered touchscreen smartphone handsets along with BlackBerry devices. We currently have six (6) Android smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy S Showcase, the HTC Desire, the HTC Wildfire, the LG Axis and the HTC Hero (this is an end-of-life unit that is being replaced shortly by the Samsung Gem in mid-February). We also carry the Blackberry Curve II and the Blackberry Bold, which remain two very popular smartphones.

    We have the best smartphone unlimited plan in the industry – $79.99 for unlimited nationwide voice, text, e-mail and mobile web. A second line costs $39.99 under the smartphone unlimited plan. So for two lines, you can pay $60 a month for unlimited everything. That’s almost half of what the same plans cost for AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.

    We also have the most affordable unlimited nationwide talk plan – besting AT&T, Verizon and Sprint by $10 a month or more for unlimited nationwalk voice with our 60/30 plan. We give you unlimited nationwide voice for $45 a month with two lines – and you’ll pay at least $10 to $15 more a month with the big guys.

    Keep us on your radar. We’re also moving aggressively into 4G LTE with plans to deploy by the end of 2011.


  2. James Says:

    To Brian, or Dave:

    I have a used htc hero from sprint that my sister gave me when she upgraded to another phone, but I can’t get service from Virgin even though they are owned by sprint and use the same network. So it looks like I’m stuck w/a phone that I can’t use because there’s no prepaid service available. Virgin’s is the only price range that I could afford, but you have to buy one of their phones in order to get service. Are there any prepaid service providers that offer service w/out you having to buy their phones.

    Please help. Thanks.


  3. aaron Says:

    DONT BUY THE ZIO its a waste of money and it will never update it from 1.6 dont listen to the lies from cricket or sanyo they are not working on it and will never give you a upgrade for the phone.

  4. josh tannenba Says:

    That roaming comment is a bit misleading. Cricket does not automatically put roaming charges on to your bill like other carriers. If you are out of crickets network as well as the expanded network(cricket uses sprints network to get nationwide coverage. do your research and you’ll know how this was achieved) what happens is the phone will not work. however, the account holder can put money into a side bucket that does not go onto the monthly bill in order to use the phone out of network at that point regular roaming fees would apply.

    The Zio is a very reliable phone and the update has actually been giving a timeframe if you look at an article from pc magazine on crickets new muve music service.

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