Yesterday’s announcement of the iPhone 5 got me thinking again about how to get an iPhone on a prepaid, pay-as-you-go cell phone plan on the Verizon network. Not because I lust for an iPhone 5, but because I knew its release would be bringing older models of iPhones (4 and 4s) to market, which I thought could work with a bring-your-own-phone plan–if one existed. So I started researching, and I found something interesting…
I’m aware of some prepaid carriers (Cricket/Sprint) offering the iPhone, but staying on the Verizon network is important to me because I know it’s a provider with good coverage in my area. Verizon’s prepaid plans don’t support the iPhone, but in researching this yesterday, I stumbled across Page Plus Cellular. Page Plus is a prepaid cellular mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) which uses the Verizon network and offers very inexpensive plans, both with and without data.
Page Plus with an iPhone
Page Plus offers a small selection of phones that are fully supported under their prepaid plans, but it also works with other phones, including smartphones. Because it uses the Verizon network, the most compatible phones for Page Plus are new or used Verizon postpaid phones. Officially, Page Plus does not allow the iPhone to be activated with their plans, but I found one Page Plus dealer called Beigephone which sells iPhones activated for Page Plus and will activate iPhones for Page Plus plans. This is risky, however, since iPhones are not officially allowed under Page Plus, and could be blocked at some time in the future. But the option is there.
However, after further consideration, I ruled this out for myself for these reasons:
- The risk I mentioned above.
- If I brought my own iPhone 4/4s, I would have to ensure it had a “clean” ESN (electronic serial number) and go through the hassle of buying it used or pay crazy price for a new one.
- I could buy the iPhone and plan through Beigephone to ensure a clean ESN and avoid the hassle of seeking out a used iPhone, but they only had the iPhone 4 in stock, and the prices were fairly high.
- For option #3, I’d be replacing my 64GB iPod touch with a 16GB iPhone for more money. That’s a big reduction of space. I could manage going down to 32GB, but 16GB would be rough.
- Page Plus does not allow tethering on their plans, so going this route would not help me get Internet at our rural Georgia property.
In the end, comparing the cost of an iPhone 4 or 4s through Beigephone versus keeping my dumbphone and current plan (with an iPod touch for smartphone/PDA functions), it just didn’t make sense to go the iPhone route, even with Page Plus.
Page Plus without an iPhone
Now, there are two other options I haven’t yet ruled out.
- I could get an Android or other non-iPhone smartphone and move over to Page Plus with that. This would give me an excuse to have an Android device to play around with.
- I could get a basic/cheap Page Plus supported phone and switch to their standard plan which would potentially save me as much as $90 per year, since their lowest “recharge” amount is $10 every 120 days.
Unfortunately, porting my existing Verizon prepaid dumbphone to Page Plus is not supported, or I’d be switching in a heartbeat. I’d also lose my accumulated $200+ in rollover airtime if I switched to Page Plus… but that would quickly be recouped since I only use about 5-10 minutes of airtime per month.
If I stay with my current prepaid plan I’ll have to recharge it in about two weeks, so if I am going to make a switch, I should probably do it before then. Does anyone have an out-of-contract Verizon Android handset they want to give me? The compatible handset list for Page Plus is here.