FreedomPop FREE Cell Phone Plan Review

Cell phone service seems to get cheaper each year. I still remember when a great deal was $40 a month for 1,000 minutes with no text and no data. So what about FREE cellular service? Well, it’s here, but with a few important catches…

FreedomPop just rolled out a new cell phone service on a freemium model. That means they have a free option, in the hopes that enough people will pay up for various upgrades to make a profit. You may know the name from their 4G data hotspots that offered 500mb a month of data for free. I bought one, but ended up returning it as it didn’t fit my needs (and like other folks was charged about $15 in unexplained fees). Here are the details of this new venture:

  • Phone. The only phone currently available is an HTC EVO Design 4G for $99. Pretty basic Android phone. Older model, came out in late 2011/early 2012. Online reviews state that it’s pretty thick in size, 4″ screen is pretty good, battery life is below average.
  • Service. Everything works using cellular data only using VoIP software. Primary is Sprint/Clearwire WiMax 4G data coverage, backup is Sprint 3G data coverage. Your coverage may be very limited. See coverage maps here and here. Voice quality over 3G may be spotty.
  • Free Plan Details. For $0 a month, you’ll get 200 minutes, 500 texts, and 500 mb of 3G/4G data. Additional use past that is charged as data, at 2.5 cents per MB ($25 per GB). Voicemail is $2.50 per month extra.
  • “Unlimited Plan” Details. For $10.99 a month, you’ll get unlimited voice minutes, unlimited texts, and 500 mb of 3G/4G data. Additional data costs 2.5 cents per MB ($25 per GB). Voicemail is $2.50 per month extra.

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The main concern with this service is coverage. Freedompop will filter you out via address, as they want to make sure you’re in a good WiMax coverage area and won’t sell you a phone otherwise. Having used SIP/VoIP on the T-Mobile network, I’m skeptical of the voice quality at Sprint 3G speeds. Even at 4G, I would be very wary of delays and echos when moving around. Sprint is no longer expanding their 4G WiMax networks, as they are shifting towards 4G LTE. In fact, it is widely suspected that Sprint may shut it down entirely in the future as their contract ends in 2015.

This service is just too barebones for me as I want solid voice service, but I still tried out the checkout process. I declined a 1-month extra data free trial, but was still able to get another free 500mb offer at checkout (see screenshot below). Shipping is $6.99 with delivery claimed in 1-2 weeks. It’s unclear if this is ongoing every month or for just one month, but I’m assuming it’s ongoing. It is also not clear if any taxes will be added on to the free monthly plan.

Comments

  1. I think i will wait and see how things progress before jumping in.
    I would like to see if they add more phones and allow porting of phone numbers.
    Do anyone know if there is a slot for a sim card to use with other phone services or once you move on from freedompop the phone is useless?

  2. For their hotspot, even though my address is in 4G (although in periphery), I don’t get that signal. I tested at an airport where the WiMax 4G signal is strongest, yet it’s definitely slower than my T-Mobile HSPA.

    I am happy with my T-Mobile $30 plan for now, I get 5GB of data and 100 min. VOIP on HSPA is quite spotty, but it’s adequate for my needs. Although now I run out of 5 GB with all the Netflixing and TMobile won’t renew my plan early. So I am stock with 2G which is horrible for browsing but I still get my emails. So maybe I will try using that Hotspot again, assuming they won’t gauge me.

  3. Does anyone know if you can bring tour old sprint evo phone and sign up? Echo is a pretty decent phone…

  4. You can’t bring your own device to FreedomPop (yet?). I’ve heard rumors that they will also sell the Galaxy 2 in the future. Yes, another old phone but not quite ancient.

  5. @Rock – I believe the HTC EVO Design has a sim card slot, but may come locked domestically. If you can find a service that will unlock it for you, you may be able to use it elsewhere.

    @Serge – They seem to be do marginally better on customer service on their data hotspots, although if you return expect a $15 fee. The data is not shown rounded up to the nearest MB anymore, and there is no longer an inactivity fee if you don’t use it that month.

  6. I’m always pretty wary of these deals, they usually end up being a false economy – as those unexplained charges you mentioned probably indicate. Sometime it is best just to haggle with your current provider for a good deal!

  7. I have sprint service (although across the country from you) I have no complaints. Couldn’t you just find someone with sprint to determine whether its good?

  8. Actually I think I got into sprint from theh SERO service you discussed 6 or so years ago!

  9. I was also burned by FreedomPop’s undisclosed restocking fee on the data hotspot. Their map shows I should have strong WiMax signal in my area but I don’t. Between its shipping charge, my return shipping cost and the undisclosed restocking fee, I’m out $30 for believing FreedomPop’s coverage map. Boycotting.

  10. I got this phone. It worked for less than 24 hours. Only gets incoming calls and won’t turn on.
    Its going back.

  11. I currently have an HTC Evo (1st Generation) with Sprint, utilizing their 3G/4G WiMax. Monthly bill is $75. Considering changing over to FreedomPop mobile since they are using the same network. Although I can’t port my current number with FreedomPop I can port it to Google Voice for $20 and forward it to my new number on FreedomPop.

    How are you liking the service so far? Is it reliable in your area?

  12. I tried it. Absolute RIP OFF. The phone service simply does not work. It’s non-functional. They try to charge you for “extras” like voicemail. Yes, voicemail is extra. People would call me and my phone would only ring about a quarter of the time. I would call people and they couldn’t understand a word I was saying. The phone only held a charge for a couple hours, after being fully charged. The worst is when you try to send the phone back and get your money refunded. It’s a nightmare. After several months, I’m still trying to get back the shipping charge and a “restocking fee” of about $10. Which also means they have restocked the non-functional phone to sell to the next sucker. BTW, I am in the twin cities, which gets a strong, consistent signal on Sprint.

  13. Unfortunately, I can confirm the problems reported by M. Lilley. The map shows I am in a strong 3G and 4G area, yet I get no 4G and spotty 3G. Battery life is about 5 hours; apparently their VOIP app constantly sucks battery (as opposed to, say, Google Talk which sits politely in the background). The VOIP app will drop out randomly, which means no calls or texts until you restart the phone (and, sometimes, delete and reload the app). Customer service does not answer the phone (67 min on hold before I gave up) and takes about 4 days to respond to Emails. Bought it for my son who has been reduced to tears from frustration with this thing.

    They are an accredited Better Business Bureau business. I would suggest filing a complaint with the BBB.

  14. jennifer says:

    Feedom pop has great customer service. I have never had anyone rude, or put on hold for more than 20 minutes. The HTC EVO 4g phone, is not the best, but its not that bad. For ways to save money, I would recommend freedompop its true people should not be paying a lot for cell phone service.

    • Their service is terrible. I brought my iPhone 4, and you have to use their stupid app that only lets the calls come in like 30% of the time. The app is very buggy. I have been trying for the past 3 hours to try to get a hold of customer service to cancel my service. Absolutely terrible. Try another pre-paid byod sprint service, there are better ones out there. This would probably be better if we didn’t have go through their app for all the calls. So annoying!

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