Talking tech since 2003

As much as I know the word “unlimited” is really over-used in marketing and advertising, I really must admit that I do like the concept of not being tied down to fixed limits with services that I subscribe to.  Of course, I understand that even with “unlimited” services there is always some sort of limit or cap to avoid abuse of a particular service, but when it comes down to it I simply enjoy the flexibility of being able to really use a service that I subscribe to without having to worry about incurring additional fees of overage charges.  Especially in an economic climate such as the one we’re in now, “unlimited” services really are beautiful when it comes to budgeting.

But as I discussed just the other day, the concept of “unlimited” plans when it comes to cellular data really has been dwindling away over the last year despite the fact that unlimited mobile airtime and unlimited mobile text messaging has become more and more of a standard, and as it stands now there are only a couple of major carriers out there that still offer “unlimited” data plans.  In my article yesterday, I questioned whether or not mobile carriers AT&T or Verizon – both of which having discontinued their unlimited mobile data plans somewhat recently – would bring back such plans down the road given the competition from Sprint, a carrier that has been seriously pushing unlimited data in recent months.

But soon after my article yesterday was published yesterday, Verizon announced a new unlimited plan dubbed “Unleashed” that covers voice airtime, text messaging, and mobile web browsing; all at a flat low price of $50 per month without a contract.

At first I was taken back by Verizon’s sudden move, because at face value the concept of unlimited everything for a mere $50 per month (I recall paying $40 per month for unlimited voice and text somewhat recently) really is a steal.  But after looking at the fact’s Verizon’s new deal really isn’t as appetizing as I first thought it would be.

You see, Verizon only seems to be selling three phones on this plan, and for as much as they seem to be pushing the plan itself I honestly don’t think that the selection is large enough to attract many users.  The phones themselves – the LG Accolade, Pantech Caper, and LG Cosmos – are just “feature” phones and are far from feature-rich.  As is with almost all feature phones, you’re getting a very limited off-brand mobile operating system that isn’t expandable in terms of applications like either iOS or Android,with only basic phone features.  The 1.3 megapixel camera is far from the better cameras that we’re seeing in smartphones, and quite honestly the images of the phones on Verizon’s website look incredibly cheap; although I haven’t actually messed with any of them in person.

The big deal breaker on these phones is the fact that they don’t provide a real web-browser, but rather a very basic WAP browser that might let you navigate around the web; not that you’d want to, because the screens are all tiny and undoubtedly have poor quality.

What this means is that even though you’re getting “unlimited” web browsing, the chances of you being able to actually take advantage of that feature is very minimal.  Sure, the phones and plans are a pretty good deal still if you’re not going to be spending a lot of time on the mobile web and actually plan to use your mobile phone as a phone, but in terms of features and functionality the offerings of this particular plan are pretty limited.

In all honesty, Boost Mobile (a Sprint subsidiary) seems to be a much better deal.  At the same $50 price-point you get all of the basic features that Verizon is offering on this plan, and with their “Shrinkage” system users with on-time payments can see the prices on their plans drop to as low as $35 per month after paying on-time for 18 months.  Better yet, Boost has a much larger selection of phones and even offers customers the option to buy BlackBerry handsets, although the monthly price for such a handset is $10 more, meaning that after 18 months a user could be paying as low as $45.  Still, I think it’s a much better deal for the money than what Verizon is offering.

Hopefully Verizon will add more phones to their lineup for this plan soon and implement “addons” so that users can really take advantage of their new offering.  Because even with the less than appealing lineup now, I do actually think this is a pretty nice move on Verizon’s part.

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