Ever since the Droid Incredible was announced I knew that I wanted one. However, I also knew that I would never be happy with the $30 mandatory data fee that Verizon charges. So I set out to find a way to get a Droid Incredible and use it on Verizon’s network without having to pay the extra $30 a month. This post is all about how I accomplished it.
This whole adventure started about a month ago when I started getting really serious about wanting a Droid Incredible. I started out my research by posting on a couple forums and asking if anyone else had accomplished the task and if they had any ideas on how it could be done. I was repeatedly told that it could not happen and that no matter how I approached it, Verizon would always require a $30 data fee.
Finding a provider
Then I ran across someone that suggested I try using a Verizon, or T-Mobile prepaid plan. Since I would be buying the phone for full price they thought I would not be required to pay the data fee. However, when I asked Verizon about this they said the Droid Incredible was not eligible for their prepaid plans, bummer.
However, during my research into prepaid plans I ran across a post that mentioned a company called Page Plus Cellular. They are a Verizon partner and they claimed that they can activate any Verizon phone. So I struck up an email conversation with their customer support. They were very happy to help and they said yes they could activate the Droid Incredible, but there were two conditions: 1. They phone must have been previously activated by Verizon and 2. They cannot activate a phone that has already been a Verizon prepaid phone. Since the Droid Incredible was not eligible for Verizon’s prepaid plans this was not a concern for me. However, in order to activate the phone I either needed to buy the phone from Verizon or buy it somewhere else and pay full price. I talked to a Verizon rep to make sure that I could activate a phone for just one month and they said yes, but I would have to pay an activation fee, service fee, and the data fee for that month, big bummer.
Buying the Phone
I know I didn’t want to buy it through Verizon because they would require a 2 year contract and the dreaded data fee. So I had to look around for another retailer, my first stop was Amazon. They offer a good deal on the Droid Incredible and they sell it without a plan; unfortunately, they were back ordered for several weeks and I didn’t want to wait. So I had the crazy idea to look on eBay. I started by looking at just new phones, I didn’t want someone else’s broken or damaged phone, but then I ran across one phone that was marked as new, but in the description they said “phone was only used for a day.” After confirming with the seller that this phone was actually activated I got excited and quickly entered a winning bid. The fact that it was activated, if only for one day, means that I can skip the Verizon activation and fees and go immediately to Page Plus. Not to mention that I got the phone for about $100 less than retail and it came with a 8GB SD card, invisibleSHIELD screen protector, Verizon silicon back cover, and Verizon leather belt case.
Choosing a Plan
During my research I considered 3 different options. First, I thought about signing up on my own with Verizon. Second, I thought about a family plan, because my wife is a customer of Verizon I would only have to pay the difference between her single plan and the family plan. My third consideration was with Page Plus’ 1200 plan. As a side note, I was able to estimate the taxes and fees that Verizon charges based on my wife’s bill, she gets charged an extra $6 every month.
|Verizon||Verizon (FP)||Page Plus|
The reason I put N/A in the taxes slot for Page Plus is because I did not have to pay taxes when I bought the phone on eBay, and prepaid plans are also not taxed or subject to state and federal fees.
I figure I am saving about $500 over a 2 year period despite paying more than double for the phone.
Activating the Phone
Once I had the phone in hand, about a week later, I called up Page Plus and started the activation process. Normally this is a very quick process, but it took me about a week because I was transferring a number and that alone took 4-10 days. While I was waiting I was able to use the Incredible like a PDA. I downloaded a bunch of Apps, Games, and other stuff, and just used WiFi for everything. Even if there was a problem and the phone didn’t activate the Droid Incredible would make a great PDA. I would probably sell this one and buy another with a bad ESN (they are less expensive) and just use it without phone service. When someone figured out how to root it, then I could flash it and use it with some other CDMA phone service.
However, today (June 15th) the transfer of my number finished and I was finally able to activate the phone. After dialing *22890 on the phone the phone was activated without any errors. Just to make sure I made a call and everything worked just fine. I went over to the Page Plus website, signed up for an account and bought some minutes. For now I am using Page Plus’ 1200 plan with gives me 1200 minutes, 1200 texts, and 50MB of data for just $29.99 a month.
I know what you are thinking, 50MB what can you possibly do with 50MB? The answer is nothing, the 50MB of data is so pitifully low that I just keep my phone data turned off and I only use WiFi. Since I have access to WiFi 98% of the time I am completely happy. Sure I won’t be able to twitter while driving, or check my Facebook while shopping, but I wasn’t doing that before I got the phone, so I won’t miss anything (and I’ll be a safer driver). Even the 1200 minutes and texts seems like a lot to me, but I can evaluate and change my plan at anytime.
So far I am very happy with the phone and also the plan that I have. If for some reason I do find myself going over the 1200 minutes or texts then I can always upgrade to the Page Plus unlimited plan for only $44 a month
(I would actually switch to Boost Mobile and for $50 I could get unlimited everything, including data). I can also switch to another carrier at any time because I am not under any contract or other obligations, oh the joys of freedom.
I know there are others out there that also want to have this phone without a data plan because during my research I found many that had the same question. I hope my experience will be helpful.
Update (7/7/2010): Boost Mobile uses the Sprint network so it is not compatible with the Droid Incredible
Update (7/15/2010 7:00am): So my first month of service expired last night and my auto renew was suppose to kick in so I didn’t have any downtime. When I woke up this morning I was sent a text message by Page Plus telling me that I didn’t have enough money in my account to renew my 1200 plan. When I checked my account the auto renew had not processed. So I called Page Plus to see what was going on. They confirmed that my previous 1200 plan expired last night, but for some unknown reason the auto renew had not processed yet. Their suggestion was to wait for the auto renew to process, then cancel it and start a new auto renew that would process on the same day my plan expires, rather than the day after). This means that it will renew before it expires and I won’t have any downtime. So I am without service until auto renew process, who knows how long that will take.
Update (7/15/2010 8:40am): Auto renew just kicked in. I am going to cancel it and start a new one that renews on the 14th instead of the 15th. I think this is a bug in the Page Plus software. The auto renew should happen at the same time that the plan expires.
Update (8/4/2010 8:30am): I just ran across a cool app that may help keep me from going over my 50 MB of data. It is called 3G Watchdog and it keeps track of my data usage and will send up warnings if I get close to my limit.
Update (11/8/2010 12:30pm): I found a different app that is actually much more useful. It is called [dodol] PhoneUsage. This app not only tracks data usage, but it also tracks text messages, and phone calls. This is great for me since I am limited on all three and don’t want to go over. There is even a nice widget that will display usage right on your home screen. I have been using this for a couple months and I don’t have any complaints.