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Thread: H2O Wireless' Free Phone: My Take

  1. #1
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    H2O Wireless' Free Phone: My Take

    I'll be the first to admit that I have a fondness for cheap phones. Most anyone can find an adequate handset for around $200USD nowadays (hello Moto G!), but personally I relish the challenge of finding the most bang-for-the-buck at the low end of the spectrum...

    When Radio Shack was liquidating VirginMobileUSA handsets, I actually spent 15 minutes waffling between an $8 Kyocera Jax versus a $10 LG Flare, before being swayed by the LG's superior voice quality. When T-Mobile Prepaid slashed the Motorola W233 Renew to $20, I swooped in. The proposition of Motorola's CrystalTalk(tm) voice quality with an MP3 player and microSD slot in exchange for one U.S. "Alexander Hamilton" was a no-brainer to me. And I just couldn't resist a $55 SonyEricsson J108a Cedar GreenHeart (unlocked and HSPA-capable for 850/1900/2100 MHz frequencies) because it included these "un-Sony" traits:
    • 3.5mm audio plug (instead of FastPort)
    • Micro USB charging/data port (instead of FastPort)
    • MicroSD slot (instead of Memory Stick)

    The lack of proprietary Sony connectors and storage media for this handset inspired me to nickname it "Sony's Penance Phone". Of course since then Sony has turned a new leaf in terms of respecting standards, but for a while it was a thing for all their hardware divisions to keep trying to establish anti-consumer proprietary technologies...

    So when H2O Wireless offered a "free" Lynxx X2S phone and H2O SIM included with purchase of $30 and up monthly plan PINs, I couldn't resist. Since I was going to buy the PIN anyway, it appeared that I could net a free emergency backup phone as well. What interested me was the number of features that were available for such a cheap device:
    • Camera (VGA, but without flash)
    • Torch (a dedicated flashlight, not for camera)
    • MP3 Player
    • FM Radio Tuner (after plugging-in a wired headset)

    A brief word of warning: if you purchase this bundle from H2O, there is a $10 "Shipping & Handling" charge added on. Thus the total increased to $40 pre-tax during checkout for my $30 PIN bundle. Standard delivery is 3-5 business days, and I did not experience any delays.

    I have to admit that when the package arrived, I was eager to finally unbox the Lynxx X2S. Curiously, for some reason the box had been previously opened in order to insert the H2O SIM card, then re-sealed. Nevertheless, upon unboxing this phone I quickly realized that the reason it had been offered for "free" was because its build quality was truly... underwhelming. So much so that I lost any interest in charging it up in order to power it on. My brief observations:
    1. The handset was feather-light and felt as hollow as a really cheap remote control (to be fair, I never inserted the battery but if it may have made a difference... perhaps).
    2. The housing was comprised of such low-grade plastics that I was reminded of the kids' toys... the kind that one might purchase from a vending machine.
    3. The keypad buttons had a vague and shallow amount of travel. Worse, the whole housing seemed to flex in an un-reassuring way whenever pressing a button.

    Do these critiques sound snide, snobby, and unjustifiably harsh for an add-in phone that was provided for (near) free? Probably! But I was happy and none-too-relieved to re-pack the phone and drop it off at my local Goodwill's as a donation to someone in need... who could possibly genuinely appreciate this humble handset.

    (YMMV)
    Glad to be off contract since 2010...

    Device Reverse Chronology: Samsung G920VZKAVZW Galaxy S6 | Motorola XT1060 MOTO X DE | Samsung N920T Galaxy Note5 | Microsoft RM-1073 Lumia 640 LTE | LG E960 Nexus4 | HTC ADR6300 Incredible | Nokia Asha 303 | Palm Pixi Plus | Motorola W233 Renew | Motorola VU204 | LG VS740 Ally | Motorola V325xi | LG VX8560 Chocolate3 | Motorola V265 | LG VX5400 | Nokia 6015i | Samsung VGA1000

  2. #2
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    Thank you for the review.
    I will pass on that gem.
    And I like a free or cheap phone.

    I have to say I managed to snag 3 of the T-Mobile Motorola Renews at $7.99 from Best Buy on Black Friday the year it was out.
    It was a nice little phone.
    When I got it they came with $25 in free airtime on T-Mobile prepaid and I made the most of it. I had also snagged 2 of the T-Mobile Nokia 2720 flip phones for $9.99 at Radio Shack on Black Friday also with the $25 in free airtime.
    That phone wasn't bad either.

    Sent from my Wonderful LG Optimus L90

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    Best "cheap" phones around are the Lumia 520 and 635 for around $25 and $40 I think at the moment. Got myself a Lumia 635 for $39.95 on a Black Friday deal. Has LTE (if you need it), a decent camera, operates smoothly, decent screen, and everything works as it should. Solid build quality and all-day battery life. They both work on any AT&T MVNO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ten Four View Post
    Best "cheap" phones around are the Lumia 520 and 635 for around $25 and $40 I think at the moment. Got myself a Lumia 635 for $39.95 on a Black Friday deal. Has LTE (if you need it), a decent camera, operates smoothly, decent screen, and everything works as it should. Solid build quality and all-day battery life. They both work on any AT&T MVNO.
    Oh yes I absolutely agree with you there.
    I have both of them and the 521.
    Windows phones are really smooth too.

    Sent from my Wonderful LG Optimus L90

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ten Four View Post
    Best "cheap" phones around are the Lumia 520 and 635 for around $25 and $40 I think at the moment. Got myself a Lumia 635 for $39.95 on a Black Friday deal. Has LTE (if you need it), a decent camera, operates smoothly, decent screen, and everything works as it should. Solid build quality and all-day battery life. They both work on any AT&T MVNO.
    No argument that these two Lumias out-match pretty much everything else at those discounted price tiers. However, I've been resisting temptation to scoop up either one of them due to the lack of front-facing cameras for both. This lack makes video-calling on Skype awkward for both, right?

    However I just learned that there's an app available called "Lumia Selfie" which evidentally provides the means to take selfie shots with the rear-facing camera, so perhaps there's a similar solution for video-calling? Any Lumia 520/521/635 owners care to comment?

    At any rate, the upcoming Lumia 640 LTE (successor to the 635 LTE) seems to address the situation by adding a front-facing camera to its feature set... so I'll be content to wait some more.

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    I've used the Lumia selfie app for taking still shots, but not certain if it can do video. Personally, I'm not big on selfies or video calls so it is not an important feature for me. I have used both the 520 and the 635 for Skype calls, but not video calls. Works great.

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    I go for used phones and I like Motorola. They originally sold for ~$600 and 3 or 4 years later they are ~$100-50.

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    Not sure I would want a used phone that doesn't have a replaceable and readily available battery. I have found that most mobile phone batteries have about 2 years of good use in them, and then they start to degrade or fail. That's if you use them every day. Batteries last a lot longer with fewer discharge/recharge cycles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ten Four View Post
    Not sure I would want a used phone that doesn't have a replaceable and readily available battery.
    I agree. That's why I'm not enthused about the newer/cheaper phones not having easily replaceable batteries. From what I read, though it is not terribly difficult to replace a battery in a "sealed" phone -- it's more work, though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vey9 View Post
    I agree. That's why I'm not enthused about the newer/cheaper phones not having easily replaceable batteries. From what I read, though it is not terribly difficult to replace a battery in a "sealed" phone -- it's more work, though.
    If you search on YouTube for the phone name and "replace battery", usually companies selling replacement batteries will post a video showing the whole battery replacement process. That will give an idea how easy or difficult battery replacement for a given model can be.
    Is a Telegram a metric e-mail?

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    H2O has since added more "free" phones. Along with the Lynxx X2S, there is now the Alcatel 355, Alcatel 297A, and Alcatel 510A.

  12. #12
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    Post Pick of this Litter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Conan Edogawa View Post
    H2O has since added more "free" phones. Along with the Lynxx X2S, there is now the Alcatel 355, Alcatel 297A, and Alcatel 510A.
    Although the 355 has a QWERTY keyboard and VGA camera and the 297A has an internal FM antenna, you might conclude that the 510A is the pick of this "free" litter. Given that AT&T plans on phasing out its EDGE-coverage network by 2017 (see http://www.securitysystemsnews.com/a...17-end-line-2g), it really should be the default choice since it's the only HSPA-capable handset in the bunch. From some basic research, the Lynxx X2S and 297A are EDGE-capable handsets and the 335 is only GPRS-capable (!).

    Except... from poking around the GoPhone device forum and also from Amazon reviews it appears that the 510A suffers from spotty earpiece volume and seems to have a poor keyguard implementation. For a no-frills, voice-centric handset, these are unforgiveable traits.

    Based on the current lineup of phones available from H2Owirelessnow.com, is the refurbished Pantech Link the best non-smartphone available? Unfortunately it's price puts it head-to-head with the likes of the Lumia 520 and 635 LTE, both of which out-class it quite substantially (unless the QWERTY keyboard is a gotta-have-it feature).

    TL,DR: H2O's "Free" Giveaway Phones have few virtues, many drawbacks. If you can live without a QWERTY keyboard, get a cheap Lumia 520 or Lumia 635 LTE instead. :-)
    Last edited by mobileFonPhile; 04-22-2015 at 04:30 PM. Reason: grammar!

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