I recently wrote an article comparing paid cellphone plans to pre-paid plans, in which I mentioned an exclusive pre-paid plan from Walmart that offered a 4G phone and used the T-Mobile network. In the article, I told readers that I would be trying this new smartphone from Walmart and in turn testing the T-Mobile service.

I did, indeed, take advantage of the Walmart exclusive and found it to be one of the best deals available (as of today) for pre-paid cellphone users who use more data and text than talk time. In fact, this plan could save families with teens who incessantly text a good deal of money. In order to qualify for this offer, there are a few caveats you need to know and to which you must adhere:

  • Since this is a Walmart exclusive, the smartphone (Samsung Exhibit II 4G Android) can only be purchased from Walmart. You will not qualify for this special deal if you purchase the smartphone through another dealer on the Internet or from another storefront retailer.
  • The pre-paid card (I opted for the $30 pre-paid card — I will explain why later) must also be purchased from Walmart or directly through T-Mobile. Walmart’s site says that you must buy the pre-paid cards from it, but you can actually buy them from T-Mobile, as well (T-Mobile’s website confirms this).
  • This exclusive is for new customers only (you cannot have been a prior T-Mobile customer).

So what does the Samsung Exhibit II 4G Android cellphone offer that makes the phone a deal?

  • This is an Android-powered cellphone using version 2.3.5 aka Gingerbread
  • 4G capable
  • High resolution screen with display: 3.7″ 16M TFT, 480×800 pixels
  • 3.0 megapixel rear camera with LED Flash and VGA front camera
  • Expandable memory of up to 32 GB
  • Wi-Fi calling
  • GPS navigation with Google Maps and navigation
  • Visual voicemail
  • Stereo Bluetooth technology
  • Kies air to wirelessly sync your phone to your PC
  • Polaris Office offers easy document viewing and editing
  • E-reader is preloaded with Blio for books and Zinio for magazines
  • Music player
  • Frequency: GSM: 850, 900, 1800, 1900 UMTS: Band IV(1700), Band II (1900), Band V (850) HSPA+ 14.4 Mbps/5.76 Mbps
  • Talk time: up to 5.5 hours
  • Standby time: up to 364 hours
  • Internal memory: 4 GB ROM, 512 MB RAM
  • Processor speed: 1 GHz

Cellphone Deal That Won't Break the Bank

New customer savings are obvious when you see that the exact phone being offered by Walmart for $189.99 is being offered on the T-Mobile website (offered under its pre-paid — aka non-contract — plan) for $349.99. However, what really makes this an even better deal is what Walmart and T-Mobile are offering on the $30 a month pre-paid cards:

  • Unlimited Web at up to 4G speeds for the first 5 GB.
  • Unlimited texting.
  • 100 minutes talk time (this could be a problem for some of you).

That means that for those of you, like me, who would rather text or surf the Web than talk, this plan is a jewel. This plan is even better if you are a parent with teenage children, since you already know that kids today can’t get enough texting time. However, it even works for parents if their teenager is a talker, since they can’t rack up calls over the 100 minute limit — meaning that there are no surprise bills at the end of the month.

So what do you do if 100 minutes a month is not enough? The first option you have is to use an Android application to make calls through the Internet. If you have Wi-Fi, one of the free applications that I find works very well is called GrooVe IP, which is a VoIP application that uses Google Voice. The application itself has an initial cost of $4.99, but once purchased you get free unlimited calling with no impact on the 100 minutes a month limit for talking.

On the Samsung Exhibit II 4G Android, there is a USB /wireless option for the tethering of other devices with the 4G T-Mobile connection on the phone. However, I have not been able to determine (even though I searched the T-Mobile forums), whether pre-paid plans support the tethering option as I have tried both USB and also Wi-Fi connections from my laptop with no joy.

Cellphone Deal That Won't Break the Bank

In searching the T-Mobile forums for information on the new 4G pre-paid $30 a month plan, I found that there was a consensus that not all Walmart associates were able to provide the correct information to customers regarding this plan. However, it seems that the same confusion existed on the part of support staff on the T-Mobile side. This confusion could exist, however, because representatives are unfamiliar with this new plan, which offers 5G of data, a sharp increase to T-Mobile’s other $30 a month plan, which only offers 30 MB of data per month.

I must note, however, that my experience with Walmart was the complete opposite. The Walmart associate I spoke with knew all about the phone and the plan, going so far as to mention that T-Mobile provided great reception where we live. As you can see from the first picture featuring the Samsung phone (which was taken in my kitchen), you will note I was receiving a strong signal that displayed three out of four bars. Fortunately for me, the Walmart associate’s information was right on the money. This is consistent with the reception I received when using Verizon, and is great when compared to the signal bar reception I received when using the Sprint network.

Pros: This is a great phone with plenty of features for those on a budget or for those who want to save a few bucks every month. 4G speed capability allows for fast surfing and call quality. The phone operates smoothly and interacts well with all of the applications that came pre-loaded or that I have installed. Additionally, I noted that streaming from Netflix was flawless and demonstrated no tendency to stutter.

Cons: If you are a camera person, you may find that its three megapixel capability is inadequate for your needs. The case, while well-designed, is hard to grip and feels like it wants to slip out of your hands. (In hopes of remedying this, I have ordered a protective case.)

This Samsung Exhibit II 4G Android deal applies to new activations only. Available exclusively in-store at Walmart, on Walmart.com, and T-Mobile.com only.

Comments welcome.