AT&T to offer its first prepaid smartphone
The LG Thrive, available April 17, will untether users from a long-term service contract. The Android phone will feature a 3.2-inch touch screen, a 3.2-megapixel camera -- and data packages with no locked-in contract (although if you want one, it's available).
Customers can choose between being charged by the minute (10 cents a minute) and an unlimited daily talk and text plan ($2 a day). But if you want to browse the Web (and really, what's the point of a smartphone if you can't?), it will cost extra: $5 for 10 MB, $15 for 100 MB or $25 for 500 MB. If you're a frequent user of Internet on the go, the bill might get hefty.
The phone itself will cost $179.99. With a standard two-year contract, the price drops to $49.99.
For anyone considering a prepaid smartphone, consider the pros and cons:
The pros: For a budget-conscious person, or someone who isn't glued to his or her phone, the prepaid plan could save money. And if you're not happy with a mobile carrier, you can easily switch.
The cons: The phones themselves usually cost substantially more than if they were purchased with a long-term contract. The choice of phones might also be slim. And unless you're careful or go for an unlimited prepaid option, you could very easily run through your minutes or data plan quickly and end up spending more per month than you would have on a standard contract.
-- Shan Li
Photo: Front of the LG Thrive, AT&T's first prepaid smartphone option. Credit: AT&T