Smartphones rock. Smartphone service plans? Not so much. Whether it's an iPhone or an Incredible or a Droid X you buy, you're on the hook for two years at around $70 per month, minimum.
There are a handful of exceptions, usually from regional carriers, but I've yet to find a better deal than the one offered by Sprint-owned Virgin Mobile: no contracts, no obnoxious fees, no activation charge, and voice/data service plans that start at just $25.
Late last year, I bought Virgin's Samsung Intercept for Mrs. Cheapskate. The service has been great, but the phone--not so much. It's annoyingly sluggish, and the battery barely lasts a day.
Thankfully, there's a newer, better smartphone available from Virgin, and it's on sale: Target has the Virgin Mobile LG Optimus V for $129.99, plus sales tax. Virgin's price: $149.99. FYI, that link takes you to Target's weekly ad (flip to page 8), because this deal is available in-store only.
That's the bad news. The good news is that it comes with a $20 Target gift card! That makes this the single best deal on the Optimus V anywhere. (Best Buy also has it for $129.99--no gift card, though--but it's out of stock both online and in most stores.)
I've been testing the Android 2.2-powered Optimus V for the past couple weeks (read my review here), and have found it to be a vast improvement over the Samsung Intercept--and a great little phone overall.
Plus, did I mention Virgin's ridiculously good service plans? I rarely talk more than 300 minutes per month, so the $25 option suits me just fine. My iPhone 4, meanwhile, continues to cost me around $80/month. (I know, I know: "Why would a cheapskate pay for an iPhone?" I , folks.)
If you're in the market for an Android smartphone but don't want to pay a small fortune every month, I definitely recommend the Optimus V. The phone itself is solid, and Virgin's service is just about the best deal on the planet.
Bonus deal: Speaking of no-contract phones, Buy.com has the Verizon Wireless Palm Pixi for just $54.99 shipped. You'll still have to pay for a voice and data plan (plan on the usual $70 per month minimum), but at least there's no contract involved.