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The 411: iPhone 4 with a Prepaid account?

Every two weeks, CNET editor Nicole Lee answers your questions about cell phones and cell phone accessories in The 411.

Welcome to the 411, my column answering all your questions about cell phones and cell phone accessories. I receive plenty of questions about these subjects via e-mail, so I figured many of you might have similar queries, too. At times, I might solicit answers from readers if I'm stumped. Send your questions and comments to me at If you prefer to remain anonymous, let me know in the e-mail.

What's the cheapest prepaid option for the iPhone 4?
What's the cheapest prepaid option for the iPhone 4? Josh Miller/CNET

Question: I could connect my iphone 4 with my Nokia BH-804 headset without any problems and very fast. But unfortunately I cannot use the buttons of the headset, I just can use the play button which starts ipod function of the iphone and the music starts with the last track but I cannot switch to next track or to the previous one. I need to hear the music in the same order which is listed in the playlist without switching and I think it is a big problem. -- Boris, via email.

You're right Boris, and this is not unusual to your particular headset, at least until iOS 4.1. The iPhone did not have full AVRCP (Audio Video Remote Control Profile) -- you could play and pause the music and even change the volume, but you could't switch tracks via the Bluetooth headset's controls. However, with iOS 4.1, you will finally be able to have full AVRCP capabilities and will be able to switch tracks backwards and forwards with your Bluetooth headset. (This is a correction, as we didn't take into account iOS 4.1 previously.)

I'm from Canada, but travel often to the US. I'm looking for a good prepaid account that doesn't inactivate quickly. Sometimes I will be gone from the US for 3+ months and often a prepaid account gets closed. I have a factory unlocked iPhone 4. If they can provide a MicroSIM it would be better. If not I can cut their SIM card into a MicroSIM. Reasonable data rates are most important to me. Voice and SMS are secondary. I would prefer a prepaid plan that doesn't deduct monthly, so that I'm not paying when i'm gone. Preferably iPhone tethering to a laptop should be enabled. -- Stephane, via email.

If you don't renew your prepaid account after your minutes run out or after a certain length of time, it will get closed, regardless if it's one or three months. Prepaid accounts typically have expiration dates, and they range from 30 days to a whole year, and it's unfortunately up to you to keep them going. If you don't have the time or money to do so, it might be easier to just let them lapse and get a new one every time you need one. Since you are using an iPhone 4, you would have to go with AT&T if you want to use the 3G data. AT&T offers a $100 card with an expiration period of 365 days, so you have a full year to use up that $100 if you like. Though the data package isn't the best -- it's $4.99 for 1MB or $19.99 for 100MB -- at least there's the option for prepaid data, which is rare. As an alternative, it might be wise to invest in a Virgin Mobile MiFi so you can get unlimited data for $40 for 30 days. Since Virgin Mobile is prepaid, you can just pay as you go along. If any of our readers have other ideas for Stephane, please let us know in the comments.

I want to buy this phone RIM BlackBerry Curve 8330 for metro pcs can I use Pandora and facebook and play YouTube without a problem on the metro pcs. because this a lot of money to spend if it don't or should I but Samsung Caliberâ„¢ or can you please tell me when a htc phone will be coming out for metro pcs -- Mike, via email.

The RIM BlackBerry Curve 8330 for MetroPCS has since been replaced by the RIM BlackBerry Curve 8530, and with that, you can certainly use Pandora, Facebook, and YouTube either via the web browser or a dedicated app that you can download from BlackBerry App World. You can also do the same with the Samsung Caliber as you can download similar apps from the MetroPCS store. The BlackBerry offers more smartphone functionality like office documents and a full QWERTY keyboard, while the Caliber is more of a multimedia device with a touch screen and media features, so it's up to you which is more suited for your particular needs.