Sunday, February 10, 2013

First Impressions: Ting Galaxy Note 2

I bought my wife a Galaxy Note 2 from Ting.com for Christmas. The selling point of buying from Ting as opposed to say, AT&T, Verizon, T-mobile, or Sprint is that you buy a phone without a contract, and Ting charges you by usage rather than a flat $70 (and up) with a 2-year contract, which is far more expensive than paying for a phone up front and then paying per megabyte or per minute for use. It is possible to pay $30/month for unlimited T-mobile prepaid voice + data, but T-mobile coverage is so pathetic inside the Bay Area that your phone would effectively be an ornament if you were to choose the service. That works very well if you're an iPhone user, but is not very practical for anyone else.

Ting's plan charges $6/device, and then $3/month for 100 minutes and $3/month for 100MB, with a gradually decreasing cost as you consumer more data or more minutes. In the extreme, if you're fond of using uncapped data for viewing videos or streaming music, then you're likely to pay more. However, Bay Area professionals live in a wifi zone at home, and have access to wifi at work, so are very unlikely to stream large amounts of data during the course of a typical non-travel month. In practice, my wife uses $12 worth of Ting service a month.

The phone's screen is huge and a delight. It's also fast. While both Ting and Republic Wireless ostensibly resell Sprint's service, on head to head comparison there's no doubt that for whatever reason, the Galaxy Note 2's faster when loading web pages over 3G. The battery life is also incredible --- my wife usually gets at least 2 days a charge, and it's gotten to the point where she frequently forgets to charge the phone because it so rarely needs it.

The UI is wonky and strange if you're used to Nexus devices. There's all sorts of switches and sliders for controlling data usage, and we got a bit too aggressive at first with turning off background data, and then discovered that Google Navigation didn't work if you got that aggressive. Backing off that aggressiveness a bit and we ended up with very parsimonious use of data yet all the usual services worked (push e-mail, navigation, etc).

Samsung's also been very good about supporting users: soon after getting the device, there was an offer for a free Flip Cover as well as a free 5-pack of TecTiles in order to take advantage of the NFC built into the phone. I doubt very much that my wife will ever get conversant enough with phone technology in order to use it, but it still speaks volumes as to Samsung's support.

All in all, having used the phone for more than a month and getting $12/month of use out of it, I'm very impressed and can recommend the phone and service package to anyone who's lusting after a fast phone.
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