Cheap cell phone service that doesn't suck? A review of Tello Mobile.

5 months ago

Let me start this off by saying that I pay $6.24 a month for phone service with Tello Mobile. I will get to the logistics of that near the bottom of this post.

When most people think of cheap or free cell phone service they think of companies like FreedomPop. I used FreedomPop for a little while and found the service to be quite lacking. My calls were constantly being dropped, people couldn't hear me very well, and ultimately it just didn't feel very reliable.

Now I am certain that there are people out there who absolutely love FreedomPop and don't have any issues with them. For me, they just didn't work out so well. I think it has something to do with the fact that they try to use a combination of cell phone towers and voice over IP using Wi-Fi whenever possible. This results in a constant switching which, in my case, resulted in fairly bad cell service.

Therefore, I decided I wanted to find a service that would be cheap but also use strictly cell phone towers and not voice over IP at all. This lead me to a company called Ringplus, which ran on the Sprint Network. Ringplus was free for essentially unlimited minutes and text with some data, the only caveat being that instead of a ringtone when you dialed, you would have to listen to a song that you could then buy on Amazon.com if you wanted to.

The service worked great and it seemed too good to be true. Ultimately it was. When Ringplus failed a few months ago, some people that had paid for premium memberships were left in the lurch having shelled out money for something that they didn't, and wouldn't, get. The rest of us, though, were just left looking for a new phone service.

There were quite a few to choose from but I ultimately went with Tello.com, which again runs on the Sprint network.

Tello has two business plans. You can either grab an a la carte plan, or you can just pay as you go. While pay as you go is a good deal at 3 cents a minute for talk, 1 cent per text, and 2 cents per MB of data, I chose to go a la carte. Tello does not have a line charge like Ting does, which is a huge plus. Ting is also a la carte but charges $6 per line, no matter what you add to it. With Tello you just need to spend at least $5 a month, no line charge. A cheap, light phone user like me can buy 200 texts and 200 MB of data for $6.24 including taxes.

The clincher is that after using the 200 MB of 4G LTE data you will automatically switch to 2G @ 64K, which is good enough to check and send most emails. Now, I still remember when we were using 14.4K modems. Heck, I remember upgrading to 28.8K and being very excited about it. At the end of the dial-up era we were using 56K modems and feeling like we were really fast, with some lucky few even faster with their 64K DSL. Sure that's slow for today, but it's really just fine for checking and sending emails.

I use an app called textnow to make voice over IP calls from my house. Being that I don't do a lot of calling when I'm away from my home, I don't really need anything more than this. If you mostly use the internet to check and send emails, 200 texts is enough for you, and you're fine only making calls from your house then you can easily get away with spending $6.24 a month. Otherwise, I'm sure they have a plan to fit your needs. Unlimited talk is $15 a month, add unlimited texts for another $3 and you've got $18 if you don't need data, or $22 if you want 200MB plus unlimited 2G @64K.

Also, If you have a question they get right back to you. All in all, for now, I don't think Tello can be beat. At least not until another Ringplus comes along.

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