The Make-A-Wish Foundation has partnered with Straight Talk Wireless in an effort to raise one million dollars for the Make-A-Wish foundation. I was provided with the one of the phones and I wanted to take the opportunity to review the LG smartphone, the Straight Talk service and this special promotion which benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation (you can read about my family’s own experience with the Make-A-Wish foundation here).
I received my phone last week and activated it, but I did not have time to write up the review for a week later, but fortunately there is still one more week left on the promotion.
The promotion is that for each demonstration of a Straight Talk phone at a WalMart, one dollar will be donated to the Make-A-Wish foundation (visit oneminuteonemillion.com to check for time and hours at your local WalMart store). If you are unable to demo a phone in person, ten cents will also be donated for every unique view of the promotional video at oneminuteonemillion.com.
THE SERVICE – STRAIGHT TALK WIRELESS
Straight Talk is a service provided by TracFone Wireless and according to their website they are America’s largest no-contract provider with over 19 million subscribers. The way it works is that you first purchase a phone, which you then own outright. Then you purchase time in monthly (30-day) increments. There is no contract, and you don’t ever have to worry about counting minutes. For $45 you get all the bandwidth you can consume for 30 days. If you decide that you don’t need to maintain service on the phone, then simply don’t refill your phone after the 30-days. On the flip side you also have the option of purchasing multiple 30-day “chunks” and they will automatically be added on to the end of your current term.
Keep in mind that this is unlimited voice AND data for $45 a month. For comparison I just reviewed prices for Sprint and Verizon. Sprint is $110 monthly for unlimited voice & data and Verizon is $100 for unlimited voice and 10GB of data. If you desire an unlimited data plan, the StraightTalk service seems to have the potential to save $50 a month or more, and you don’t ever have to commit with a contract.
As for the quality of the service, I did not notice any significant difference between the Straight Talk service and the Sprint service on my phone. Almost every time I checked my signal meter was just as strong as my Sprint service if not better (I tested the phone exclusively in NorthEast New Jersey).
I received my phone and the activation process took about 20 minutes. You have the option of performing the activation process over the phone or using the Straight Talk website. I went to the Straight Talk website and created a profile and then registered the serial number of my phone. Then I added the keycode for the first 30 days of service, dialed a few numbers to work with a guided programming of the phone, rebooted the phone and I was able to place and receive calls. For most the activation process will take around 20-30 minutes and you can do it all from the comfort of your own home.
THE PHONE – LG OPTIMUS ZIP
The LG Optimus Zip (pictured below) runs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), so you can run most of your favorite Android apps, including Netflix (which I tested successfully), Pandora, YouTube, Google Maps and many more. Here’s a short list of the basic phone capabilities:
- • Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)
- • 3.2” touch screen
- • GPS, WI-FI, and Bluetooth 3.0 enabled
- • 3.2 Megapixel rear-facing camera with video capability (VGA resolution)
- • Slideout QWERTY keyboard
The LG Optiumus Zip has a 3.2” touch screen which makes the viewing area just a bit smaller than the iPhone 4 (3.5”) for a reference point. The phone is very nice and compact, but the slideout keyboard on the bottom does add just a bit of thickness and weight to the phone.
No this is not an iPhone 5 or a Samsung Galaxy S III, but it is a very capable smartphone, loaded with a full slide out keyboard which can do most anything that we expect our smartphones to do, from GPS navigation, email and text messaging, music/movies/books and the full array of Android apps available in the Google Play store. Some parents may even like this type of phone for their children as the monthly renewal of the service could be contingent on maintaining adequate grades for example, and you never have to worry about exceeding data limits or additional charges.
The bottom line is that this is a very capable Android smartphone and some will find the $45 unlimited data quite appealing. You never have to worry about contracts or minutes – just purchase time in 30-day increments at a rate that is often half that of what competing networks would charge for a month of unlimited voice and data.
And there’s another good reason to check this phone out – for each person who tries out the phone at a participating WalMart, $1 will be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation with a goal of raising one million dollars for an incredible organization that does so many wonderful things. If you can get a chance, take one for a test drive. For more information on the Straight Talk and Make-A-Wish promotion, please visit oneminuteonemillion.com.