Free smartphone service being tested

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Free smartphone service being tested

About Clark Howard

Find more answers to your consumer questions, plus Clark’s new book “Living Large for the Long Haul,” at ClarkHoward.com.

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Free smartphone service from FreedomPop is finally real! But you’ll have to meet certain requirements to get the most out of this deal.

Here’s how it works: You buy a $99 Android (HTC EVO Design 12GB) that’s a past generation model. It has a 4-inch screen like the iPhone 5, which is a size that’s considered very small in the Android world. Other specs on the phone include a 5MP camera, 12GBs of memory, and a 1.2 Ghz processor.

Once you buy the phone, you get 200 calling minutes, 500 text messages, and 500MB of data for free each month. With that kind of data you can’t watch video or listen to music, but you can do routine web surfing and emails. (By the way, you’ll also pay $2.49 a month for visual voicemail service.)

Fortunately, there’s a freemium model here. So if you want unlimited talk and text, you can have it for $10.99 a month. But you’ll still only get 500MB of data at that price. If you want meaningful data, you can get 2GB with unlimited talk and text for $20 a month.

So this is a very cheap, no contract service that’s in beta right now. I ordered the phone just a few hours ago and will try the free plan. As part of the deal, I’ll also have to fill out a steady stream of questionnaires about service quality so FreedomPop can get it right.

Sign up today and you’ll know based on your ZIP code and street address if you can be a beta tester. They may be taking only limited numbers of people from certain metro areas or certain parts of the country. I’m not yet sure what the strategy is behind the beta rollout.

But you can be sure I’ll let you know if the free service is viable or a real stinker in the coming weeks!

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