Christopher Price is the Founding Editor of PhoneNews.com. Today, he leads the team building Console, Inc. - a new kind of Android™ device. He still likes to pontificate... a lot. You can visit his personal blog at ChristopherPrice.net.

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45 responses to “Virgin Mobile’s Samsung Intercept Changes Everything”

  1. JJ

    I wonder how hard it is to root this phone?

  2. Larry C

    Yes, I’m happy VM is offering this phone, but is this really a “stop the presses” moment? VM has been offering the Blackberry 8530 with a similar plan (ok, $10/month more) for a number of months.

    How can you say “this phone does what no other phone in America does: Delivering a prepaid smartphone experience that shames the postpay offerings” when the VM Blackberry clearly is a prepaid smartphone in this category?

  3. Don Louie

    Virgin Mobile offering Android is newsworthy, Web OS would be even better. Verizon opened up the gates for thier prepay brand so Sprint should too.

  4. Vic

    Larry C

    1/3rd less is a big deal, unlimited is a big deal, Android over BB is a big deal, and I think he was comparing to to post-pay. I thought I read that somewhere.

    Anyway prepay has come of age!

  5. Vic

    Now if we could just get VM to allow Google Voice as a voicemail provider everything would be hunky-dory for me!

  6. Larry C

    This article has an error: It’s not “unlimited everything for $25”; it’s unlimited text and data + 300 voice minutes for $25/mo. Yes, it’s a good deal, but let’s be accurate please.

  7. Vic

    Christopher Price

    Yea, I saw that too, but I knew what you were talking about. That being said, good luck pulling it off! Fring, Skype, no good. But maybe a Vonage Android app or an Ooma Android?

  8. Larry C

    @Christopher Price, yes I realize you can run VoIP apps on this phone, but it’s still not true to call the plan an “Unlimited Everything” plan for $25. Heck, you might as well call an Ipod Touch a phone then, since it can also run VoIP apps. Methinks you are taking some journalistic liberties.

  9. Larry C

    @Christopher,
    The fact that this phone offers a $25/mo, unlimited data plan is awesome; don’t get me wrong.
    But the fact is, the plan offers unlimited data, unlimited text, and 300 VOICE MINUTES. In no way shape or form does the plan offer unlimited voice minutes. Yes, you can run a voip app on this phone, but that in no way changes the bundled voice minutes. A headline that implies otherwise is sensationalistic.

    Plus, I know of no voip plans (other than google voice) that offer, for free, both unlimited incoming & outgoing calls that connect to the PSTN. Very interested in seeing what your upcoming article suggests for making this happen. If you are suggesting running a VoIP client on the phone then linking to Gizmo5, which can link via SIP to GV, then there’s a big catch: Google is not handing out any more Gizmo5 accounts.

    Looking forward to your articles.

  10. Ronald A

    Anyone know when VM is officially selling it on their site?

    I know it’s at target, just wanna get it from VM.

  11. Vic

    Christopher Price

    I hate to say it, but while the phone number (DID) is free you only get 60 free minutes.

    Or not.

  12. Christopher Price

    Vic, this is why we want people to wait for the guide.

    Google Voice lets you route outbound calls as inbound calls, thus using your (unlimited) inbound quota on Gizmo5/SIPgate.

    It will be clear how this works when the guide comes out, we’re burning the midnight oil to give you a photo step-by-step.

  13. JJ

    I can’t wait for the step by step guide but as of now I already use google voice for unlimited calling. I just put my google number as one of my pick 3 and now my 450 everything data is an unlimited everything. I know love google voice.

  14. Larry C

    Ah, I see where you are going. (FYI, IPKall can also be used for free inbound DID’s as an alternative to Sipgate)

    Inbound: Google voice, forwarding to –> Sipgate —> Voip client (Sipdroid?)
    Outbound: need to use google voice (through your web browser) to bridge a two leg call: Leg 1: Google Voice calls your sipgate number, which then rings your Voip Client (Sipdroid). Leg 2: GV calls the outbound number.

    Very ingenious.

    Some things to point out:

    1. To place an outbound call, you’ll need to go into your web browser, go the the google voice website, and initiate your outbound call. This would take a number of steps and presumably would be a bit of a PITA; certainly you can’t use the phones built-in dialer. (There may be an app for this that could automate all these steps; would be interested to know if you have found one)
    2. I have to tell you, from extensive personal experience, calling from the PSTN to GV to Sipgate to your sip client will have issues, specifically latency. I spent a month or so trying to use this exact setup (e.g, giving people my GV number which forwarded to sipgate which forwarded to my sip phone) and ultimately I found it unusable for business purposes due to excessive latency. By latency I mean delay: people told me there was always a pause between when they stopped speaking and when I started talking. It really hindered normal conversations. It also made conference calls very difficult, as someone else would always start talking before me and it was too difficult to get a word in due to the delay. Your mileage may vary, but I found it too problematic to use for business. This brings me to my next point:
    2a. If you are lucky enough to have a Gizmo5 Sip account, then you can actually make this work. I found that if you forward Google Voice to a Gizmo account, and then use a Sip phone for receiving the call, the latency is fine (apparently due to fewer conversions in the audio path) and this is quite workable.

    So I give a partial ‘thumbs-up’ to your solution, and am looking forward to your guide.

  15. jk

    Can you run Skype on this? If so, can you use a Skype unlimited plan to make calls to landlines/mobiles or would you be limited to only Skype-to-Skype calls?

  16. Christopher Price

    Aside from a leaked beta, Skype for Android is limited to Verizon handsets at this time.

    Presumably when Skype is available for all Android phones, you would be able to use SkypeOut service for $2.99/month to make unlimited landline calls.

    This can already be done using an iPod touch and a Virgin Mobile MiFi, albeit for a higher price ($40/month vs $25/month for the Intercept). Which, is why pulling off free calling on the Intercept itself is a more attractive solution.

  17. Larry

    The Intercept has only rev0, which is essentially 2G uploading. Are you sure you can get both the throughput and the latency you need for VoIP over rev0 ?

  18. Robert H

    Does the Virgin Mobile version of the Samsung Intercept also have visual voicemail? I’m thinking no, but perhaps I’ll be surprised. I was kind of hoping for HTC Legend like Virgin Mobile Canada has, but the Intercept is a decent mid-range phone.

  19. Christopher Price

    Robert, no, the Virgin Mobile variant does not appear to have visual voicemail standard.

  20. Curtis Carmack

    A little more on Larry’s points 1 and 2. First, you do not need to use the Google Voice website when on an Android phone, as the GV application allows you to route all outgoing calls from the dialer. Also, I agree that latency can be an issue, mainly over a fair or poor 3G connection. I use the Google Voice/SIPgate/SIP client method all the time, and get very clean calls when in my home and office wifi zones, and sometimes when I have a good to excellent 3G signal. One thing that seems to matter a fair bit is the quality of the SIP client. Hardware clients (like an SIP phone or an ATA connected to a standard phone) work better than software clients, and there is a tremendous variation in the quality of software clients. E.g., on the iPhone, Acrobits clients seem better than most.

    Another alternative if you are already a big Skype user is to have Google Voice point to your SkypeIn number. I do this regularly on my iPad (using wifi) and have very good quality — in general much better than cellphone calls. It hasn’t been as good on my iPhone 3G, but my wife’s iPhone 4 seems to do very well with Skype and SkypeIn.

  21. hank

    I bought the VM Intercept at Target and it came with a $20 Target gift card. Talk about amazing deal. I absolutely couldn’t be happier with my new phone. Even if it’s only Android 2.1 it’s freaking fantastic! I feel like I’ve finally stepped into the 21st Century! The phone and it’s apps work flawlessly.

  22. David Love

    Has anyone else tried Skype on this phone? Really interested, but only if Skype works…

  23. Vic

    Skype doesn’t work. I canned it.

  24. jiml8

    I purchased one of these two days ago at Target for $249, and got the $20 gift card.

    I have rooted the phone using a kernel that is found at SDX-Developers. Seems to be working fine. Also installed a new recovery, and a JIT compiler. The JIT increased speed by a factor of 6. Very impressive.

    Presently I am waiting for final testing of app2sd; I have already manually formatted an SD card to work with it.

    I really like the phone.

  25. sparki

    jim18,

    After reading your post on this forum, I too went to Target to pick up the Samsung Intercept. Can you please share your knowledge as to where I could obtain the information to root the phone as well as installing the JIT compiler?

    Thanks.

  26. jahzaam

    @sparki

    everything you need is here: http://forum.sdx-developers.com/intercept-development/

    google is your friend.
    🙂

    im dumping t-mo (5 myfavs+300 mins+unlimited text/data @~$85/month) and retiring my faithful g1 to order the intercept on virgin mobile’s $40/month beyond talk plan… good lord thats a great price. hoping the positive reviews i read about service quality in los angeles prove to be accurate.

  27. Robert H

    What part of Los Angeles? I’m on the east side and the signal strength can be really bleh. When there is a signal it’s good, but I don’t think it can compare to T-Mobile. They also double charged me on the first month, but did remedy it after a few months. A relative just activated theirs and had problems with charging the monthly fee. The Intercept has also turned out to be really power hungry and sluggish at times.

  28. jahzaam

    pomona-about as far east as it gets for LA haha. i am also often times in parts the IE (rancho/ontario) to visit friends. during winter i am up in the mountains pretty frequently to snowboard, but im not really expecting a whole lot in terms of signal strength up there. disappointing to hear that the coverage is hit or miss in your experience. i decided the other day that maybe it would be a good idea to get a $20 prepaid phone card from virgin & activate the Intercept with that initially, while forwarding all my t-mo calls to this new number from virgin, just to investigate the service. if i like it i can tell them to port my existing number; if i decide that i am not satisfied i can return the phone for a refund within 30 days & only be out $20 for the phone card plus whatever shipping may be.

  29. tre

    That would be a great add on. I just got the intercept and love it! I am now fighting to get it to cync my msn act. I think its being blocked because its hooked up to my google voice account. Don’t know why they would have a problem with us using g v but if that’s the case maybe u could look into getting that fixed too? Could just be that its only letting me use my gmail account cuz now it does not have an option to add a account other than faceb. Google, and the other social networking sites. It gave me other options before. Oh well,I still love the phone and apreciate what u r doing 2 make owning it even more fun. Thanx.
    Tre

  30. jahzaam

    overall i like the phone, but i find the keyboard layout to be extremely awkward. i noticed on the new samsung epic that was recently released, they fixed this issue by adding a much needed 5th row of keys. i suppose i will either have to get used to it or switch to the bb-curve…

  31. Steve 3.x

    Sometimes things are too good to be true.

    As a new VM subscriber with the Intercept and the $25 ‘unlimited’ plan, I cannot tell you the level of frustration I have had with the company over their recent internet outages. Today’s outage (which actually started on November 11th) has no end in sight. To make matters worse, VM isn’t being honest about its problems. They have not and probably never will explain what happened. Nor will they compensate everyone who has experienced this complete service meltdown. This level of incompetence reminds me of when AOL started offering unlimited internet access. Some people will never learn.

    As Verizon once said, your phone is only as good as the network it’s on. And sadly if it’s on VM, you have nothing but a shiny piece of plastic.

  32. jahzaam

    Steve is completely correct on the above comment. With T-Mobile I receive lightning fast data transfer speeds of ~450 KB/s down and ~150 KB/s up. With VM my data speeds are ~15 KB/s down and ~3 KB/s up and the coverage is extremely inconsistent in areas near my home and in the places that I travel to on a regular basis. Not to mention the phone– I have experienced it to be quite sluggish in terms of responsiveness with no extra apps installed from the Android marked & the keyboard layout is among the worst I have encountered on a smart phone. Perhaps rooting it would allow me an opportunity to boost the phone’s responsiveness & overclock the CPU, but I feel that the headaches I would experience as a VM customer far outweigh the savings that I would receive on my monthly cell phone bill. I have returned the Samsung Intercept to VM within the 30-day trial period for a refund & I will be sticking with T-Mo (hell, when I called T-Mo’s customer service they offered to lower the cost of my data plan by $5/month & an early upgrade to a new phone just because I hinted that I was thinking of leaving to go to another carrier; I will be accepting that offer & getting the new G2 phone by HTC). As the previous post said, use caution with anything that seems too good to be true; buyer beware…..

  33. KIM

    I just left my iphone to the Intercept to save $. I am very frustrated with the sluggish email. When I open an email, I have to walk away from the phone, then return a few minutes later to check if it’s opened yet. If I don’t walk away, I’ll probably throw the phone…
    Is there any suggestions on speedinbg this phone up? I clicked on the link above, but the link is broken…
    Hurry, before my intercept is too! I am not a tech person, maybe you should suggest a place to take it to?

  34. kim

    Another question,

    Would my kids be able to use VM’s broadband to go for their xbox live account? This would be a Christmas present & I wouldn’t want the boys upset.

    Thank you!

  35. Ron

    What happened to that guide?

  36. Ron
  37. Tabitha Leigh

    I just bought the android and I love it, and the 25 dollars a month plan is way better then being with verizon.

  38. Julia Something

    Is there any way you can use Skype on this phone? Or any other thing? Also how can you make it wi-fi cappable?

  39. MCF3778

    only problem I get is the service in my area “virgin mobile” only gives me data rates that compare with 1990’s dial up…. so its a useless phone… wifi tether is also pointless