Switching AT&T iPhone 4S to Red Pocket Mobile

Update 4/4/13 - I have given up with Red Pocket (see note at bottom for details). But I can recommend Airvoice Wireless. See this article on Airvoice Wireless for a prepaid plan starting at $3.33/mo.

When my AT&T iPhone 4S recently came off contract, I began to look for alternative plans. I originally picked Red Pocket, because it meant I didn't need to jailbreak/unlock my phone. Red Pocket are an MVNO reselling AT&T airtime, so their sims should work in any AT&T phone. I ordered a MicroSIM from their web site for $9.99. It arrived in a few days, I popped it in, went through the Activate page on their web site, and within minutes I was setup with a new phone number. I could have also transferred a number, but since I use Google Voice, I always just get a new number.

Red Pocket currently offer a range of unlimited 7, 15 and 30 day plans. I picked the $29.99 plan which gives unlimited talk/text for 30 days and just 10MB of mobile data. That's a tiny amount of data, but I expected to be within wifi range all month, and it's easy to change plans. The current highest price plan is $54.99 with unlimited talk/text for 30 days and 1GB of mobile data. You can also buy data refills at any time, although at $10 for 10MB that's pretty expensive. So best to get an unlimited plan with enough data.

After the first month I've switched to a pay as you go (PayGo) plan. The PayGo refills start at $10 and the rates are currently $0.10 per minute talktime, $0.10 per text and $0.30 per MB. So if you don't expect to use the phone much, then this is a much more cost effective approach. The $10 refill has a 30 day expiry, but as long as you refill then it all rolls over. And the higher refill cards give you a longer expiry, up to a $100 refill card giving you a 1 year expiry.

One thing that doesn't work on my iPhone is MMS. There are steps on the web site to configure this but it requires jailbreaking the phone. And since I use Google Voice, I've never really bothered with MMS. Also to get data to work on the phone there are some simple online steps to add a profile to the iPhone, but that took moments and doesn't require jailbreaking.

I have had to work with support once. When I switched from an Unlimited plan to a PayGo plan, I added the PayGo refill before my Unlimited plan had expired. This appeared to confuse the system, and didn't update the expiry date. But Red Pocket have a Live Chat feature on their web site, and a very nice person was able to take care of it in about 5 minutes.

So overall I'm very happy with Red Pocket Mobile. If you have an AT&T phone that is out of contract and you use less than 1GB of data per month, and don't need MMS (or don't mind jailbreaking the phone) then it's a no brainer to switch. At $54.99 month it's even worth doing the math on paying an early termination fee to get out of your AT&T contract. If you want to check them out, then visit goredpocket.com.

Now if only someone could show me a simple way to switch my wife's Verizon iPhone 4S to a different provider.

Update 3/2/13 - well, after being quite happy with them, today I tried to use data and I get back the error "Access to this URL has been blocked" from the URL "http://att.mcore.com/px/...". I tried contacting support, who "reset my data". It worked briefly, but then back to the same error. They had me re-install the red pocket profile, power cycle the phone and a few other things. Nothing worked. In the end they wanted me to reset my iPhone back to factory settings. They were nice enough to warn me that I should "backup my contacts because I may lose them". I suggested that I wasn't going to reset my iphone. I tried contacting support again to get another agent, but it ended in the same place. So... I'll be trying another provider. Annoying because I've already got minutes with Red Pocket that I'll lose when I switch. I might try support again tomorrow, but it sounds like I'll end in the same place.

Update 4/4/13 - I never was able to get data to work again on Red Pocket, and their support line continued to insist that I needed to reset my iPhone back to factory settings. I have now switched to another AT&T MVNO - Airvoice Wireless - and surprise surprise everything works just fine. See this article on Airvoice Wireless prepaid plans.