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Why doesn’t Ting have the iPhone?

Often, when we talk with potential Ting customers about handsets, the iPhone will come
up. With good reason; even for an Android devotee, the iPhone 4s is an undeniably sweet smartphone.

Around Ting HQ, we’re largely Android users. Many of us made the switch to Android from the iPhone when Ting first came online and never looked back; Android has really come into its own as an excellent OS unto itself. That said, as a mobile company, we would love to be able to offer the iPhone to customers that want it.

To be frank, device supply has been one of the the biggest challenges we’ve faced. While our customers love the idea of paying for minutes, messages and megabytes separately without overages or silly add-on fees, they also want the latest smartphones. We’re geeks first so we understand the all-consuming desire for the latest and greatest gadgets all too well.

The current mobile status quo sees the big name telcos securing device exclusives for their customers by making minimum sales commitments, offering joint marketing efforts including big budget TV commercials and deep device subsidies to lessen sticker shock and bolster sales. In short, device exclusives come down to volume. Carrier subsidized devices also mean term contracts on expensive “unlimited” plans and early termination fees (ETFs) for early exit.

OK… so why don’t you have the iPhone?

Apple has many requirements that a carrier must meet before they can offer the iPhone. The arrangement is very similar to the way device exclusives work but without any actual exclusives being offered.

Apple’s iconic smartphone enjoys a healthy premium over other smartphones whose specs match or even beat out the iPhone. Apple is obviously very careful to protect this premium… and really, who wouldn’t be?

Minimum purchase commitments are but one (albeit very significant) part of the requirements a carrier must promise to meet before it can offer the iPhone to its customers.

Case in point: Sprint’s February 2012 purchase commitment for $15.5b worth of iPhones over the next four years.

Another of the requirements is that a carrier must offer its own support, both for the network (obviously) but also for the iPhone itself. That speaks to one of our core competencies; among our other device-specific support, we offer extensive video start-up guides for all our phones. We offer unparalleled customer support with no-hold, no-transfer customer service at 1-855-TING-FTW. We have extensive help and support documentation on our customer support site.

Apple protects its price by having carriers offer iPhone device subsidies to minimize sticker shock. With subsidies come contracts, early termination fees, upgrade fees and other gotchas.

We’ve heard from customers that they’d be willing to sign a contract if we could offer the iPhone. While we appreciate the sentiment and the trust it demonstrates, mobile contracts go against our core beliefs as a company. They’re complex, which runs contrary to our “mobile that makes sense” mantra. While they allow customers to get the latest and greatest phone with a smaller up-front investment, they’re back-loaded and don’t have customers’ best interests at heart. In short, we don’t now nor will we ever deal in contracts.

We’re working to find other ways we can offer the iPhone to Ting customers. It’s a complicated issue. While we’re knocking on many doors (front, back and side), we don’t expect to have anything of substance to report in the immediate future.

Looking at the list of carriers currently offering the iPhone though, we like our odds.

If the time comes that we can indeed offer the iPhone, the Ting sticker price would be the full, unlocked iPhone price.

We’ll keep you posted as and if we have news on this front. For now though, know that we’re always working on it.

EDIT: We’re offering regular device updates here on the Ting blog. Previously, we didn’t want to talk about our device lineup efforts before they bore fruit for fear of disappointing you. We’ve since realized that wasn’t very Ting of us. Please take these device update posts for what they are: an update on our efforts to get the latest and greatest devices. Not a set in stone device roadmap. With that said, please do take a look if you’d like to know what we’re working on on the device front.

International texting on Ting

We’ve received several questions about how and if international texting works on Ting. That is, texting from the United States to a phone outside the US.

International texting does indeed work on Ting, and our rates best those of other carriers. No need to grab a calculator; we do after all like to keep things simple: International text messages are billed at the regular Ting text message rate which is 1/4¢. If you opted for the Medium level for text messages for example (1,000 messages, $5) then international text messages are counted as one of your 1,000 messages. This rate applies to text messages both incoming and outgoing.

To send a text message across international borders, just enter the regular phone number prepended with the country and area code. If you’re familiar with international calling, the process is exactly the same.

Use the handy Country Calling Codes directory to figure out exactly what digits you need to prepend to your foreign friend’s phone number.

If you save your friend’s contact information with the full country and area code already prepended to their local phone number, you can save yourself a lot of hassle.

For example, to text a friend in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia you’d save the contact as 011603 then the person’s local number. To text a friend in London, England it’s 01144 then the local number.

How to save money on mobile service

How to save money on mobile serviceLast week, we posted a poll on the Ting Facebook page asking Ting switchers how much they’re saving on mobile service since switching to Ting. Savings are relative to respondents’ previous mobile carrier bills.

While we’re not going to claim this poll as scientific (accurate to +/- 5%, 19 times out of 20) the results were nonetheless illuminating.

The poll was broken down into eight options:

  • $0 or less than $0
  • $0 – $10
  • $10 – $20
  • $20 – $30
  • $30 – $40
  • $40 – $50
  • $50+
  • Keep your nose out of my personal affairs!

We’re aware of the fact that “mobile that makes sense” means big savings as people start paying for what they use without buying in to unlimited or worrying about overage penalties. After all, it’s not just a pithy slogan. That said, the results of this poll surprised even us a bit with the vast majority, 20 of the 35 respondents, saying they’re saving more than $50 each month with Ting vs their previous mobile carrier.

The results of the Facebook poll:

  • $0 or less than $0: 0
  • $0 – $10: 2
  • $10 – $20: 1
  • $20 – $30: 2
  • $30 – $40: 5
  • $40 – $50: 5
  • $50+: 20
  • Keep your nose out of my personal affairs!: 0

So, in answer to the headline promise: How to save money on mobile service? The answer: for most of us, it’s as simple as paying for what we use.

Grab a couple of recent mobile bills and try our Ting Calculator to find out if Ting can save you money on your mobile service.


Seven Must-Have Apps for Android Users

Many of us here at Ting HQ are Android devotees and more are switching all the time. One recent switcher took to Yammer to ask for some internal app recommendations. After spending 10 minutes pulling together my list of a few favorites, I realized I’d be remiss to not share them here too. So, here it is. My top seven favorite Android apps that, in my humble opinion, are true must-haves for Android users new and old.


You HAVE to get Any.DO. It’s a great to-do manager but the missed call notifications are the real seller. My favorite feature of this app (aside from the aforementioned missed call notifications) is the way it integrates your contacts list. You can add a note to “Call Andrew Moore-Crispin” and if I’m in your address book, Any.DO will add a little call icon that you can tap to make the call.

Business Calendar

Business Calendar beats the stock calendar by a wide margin. It’s free but once you’re hooked, it’s $5 for the full version. It seamlessly pulls in your Google Calendar, including any categories and synced calendars you have set up.


Shush! is a great utility; it lets you silence your ringer for a period of time from 15 minutes to 12 hours. No need to open the app, just silence as you normally would and Shush! pops up. You can set the volume your ringer will restore to as well. It’s simple, it does one thing and it does it very well.

Alarm Clock Plus

Alarm Clock Plus is awesome if, like me, you have trouble hauling yourself out of bed in the morning. You can set it to ask you arithmetic questions to force you out. It’s much more customizable than the stock Clock app and the alarm option included there.

Onavo Count

Onavo Count is great if you’re looking to monitor, understand and possibly curtail your mobile data use. It keeps a running tally of your overall data use. You can set a monthly limit and receive alerts when you’re getting close or even shut off the mobile data connection when you hit your limit. The included Widget options are great and notifications alert you to “data hog” apps so you can cut them off at the pass.


OurGroceries is the best grocery list manager I’ve used. If you need to keep grocery lists (or really, any lists) organized and updated between devices, this is must-have. My fiancee and I use this app to plan a two-pronged grocery store attack. We each take a flank then meet somewhere in the middle to consolidate our haul and head to the checkout. This makes for fewer arguments and a time savings of half.


Zedge is great if you want a bunch of custom ringtones and notifications. Special mention to the Loud Alarm and Train Alarm that, in conjunction with Alarm Clock Plus, ensure I get out of bed in the morning… despite my body decrying that sleeping until noon is actually the way it should be.

Do you have any must-have Android apps? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

A Few Mobile Contract Horror Stories
from Dump Your Contract Month

Over the course of the Ting Dump Your Contract Month sweepstakes, we collected entries and invited the mobile contract-afflicted to share the sweeps with their friends. Despite the fact that doing so would edge the odds ever so slightly further out of their favor, people obliged.

After people entered the sweeps, we offered a text box where they could share their mobile contract horror stories. And there were some pretty horrific stories. Many of the stories that we received were a little too uh… vitriolic to share. We did promise catharsis in the text box beckoning mobile contract horror stories, so I guess people just let loose. We were surprised by the sheer length of some of the stories too. Seems the mobile contract-afflicted have a lot to get of their collective chest.

If you submitted your mobile contract horror story, know that it was read, appreciated and taken to heart. Thanks so much for taking the time. Except that one in all CAPS. What’s up with that?

We’re not going to post the ones that call other mobile service providers out by name. That wouldn’t be very Ting of us. It does narrow the field somewhat though…

Following are a literal few of our favorite horror stories. Thanks again for taking the time to share.

It’s been a long time coming that someone recognized that the carrier should be billing for data and bits plus whatever costs they pay for a phone number at their target margins, not some hodgepodge of costs that have no connection to a user’s real impact on the network! Looking forward to Ting’s success!

Jasen B.
I am currently in a contract with 2 feature phones. I have 1400 minutes and Unlimited text with NO DATA plan. My bill is $136 per month. I keep looking at and seeing that I could have phone, text AND data for less than half of what I’m paying now. HELP ME!!!

Nathan J.
I absolutely cannot handle that stuck feeling anymore. I need to feel free again. I also need to stop paying $118 a month just to have a smart phone.

Fun facts from the mobile contract horror stories:

Total word count of all stories submitted: 1,323

Word and punctuation occurrences across all stories:

  • “Contract”: 11
  • Dollar sign ($): 12
  • Exclamation points (!): 32
  • “Help”: Three
  • “bend over”: Just one… but it was a very colorful one.

The Ting Dump Your Contract sweeps ended at 8:59 this morning and we’re no longer paying out early termination fees (ETF). Even factoring in ETFs though, you’ll probably still come out on top with Ting. You can see ETFs by carrier here then grab a couple of your wireless bills and try the Ting Calculator to see how we stack up.

On Data Use and Doing the Right Thing

When you’re trying to bring about a better way to do mobile, you face some unique and interesting challenges.

Case in point: recently, a Ting customer reached out to us to explain that he’d been billed for some data and couldn’t initially figure out why given that he hadn’t actively used any data. After some forensics, it turns out this customer has a data device that released and renewed its IP address. In so doing, it used 536 bytes of data or 0.0005 of a megabyte. There was no other data use on this device. Effectively, this tiny amount of data pushed him from the XS tier ($0, 0MB) for data and into the Small tier ($3, up to 100MB).

Rather than rubbing our hands together while laughing maniacally at our ill-gotten $3, then grabbing three sodas from the vending machine (that was my suggestion but it was summarily shot down) we decided to do the right thing. Not just by refunding this particular customer but by making a change to our billing policies for all Ting customers.

Effective today, we’re offering data grace in an effort to ensure that customers aren’t billed for data they didn’t know they were using; IP refreshes and the like.

In the first month of service, every Ting customer receives 20MB of data grace. This is to cover data that’s sent during the initial activation of a smartphone or data device. If you connect your smartphone to a Wi-Fi network before activating, which we recommend in all our Ting Start Up Guide video series, you’re already ahead of the game.

If you roll through the 20MB grace with willful data use, you’ll be billed normally. We’re not making the first 20MB of data free so much as we’re protecting customers against data that didn’t intend to use in the initial activation, phone setup and poking around process.

You’ll definitely want to make sure you connect to a Wi-Fi network before doing anything major like grabbing the latest Android update or pulling all your Gmail contacts in from the cloud on the mobile network, but 20MB will more than cover any data used in the initial activation.

Subsequent months, every Ting customer gets 1MB of data grace to cover things like IP refreshes and server pings. Again, basically, data that customers didn’t willfully use.

That’s just how we roll.