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Device update: Focusing on feature phones and refurbs

After a string of additions to our mid-range and hero Android smartphone lineup, we’ve made some progress on the feature phone front too. We’ll be adding the Samsung Array (M390) to the lineup just as soon as we get them in the warehouse. We’ll also be adding the accessible flip feature phone that some customers have been asking for in the near future.

Both of these devices will hit the Ting devices page by the end of October. Sooner, supply chain willing.

Accessible feature phone

We finally have a confirmation on the model number for this guy. We thought it would be the Samsung M400… but when all our searches turned up a PocketPC device (the SCH-M400) we had some doubts.

Turns out, the Samsung M400 is indeed the accessible feature phone that will be available soon, but with the SPH precursor (SPH-M400).

This device features a large 2.4-inch inside screen with easily adjustable font sizes. It has a colossal keypad with large numbers, a dedicated 911 key and “in case of emergency” button that stores three contacts for quick dialling should the need arise. It’s also got a hands-free speaker button that pushes calls through the louder rear speaker. In addition, a text to speech utility will read off on-screen text including contact names, caller ID history, missed calls and also helps with menu navigation for the visually impaired.

More refurbished options

Given the popularity of the refurb devices we’ve been able to offer so far, we’ve redoubled our efforts to get more and better refurbs. Side note: What does redoubled even mean, really? Seems strangely unquantifiable given that it’s used to refer to a quantity… Don’t think I’ll be using that one again.

We ran a poll on Facebook asking if anyone was interested in the Kyocera Echo refurbished at about $60. This device is an odd one with its dual screens and quasi tablet mode. Voting so far suggests people aren’t really interested. If you feel differently or if you agree, cast a vote.

We’re planning to partner with a reseller of used and refurbished devices to expand our available product offering further. When BYO(S)D comes online we’ll be able to offer up used and refurbished Sprint devices for use on Ting too. That will mean a huge increase in the number of devices that we can offer for use on Ting.

When talking to potential partners, we’re very careful to ensure they understand what we’re doing and that they keep customer service as close to their hearts as we do. We can’t say who the third party we’ll be working with is until the ink is dry but rest assured, they’re really good at what they do.

In addition to adding to our device offering, this partner also offers a used device purchase program which means Ting (or really, any) device could also be sent in for some cash without the Craigslist / Kijiji / eBay hassles.

Device Update: New news for new as in new and news for new as in refurbished

In this week’s device update we’ve got a fair bit of news, as hinted in the headline. We’ve got a couple of new phones inbound to Ting and we’ve got a little more detail to share on the home phone solution and the refurbished devices we mentioned in last week’s update.

New as in new

LG Optimus G


We’ll be adding this device in mid to late November… it’s quite a device too. We’ve always liked LG’s handsets as they stay very close to stock Android and don’t make a bunch of unnecessary modifications to the operating system. While we know that tech specs only tell part of the story, what’s on offer here is very impressive: This LTE device has a 4.7-inch display at 768×1280, 32 GB of internal storage, 2 GB of RAM and a quad-core 1.5 GHz processor. It runs Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box. LG has already announced plans to release Android 4.1, Jelly Bean to this and select other devices in the near term too.

Price is as yet TBD but as always, we’ll offer it up for very close to our own purchase price.

Note that this is not the currently rumoured LG Optimus G Nexus… we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Samsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE


The Samsung Galaxy Victory is a powerful LTE-ready smartphone and it will hit the Ting lineup very soon. It steps in where the Samsung Galaxy SII lets off, that device having been removed from the Ting lineup for the immediately foreseeable future. It adds accessing the LTE network to its bag of tricks over the SII. The Victory is the entry level LTE-ready device in Ting’s lineup… but “entry level” is an unfair categorization for this very capable smartphone: The dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 4-inch WVGA display and the 5 MP camera belie the Victory’s price tag of around $300

You’ll note that we haven’t made a single pun in writing about the Victory. We’d call that a win. Wait a second…

Samsung Array M390


The Samsung Array (M390) will be available to order from Ting early next week. We’re excited to add this device to our lineup not only ensure our feature phone selection hits the major touchstones, it’s also a very nice phone in its own right.

If you’re looking for a reasonably priced feature phone whose main role in your life is to make calls and send text messges, this landscape QWERTY slider might just be the perfect bet. Aside from doing all the usual feature phone things, it also lets you link up with social media (Facebook, Twitter), send and receive emails and visit the data-sipping mobile versions of your favorite web sites.

New as in refurbished

We’ll be offering up the Samsung Transform Ultra and the LG Marquee as refurbished options this week. The LG Marquee just hit our devices page. This is a jump forward from the previously outlined timeframe for these devices and we’re pleased to be able to offer both up for under $100.

Other devices inbound

Home Phone Connect


We talked a little about this in our previous device update. Now it seems we’ll be able to add the Home Phone Connect to our list of available devices sooner than the originally stated six to eight weeks.

Home Phone Connect doesn’t get quite the attention of a cutting-edge smartphone. That said, we’re excited to be able to offer it up. This device lets you use your existing analog (landline) phones and acts just like any other Ting device on your account, using your pooled Ting voice minutes.

Home numbers can already be ported over to Ting, it’s just that now, the case for doing so is more compelling. Grabbing a Home Phone Connect and porting your home number could mean significant savings. If everyone in the family already has a mobile device and the home phone goes largely unused but you’re not ready to cut that cord entirely, chances are good that your home phone via Home Phone Connect won’t even push you out of your chosen bucket for voice minutes. If that’s true of your usage, that could mean cutting your home phone bill down to just the $6 per device fee that’s standard across Ting.

Pricing and exact availability are as yet TBD but we expect to add it to our lineup at $100 +/- about $10 in as soon two to three weeks. The variability in price comes from the fact that our own cost for Home Phone Connect isn’t 100% nailed down as yet.

LTE data stick(s)

We’re working to have at least one data stick and / or card in our lineup before the end of the year. Which data stick or card specifically is unfortunately unknown at present. Sprint is currently testing a wide array of LTE data sticks that we MVNOs can opt to offer up. We’ll provide more details as things become more clear.

We often ask our Facebook community which devices they want to see. If you want to get in on that voting, come on over! (one of us, one of us). We’re also doing a giveaway of one Samsung Galaxy SIII 16 GB for use on Ting. Just share this Facebook post linking to the Ting calculator and you’re automatically entered. This particular give-away ends Friday, October 12 at noon ET.

Device update: New refurbs, Home Phone Connect and a look at what 2013 will bring

As we said in our recent BYOD update, our trip to Sprint HQ in Kansas City was very productive. In addition to making progress on the important subjects of BYOD, new devices and refurbished devices, we also had a chance to talk through our device delivery. We’ll be talking about improvements in the warehouse and what they mean soon. In the interim though, here’s this week’s device update.

Device lineup – Short term

New refurbs available soon on Ting

LG Marquee

We’ll be adding the LG Marquee to our lineup as a refurbished device at under $100. Obvious biases aside (full disclosure: I work here) it’s a great price for a pretty sweet phone. It’s got a 4-inch screen, a 1 GHz processor, half a gig of RAM and 2 GB of internal storage which can be added to with an inexpensive microSD card. PC Mag went so far as to give it their Editor’s Choice award.

Samsung Transform Ultra

We’ve already got the Samsung Transform Ultra in our device lineup. We’ll be adding it in as a refurbished option too for less than half but a little more than a third the $205 price when purchased new. You do the math!

The big draw here is the full QWERTY keyboard, ideal for the heavy texting and emailing sets. With a 1GHz processor and 512MB of RAM running Android 2.3, Gingerbread it’s not the absolute cutting edge. However, it’s been very well received and we’re happy to be able to offer it up at at a price that can only be called compelling.

We’re looking to have both the Samsung Transform Ultra and the LG Marquee available in the next couple or few weeks, supply chain willing. We don’t currently see any reason this timeframe won’t be met.

Home Phone Connect

We’ll be adding Home Phone Connect to our lineup in six to eight weeks. This device connects to the cell network but lets you use your own analog phones, including cordless phones, to talk. When Home Phone Connect launches on Ting you’ll be able to port over your home (landline) phone number. I mean, you can do that too… but when Home Phone Connect launches on Ting, you’ll have even more reason to do so.

While it’s not officially supported, reports are that you can plug the Home Phone Connect into a standard phone outlet in your house and light up your existing home phone wiring. That way, any analog phone you plug in to an existing phone jack will work (assuming, of course, that your home phone wiring is in good shape).

Device lineup – Longer term

Windows Phone

We’re looking ahead to the device lineup for the first half of 2013. We’ll be adding a Windows Phone device running the latest version of the mobile OS within this time. Worst case scenario for Windows Phone on Ting: We’ll have the latest WP device sixty days after Sprint begins offering it. Best case: We’ll have it at the same time as it becomes available in Sprint’s lineup.

Nexus

Rather than saying that we expect the next Nexus device will be available on Ting, instead we’ll say we don’t currently see any reason it won’t be available on Ting. It’s a small but important distinction. We’ll share more detail as soon as there’s more to share. If the rumor mill is true, the next Nexus will be made by LG and it’ll be a quad-core smartphone with 2 GB of RAM, a 1280x768px display and 16 GB of internal storage.

iPhone

If didn’t make reference to the iPhone, the first comment on this device update would be asking about the iPhone. You know it and we know it.

We continue to make slow progress on the iPhone front. In this, the last quarter of the year, new partnerships are a low priority for Apple. Understandable given that they want to focus on the busy holiday sales period.

We do expect that next year, some form of iOS device will be usable on Ting. Alas, whether that’s the earlier or the latter half of the year we cannot yet say. Likewise, whether that means an other-than-the-latest iPhone becomes eligible for BYOD or whether we’ll be selling the iPhone directly (or both) is unclear. As always, we’re eager to share news as it becomes available… but we’re not interested in creating false hope. As we know more, you’ll know more.

Keep apprised of all our device news by following the Device Update category here on the Ting blog. You can also sign up for email alerts of new devices as they’re added or gain some insight into what we’re up to by creating a Ting account (no purchase required, of course) or by opting in for for device alerts and / or newsletters in your existing Ting account.

BYO(S)D – Moving ever closer to Ting

tl;dr: A Ting BYOD timeline:

Now:
Alpha testing underway
Late October:
Phase one beta launch target

Since we announced our BYOD plans for Q4 of this year, we’ve fielded innumerable questions and received thousands of entries in the Ting BYO(S)D beta program.

When the calendar flipped from September to October, Q4 officially started. We promised we’d share news as early in Q4 as we possibly could. It’s still early in Q4. This is as early as we possibly could. That said, we’ll have more detail to share once we’ve had a chance to do some of our own testing.

A couple of members of the Ting team just returned from Kansas City, home to Sprint HQ. Our top priorities for this meeting were to talk about BYOD and to put the things in place that would allow us to move forward quickly.

We also wanted to get a much clearer idea of what the device lineup will look like at the end of this and in to next year.

We wanted to get more and better refurbished devices that we could in turn offer up to you.

We’re pleased to report it’s check on all fronts; the rare trifecta of check. The latter two points we’ll cover in a device update, coming soon. This update is all about BYOD.

BYOD on Ting – a timeframe

BYO(S)D will allow us to bring just about any Sprint device over to Ting, including devices from other MVNOs but excluding the Boost and Virgin brands. Other exclusions we’ve mentioned before and include the iPhone, BlackBerry devices, Push to Talk devices and a few others.

Any device that isn’t on the blacklist and that has a valid ESN is eligible to move carriers. To have a valid ESN it must be a device that has not been reported lost or stolen and that isn’t tied to an account that’s not in good standing. We’re working on an online tool that will check a device ESN to ensure it’s legit, in part to foster the used device market.

While in Kansas City we got the whitelist of devices that will be able to make the move to Ting. It’s a long list. We’ve also compiled entries from the Ting BYOD beta program form and are in the process of selecting the best devices to focus our early efforts on for BYOD.

We have already started on a very small alpha program comprising a few members of the Ting Army. They’ll be working with us to test BYOD as we learn more about the process. We’re hoping we can begin to roll out the phase one beta as soon as the end of this month.

Challenges with BYOD on Ting

The biggest challenges thus far have been technical; there’s a lot that has to happen behind the scenes to provision a device from Sprint or from another MVNO and bring it over to Ting. Sprint is hard at work on an API that we can use to move a device. Until that’s in place, the BYOD process will require some intervention from our customer service team. Until more of the process can be a simple and hands-off affair, we won’t be opening BYOD up fully. As important as BYOD is to us and to you, it quickly loses its luster if it’s a manual process that doesn’t scale.

Ting my phone Android app

We’re hard at work on building an Android app that will do all the work: Checking the ESN on a Sprint device, registering that ESN as a Ting device and moving it under your Ting account. Until the aforementioned API is in place, the stuff going on behind the scenes of this Android app will be somewhat less than elegant. That said, it will demonstrate what’s possible. If all goes according to plan we’ll have this app in place for the phase one beta.

How the beta will work

We mentioned we’ve already started on a very small alpha test. Once that’s completed we’ll roll out the phase one beta which will be limited to the five or six most popular devices (as pulled from the Ting BYO(S)D survey and beta entry form), hopefully at the end of this month. Once this alpha and first phase beta testing are completed, we’ll roll a phase two beta out and offer it to everyone that filled out the aforementioned form.

We’ll continue to share news as news comes available to share.

If you want to be among the first to try BYOD on Ting there’s still time to fill out the BYOD survey and beta signup.

BYOD update, new devices coming soon to Ting and a shipping update

Device Update: September 27, 2012

A couple of members of the Ting team will be heading out to Sprint HQ on Sunday evening, returning late Wednesday. They’ll return with a boatload of information on BYOD, on the device lineup available to us going forward and much more. In other words, we’ll have a BYOD update very soon. The information that we have thus far follows.

BYO(Sprint)D

Bring your own (Sprint) device is coming ever closer. We’ve been working hard on our end to make sure that as soon as Sprint is ready to go, all we’ll need to do is make the appropriate backend connections and BYOD on Ting will be a reality.

We’ll have more detail in a dedicated BYOD blog post but there’s one tidbit we can share now: We’re working on an app that will make the BYOD process incredibly simple and elegant for Android users. Our app will make a Sprint network-capable Android device into a Ting device with a few button presses. We can’t wait to show it off… but we’re going to have to. Beta testers will get first crack at BYOD on Ting and at using the Android app. It’s not too late to sign up for a possible spot in the Ting BYOD beta.

BYO(other)D

We’ve made no secret of how excited we are to be able to offer BYO(Sprint)D. For one, it lets existing Ting customers bring over a previous Sprint device that might otherwise just have sat in a drawer collecting dust. Moreover, it lowers the “barrier for entry” significantly; no more will you have to purchase a device from Ting in order to be a Ting customer.

We’ll also make no secret of the fact that we don’t want BYOD to stop with Sprint and Sprint-capable devices. We’d love to be able to offer BYOD on any device from any carrier. As it stands, there’s the little issue of network frequency limiting which devices could conceivably come to Ting.

While it won’t be as fast moving as our BYO(S)D initiative, we’d love your insight into which devices from other providers you’d like to be able to bring to Ting. Please take a moment to fill out our BYO(O)D form.

Devices coming soon

While “hero” devices like the Samsung Galaxy SIII, the Motorola Photon Q and the HTC EVO 4G LTE tend to get all the attention, they’re only a small part of a device lineup. While it’s nice to have a sweet smartphone in your pocket or purse, not everyone needs or wants to have the latest and greatest.

This week’s device update is mostly focussed on the lower end of the device chain; inexpensive entry-level Android devices and feature phones.

Feature phones

Samsung Array (M390)

We’ll be adding a QWERTY slider feature phone to our lineup in the next couple of weeks. The Samsung Array (M390) is a solid slider, ideal for the heavy texting set. It’s exactly the type of device that we’ve received numerous requests for and it fills a gap in the current Ting lineup.

Our cost on the Array has yet to be determined. As we sell devices at or slightly below our own cost, that means the Ting sale price for the Array has likewise yet to be determined. We’ll update as soon as we have that information. It’ll definitely be south of $150. More detail on the Samsung Array (M390)

Accessible flip phone

Accessible in this case means ideal for those with poor eyesight or hearing. Accessible devices generally offer larger keypads with very clearly marked numbers, larger on-screen fonts and louder speakers / earpieces.

The roadmap suggests we’ll have an accessible flip feature phone available to us in mid to late October. Currently, it’s listed as the Samsung M400 which somehow doesn’t sound right. We expect to have more detail after our marathon meetings with Sprint next week.

Older cell phone users don’t tend to be glued to their phones like we young whippersnappers so after the standard $6/mo. per device, there’s a good chance that their monthly usage will effectively be free if added to an existing plan. We’ve received requests for some kind of accessible flip feature phone so this device or something like it is one we’ve been looking to add for a while now.

Smartphones

Alcatel OneTouch Flex

The OneTouch Flex is an interesting device. It’s a candybar smartphone with full QWERTY keyboard a la BlackBerry. OS wise though, it runs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). “OneTouch” is actually a bit of a misnomer given that you can navigate around the device in a couple of different ways (granted, “CoupleOfDifferentTouch” doesn’t have quite the same ring.) The 2.8-inch screen is of the capacitive touch variety and the full QWERTY keyboard also has four cursor keys which might come in handy if your flesh lacks the capacitance required to use a touch screen… in which case you’re probably not in the land of the living. Sadly, that also means you’re not really in our target demographic.

We expect to add have this device available in mid-October. While the exact price has yet to be determined, we expect it to come in at around the $100 mark.

Shipping

Motorola Photon Q

Motorola Photon Q devices are nearing our warehouse and will leaving as quickly as they arrive; late today and tomorrow. Watch you inbox for a shipping notification.

HTC EVO 4G LTE

Both color variations of the HTC EVO 4G LTE are approaching our warehouse and will begin shipping as early as tomorrow and through early next week.

LG Optimus Elite

Black Optimus Elite devices are also shipping tomorrow and early next week. White Optimus Elites are constrained until November. As such, we’ve removed them from our devices page for the time being.

LG Viper

LG Viper pre-orders will begin shipping late this week and early next. There’s also a planned over the air (OTA) maintenance release which will upgrade the Viper to Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) and default the network mode to LTE.

The Viper is an LTE-capable device. Currently though, the network mode is defaulted to 3G CDMA before shipment. If you’re in an LTE area you can change the default to LTE in the Network Mode settings menu while you await the OTA release. If you’re not in an LTE area, you can follow the same steps to select CDMA (3G) only after the OTA update such that your device isn’t always looking for the LTE network.

Samsung Galaxy SIII MMS fix

There was an issue with multimedia messaging (MMS, sending pictures, videos and audio clips attached to text messages) on the Galaxy SIII. An OTA update to fix the problem has been released and should be fully rolled out to all SIIIs in the next few weeks.

LG Optimus Elite MMS fix

We’re waiting on word of a fix for an MMS issue on the LG Optimus Elite. We’ve communicated with all Ting Optimus Elite owners. The original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is actively testing a fix for this issue. Unfortunately there is no work-around at this time. We’ll keep you posted.