Yesterday, I wrote an item about STi Mobile, a new prepaid MVNO with low rates especially for web access. Total cost to keep the phone active and have unlimited WAP access is $5.22 /month including all taxes and fees. I listed as one of the few negatives of STi that very few retail outlets carry STi phones - you basically have to buy the phone and all refills online. That's no longer true. Imagine my surprise when I saw in my Sunday paper that CompUSA's weekly sales flier listed a Sanyo 200 pre-paid phone - free after rebate. No carrier was listed but I suspected it had to be STi as the Sanyo is a Sprint phone and Sprint's only other pre-paid offerings are through Virgin Mobile, a well known brand that would surely be mentioned by name.
I dropped by a couple of CompUSA stores to check this out. Both stores had the Sanyo 200 at $100 with a $100 mail-in rebate and it was packaged as an STi phone. One of the stores also had the STi LG 225 camera phone at $150. The clerk said that there was no rebate on the 225 although the phone is available online here and here with a $100 rebate as well. The second link is the better deal as it also includes a free case, car charger and $10 airtime card.
I only recommend the Sanyo 200 if you want a phone strictly for making voice calls and texting - and if so why are you reading this blog?. Sanyo phones have the best reputation for reliability and reception on the Sprint network but this particular phone has no web access and doesn't run Java apps either.
For now, the best STi phone for data is the LG 225 with it's excellent screen, WAP2 browser and Java capability.
It great that CompUSA picked up STi. CompUSA is one of the largest chains of computer and electronics superstores in the US with 229 stores nationwide. This means many more new users exploring the joys of mobile web browsing which will help to drive the coming explosion of this technology.