Smartel is a new prepaid reseller that just launched and is generating some buzz with very aggressive introductory pricing. Smartel currently offers service on T-Mobile and Verizon (your choice, not both on the same phone obviously). Smartel doesn't mention either carrier's name, identifying them only by color, Red for Verizon and Pink for T-Mobile. Service on AT&T (Blue) and Sprint (Yellow) is "coming soon".
Smartel's "pink" (T-Mobile) pricing is what impressed me.
- Silver $25/month unlimited talk, text and data with the first 1 GB at full speed.
- Gold $45/month unlimited talk, text and data with the first 10 GB at full speed.
- Platinum $55/month unlimited talk, text and data,
Smartel is running a promotion now through Sept 20 on the "Gold" plan for $30 per month for the first two months and $35 thereafter.
The Gold plan also appears to include T-Mobile's Data Stash feature, which is a initial bonus of 10 GB of data good to 12/31/5. After the 10 GB bonus is used up the unused portion of the plan's regular 10 GB/month data allotment rolls over for 12 months.
Smartel's "Red" (Verizon) plans are are similar to those of Page Plus and Selectel and thus nothing special:
- Bronze $28.75/month 1200 minutes, 3000 texts and 500 MB
- Silver $37.75/month unlimited talk and messaging, 1 GB data
- Gold $45.75/month unlimited talk and messaging, 2 GB data
- Platinum $52.75/month unlimited talk and messaging, 3 GB data
- Diamond $65.75/month unlimited talk and messaging, 5 GB data
Smartel's T-Mobile plans have most of the perks of T-Mobile postpaid plans including Data Stash, There's conflicting information about hotspot availability. Smartel told one user that hotspot is only permitted on the Platinum plan. A user on the Gold plan says Hotspot worked with his Amazon Fire phone but the Smartel SIM did not work in a T-Mobile hotspot. Support also told one user hotspot was umlimited and another that it was limited to 10 GB on the Gold plan and 5 GB on the Platinum plan. Full T-Mobile LTE speeds do seem to be available. Speed test results of 32 to 57 Mbps down, 17 to 27 Mbps were reported by one user.
Besides the uncertainty about the legitimacy of selling single lines of business accounts to individuals there are some other trade-offs with using Smartel. The biggest one is that it is an unknown new company with email-only support and payment by credit or debit card only. Users report up to a 24 hour turn around on support emails. One user reported that his out-going caller ID when using Smartel is "GO TECHNOLOGY M" rather than blank or something generic like "Mobile User" like it is with other operators.
Like other T-Mobile business resellers, Smartel does not accept port-ins from T-Mobile postpaid or prepaid. Ports from other operators, including T-Mobile MVNOs should be OK. There's a $10 charge for a SIM and activation and a $10 fee if a payment is declined by your credit or debit card provider.
As always with new providers, I recommend not porting in a treasured number and using a credit card, which has better buyer protection than a debit card.
Update 9/17: It looks like Smartel got busted. The "Pink" icon on the Selectel homepage has been replaced by a green one. Clicking the associated "Click to see plan prices" link takes you to a page with a contact form but no plans or prices. I used the form to ask about Pink/Green plan prices and got an email back saying I needed to reply with name, address, phone number and business Tax ID. I replied and received an email listing the Gold plan as the only plan available. The price and features of the plan are the same as before including the special promotional price of $30 for the first to months and $35/month thereafter if you order by Sept 20.