Is AT&T’s First Prepaid Smartphone a Good Deal?

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No long-term contract is required on the LG Thrive, which AT&T will begin selling in mid-April. The upsides here are that there users are charged for actual usage—not via a steady monthly bill—and there are no worries about early termination fees. As for other charges associated with the phone, there are plenty.

The LA Times Tech blog helped break the news that AT&T is introducing its first prepaid smartphone. Per AT&T’s GoPhone packages, customers choose between paying 10¢ a minute or $2 per day for unlimited talk and text. Customers also pay for data in chunks, ranging from $5 for 10 MB, to $25 for 500MB. Oh yeah, and you have to buy the actual phone: The LG Thrive will sell for $180 on a prepaid basis, or $50 if you go with a two-year plan and all of the requirements and restrictions therein (including a monthly bill and the prospect of early termination fees).

So is going the prepaid route with AT&T a deal? Possibly, if you’re comparing it to a standard AT&T plan, but only if you don’t use the phone all that much.

And whether you plan on using a smartphone a lot or a little, folks who are truly looking to save money should check out cheaper competitors that have been selling pay-as-you-go options for quite some time now, such as StraightTalk andVirgin Mobile. These options have unlimited plans, as well as talk-text-data packages that start at as little as $25 a month.