Fit Wireless offers a free Android smart phone plus unlimited talk, text and data for $39.99 a month including taxes. There is a one-year contract. The only requirement is that you answer five to ten one-question surveys a week via text message.
Update 2014: They appear to be gone for good. Out of Business
Update 06/14/2012: Plan on Hold. Just got word the the plan seems to be on hold. Their web page currently () just says, "Coming Soon". In retrospect, it looks like a marketing idea that didn't work.
The plan’s cost is subsidized by Raw Data which sends the survey questions. The phone service is via PureTalk USA with coverage on the Sprint network.
We’ll go over everything in this review, but before we do that, let me just warn you that when you go to their website, you have to turn off the annoying Fit Wireless lady at the bottom of their page.
The Android phone offer is for a free Android smartphone (currently the ZTE Fury) along with unlimited service for $39.99 a month. This includes unlimited calls, text, and data. This means you can call as much and whenever. You get unlimited text and multimedia messages. You can check email, surf the web and download apps all without any additional cost (not including any paid apps).
The free Android phone is a 3G phone, so your data rates are at 3G speeds. You do have the option to pay a little more and get a 4G phone. The 4G phones currently available under this plan are the HTC Evo 3D ($99.99) and the Samsung Galaxy S II ($199.99) and now the iPhone 4S. The 4G Android plan also costs $10 more at $49.99 a month and the iPhone plan costs $55 per month - still great rates because they include unlimited data.
The plan fee will be charged to a credit card. Prepaid debit cards are not accepted.
Even though there’s only a one-year contract, it’s still a contract and there’s a cancellation fee. You have to pay $350 (was $200) less $14.50 (was $17) for every month you’ve completed on the contract. So, for example, if you cancel after 4 months, you would have to pay 350 – (14.5 x 4) = $292.
Note: This information has changed since the plan was first announced. I haven't confirmed whether these are typos or correct. I would have thought that the monthly reduction should match the termination fee, so in this case it should be a monthly reduction of about $30 and not $14.50 as the FAQ states. While the overall deal sounds great, I'm a little disturbed by these inconsistencies.
You have the option to sign up for the Sprint Total Equipment protection plan for $8 a month which includes service and repair and equipment replacement. However, there is a deductible of either $50 or $100 depending on the device.
Your Fit Wireless phone will be on the Sprint network. Sprint’s network, while not as extensive as Verizon’s, is still pretty good as long as your in the coverage area. Their 4G performance in speed tests last year came in third (behind Verizon and T-Mobile and ahead of AT&T). I’ve used the Sprint-based Straight Talk phone (Samsung Galaxy Precedent) and have been satisfied with the service after an apparent service improvement late last year.
When you sign up with Fit Wireless, you have to take an initial survey that take about fifteen minutes. That’s a pain, but Raw Data (a Nielsen-type rating service) is subsidizing the plan and they want to make sure they get a representative survey panel. Among the people they will probably exclude are people who work in the retail sector (if you’re in the store all day, you’re not a typical shopper).
After the initial survey, you just have to commit to answering five to ten one-question surveys a week. These survey notifications are sent by text message and shouldn’t take too long to answer. Your answers are stored in the market research software app on the phone and uploaded to their servers at specific times.
One thing about these short surveys is that they are time sensitive, so you need to have the phone with you and turned on most of the time. This is the case with most people anyway, but not everyone. So if, for example, you need to turn your cell phone off on the job, then you may not want to sign up for this offer. That’s because, if you don’t answer the survey questions, your service and contract may be cancelled.
You may also get sent longer optional surveys but you don’t have to reply to them. If you do answer the longer surveys, you get offered additional stuff.
According to Fit Wireless, “Your personal information is housed in a secure database and your personal information is NEVER released. When you become a survey participant, you are assigned a unique identification number by which you are identified. No names or other personal information are ever released. All data is reviewed in aggregate along with other participants.”
Since Raw Data is actually a survey company, they need to protect their reputation by safeguarding your privacy, so people will participate in their surveys. So they say that while they do sell the aggregate data to other companies, your personal information is protected.
If you don’t mind answering a few short questions a week you get a free Android phone and unlimited service for $39.99 a month, if you go with Fit Wireless.
Since this plan is no longer active, here are a few other ways to get an affordable smart phone.
Tracfone has finally introduced a set of Android phones which makes it the most affordable option available depending on your data usage.
There's a pretty good choice of no-contract handsets under $100 from a short list of providers.