Ampd Mobile (Amp'd Mobile) has been unplugged.
Ampd Mobile is "potentially" shutting down on July 31st (they had originally said July 24th).
Needless to say, you should look elsewhere for a prepaid cell phone. I'll leave the info below up for history's sake.
If you already have amp'd mobile service, you may be able to transfer your phone to another provider, if they also use a CDMA (not GSM) network.
You can expect another update if they manage to keep the service running.
June 2007: Amp'd Mobile has filed for bankruptcy protection. They claim that it's for restructuring due to rapid growth. You could still try the service, but I wouldn't risk porting any longstanding phone number you may have to Amp'd until this situation clears up.
The FCC has proposed fining Amp'd Mobile for not adequately protecting customer call records. Amp'd apparently sent a letter in February assuring the FCC they are doing so, but it apparently wasn't enough. Well, my guess is they're going to do a better job of it now! I'd like to see news that they've resolved this, because otherwise it looks like a pretty good service.
Ampd Mobile (Amp'd Mobile) is a welcome newcomer to the prepaid cell phone market. Though its marketing is meant to appeal to the young, hip (as they like to think of themselves) crowd, the rates are actually pretty good, and they even offer a free phone to boot.
I had to stop and think about what "Amp'd" meant, before I realized that it probably stood for "amplified". I guess that's meant to tell you that you can get songs and videos too. But I personally don't want to hold an "amplified" phone next to my ears.
Oh well, it's only a name.
Coverage seems pretty good. They are an "MVNO" or mobile virtual network provider, so like many others, they rely on the physical network of a big telecom company such as Verizon or Sprint. This can be good or bad, depending on how they set it up. In the case of Tracfone, for example, I feel their coverage is great. On the other hand, a carrier like Virgin Mobile sticks to the major urban markets and ignores the rest, making their coverage a little spottier. I suspect that Ampd Mobile will tend to be more like Virgin, because they target the same youth market.
They have a set of non-prepaid plans that are somewhat interesting. However, the Ampd Mobile prepaid cell phone plan is very straight-forward. They charge 10 cents a minute, no matter how many minutes you buy. Your minutes expire after 60 days unless you buy more airtime. The minimum amount of airtime you can buy is $20 worth (or 200 minutes). So you have to buy at least $120 of airtime a year to keep your minutes active. I.e, you basically have to spend $10 a month to keep your service active. Still a pretty good deal especially when you consider that you can get a free (after rebate) cell phone.
Ampd phones can be "recharged" with airtime either with airtime cards from stores or by registering your credit or debit card with Ampd and punching in the appropriate buttons on your phone.
You can buy additional services such as ringtones, videos, music downloads etc. Picture and video messaging cost extra as well. I get the feeling this stuff is a bit more profitable for them than using your airtime for talking.
They mention they do charge taxes and surcharges, but I'm not sure if that applies to the additional stuff or also to the airtime.
The best deal on prepaid cell phones is probably the Ampd Mobile Hollywood flip phone, which is a 1.3 Megapixel camera phone that also records video. And it's free after a $100 rebate! That's right, a prepaid cell phone that's actually free.
I'm not sure why they're doing this, since there is no two year contract to tie you down. I think they're counting on being able to recoup the money over the long run, but it is a risk for them. For us, it sounds like a pretty good deal. The rebate apparently comes in the form of a prepaid VISA card with a $100 balance. The rebate is currently listed as being offered until June 30th, 2007, but they have extended it each time the expiration date has approached.
The other Ampd Mobile phones available in my area, though not free but still with good rebates, include the Red MotoRazr, and the Grey MotoRazr. They previously offered the Angel, and the Jet, but don't appear to list them now. I have to admit they're quite attractive as far as cell phones go.