How to Activate the LG Volt on Ting

Posted: December 29, 2014

UPDATE: New Boost Mobile and Sprint prepaid devices can no longer be activated on Ting. This is due to Sprint's new unlocking policy. When attempting activation you may receive the following message, "Sorry, this device can't be activated right now. Sprint says there's an unpaid balance associated with it."

We no longer recommend buying a Boost or Sprint prepaid phone unless you do so in a store where you can run the MEID on the box through Ting's MEID checker before purchase.

Sprint will not allow used prepaid phones (like the LG Volt) to be activated on Ting unless they have been active for over 12 months on the original provider (i.e. Boost or Sprint prepaid).

The best option for most people will be to use Ting's GSM network instead. For more information read our review of Ting's GSM and CDMA networks. The LG Volt will not work, but a large number of excellent and affordable phones are compatible with Ting's GSM network.

If you have had trouble activating a Boost or Sprint prepaid device you can let us know by voting here.


LG Volt on Ting

The LG Volt is available on Sprint prepaid, Boost, and Virgin Mobile for a retail price of $180. However, the actual cost has decreased significantly recently - at the time this article was published, the LG Volt was $60 on Amazon.

This post will show you how to activate the LG Volt on Ting. As explained in our previous posts on activating Boost or Sprint Prepaid phones, this device is not officially supported, but functions perfectly on Ting.

To provide a brief overview, this is device is for people who want a lot of features and great battery life but do not want to pay a premium. A good phone for comparison is the Motorola Moto G as it costs about the same. The LG Volt is not as well made as the Moto G and has a lower resolution screen, but offers a lot of additional features such LTE data, storage expansion through a microSD card slot, NFC, an IR remote, and a high capacity battery. These are features not often seen in phones that cost less than $100. If you are interested in other inexpensive Boost Mobile devices that can be activated on Ting, see the Moto G and Sharp AQUOS Crystal activation guides.

LG Volt Specifications
Display: 4.7 inch LCD with a resolution of 540 x 960
Operating System: Android 4.4.2 KitKat
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, 1.2GHz quad-core CPU
Storage: 8 GB, expandable up to 32 GB with a microSD card
RAM: 1 GB
Cameras: Rear: 8MP with flash; Front: 1.3MP
LTE: Sprint Spark tri-band LTE
Battery: Li-Ion 3000 mAh
Other: NFC, IR remote

I was able to get the Boost Mobile version of the LG Volt to activate perfectly on Ting. Voice, texting (SMS and MMS), and data including tri-band LTE work as intended. However, there is no mobile hotspot feature and third-party tethering and hotspot apps do not appear to function. Much like the Moto G, tethering or a mobile hotspot is not possible with this phone on the stock software.

Do you have concerns about activating the LG Volt or are currently having issues with it? Check out the FAQs section below for help.

Ting to Add Support for Unlocked GSM Devices

Posted: December 9, 2014

Ting has announced that in February 2015 they will launch a GSM service alongside their current CDMA offering from Sprint. Up to this point Ting has been strictly a Sprint mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) meaning their customers are using Sprint’s network and consequently only phones that work with Sprint are available on Ting. Sprint has also imposed onerous restrictions on new devices, blocking some completely for an entire year like current generation iPhones, or requiring other new devices to be purchased directly from Ting at full price.

With this announcement, many of the problems I had with Ting could soon be resolved. Being able to buy any unlocked GSM device and bring it to Ting simply by popping in a Ting SIM card will be a major improvement to the current system. People who have a phone that is compatible with T-mobile or AT&T should be able to switch simply by ordering a SIM card from Ting and activating their current device.

How to Use Google Hangouts For Free Wi-Fi Calls and Texts

Posted: November 22, 2014

Hangouts and Dialer
Learning how to use Google Hangouts to make and receive calls over Wi-Fi can save you money and make poor mobile signal inside buildings something you won't have to deal with again. There are three main situations where Wi-Fi calling is helpful:
  1. You use a mobile phone provider that charges overage fees for minutes and texts.
  2. You use a mobile service like Ting, that charges based on actual usage.
  3. You experience poor mobile signal quality in certain buildings, like your home or office, that have Wi-Fi available.

In order to use Wi-Fi calling on your phone there are a few steps to complete first that we will be learning about in this article:

  1. Get a Google Voice number and set it up with your mobile phone.
  2. Install Hangouts and set it up on your device.
  3. Use Hangouts to make and receive calls and texts.

For our international readers, please note that Google only provides Google Voice numbers to people in the United States. You must have a U.S. based phone number to get a Google Voice number.

Sharp AQUOS Crystal Review

Posted: November 4, 2014

Sharp AQUOS Crystal

The is a unique new phone offered exclusively on Sprint, Boost, and Virgin Mobile. It can also be activated on Ting. The near bezel-less design is the most striking thing about this device and to accomplish that Sharp has made some bold design choices: it has tiny bezels, no headset speaker, the front-facing camera is at the bottom of the device, and its screen is made of acrylic instead of glass.

For those of us in the United States, we do not often think of Sharp as phone manufacturer because their devices rarely make it here. However, Sharp is a Japanese electronics company that has been selling smartphones that are popular in Japan for quite some time. This new offering by Sprint in the US likely has much to do with Sprint’s new Japanese owner, Softbank, which has close ties with Sharp in Japan.

Before we go any further, we need to talk about the price. Off-contract the Sharp AQUOS Crystal is $240 from Sprint and only $150 from Boost and Virgin Mobile. It can be found at retailers such as Amazon and Best Buy for even less. That very low price will influence the way we look at and talk about this phone - it is not a flagship device and shouldn’t be judged by the same criteria as devices that cost much, much more. This review unit is the Boost Mobile variant, but my observations can be applied to the other variants as the differences are only in the back color and packaging.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Unique nearly bezel-less design
  • Excellent display quality
  • Very compact for a device with a 5” display
  • Expandable storage up to 128 GB with a microSD card
  • Good battery life
  • Low price of just $150 off-contract
Cons
  • Entire phone is made of plastic materials
  • Distortion/refraction from chamfered display edges
  • Backlight visible at certain angles
  • Only available on Sprint networks

How to Activate the Sharp AQUOS Crystal on Ting

Posted: October 15, 2014

Sharp AQUOS Crystal on Ting

UPDATE: New Boost Mobile and Sprint prepaid devices can no longer be activated on Ting. This is due to Sprint's new unlocking policy. When attempting activation you may receive the following message:

Sorry, this device can't be activated right now. Sprint says there's an unpaid balance associated with it.

We no longer recommend buying a Boost or Sprint prepaid phone unless you do so in a store where you can run the MEID on the box through Ting's MEID checker before purchase.

Sprint will not allow used prepaid phones to be activated on Ting unless they have been active for over 12 months on the original provider (i.e. Boost or Sprint prepaid).

The best option for most people will be to use Ting's GSM network instead. For more information read our review of Ting's GSM network. Another option is to purchase the Aquos Crystal directly from Ting - it will definitely activate and work as intended. If you are a new customer, you can receive a $25 discount by using this promotional link prior to purchasing it.

If you have had trouble activating a Boost or Sprint prepaid device you can let us know by voting here.


Sharp AQUOS Crystal on Ting

The Sharp AQUOS Crystal has just been released as a Sprint, Boost, and Virgin Mobile exclusive device with a retail cost of $149. To learn more about this device check out my full review. In this post, I wanted to go ahead and share how to activate the device on Ting, my mobile service provider. As I explained in the Ting Moto G and LG Volt activation guides, this is not an "officially" supported device, but functions well on Ting.

I was able to get the Boost Mobile version of the Sharp AQUOS Crystal to activate perfectly on Ting. Voice, texting (SMS and MMS), and data including tri-band LTE work as intended.

The Sharp AQUOS does not have built-in tethering or a mobile hotspot and the third party tethering apps I tried did not work. Much like the Moto G, tethering or a mobile hotspot is not possible with this phone on the stock software. Other people have also had success with the Sprint prepaid version - both should work fine on Ting.

Android 5.0 Lollipop, Nexus 9, Nexus 6, and Nexus Player

Google just announced the latest Android version 5.0 Lollipop, Nexus 9 tablet, Nexus 6 phone, and the Nexus Player. You can read all about the new devices at the links provided in Google's blog post, but the following are the basics for each device, including pricing and expected availability.

How to Activate the Moto G on Ting

Posted: October 2, 2014

UPDATE: New Boost Mobile and Sprint prepaid devices can no longer be activated on Ting. This is due to Sprint's new unlocking policy. When attempting activation you may receive the following message:

Sorry, this device can't be activated right now. Sprint says there's an unpaid balance associated with it.

We no longer recommend buying a Boost or Sprint prepaid phone unless you do so in a store where you can run the MEID on the box through Ting's MEID checker before purchase.

Sprint will not allow used prepaid phones to be activated on Ting unless they have been active for over 12 months on the original provider (i.e. Boost or Sprint prepaid).

The best option for most people will be to use Ting's GSM network instead. You can purchase a Moto G that will work perfectly on Ting's GSM network. For more information read our comprehensive Ting review.

Alternatively, you can buy a refurbished CDMA Moto G directly from Ting. Those models are guaranteed to work and are only $91. If you are a new customer, you can $25 credit to your account by using this promotional link prior to purchasing it.

If you have had trouble activating a Boost or Sprint prepaid device you can let us know by voting here.


Moto G stock photo

The Motorola Moto G is an excellent "low-end" smartphone that has been available since the end of last year, but has recently dropped in price from its already low retail price of $180 to an astounding $80. Unfortunately, Ting, my mobile service provider, does not officially support the Moto G.

However, since Boost Mobile is a Sprint MVNO similar to Ting and some of Boost's phones have been known to activate just fine on Ting, I thought I would give it a try. I assumed that if it just wouldn't activate - the worst case scenario - all I would have to lose is a few minutes of time.

If you are interested in other inexpensive devices that can be used on Ting, check out the Sharp AQUOS Crystal and LG Volt - both of these device offer similar performance to the Moto G with the addition of LTE data and expandable storage.

I am happy to report that the Boost Mobile version of the Moto G will activate on Ting. Everything works as intended, except for creating a WiFi hotspot. Please note that creating a WiFi hotspot and tethering on this phone do NOT work (Edit: rooting the device and installing a custom ROM resolves this issue). Voice calling, texting (including SMS and MMS), and 3G data work perfectly. The Moto G does not have LTE.

How to Buy a CDMA iPhone to Activate on Ting

Posted: September 20, 2014

Do you want to activate an iPhone 6, 5s, or 5c on Ting? Do you know where and how to buy one? Here is everything you need to know.

It is now possible to activate the iPhone 6, 5s and iPhone 5c on Ting's CDMA service. If you want a new or used iPhone you must find one and buy it on your own as the Ting store only sells refurbished models.

Another issue to contend with is the fact used models may have issues getting through Sprint's new financial eligibility check (FEC) that places more stringent rules on what devices can be activated.

Hangouts Dialer App

Posted: September 10, 2014

Today Google announced that Google Voice is finally being integrated with hangouts. Google Voice has not received any attention in a very long time, and even though hangouts for iOS has supported free VOIP (WiFi) for quite some time, Android users have never gotten an official VOIP app until now.

The new Hangouts Dialer requires Hangouts version 2.3 which is being rolled out now, so all devices should be updated within the next few days. The hangouts dialer now allows you to make and receive calls from your Google Voice number. Making calls anywhere in the US and Canada are free. For those of us trying to save on minutes, or even if you just have poor mobile signal in a building, but have WiFi access, this is a great (and long awaited) feature.
Hangouts also has some nice user-interface changes that are more in line with the new material design guidelines. If you can't wait for Hangouts 2.3 to be pushed to your device you can download and sideload a legitimate signed APK from Mega or Mediafire via AndroidPolice.

Unfortunately, it seems that texting (to and from your Google Voice number) is not supported. SMS and MMS texting is now officially supported.

How to Mute Boot and Camera Sounds with Tasker

Posted: September 3, 2014

How To Turn Off Annoying Sounds With Tasker

Mute Camera and Boot Sounds with Tasker

Sometimes there are sounds that a smartphone or tablet makes that cannot be turned off with a specific setting and in order for a specific app or action to not make noise the phone has to be in silent/vibrate mode. That is annoying! If my phone makes noise it should be for a reason, like a notification, or because someone is calling me, not because a carrier wants me to hear their jingle or because someone thinks its a good idea to have the shutter sound of the camera super loud all the time. This is typically not the case with stock Android, but skinned versions of Android often have these annoyances added by the manufacture of the phone or the carrier.

Tresorit Review - Dropbox-like Functionality with Better Security

Posted: July 14, 2014

Tresorit Logo

is another cloud storage provider similar to Dropbox, SpiderOak, Google Drive, or Box. Much like SpiderOak, Tresorit seems to value security and privacy above all else. However, unlike SpiderOak, whose user-interface can feel old and unintuitive, Tresorit does a good job keeping the design and user-interactions simple and modern.

Tresorit is free for up to 5GB with the option of gaining up to 16GB for free through referrals. The paid options start at 20GB for $8 per month.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Excellent security
  • Apps available for all major platforms
  • Modern design
  • Easy to create encrypted folders
  • Easy to share encrypted files or folders
Cons
  • Deleted files are gone forever
  • Sharing files increases security risk
  • Only 5GB free. Pricing is higher per gigabyte than some competitors

How to Update Nexus 5 or 7 to the Android L Developer Preview

Posted: June 28, 2014

Want to try out the Android L preview announced at Google IO on your Nexus 5 or 2013 Nexus 7 but do not know where to start? Follow this guide to get your Nexus 5 or Nexus 7 flashed to the latest Android L OS from Google. I have a Nexus 5 and wanted to try it out. I thought since I was doing it anyway for myself, I would document the process to share. I hope you find it useful.

*Important*: please note that this is a Developer Preview. That means things are still broken, there are bugs, and a number of apps simply won't run on it yet. It has only just been released, so undoubtedly things will improve over time as the official launch nears, but I would NOT recommend putting this on your "daily driver" or your primary/only phone right now (June 2014).

First backup your device. Backup everything that is important to you and store in on your computer. Seriously, do this - everything will be erased in the following guide.

Make sure you have the Android SDK downloaded and unzipped into a folder (we will call it "Android") and have located the "platform-tools" folder within the sdk folder: ~Android/sdk/platform-tools. Note, if you are on a Windows PC, it may be easier to install this much smaller Windows ADB installer - it contains everything you need: adb, fastboot, and drivers. If you are on a Mac you do not have to worry about drivers.

Get the factory image for your device. Unzip and move the contents into the "platform-tools" folder or wherever adb and fastboot are located.

One of the best ways to familiarize yourself with the process is to open the included scripts (flash-all.sh or flash-all.bat) in a text editor and look at the commands. The scripts are easy as you can just type in one command and everything gets installed, but if something goes wrong you need to know what has happened.

Note: I am using a Mac so all commands will start with "./" in terminal. If you are using a Mac, type ./ immediately proceeding any adb or fastboot commands. If you are using windows you can just type the commands without the "./" in front. The adb and fastboot commands that you need to type into terminal or command prompt will be center-justified and in bold.

The following step-by-step guide to flashing Android L developer preview is specifically for the Nexus 5 with the initial release, so if you are using a Nexus 7 (2013) or a subsequent Android L release, you may need to adjust the file names near the end of the guide. Each step will be followed by screenshot(s) demonstrating that step.

Amazon's New Smartphone - The AT&T Exclusive Fire Phone

Posted: June 18, 2014

Amazon Fire Phone

Amazon unveiled a their first smartphone today - the Amazon Fire Phone starting at $200 with a 2-year contract with AT&T. Off-contract it is $650 for the 32GB base model and $750 for the 64GB model. The price includes 1 year of Amazon Prime at no extra cost for both new and current subscribers. You can pre-order now, but the phone will not be available until July 25.

I think that it is unfortunate that it is only available on AT&T when there are much better mobile phone providers out there.

The design of Amazon's phone is simple and understated, very similar to their Kindle products. It has a physical button on the side to access the camera and firefly apps.

Amazon Unveils The $99 Amazon Fire TV Streaming Set-Top Box

Posted: April 2, 2014


Amazon Fire TV
Amazon announced the Fire TV today. Amazon started out the announcement by emphasizing three deficiencies in all of its competitor's products: search, performance, and the lack of an open ecosystem for apps and services. They used those problems to show how their Fire TV excels: it has easy to use voice-based search "that actually works," fast performance, and an open app and services ecosystem.

The Fire TV is a 4.5 x 4.5 inch box, less than an inch tall, and sports power, HDMI, optical audio out, Ethernet, and a USB ports on the back. The remote is small and simple with the obvious emphasis on voice search for everything but basic navigation.

The iPhone 5 is Now Available on Ting

Posted: March 10, 2014

ting iphone 5
I have been a Ting customer for a while now and have been very happy with their service. I have written a critical assessment and overview  of Ting's mobile service and told all my friends and family about them. Many people I told about Ting have switched to Ting's no-contract, pay for what you use service, but one of the main reasons I have been given for not switching has been the simple fact that Ting did not support the latest iPhones. The iPhone 4 and 4s have been supported by Ting since last fall, but those phones are not LTE compatible and operate on Sprint's much slower 3G network. It is understandable that iPhone users don't want to be stuck with a device that is over 2 years old.

Now you can activate the Sprint iPhone 5 in addition to the older 4 and 4s models. At this time Ting is only able to allow "bring your own" iPhones as they apparently have not yet finalized a purchasing agreement with Apple and/or Sprint directly.  Honestly, iPhones are so expensive new (without a contract) that this is not all bad.

How to Find and Buy an iPhone for Ting

The Apple iPhone 5 can be found consistently on eBay, Glyde, Swappa, etc. for around $250-350 in excellent used condition. Just ensure, if buying used, that the phone is a "Sprint iPhone" has a "clean ESN" and is not "iCloud activation locked" (in other words, it is not lost or stolen). If you are not comfortable trying to find a used iPhone online or just do not have the time, Ting staff can find a device for you through their personal shopper program. If the person you are buying the Sprint iPhone does not include a LTE SIM (ICC) card, you will need one for activation. You can order it directly from Ting or stop by your local Apple store and ask them to give you a "Sprint nano-SIM" specifically part number SIMGLW406R.

Ting is unable to offer the latest generation of iPhones - the iPhone 5s and 5c - but plans to support them beginning in September of 2014. That means that Ting will likely be able to offer iPhones that are one generation behind the latest for the remainder of this year.

Since I primarily write about Android devices, I suspect most of my readers are more interested in phones like the Nexus 5 or other Android phones. But, many of us have family members who prefer the iPhone and other Apple products, so now may be a good time to get them off that expensive plan with AT&T or Verizon and on to your Ting account.

How to Activate an iPhone 5 on Ting
  1. Buy a Sprint iPhone 5 that has a clean ESN. Check the ESN to make sure.
  2. Make sure you have the appropriate Sprint LTE SIM card installed.
  3. Find the device's MEID by going to Settings → General → About → MEID.
  4. Go to https://ting.com/go to begin the activation process.
  5. Enter the MEID and then follow the instructions to port in your existing number, create a new number, or swap out an existing device on your account.
  6. Restart the iPhone. Within a minute or two it should automatically begin the activation process. If you are having trouble you can try the additional troubleshooting options found on Ting's help site/forum.