If you want a full mobile web experience on a Tracfone, get one of their new Android handsets. They cost a bit more, but are a better deal especially in terms of data usage.
The following material was written earlier and applies to their feature phones, not their smart phones.
Tracfone Mobile Web access has been evolving rapidly over the last year or so, as more and more services are added. In the past it was a highly limited service that essentially allowed you to only access Tracfone’s website.
You can access a number of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and also the search engines. A couple of phones like the Samsung S390G and LG 840g have full HTML browsers (though not as nice as those found on smartphones).
Below you can see what it's like on some of their older handsets.
Accessing the web from your phone does cost you airtime, but not as much as you might have thought. When you first start up the web browser, 0.5 units are deducted. Then for each minute of mobile web usage, another 0.5 units is deducted. So spending 10 minutes accessing the web will cost you 5.5 minutes of airtime.
Here I’ll walk you through the various things you can do on the web with your Tracfone using a Samsung T301g. Let’s start by pressing the “Browser” soft key.
Your first option is to download some ringtones, graphics or games directly from Tracfone. We’ve covered that elsewhere, so we’ll skip it for now. I recommend doing this via computer first and then having it “pushed” to your handset so you use up less airtime searching for what you want.
When you go to “Email & Networking” you see that you can choose between Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, and AOL email services. You can likely set up these services to retrieve email from your other email accounts via POP so you’re really not too restricted in terms of email.
Gmail was missing originally, but it now seems to work. If you have problems, you can try going directly to the Gmail URL. You may have to first go to your computer and allow mobile login to your account.
Using your mobile web browser, you can access the three biggest social networking accounts going right now: Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
Facebook access is pretty cool, and something, I admit, I wasn’t expecting Tracfone to provide. You just click on “Facebook” and login. The first time I logged in I got a blank space, but when I tried it a second time I got through and got to take a look at my latest requests and feed. Apparently, you can’t upload pictures, but I’m going to keep trying to see if there is a work-around.
MySpace is nowhere near as popular as Facebook these days of course nothing else is either. All you have to do is click on “MySpace” and you’re taken to the login page where you can enter your information.
Twitter, with its character limit seems made for mobile phones. You can access Twitter through your Tracfone by clicking “Twitter” and again entering your login credentials.
Logging in the first time on all these services is a time-consuming procedure that does use up a few minutes of airtime. However, the next time you visit most of these site, they do remember you so you don’t have to do it all over again. This however is clearly a privacy and security risk.
If you are going check your email and get onto your social networks then I recommend locking your phone with a password that is not easy to guess. This way, if you lose your phone, you will at least have some protection.
In addition to email and networking, you have access to additional mobile websites. These include Google, Yahoo! Mobile, and MSN Mobile. Thankfully, that’s not all. The Superpages directory allows you to find business services you need. The Moviefone database can tell you where and what movies are playing. You can increase your knowledge at Wikipedia and Answers.com and research and buy products from eBay and Amazon.
So there you have it: Mobile Web access via Tracfone. Not too bad.
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While Tracfone now has a couple of phones with full web browsers, it still not quite the same as the browsers on smart phones. Tracfone is expected to introduce some Android phones pretty soon. Until then these are some options you have.
NET10 and Straight Talk both offer a wide range of smart phones for their unlimited plans. These plans actually include unlimited data (though with some caveats in the terms and conditions).
You can also check out smart phones available for a $100 or less with out a contract from some popular brands.
However, if you are happy with phones that just run java apps, you can check out this page to see some of what's available.