XE Mobile Review

Update: XE Mobile Shuts down

XE Mobile shut down at the end of 2007. Apparently not in the same trouble as Amp'd Mobile had been, but still not profitable enough I guess.

Here's my old review for reference.

A new option at 10 cents per minute

XE Mobile is another newcomer offering prepaid cell phone service at 10 cents per minute. Is it right for you?

Well, they're targeted at the youth judging from their marketing, so they probably try to make you spend more money on auxiliaries such as ringtones, music downloads, etc.

Still, if their basic service is good then it's worth checking them out.

Coverage

The company says they have partnered with the company that has the largest GSM network in the USA, though they don't actually mention them by name. This is probably due to their contracts. The large companies don't like to be named because they don't want you to call their tech support if something goes wrong.

You could take a look at their overall xe mobile coverage map, and then can check if there was coverage in your area.

Coverage looks good enough.

It doesn't look like there are any roaming charges, which means you have to live with using the phone only within the network.

Rates

There are four rate plans -- Small, Medium, Large and Always -- like ordering fast food. The small plan costs 20 cents per minute for incoming and outgoing calls. All the other plans cost 10 cents per minutes but have a daily access fee (on the days you use the phone) of 50 cents, $1.00 and 25 cents for the medium, large and always plans. A little confusing, isn't it.

The medium and large plans offer 100 and 250 incoming minutes "free" per month not including the access fee.

Assuming you use the phone at least once per day, then you can calculate how much your access fees will work out to. You should make sure before you sign up for the "Large" plan, for example, because using it everyday will cost you $30 per month in access fees. You might be better off with a standard cell phone plan, as you would get more features and minutes for a similar price.

The small plan of 20 cents a minute with no access fees is a little on the high side.

Pick the plan most suited to you. The medium plan looks like the best deal.

Airtime

XE Mobile Phone Card

You can add airtime in increments of $15, $25, $35, $50, $75 and $100. Purchasing $100 extends your service for 365 days, all other airtime purchases extend service for 75 days.

If you add $100 of airtime, they have an offer for a free phone, though their website seems to indicate that they're sold out.

Due to their marketing it's not entirely clear whether the big "Sold Out" sign refers to inventory or to how popular they think they are!

International Calls

You can make international calls if you set up a separate "World" airtime balance. The international calls are charged at a rate that's subtracted from your "world" balance, plus the airtime is also subtracted from your regular airtime balance.

So to call a London landline you get charged 5 cents a minute from your world balance plus the usual 10 cents per minute from your regular balance. So your total cost is 15 cents a minute. (Note there would be no additional charge for a call made via Tracfone.)

Texting

In addition to regular text messages, you can send emails to your phone by sending it to yournumber@xetext.com, without using any dashes/hyphens.

This is a useful feature that isn't supported by some other prepaid services such as Tracfone (there is a expensive hack that costs two minutes of equivalent airtime).

Phones

Believe it or not XE Mobile says all their phones are currently (16 August 2007) "sold out", which is more than a little ridiculous.

Officially, the phones they sell are the Motorola C139 and Razr, the Nokia 6061 and 3220, and the Sony Ericsson W300.

The two high-end phones are the Motorola Razr and the Sony Ericsson W300. Both camera phones seem to have all the features and since the Sony is actually half the cost and has a much longer talk time, it's the one to get. Of course, you'll have to get it from a dealer as it looks like they're not selling them online (they're "sold out" remember).

Or else, you can use any unlocked GSM phone that operates on the 900 band.

Where to get them

Since they appear to be "Sold Out" online, you have a number of retail stores where you can find them: Office Depot, CompUSA, Sam's Club and Follet's.

VIP card

Part of the XE mobile package is the VIP card "discount program for youth". This give you discounts at various stores and restaurants in the USA. Their featured discounts are at Urban Outfitters and Armani Exchange, but they've got a lot of others..

Conclusion

XE Mobile is (was) worth trying out for casual use.

› XE Mobile

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Related Pages

Here are a couple of providers with youth-oriented content or plans.


With its slightly hip image and sponsorship of rock festivals, Virgin Mobile does its best to appeal to the younger crowd. You can check out their coverage here.


Similarly, Boost Mobile sponsors so-called Extreme Sports events and athletes to create its images. You can check out some of their reviews here.