Free smartphone service from FreedomPop is here

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Free smartphone service from FreedomPop is finally here! But you’ll have to meet certain requirements to get the most out of this deal.

Here’s how it works: You buy a $99 Android (HTC EVO Design 12GB) that’s a past generation model. It has a 4-inch screen like the iPhone 5, which is a size that’s considered very small in the Android world. Other specs on the phone include a 5MP camera, 12GBs of memory, and a 1.2 Ghz processor.

Once you buy the phone, you get 200 calling minutes, 500 text messages, and 500MB of data for free each month. With that kind of data you can’t watch video or listen to music, but you can do routine web surfing and emails. (By the way, you’ll also pay $2.49 a month for visual voicemail service.)

Fortunately, there’s a freemium model here. So if you want unlimited talk and text, you can have it for $10.99 a month. But you’ll still only get 500MB of data at that price. If you want meaningful data, you can get 2GB with unlimited talk and text for $20 a month. (Data throughput reduced to 3G speeds after first 1GB.)

And finally, you can now use the iPhone on Freedom Pop. See their website for details.

That’s the good news about Freedom Pop. The bad news is the call quality on FreedomPop is severly lacking. While the coverage seems fine, the call quality is just mediocre at best. It’s a definite work in progress. But the data works very well, just as promised.

UPDATE: Instead of buying the HTC EVO Design 12GB, FreedomPop now allows you to bring your own device (BYOD) to their service. Here are the devices they’ll support at this writing:

  • HTC EVO 4G
  • Samsung Epic 4G
  • Samsung Epic 4G Touch
  • Samsung Galaxy S III 16GB (!)
  • LG Optimus S
  • Motorola Photon 4G
  • HTC EVO 3D
  • Boost Prevail by Samsung
  • Galaxy Nexus by Samsung (!!)
  • Nexus S 4G by Samsung
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