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Last week while attending Lenovo's Tech World conference in San Francisco, I was in the middle of responding to a social media post and my LG G4 froze, rebooted and stayed on a black screen. Rebooting, battery and SD card pulls, nothing would bring it back to life. I tried taking it to Verizon, who for my personal line has been my carrier for the past decade. Since I'd already had one warranty exchange with them, they referred me to LG direct.
LG indicated it would be a week to ten days to get my phone repaired. I popped my SIM card out of my G4 and put it into my trusty backup phone, a Verizon Prepaid Moto e 4G LTE. It worked fine for around one day and then another surprise occurred.
I received a text message indicating that my SIM card was invalid unless I first activated and paid for one month of Verizon prepaid service. This seemed like a fair compromise as I had used a prepaid phone on a postpaid line. I contacted Verizon customer service who directed me to go to one of their corporate stores for assistance. I did so... only to find out that I would have to pay for six full months of prepaid service which I wouldn't be using to continue to use my back up phone.
I have a work line that is a second daily driver. It is with AT&T and works great. I use my Samsung Note 4 on that line and have no complaints. I don't however have the ability to use that also as my primary personal line.
How was I going to get my personal calls, without buying another smartphone, over the next week to ten days?
A friend had recently purchased a 3-in-1 (meaning Nano/Micro/standard all in one) SIM Card from FreedomPop, which touts that it offers "completely free" voice, text and data operating as an MVNO on Three UK's network and also roams for free on the AT&T and T-Mobile networks. The Moto e may have been locked down for Verizon postpaid, but as it ships carrier unlocked, when I popped in the FreedomPop SIM card, it worked just fine. FreedomPop's "voice" service is actually VOIP and requires a data connection. For that reason, to use the FreedomPop line for calls and texts, installation of the FreedomPop messaging application was mandatory. There are iOS and Android applications available, so the majority of smartphones will work with the FreedomPop service but feature phones and other "dumb" devices wouldn't work. Windows Phone users also seem to be out of luck. For me, the service has worked great for the past week.
My Moto e continues to be my daily driver for my personal line. My calls are now forwarded to the temporary phone number that I'm borrowing from my friend and while the data speeds don't go above HSPA+ and sometimes drop as low as EDGE, the service is reliable and good enough that I confidently bought a FreedomPop SIM of my own so that in the case of an emergency, I can pop that SIM into any GSM compatible phone and have coverage.
FreedomPop is currently offering the SIMs to users in the US and the UK but it apparently also allows for roaming in a couple of dozen other countries as well. I'm surprised at how well it works and extremely happy that it has allowed me to bridge the time period when my personal line is unavailable. I could have forwarded personal calls to my work line but that line is intended to be open for work related "on call" emergencies. I use the data on my work line all day but really need the voice and text features to not be mixed with personal voice calls and text. The FreedomPop SIM got me out of the bind and should be compatible with many ZTE devices.
I'm still on the hunt for the best phone to replace the LG G4 as my Verizon line and the Axon 7 definitely looks like a top contender if Verizon's bands are available. If not, I may consider replacing my work line with the Axon 7 or just abandon Verizon altogether for my personal line and keep using FreedomPop for that line. That'd unlock a lot of ZTE devices as potential daily drivers and hopefully remove the need to send back my device for repair every 4-6 months as I've had to do with the last few phones I've purchased from other manufacturers.