First thing I'm going to recommend on this subject is for you to read the discussion between TheDude and myself over in another thread starting with this post
Technically from a policy standpoint, iPhones are not allowed on Page Plus (details in that thread). My advice today, yesterday and tomorrow will remain consistent: if you insist on running an iPhone but want the option to have a phone plan cheaper than $35 a month and the ability to take your handset to a competitor, you need to go with a carrier unlocked GSM model and MVNO. If you still want to take the CDMA route and use your current handset, go for it, but do so knowing the risks.
As to your questions:
1. Has anyone used a service like Beigephone and is it legit? Apparently you can pay to have them flash the phone over to Pageplus and it makes it a lot faster/easier. Internet research suggests that Pageplus technically blocks iPhones but reviews are saying that folks have had good luck going through Beigephone. Would be interested to hear if anyone has done anything similar.
The previously provided link should let you make a more informed decision on Beigephone and iPhone use on Page Plus. You should definitely talk with TheDude about his P+ iPhone migration, however.
2. What does a "clean ESN" mean? I understand that the ESN won't be clean if the phone is attached to a plan that has unpaid bills. What if my bills are paid but I'm still under contract though? Will that make my ESN not clean?
A clean ESN is basically a clean hardware serial number. What makes things unclean
are phones still under contract or stolen. Your current iPhone's ESN would not technically be "clean" until after
you have paid off your ETF fees. Think of it like the VIN of your car and the pink-slip that goes with it.
3. Along that vein, Pageplus says to keep my plan current while switching over if I want to keep my number (which is important to me). But do I need to pay off my contract BEFORE I make the switch or could I theoretically switch the phone, make sure it works okay on Pageplus, THEN cancel my contract?
Yup, that stands for any MVNO you want to port your number to. If you aren't current on your bills, your current provider can block number porting, and you can lose your number in the process. Technically speaking, the act of porting your number will terminate your previous service for
you. This is why it's recommended that you don't cancel your service before you port your number as this will all but guarantee that you won't be able to port it. Under most circumstances with migrating both handset and number from Verizon to Page Plus, it's recommended that you buy out your contract first so you're both current and your handset has a clean ESN. This way, you can take both the handset and the phone number over at the same time. Unfortunately, things are far
more complicated than this given the handset and the carrier you're dealing with. Short answer? Just buy out your ETF first before porting your number anywhere to keep everything simple, whether you go with Page Plus or another MVNO, or keep or sell your handset.
4. Any experience with Pageplus service, and is it really as good as Verizon? Mostly, I'm worried about getting cell service in the more rural areas where my family lives. I live in the city but visit semi-frequently and don't want a phone that won't work out there. Verizon is generally a reliable provider in this area, which is why I've stuck with them. Data is less of an issue, as I mostly just need it in the city where most plans work okay.
Generally, coverage and reception on MNO towers will remain identical through MVNOs to what you already have. The only change you'll experience with Page Plus over Verizon will be data connection speeds due to the change in your APN.
A few advance replies to comments I imagine I might get:
I've heard the anti-smartphone rant. I also get where they're coming from, but I did the cheap flipphone thing for years and am not really willing to go back to it at this point. For my work and personal schedule, smartphones have been a lifesaver. I can make room in my budget for it, I'd just rather make it cheaper if I can.
I'm not recommending necessarily going with a simple flip phone. My point made with feature phones is that there are models now that have competing features to smartphones, but have better battery life, are cheaper, and use less data. You may need/want features that your iPhone provides, but the key is to realize that nearly all those features aren't solely
in the domain of the iPhone or even Android anymore. If you want to stick with the platform, it's your money, but don't convince yourself that you have to keep spending that sort of money to get the functionality you're desiring.
I tried the really cheap options like Tmobile and Straighttalk before signing up for this plan, and both of them got crap cell service. I can deal with slower data, I can't deal with a phone that doesn't work in my house, my office, or on the major roads that I drive to go home. Hence, trying to stay with Verizon-esque service.
Straighttalk's a pretty crap service anyway, and it sounds like you've just got poor GSM reception, T-Mobile included. This means that you're probably looking at better coverage on a CDMA network. I don't know what Sprint coverage is like in your area, but if you're correct in saying that Verizon's the only good provider in your neck of the woods, that pretty well limits you to Verizon, Page Plus and Ting... and even if Ting allowed for iPhones (which they don't either), it'd have to be a Sprint iPhone. If you've got good Sprint coverage, that opens up Virgin Mobile (you can officially buy iPhones for use) and Eco Mobile
, which allows BYO(Sprint)D, but again, no iPhones.
I haven't ruled out getting rid of the iPhone and getting the Android that works with Pageplus's plans. It's an option. But if keeping the iPhone was posible, that'd be preferable.
Any other thoughts, throw 'em out there. Any personal experiences with this, I'd love to hear them. Alternatively, someone tell me to stop overthinking this and just do it, heh.
All this should help you really decide if trying to keep that iPhone is really worth it or not. Any other questions, you know I'll be kicking around.