Cheap cell phone service

FRESNO, Calif.

Sprint CEO's confidence in his company's improvements appears to have struck a chord with Sprint customers, according to consumer reports' annual cell-phone survey.

"For years, Sprint has been one of lower-rated cell-phone companies in our survey. But this year we saw a dramatic improvement," Donato Vaccaro said.

Sprint tied with Verizon among the top carriers for cell phones with a contract. And most Sprint customers said the carrier offers good value.

"My bill's great. It's cheap. It's small. Small bill, lotta service," Drew Williams said.

But AT&T is solidly in last place again for almost everything - from customer support to problems making calls to value for the money.

"My iPhone bill is just, it's over the top. There's times I got bills for $200," Dale Wilson said.

If you're looking for a cell-phone service with no contract, a small company called Consumer Cellular came out on top.

"People found it offers great value. But it has a limited choice of phones," Donato Vaccaro said.

If you prefer a greater selection of phones, consumer reports says consider T-Mobile, which now offers most of its phones - even smart phones - with a no-contract option.

Keep in mind that if you do decide to buy a phone without a contract, consumer reports says the phone will probably cost more.

However, your monthly fees will probably be less. No-contract plans are best suited for people who only make occasional calls and text but don't surf the web or use their phone for email. They're also good if you want a simple first phone for a tween or teenager.

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