I've been trying out the $30 5GB plan for a couple of weeks now and I'm pretty happy with the 3G speed and coverage - I've mostly been streaming a lot of Pandora and haven't had any issues except in a friend's basement (notorious for bad cell service) and at home.
The BlackBerry 9700 I'm using generally seems like a poor performer; to sum it up, I can get 3-4 bars if I put the phone down on my desk if I'm lucky, but holding it with two fingers on the other side of the room = no signal. Walking out on the deck, I have 5 bars and the speed is great, but just going inside two feet from where I was just standing & behind sliding glass doors = no signal again. TMo's building penetration might not be the best, but I blame this on the phone (I've read that newer BB's are lackluster in this department).
So any recommendations for phones? I've been using an original Droid for two years (on Page Plus) so I'm looking for something at least on par with its specs, preferably better. I'm looking to spend around $200 at most, and I think I want another Android phone (I've used WP7 and I like it, but not enough to switch to it). Other than a four-month old HoFo thread on this subject, I haven't been able to find much advice so I'm looking forward to hearing what you all suggest. Anything better than this BB would be an improvement, and I don't want to go back to having only 100MB of data
My wife has used the Moto Defy since November '10. It has very good AWS 3G radio reception and the antennas are on the top of the phone, where they should be (signal not blocked by the hand like with my Samsung T339 or Nokia N900). I believe it also has 850 MHz UMTS radio built-in, but have never verified it roaming and have only read about people using it on ATT 850 3G.
Pros- loud speakers and ringers, Android 2.2 upgrade, good wifi and wifi calling, small size/pocketable for 3.7 inch screen, semi-durable/water repellant, should be in your price range, good battery.
Negatives- many had ear speaker defects including wife's first one (can be fixed), camera not that great compared to my N900 with similar 5 MP, small size makes hitting flat buttons easy/no room for fingers, screen can crack if dropped on concrete (son did this to his), sometimes lags (root and remove bloatware).
We get poor indoor 2G/3G reception at home, but use UMA and Wi-Fi calling for good call quality.
With such good outdoor reception, a signal booster from T-Mobile or Wilson should also work well to boost it inside.