Author Topic: A Cell Phone for a Beginner?  (Read 3855 times)

wildbeast

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A Cell Phone for a Beginner?
« on: May 08, 2017, 11:12:38 AM »
I didn't want to high jack the cell phone thread but I need some help choosing a cell phone and plan.  The last time I had a cell phone was in 2007 - that will give you an idea of where I'm coming from.  I'm looking for an economical and reliable phone that I can use for the following: calling, texting, photos, a few apps.  I do not plan to use it a whole lot.  I'm leaning towards a smartphone because the few apps I plan to use are built for it.

I'm also leaning towards Tracphone service because it appears to be the cheapest and I can save the minutes since I don't plan to use that much.

Help? 
« Last Edit: May 11, 2017, 10:50:30 AM by jane doe »

wildbeast

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Re: A Cell Phone for a Beginner?
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2017, 12:02:20 PM »
I thought it might be helpful to throw out some products and get feedback, rather than starting from scratch.

What do you guys think about this one?  It appears that it would meet my needs, the price seems reasonable.  Am I missing anything?  I would go with the AT&T Next plan at $16.67/mo.  I picked AT&T because they are my internet and phone service carrier.  Thought it might simplify things.  I haven't researched the quality of their cell service though.

#1:   Apple iPhone SE Rose Gold 128GB - $16.67/mo
http://membershipwireless.com/52426/apple-iphone-se-rose-gold-128gb

#2:   Apple iPhone 6 Silver 64GB - $16.67/mo
http://membershipwireless.com/27638/apple-iphone-6-silver-64gb

They are both the same price, but the Rose Gold has 128GB vs 64GB.  Am I missing something? 
« Last Edit: May 08, 2017, 12:40:22 PM by jane doe »

Daley

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Re: A Cell Phone for a Beginner?
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2017, 12:09:03 PM »
Hijack? That's the entire purpose! Consolidation of information.

There's somewhat better PAYGO options than Carlos Slim around the same prices. H2O Wireless is one of them on the cheaper end.

As for phones specifically, I'm guessing you're talking Android given you already "know" what apps you need. Understand that even with the improvements on data management, it is still one of the most technically complex smartphone platforms to lock down random mobile data usage on to keep the ongoing apps you need mobile data for usable... this results in bills that may not be so friendly toward the pocket on PAYGO mobile data charges, resulting in you needing to leave mobile data off most of the time without potentially wasting random mobile data on needless services that Android is too stupid to prevent. It's not impossible, but it's a headache compared to how Microsoft has things set up on Windows Phone... though that is a path that's losing traction, too. (What is it with me and failed smartphone platforms? The least terrible ones never gain the traction they need to survive.)

Long-story-short, smartphones and PAYGO data are getting increasingly difficult to mix unless you just leave mobile data off most of the time.

As for what sort of Android smartphone you should buy, buy one with a user replaceable battery, an SD card slot, and that is mainstream enough to get system updates for more than their initial launch version of Android and/or be able to get further updates using third party Android builds such as LineageOS or Resurrection Remix (if you're inclined to do such technical things). PhoneScoop has a good search tool for finding phones, as does GSM Arena. Otherwise, you might be better served with a feature phone. I'd stick with GSM providers who allow for bring your own device, though, as your selection and pricing will be broader, and you won't potentially be locked into a carrier that you'll hate. Also, resist the urge to spend more than $150-200... and honestly, if you don't mind used/refurbished, you can get far cheaper. I use a Windows Phone myself (a Lumia 435) and I spent a whopping $18 for it a year ago. Solid, nigh indestructible, does everything I need, barely uses 30MB a month just using data sense without keeping mobile data off all the time and still gives me regular email updates.

If you're in an area with good T-Mobile coverage, consider using US Mobile for your carrier - good prices for the packages offered, data especially. Figure a budget of at least around $10 no matter who you use if you're wanting a smartphone with some ongoing mobile data usage.

Also, you brought up iPhones. These are money pits, and Apple dictates which carriers you can use unless you want certain core phone features broken, eliminating some of the cheapest and best coverage PAYGO MVNOs you could possibly use. If you actually care about saving money, don't buy an iPhone.

wildbeast

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Re: A Cell Phone for a Beginner?
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2017, 12:39:50 PM »
If iphones are money pits, how about Samsung?

#3:   Samsung Galaxy J3 - $7/mo
http://membershipwireless.com/50208/samsung-galaxy-j3

#4:   Samsung Galaxy S4 - 16GB - $15.33/mo
http://membershipwireless.com/10210/samsung-galaxy-s4-16gb-black-mist

#5:   Samsung Galaxy S7 Gold 32GB - $19.83/mo
http://membershipwireless.com/48134/samsung-galaxy-s7-gold-32gb

wildbeast

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Re: A Cell Phone for a Beginner?
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2017, 12:46:42 PM »
Hijack? That's the entire purpose! Consolidation of information.

There's somewhat better PAYGO options than Carlos Slim around the same prices. H2O Wireless is one of them on the cheaper end.

As for phones specifically, I'm guessing you're talking Android given you already "know" what apps you need. Understand that even with the improvements on data management, it is still one of the most technically complex smartphone platforms to lock down random mobile data usage on to keep the ongoing apps you need mobile data for usable... this results in bills that may not be so friendly toward the pocket on PAYGO mobile data charges, resulting in you needing to leave mobile data off most of the time without potentially wasting random mobile data on needless services that Android is too stupid to prevent. It's not impossible, but it's a headache compared to how Microsoft has things set up on Windows Phone... though that is a path that's losing traction, too. (What is it with me and failed smartphone platforms? The least terrible ones never gain the traction they need to survive.)

Long-story-short, smartphones and PAYGO data are getting increasingly difficult to mix unless you just leave mobile data off most of the time.

As for what sort of Android smartphone you should buy, buy one with a user replaceable battery, an SD card slot, and that is mainstream enough to get system updates for more than their initial launch version of Android and/or be able to get further updates using third party Android builds such as LineageOS or Resurrection Remix (if you're inclined to do such technical things). PhoneScoop has a good search tool for finding phones, as does GSM Arena. Otherwise, you might be better served with a feature phone. I'd stick with GSM providers who allow for bring your own device, though, as your selection and pricing will be broader, and you won't potentially be locked into a carrier that you'll hate. Also, resist the urge to spend more than $150-200... and honestly, if you don't mind used/refurbished, you can get far cheaper. I use a Windows Phone myself (a Lumia 435) and I spent a whopping $18 for it a year ago. Solid, nigh indestructible, does everything I need, barely uses 30MB a month just using data sense without keeping mobile data off all the time and still gives me regular email updates.

If you're in an area with good T-Mobile coverage, consider using US Mobile for your carrier - good prices for the packages offered, data especially. Figure a budget of at least around $10 no matter who you use if you're wanting a smartphone with some ongoing mobile data usage.

Also, you brought up iPhones. These are money pits, and Apple dictates which carriers you can use unless you want certain core phone features broken, eliminating some of the cheapest and best coverage PAYGO MVNOs you could possibly use. If you actually care about saving money, don't buy an iPhone.

Hi Daley - I appreciate all the info and advice you provided.  I'm not a tech-savvy person, and I guess my patience level is low at this point in my life.  I'm just looking for a convenient, economical plan with the basics.  I'm looking to spend around $15-$20 per month if possible. 

Would you mind looking at the last 3 phone packages I posted (Samsung) and giving me your opinion on them?

Daley

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Re: A Cell Phone for a Beginner?
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2017, 01:04:07 PM »
#3:   Samsung Galaxy J3 - $7/mo
http://membershipwireless.com/50208/samsung-galaxy-j3

#4:   Samsung Galaxy S4 - 16GB - $15.33/mo
http://membershipwireless.com/10210/samsung-galaxy-s4-16gb-black-mist

#5:   Samsung Galaxy S7 Gold 32GB - $19.83/mo
http://membershipwireless.com/48134/samsung-galaxy-s7-gold-32gb

You understand those "monthly prices" are ongoing price costs with expensive, mandatory two year plus AT&T service contracts, right?

If you're not willing to pay for the phone outright, up front, and carrier unlocked... you're not going to get "affordable" mobile phone service at the prices you're wanting. The AT&T branded phones you're going to buy at Costco are going to be carrier locked and will require some level of service from AT&T to unlock for use with carriers other than AT&T.

As for Samsung phones specifically? Eh.

As for those specifically... again, it depends on how much you're wanting to spend and how complex you want to make things.



For someone who doesn't want to deal with technology, Iphone may be worth the premium.  Others may have different opinion, but I find they are a bit more intuitive to use.  There's less tweaking of settings, harder to install malicious software, etc.

Honestly, I'd say the same thing, but with Windows Phone over iPhone. A used, carrier unlocked Lumia 640 or 650 is still getting ongoing updates from Microsoft, it's just as simple as Apple to use, and there's none of the carrier restriction or inability to replace the battery yourself downsides.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2017, 01:08:22 PM by I.P. Daley »

Daley

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Re: A Cell Phone for a Beginner?
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2017, 01:14:59 PM »
You want to cut through the noise and get blind recommendations without actually knowing where you live, what your usage pattern may look like, and with no regard to what handset might work best for your needs but is guaranteed to work for the basics of email/texting/browsing/etc.?

Okay.

Buy a used Microsoft Lumia 650 off Swappa/Ebay/Amazon that is carrier unlocked, don't spend more than $75.

Use a Puretalk USA (AT&T coverage) Simple Plan.

Meets the requirement of a simple smartphone that is secure and easy to use at a price that won't break the bank. Meets the monthly price target without locking into a single carrier or plan on a network that is more likely to work than not. Provides the freedom to switch carriers, plans, or phones without eating a crapload of money up front. A Windows Phone that is still getting active security updates likely through at least 2020.

That work?
« Last Edit: May 08, 2017, 01:18:37 PM by I.P. Daley »

wildbeast

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Re: A Cell Phone for a Beginner?
« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2017, 11:09:16 AM »
You want to cut through the noise and get blind recommendations without actually knowing where you live, what your usage pattern may look like, and with no regard to what handset might work best for your needs but is guaranteed to work for the basics of email/texting/browsing/etc.?

Okay.

Buy a used Microsoft Lumia 650 off Swappa/Ebay/Amazon that is carrier unlocked, don't spend more than $75.

Use a Puretalk USA (AT&T coverage) Simple Plan.

Meets the requirement of a simple smartphone that is secure and easy to use at a price that won't break the bank. Meets the monthly price target without locking into a single carrier or plan on a network that is more likely to work than not. Provides the freedom to switch carriers, plans, or phones without eating a crapload of money up front. A Windows Phone that is still getting active security updates likely through at least 2020.

That work?

Thank you Daley!  That was very helpful.  I ran the AT&T simple plan numbers against the Tracfone and they are almost identical.  AT&T gives more minutes per month, but Tracfone allows monthly rollovers (you pay for 1 year of service vs. monthly) so I think that will wash out.  Since the service contracts will include other charges and I'm not sure how I'll be using the phone, I opted for the Tracfone with a Samsung Galaxy Luna.  Total cost for 1 year of service (talk, text, data) plus the phone is $204.  I ordered the phone this morning and will get it tomorrow with free overnight shipping.  No monthly charges of any kind.   That feels like a good starting point for me.

I might revisit this in a year when I know more about my usage patterns and preferences.  And when I find myself tempted by bells and whistles!  :)  Right now I'm getting the phone because I've gotten stranded by my car dying on the highway twice in the last 6 months and I didn't have a phone on me.  No one stops anymore for stranded motorists because everyone assumes you have a phone.  Since I haven't fixed my car yet, it's kind of a safety issue at this point.  The Tracfone process is quick and easy and I'm glad to have it done.

A big THANK YOU to everyone for all the insights and suggestions offered.  I can't believe it's been 10 years since I had a cell phone.  Y'all probably think I'm a dinosaur!  :)
« Last Edit: May 11, 2017, 10:50:48 AM by jane doe »

eostache

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Re: A Cell Phone for a Beginner?
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2017, 12:28:01 PM »
I've been using Tracfone since 2007 and I have been very happy with it. I'm a light cell phone user and I can buy exactly what I need for service. By following Tracfone forums I have learned the ropes about how to best optimize the Tracfone service and have been alerted to flash sales and deals on service and have stacked up service for the next few years.

My Tracfone service has been with Verizon towers or AT&T towers (it depends on which phone you choose). A lot of the other cheaper plans are with Sprint or Tmobile. I'm in the Rocky Mtn west with a lot of remote areas and I have had good Verizon service in all the places I expect to get a least a couple bars.

I use my phone a lot for wifi, GPS, camera, ebook apps, etc, which does not use any of the service (unless I'm using cellular data for something.)

wildbeast

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Re: A Cell Phone for a Beginner?
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2017, 10:58:16 AM »
I've been using Tracfone since 2007 and I have been very happy with it. I'm a light cell phone user and I can buy exactly what I need for service. By following Tracfone forums I have learned the ropes about how to best optimize the Tracfone service and have been alerted to flash sales and deals on service and have stacked up service for the next few years.

My Tracfone service has been with Verizon towers or AT&T towers (it depends on which phone you choose). A lot of the other cheaper plans are with Sprint or Tmobile. I'm in the Rocky Mtn west with a lot of remote areas and I have had good Verizon service in all the places I expect to get a least a couple bars.

I use my phone a lot for wifi, GPS, camera, ebook apps, etc, which does not use any of the service (unless I'm using cellular data for something.)

Thanks eostache!  My new Samsung Tracfone is with Verizon and so far I really like it.  The phone is very easy to use and the perfect size for me.  I'll check out the forums for tips and info.

I've been holding on to our landline and I think with this change, I can finally switch the home phone over to Magic Jack.  I like having a home phone because I don't want to give my cell # out.  I did some research on the Magic Jack and it looks like a solid reliable service for a fraction of the cost of regular home phone service.  The savings there will offset this cost and give us twice the amount of phone use and the convenience of being able to use the cell phone as a computer device while keeping the home phone as well.

FLBiker

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Re: A Cell Phone for a Beginner?
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2017, 11:02:43 AM »
We got my wife a Moto G a couple of years back, and she really likes it.  The Moto E is a bit cheaper.  We're on T-Mobile.

extremedefense

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Re: A Cell Phone for a Beginner?
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2017, 11:12:59 AM »
If you want to spend less than $20, here is what I would recommend.

Go to Kroger and pick up one of their cheap TracFone Android phones (like https://www.kroger.com/topic/zte-citrine-lte-z717 or  https://www.kroger.com/topic/zte-citrine-lte-z716). I was able to get one for $9.99, which is a steal for a Lollipop 5.1 phone with 8 GB storage, 1 GB memory, front / rear camera, bluetooth / wifi, sim card, expandable memory, removable battery; so see if they have a sale on them.

Pick up a $0.99 sim card from FreedomPop https://www.freedompop.com/sim-card and then disable the $24.99 a month plan, and disable the $7.99 a month "services".

Then you have $0 a month for 200 minutes, 500 texts, 200 mb of data.

Let me know if you need help disabling the $24.99 plan or removing the services, they make the text super small and difficult to do in order to keep collecting the monthly fee.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2017, 11:16:36 AM by extremedefense »

wildbeast

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Re: A Cell Phone for a Beginner?
« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2017, 11:14:59 AM »
If you want to spend less than $20, here is what I would recommend.

Go to Kroger and pick up one of their cheap TracFone Android phones (like  or [https://www.kroger.com/topic/zte-citrine-lte-z717 or https://www.kroger.com/topic/zte-citrine-lte-z716[/url] )

Pick up a $0.99 sim card from FreedomPop https://www.freedompop.com/sim-card and then disable the $24.99 a month plan, and disable the $7.99 a month "services".

Then you have $0 a month for 200 minutes, 500 texts, 200 mb of data.

Let me know if you need help disabling the $24.99 plan or removing the services, they make the text super small and difficult to do in order to keep collecting the monthly fee.

thanks extremedefense!  I already got my new phone but hopefully your info will help someone else who might be looking to save money.

v8rx7guy

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Re: A Cell Phone for a Beginner?
« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2017, 11:19:34 AM »
Samsung J3 and pay in full up front...  Payments on a phone is a joke.

dang1

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Re: A Cell Phone for a Beginner?
« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2017, 11:42:09 AM »
Moto E is pretty solid. with Tracphone, they're selling on ebay for around $15

eostache

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Re: A Cell Phone for a Beginner?
« Reply #15 on: May 11, 2017, 10:08:57 PM »
If you want to spend less than $20, here is what I would recommend.

Go to Kroger and pick up one of their cheap TracFone Android phones (like https://www.kroger.com/topic/zte-citrine-lte-z717 or  https://www.kroger.com/topic/zte-citrine-lte-z716). I was able to get one for $9.99, which is a steal for a Lollipop 5.1 phone with 8 GB storage, 1 GB memory, front / rear camera, bluetooth / wifi, sim card, expandable memory, removable battery; so see if they have a sale on them.

Pick up a $0.99 sim card from FreedomPop https://www.freedompop.com/sim-card and then disable the $24.99 a month plan, and disable the $7.99 a month "services".

Then you have $0 a month for 200 minutes, 500 texts, 200 mb of data.

Let me know if you need help disabling the $24.99 plan or removing the services, they make the text super small and difficult to do in order to keep collecting the monthly fee.

Were you able to use a Freedom Pop sim card in a Tracfone phone?