Author Topic: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...  (Read 6722 times)

gbbi_977

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To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« on: April 09, 2015, 07:00:49 AM »
Hi everyone,

DH and I are looking for ways to cut our monthly expenses. We currently spend $50 on Internet (Comcast - it started at $30/month but went up after a few years) and $30 each on our cell phones.

Partly for frugality reasons, but partly also because we are resisting the smart phone/24/7 online culture, we still have flip phones (side note: apparently this is cool now as the hipsters are doing it ironically).

We are happy without smartphones, but recent browsing on websites like Republic has me wondering if it would be cheaper to switch?

Our cells cost around $20 each for the handset, and we each pay $30/month for Virgin Pay-Lo plan (gives us 1500 minutes of talk and unlimited text, far more than we use).

I've read some of the MMM advice on switching to Republic and heard conflicting things, but it seems like if we each got a $99 Moto handset and switched to the $10/month plan, we'd be reaping the cost savings in 5 months.

Has anyone else made the switch and do you have any advice?

Many thanks!

Scandium

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Re: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2015, 07:18:00 AM »
I pay $27/month for my 500 MB plan with H2O. If I could pay $3 less and have access to maps, amazon prices and restaurant reviews anywhere; yes I would do it..

Republic seems a bit shady to me ("you get you use your own wifi to call, for free!") and have read some bad things, but I have no experience with them.

KCM5

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Re: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2015, 07:34:08 AM »
You don't necessarily have to go to a smartphone to get a cheaper plan. I'm on page plus, pay $12/mo (250 min, 250 texts, some tiny amount of data that I've never used). I do, however, have a smartphone and I love it. But I only use the smart part of the phone when I'm on wifi. While not on wifi I can still take excellent pictures, listen to music, access saved emails, etc.

Daley

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Re: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2015, 07:54:20 AM »
Have you found the guide yet? (unabridged here)

As it has been pointed out, you don't need to buy smartphones or lock into some low-quality, proprietary service with no real customer support and an ugly terms of service agreement, while generating more long-term electronic waste just to save money on your cell bills or get your spending down to around $12 per line (after taxes). It just takes a little knowledge and planning.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2015, 07:56:08 AM by I.P. Daley »

Daley

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Re: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2015, 08:25:27 AM »
If you're interested, I'd be happy to guide you if need be.

Two questions need to be answered, however. How many minutes/texts per line per month do you use and what network are you on?

somepissedoffman

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Re: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2015, 08:29:40 AM »
I'm at about $20/mo for my smart phone on Ting, paid about $75 for it a year back (used htc evo something something).
It's my first smart phone, was using a flip phone before that.
I keep the data off (there's a button for that) almost all the time, and just enable it to check maps when necessary.

I find I've been able to resist the temptation to check twitterz and facebookz every second, so it turns out to just be a pretty cheap phone with emergency mapping capability.  So, that's neat.

crazyworld

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Re: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2015, 08:35:14 AM »
If you're interested, I'd be happy to guide you if need be.

Two questions need to be answered, however. How many minutes/texts per line per month do you use and what network are you on?

I could use a guide!  I currently have Consumer Cellular - the rub is there is no service outside the US.  I go to Canada to visit family - no service the minute you cross the border.  I travel abroad to other places - again same problem.  What would you recommend?
I also need to upgrade to some kind of smart phone - company is now paying me an allowance and I need to be able to check email.  Current phone is a Nokia C3 - not exactly a flip phone, but not exactly a smart phone.
thanks!

gbbi_977

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Re: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2015, 09:02:57 AM »
If you're interested, I'd be happy to guide you if need be.

Two questions need to be answered, however. How many minutes/texts per line per month do you use and what network are you on?

Well that's very generous of you! To answer:

- I would estimate we each use about 400 minutes a month
- I would estimate we each use about 400 texts per month
- don't use any data as we don't have smartphones
- we use Virgin Mobile, which I believe uses the Sprint network for coverage, and have found that to be fine
- our handsets were paid for outright (about $30 each) and don't have SIM cards so I don't think we could use them as BYOD with another company
- Priority is cost-cutting, we are happy to stay on 'dumb' phones (but wouldn't say no to a smart phone if that turned out to be cheaper)
- not really interested in locking into a plan, as we might be leaving the country within next 6 - 12 months

Thanks again!

Daley

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Re: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2015, 10:15:11 AM »
To answer:

- I would estimate we each use about 400 minutes a month
- I would estimate we each use about 400 texts per month
- don't use any data as we don't have smartphones
- we use Virgin Mobile, which I believe uses the Sprint network for coverage, and have found that to be fine
- our handsets were paid for outright (about $30 each) and don't have SIM cards so I don't think we could use them as BYOD with another company
- Priority is cost-cutting, we are happy to stay on 'dumb' phones (but wouldn't say no to a smart phone if that turned out to be cheaper)
- not really interested in locking into a plan, as we might be leaving the country within next 6 - 12 months

Thanks again!

At those usage levels, there shouldn't be any problem whatsoever cutting your cost to around $30-35/month.

Technically, if Sprint can ever iron out the remaining problems in their MEID/ESN/FED system, your phones if used with Virgin for over a year should be eligible for activation with other Sprint MVNOs such as Ting.

All the same, maybe try the MEID/ESN check anyway and see if you can take the phones elsewhere.

Since you're on Sprint, that also potentially opens up reasonable expectations that reception would probably be good on nearly any other network as well, including AT&T and T-Mobile. Puretalk USA (AT&T) and their Flex or Family plans might be a good fit.

That said, accurate usage numbers might be good to know, especially numbers used at home. You're kind of in that awkward cusp between PAYGO and larger calling package prices. If a home VoIP solution at around $5-10/month could cut those mobile minutes in half or more, even with the additional cost of a home line, you could probably get in well under $30 a month total at that point.



I could use a guide!

Repost over in this thread if you would, both for the sake of consolidating information for others and to keep from threadjacking from the OP.

Also, respect knuckles for the phone.

Merrie

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Re: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2015, 09:59:44 PM »
This is all very interesting.

We have Republic Wireless and got it partly because my husband wanted to make the switch to a smart phone. It is interesting to read all this hating on it. We have never had a problem. But if the desire for a smart phone were not part of the deal, and if my husband hadn't been so horribly opposed to the idea of trying to buy a used smart phone, we probably would have gone another route. We are not subscribed to the mobile data plan (not having mobile data is occasionally kind of irritating, but not worth going through a big hassle to switch carriers, and realistically I shouldn't be using the Internet at work anyway) so pay $23 a month for both of us. Most carriers we looked at we would not get a better rate no matter how bare-bones of a plan we had. I agree with the assessment that the $25 or $35 plans would not be cost-effective; we'd be paying for way more usage than we needed. The cost of the handsets is sunk costs at this point for us.

In our situation I'd probably make the same call again. In your situation there is probably something cheaper or similarly priced per month where you can use your current phone or another cheapie.

Side effects of having made the switch when I wasn't particularly interested in it--I have started using my phone to do some "computer" functions, particularly reading e-books. And I text way more than I used to because it is so much easier on this phone than on my old phone.

AllieVaulter

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Re: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2015, 10:11:50 PM »
I have Republic too.  I've never had any other kind of smart phone, so maybe that affected my expectations, but I've been very satisfied with it.  The only weird thing about it, is that if you start a phone call at home on the wireless network and then leave home (and therefore the wireless network) it drops the call.  You can choose to make a call on the cell network if you think you'll be leaving the wireless network before you finish your call. 

To be honest, most of the time I use my phone I'm on a wireless connection.  I hardly end up using the cell network at all. 

Merrie

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Re: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2015, 10:22:28 PM »
The only weird thing about it, is that if you start a phone call at home on the wireless network and then leave home (and therefore the wireless network) it drops the call.  You can choose to make a call on the cell network if you think you'll be leaving the wireless network before you finish your call. 


Yeah, that can be a little annoying. Can't place a call as you are leaving your driveway. Though technically we probably shouldn't be doing that.

I also had issues with dropped calls in the house, but I was able to tweak some setting to change the phone's threshold for trying to hand over calls and that solved that problem.

Daley

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Re: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2015, 06:20:29 PM »
Answer cross-posted here from the guide discussion thread.

I could use a guide!  I currently have Consumer Cellular - the rub is there is no service outside the US.  I go to Canada to visit family - no service the minute you cross the border.  I travel abroad to other places - again same problem.  What would you recommend?

Roaming to other countries can be handled three ways: by primary carrier permitting international roaming, by local carrier in foreign country, or by VoIP over a borrowed internet connection.

Right now, the only domestic MVNOs that have international roaming are Ting's CDMA service, and international PAYGO SIM providers like Truphone - neither of these are particularly frugal options up in Canada. If you really want to roam into Canada with your phone without swapping SIM cards or using a free WiFi hotspot and a VoIP provider, you're gonna have to spend the shekels with one of the major mobile network operators like AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, etc... and it won't be cheap.

Otherwise, just swing into a 7-11 once you cross the border, pick up a SpeakOut Wireless SIM card to swap out your Consumer Cellular SIM with, toss $35-50 onto the account, and use that every time you head North. Granted, you'll want to check coverage maps, but it covers most of the population dense areas. Otherwise, see what other prepaid option might work for your area. Credit lasts for a full year with SpeakOut, so you can just swap SIM cards as you travel and re-up as needed. Otherwise, you're stuck trying to use some VoIP solution which really doesn't address the need for international mobile phone service.

I also need to upgrade to some kind of smart phone - company is now paying me an allowance and I need to be able to check email.  Current phone is a Nokia C3 - not exactly a flip phone, but not exactly a smart phone.
thanks!

I applaud your taste in phones, my friend. I too own a Nokia C3 and have a handy trick up my sleeve for you regarding the NMS fiasco with Symbian S40/60 phones from last November leaving everyone without email access. So long as you don't need push mail support and manual checking is fine (not critically time-sensitive), you can probably keep rocking that C3 until it dies thanks to mujMail.

If that doesn't work for you, there's no shortage of used, cheap GSM smartphones on the market at this point... especially on the Android end, but most of the phones sacrifice replaceable battery at this price point. Just aim for something that's can run Android 4.x or higher to keep reasonably current with security patches. Alternately, since recently discovering that BBOS10 doesn't actually require BIS support anymore, that really opens up the Blackberry Q5 and Q10 as some excellent options at the $100-150 price point these days for us QWERTY keyboard and long battery life snobs. They're also smartphones that haven't gone painfully dated to the point of loss of support and OS updates.

Any other questions, don't hesitate to ask. Hope that helps!
« Last Edit: April 10, 2015, 06:45:14 PM by I.P. Daley »

Daley

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Re: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2015, 06:23:06 PM »
It is interesting to read all this hating on it.

It's not hate, it's recognizing and pointing out that there are very real problems with the service and there are far superior options out there for the money. This topic has been covered ad nauseum over the years on these forums, and the guide linked above is a good starting place.

crazyworld

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Re: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2015, 06:06:26 PM »
Thanks for the detailed info for international roaming options...the SIM card option should work.  I would need to unlock the phone tho'
Another weird thing has happened with the C3 since yesterday...it has completely stopped working while I am at my place of work.  The best consumer cellular could come up with was that the cell towers in that area must all be 3G or up and the C3 is a 2G.  Is that possible?  It does start working when I have driven away from work some distance. 
It wants to retire too, ha!

burly

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Re: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2015, 06:50:57 PM »
Another republic user here..

I switched from an iphone 4 on AT&T... and I absoutley love it.. no data on the road is a nice disconnect but when going away for extended periods I do jump it up to the $25 plan for 3g data.. You can change your plane twice a month.

I never had an issue starting a call on wifi and driving to leave with it on my cell.. Where I have had issues is on long trips (10-15 miles) where i'm switching towers I found that sprint does drop more often than my ATT experience.  The only other downfall is at work it picks up a faint wifi connection so sometimes it will try to call on wifi and fail until I click the 'handover' button that forces it to use the cell service..

All in all, $10/mo for unlimited talk and text, I'd take these slight annoyances any day.

Republic used to have a free 30 day trial, not sure if they still do, but may be worth it. They give you a random phone number and if you decided you're staying, you port your number over.

Bob W

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Re: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2015, 07:24:13 PM »
We have 3 republic phones.  35 a month.   Love it.

Daley

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Re: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2015, 09:34:08 PM »
Thanks for the detailed info for international roaming options...the SIM card option should work.  I would need to unlock the phone tho'
Another weird thing has happened with the C3 since yesterday...it has completely stopped working while I am at my place of work.  The best consumer cellular could come up with was that the cell towers in that area must all be 3G or up and the C3 is a 2G.  Is that possible?  It does start working when I have driven away from work some distance. 
It wants to retire too, ha!

Just contact Consumer Cellular to get the phone unlocked, it shouldn't be too difficult... my own C3 was a former CC handset. Regarding AT&T and 3G coverage, AT&T is slowly shutting down their 2G network towers with a full end of life target date of next January, and customer service is quite correct in that the C3 is a 2G only handset. That said, T-Mobile has no plans of axing their 2G network, but there-in raises the question of how your T-Mobile coverage is in your area. Technically CC roams onto T-Mobile as well, maybe check coverage maps and contact customer service targeting this line of thinking. I know they recently introduced T-Mobile primary SIM cards that inversely roam onto AT&T, but if you were getting T-Mobile signal at work in the first place, you should theoretically already be able to connect even with the AT&T SIM. Check the T-Mo coverage maps and check with customer service, though.



I do love all these ringing endorsements of Republic that always show up. It's great! ...except for all of these peculiar problems that never really show up with other mobile providers. *eyeroll*

Merrie

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Re: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« Reply #18 on: April 17, 2015, 06:41:35 PM »
It seems that Republic works well for some people and less well for others.

After perusing the guide it looks like a determined person or a person with low usage could get their cell service cheaper than Republic. The "unlimited" plan certainly is nice for those who don't want to keep track of what exactly they're doing. (Apparently my husband and I sent each other ~500 text messages this week, but if we had to pay for each, we would rein it in.) And the pricing structure is easy to understand and track. I would venture to say that Republic is the "easy way" if not necessarily the most cost-effective way to take a big bite out of one's cell phone bill, assuming one does not then have problems with the service--which some do and some don't. But for someone who is willing to do a little bit of homework, they could come out ahead.

In my family's situation, of course, we already have the phones, which double as cameras and we take probably 95% of our pictures with them now. I don't know enough about other carriers to know if you can set a phone to automatically make calls by wi-fi when available, but I will note that cell service for most carriers is pretty lousy in our house and for us this is actually an advantage to having calls automatically be wi-fi.

It does appear possible I could improve our current $23 cell phone bill and save maybe as much as $5 a month. I may pursue this at some point.

southern granny

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Re: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« Reply #19 on: April 17, 2015, 08:16:09 PM »
We have three smart phones on Ting and my total bill last month (including taxes) was $49, but we are not heavy users.  The only downside to Ting is that you can't roam on your data, but I am saving $100 a month on what our ATT bill was, so I can live with it.  Also, our phones were bought used on Ebay, with the most expensive one being about $40. 

Kwill

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Re: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« Reply #20 on: April 17, 2015, 09:50:11 PM »
I used Virgin Mobile on a regular cell phone from spring 2006 to spring 2013, when I switched to a smartphone with Virgin Mobile. Then last summer I switched to Republic Wireless because of this blog. I wish I'd skipped the VM smartphone because it ended up being a waste of money, but with a difference of $35 per month between the two plans ($45/mo at VM and $10 at RW/mo), the RW phone paid for itself over time.

I liked Virgin Mobile OK, but the coverage is much better with Republic Wireless, especially after I moved out of the city. With VM, I couldn't use my cell phone at all in the apartment, which of course is fixed now that it uses Wi-Fi. There are also a lot of spots in my current town where the Sprint network just fades out, so it's nice that RW roams without any extra charge. I don't subscribe to data, though I switched once for a trip. Republic Wireless has been pretty good for me. The main reason I started with Virgin Mobile was that in 2006 it was a really good deal, but now it's just one of a lot of different discount carriers and not the best or cheapest of them.

I really like having the smartphone functions. Both phones were good for that. It's nice to be able to use VOIP when overseas, and it's handy to have the alarm clock and timer and calculator and camera functions. I've had Skype conversations with it. The light blinks when I have new email on any of my accounts. It's easy to text or write short emails. I don't bring my laptop around as much as I used to.

terran

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Re: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« Reply #21 on: April 17, 2015, 10:07:50 PM »
Something in favor or smartphones: between wifi at home and at work, almost everyone we know in imessage (so hardly using texts), and using google voice for longer calls it's looking likely that our first month on ting will end up at $21 for two smartphones. Of course you have to buy the phones, so there's that.

Johnez

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Re: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« Reply #22 on: April 17, 2015, 10:19:44 PM »
I've made the switch.  $12 a month sounds like a nobrainer, but there are some caveats:

-requires wifi for certain things (voicemail).

-does not play well with other carriers in terms of MMS (pictures).

-Requires large outlay.  $99 is still $99 that can go *poof* with an accidental meeting between your phone and the pavement.  Have to get another Republic phone, though there IS a used market.  Replacements are not that "cheap" but if you feel you want to get out there is a market that will pay decent money for the phone at least.

-Typically handoff (going from cell to wifi / wifi to cell) calling works well, sometimes dialer has to be restarted a time or two to place a call however.

-Privacy concerns

-Data isn't "cheap" compared to other MVNO carriers w/o proprietary phones.

BENEFITS:

Unlimited calls
Unlimited texts
$12 a month



For anyone not concerned about data usage, I recommend Republic.  I get my fill of the 'net at home anyway, pocket the savings, and get a decent phone with tons of uses outside of calling (calculators, converters, notepad, etc).

-Happy Republic customer
(not a shill)
« Last Edit: April 17, 2015, 10:28:31 PM by Johnez »

Johnez

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Re: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« Reply #23 on: April 17, 2015, 10:27:18 PM »
If you're interested, I'd be happy to guide you if need be.

Two questions need to be answered, however. How many minutes/texts per line per month do you use and what network are you on?

Well that's very generous of you! To answer:

- I would estimate we each use about 400 minutes a month
- I would estimate we each use about 400 texts per month
- don't use any data as we don't have smartphones
- we use Virgin Mobile, which I believe uses the Sprint network for coverage, and have found that to be fine
- our handsets were paid for outright (about $30 each) and don't have SIM cards so I don't think we could use them as BYOD with another company
- Priority is cost-cutting, we are happy to stay on 'dumb' phones (but wouldn't say no to a smart phone if that turned out to be cheaper)
- not really interested in locking into a plan, as we might be leaving the country within next 6 - 12 months

Thanks again!

At this level of usage you might want to check out Ting.  Used them for 18 months about 3-4 years ago, EXCELLENT company.  You call, they answer.  Fixed every issue I had.  They have a decent refurb phone selection and a "used" section as well.  The refurb flip phone I got from them was immaculate.  With your usage rate, looks like Ting would charge $14 bucks for the plan plus taxes.

waltworks

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Re: To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...
« Reply #24 on: April 17, 2015, 10:39:23 PM »
IP talked me down from the iPhone ledge a few months ago and I ended up with an HTC Evo 4g somethingorother that cost $30 refurbished from Ting's "Glyde" people:
http://glyde.com/buy/used-htc-evo-4g

As a recent flip phone convert, I have to say, it is a great little device. I can, if needed, send an email with it. I don't, usually, but I can. It makes nice clear calls and saves all my contacts and syncs them with my other accounts. Great. I can look at calendars and such and do organizer type tasks. So long story short, win. I have not ended up spending all my time on instagram or anything, thus far. I don't have my hipster flip phone cred anymore, though.

Ting has been fine for me and my various phone-dependents/hangers-on. I use a bazillion minutes talking to customers but nobody else talks on the phone much, and none of us uses any data for anything so for all practical purposes the other 3 lines on our group plan are $6/mo. Grand total varies from $50-60/mo or so and the service is great everywhere I've tried to use it.

It is tempting to just bail to google voice and only make calls over the internet but I've discovered that my poor tired laptop's microphone is all but dead.

-W