Author Topic: A smarter way to do smart phones?  (Read 3899 times)

biliruben

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A smarter way to do smart phones?
« on: February 27, 2012, 08:21:18 AM »
Hi All -

My wife and I have Iphone 3GS's that we are perfectly happy with.  But dang!!  $170 bucks a month?  There has to be a better way.

We are past our 2 year service contract, and I was wondering if anyone has done the research on how to make a switch to a cheaper voice and data plan without losing substantial functionality (which my wife would balk at).  Our projected future needs (basically double what we are currently using):

Needs:  1 GB Data/mo, 450 minutes/mo, 1000 texts/mo

Any thoughts?

DC

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fire

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Re: A smarter way to do smart phones?
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2012, 09:10:59 PM »
I use Virgin Mobile and have been happy with the service.  It's $40/mo (looks like that plan is up to $45 on their site now) for 1200 minutes and unlimited text and data.  I've got an LG Android smart phone, which had to be purchased upfront for $150, so I get access to the Android app market and web surfing.  It runs on the Sprint network which works well for me in my area.  I don't think the 3G is particularly great but I can usually find a wi-fi spot.  I've got a friend who uses StraightTalk and he's got an unlimited everything plan for $45 and is using essentially the same LG Android phone as mine that also runs on Sprint. 

reverend

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Re: A smarter way to do smart phones?
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2012, 12:26:03 PM »
Iv'e been happy with my dumb-phone from T-Mobile since 2003. I've gotten a few free phones (well, subsidized with 2 year contracts) since then, but they always unlock them for free for when I'm in Europe so I have spares laying around as backups.

I might end up going the smartphone route soon, but I was given an iPhone which I promptly traded for a brand new HTC Wildfire S. I am just on the fence about getting the data plan, which will cost me an additional $20/month.

The charm with T-mobile is that they have the classic plans that subsidize the new phone, but if you already have a phone, you can get the value plans that are typically $10 cheaper per month.
Consumer Reports also rated T-Mobile highest in value recently.

I.P. Daley

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Re: A smarter way to do smart phones?
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2012, 01:59:58 PM »
I'd recommend hitting up my Communications Superguide in the other forum as well as the MVNO list already linked. Lots of good technical info on saving money with smartphones.

Once more though, it's looking like Ting might be the winner on those usage fronts, of course, it means giving up the iPhones, but given the resale on the things, it'd certainly offset buy in costs. You'd be looking at $50 a month for both handsets at that usage level between two people. Still steep in my book, as I'm running a dual smartphone house on less than $10 a month, but some people have far too much attachment to their little mobile glowing screens. Your best course of savings is to realize that they're mostly unnecessary in life and only a convenience, as once you get over that hurdle, you can get away with a handful of minutes and almost no data and texting at all.
Hi, I'm Daley, the Howard Cosell of MVNOs and the Technical Meshugana. I'm also the author of the Frugal Communications Guide and our own Superguide.

reverend

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Re: A smarter way to do smart phones?
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2012, 06:05:42 PM »
Once smart phones are smart enough to have at least a one-week battery life after normal use.

My Motorola V195 does about 2 weeks if I have good reception.

DavidGalloway

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Re: A smarter way to do smart phones?
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2012, 10:05:20 AM »
My wife and I currently use Virgin Mobile prepaid. I pay $25/mo each for unlimited data, unlimited texting, and 300 minutes per month. My wife pays $40/mo for a similar plan with a few more minutes. Whenever I'm somewhere with Wi-Fi I use Google Voice to place calls for free so I never run out of minutes. Drawbacks are that the phone selection isn't very good and you're on the Sprint network which isn't great in my area. I don't have much trouble with placing calls, but the mobile data connection sucks hard.

I'm also currently reviewing a new prepaid plan for StraightTalk aimed at smartphone users who want to use their own phones. You can use any unlocked AT&T or T-Mobile phone on the plan. It is $45/mo for unlimited everything (well, reasonably unlimited; you'll probably be cut off if you use extreme amounts of data) and a one-time $25 charge for the SIM. Using your two existing iPhone 3GS's you'd have the same functionality at $90/mo versus $170/mo, plus the SIM cards. StraightTalk uses the AT&T network, which is much better than Sprint in my area. To test the 3G speed I let Netflix play a movie while I commute to work and only had a couple of one-second hiccups in the playback. I am definitely moving my wife over to this plan as she wants to go back to an iPhone. I'm tempted to move over to the plan myself, but I'm hesitant to lose my $25/mo grandfathered Virgin Mobile rate.

igthebold

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Re: A smarter way to do smart phones?
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2012, 02:35:13 PM »
I'm still happy after I downgraded my Nexus One to a voice-only plan, depending a lot on Wifi. I'm using PureTalk USA, which would be compatible with an iPhone, possibly after some unlocking/jailbreaking. $10/month for my talking habits.

And I'm a mobile app developer.

Another plus I just discovered is that my battery life is crazy long now. :)

Jimmy

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Re: A smarter way to do smart phones?
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2012, 04:25:27 PM »
I use Republic Wireless (http://republicwireless.com/) for unlimited everything for $19 / month. They expect you to have wifi at home and send as many of your calls as possible over wifi instead of the cell network.

It sounds complicated but the short answer is that I pay $19 / month and get unlimited everything.

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Re: A smarter way to do smart phones?
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2012, 04:39:14 PM »
I use Republic Wireless (http://republicwireless.com/) for unlimited everything for $19 / month. They expect you to have wifi at home and send as many of your calls as possible over wifi instead of the cell network.

It sounds complicated but the short answer is that I pay $19 / month and get unlimited everything.

What's your limit on using the cell network? Sometimes if I do a road trip etc, I would end up on cell only for a while. It's less fo that these days, but still.  Plus, aren't you limited to the Sprint network? Any coverage issues if you're on the cell network?

marz1982

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Re: A smarter way to do smart phones?
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2012, 02:00:54 AM »
Alternative for people that like iphones but don't want to pay an arm and leg :

- Buy a 3rd generation older model, 2nd hand, for super cheap.  Reset iphone to get it to factory condition, and throw a iphone cover on if you don't want to see the scratches.  Just check the screen for scratches and it should be good to go.

- Buy an ipod touch, preferably also 2nd hand, and use a dumb phone for calls.  I did this for a few years before I caved into my consumerism and bought an iphone.  I've since been kicking myself - nothing more gained with the iphone, and I actually prefer my dumb phone for calls! 

Basically you get the exact same functionality for the ipod touch as the phone, as long as you have easy access to wireless.  It just can't send sms/phone, but with skype over wireless you can get similar functionality.  IPod touch is a fraction of the price of the phone.  Even most applications are supported for both.

Edit: I'm sure you could get a package that supports what you need, for a lot less than $170!  Do you have the option to keep your phones once your contract ends, and switch to a cheaper contract or pre-paid?
« Last Edit: December 29, 2012, 02:06:00 AM by marz1982 »

ehgee

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Re: A smarter way to do smart phones?
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2013, 11:00:13 AM »
At the end of a 2-year contract, you can get AT&T to unlock your iPhones, which will allow you to put any SIM card you want in for phone service. That's probably the best option.

Straight Talk resells AT&T service for $45/month unlimited, and has other plans:
https://www.straighttalk.com/secure/ServicePlans

T-Mobile sells its own service for $50/mo unlimited, and less for plans with either less data or fewer minutes:
http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/monthly-4g-plans
They are currently upgrading their service so iPhones can use 3G:
http://gigaom.com/apple/nyc-and-13-more-cities-get-t-mobiles-iphone-friendly-upgrade/
If you are in other markets, iPhones can only get EDGE (low-speed) web for now.

The other great thing about prepaid service is there's no risk of huge bills for overages. Instead, you get charged a reasonable rate by-the-minute, or service is cut off until you put more money into the account.

Once smart phones are smart enough to have at least a one-week battery life after normal use.

My Motorola V195 does about 2 weeks if I have good reception.
"Normal use" means something entirely different on a smartphone, which has a huge screen that it regularly has to light up for minutes or hours on end to display useful information it has to download and process at high speeds, all of which require a nontrivial amount of wattage. If you use a smartphone only as a telephone, its battery would last much longer, since the cellular modem would be seeing relatively lightweight usage, and the screen and computer chips would be shut down most of the time. But most people with a smartphone end up using its non-phone features a lot, because they're so dang useful.

If you want a top-of-the-line smartphone on a budget, buy an unlocked Nexus from Google for $300 (https://play.google.com/store/devices/details?id=nexus_4_8gb) and whatever GSM plan makes the most sense for you. I pay $30 to T-Mobile for prepaid service.

I.P. Daley

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Re: A smarter way to do smart phones?
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2013, 11:23:01 AM »
"Normal use" means something entirely different on a smartphone, which has a huge screen that it regularly has to light up for minutes or hours on end to display useful information it has to download and process at high speeds, all of which require a nontrivial amount of wattage. If you use a smartphone only as a telephone, its battery would last much longer, since the cellular modem would be seeing relatively lightweight usage, and the screen and computer chips would be shut down most of the time. But most people with a smartphone end up using its non-phone features a lot, because they're so dang useful.

I call shenanigans. I lightly use my Android smartphone just as you state, and battery life sucks out loud. Your explanation doesn't explain the fantastic battery life of Blackberry or Nokia handsets (not running Windows) that can do all the same things in comparison on far less wattage, either. I just posted a massive wall of text on just this subject in another thread, and I think it may be relevant.

It's 2013. We have technology in such embarrassing abundance now that feature phones with better battery life and nearly identical communications features to smartphones can do the same job better, cheaper, and more efficiently both in terms of data used and electricity utilized. Are they as pretty and tweak our lizard brains quite so much as smartphones or provide us with as many distractions? No, but that's not a bad thing. I think we've finally hit a point in time where we should start to reconsider the humble feature phone again.
Hi, I'm Daley, the Howard Cosell of MVNOs and the Technical Meshugana. I'm also the author of the Frugal Communications Guide and our own Superguide.