Author Topic: Cell phone advice  (Read 2926 times)

Sibley

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Cell phone advice
« on: May 14, 2016, 03:07:07 PM »
Well, I really did try to find the post that tells me all this fun stuff, and I failed. So, please suggest cell phone solutions!

I'm on the Verizon family plan. I pay $60 a month to my sister, who manages the account, etc. My contract is up, so I'm free to do whatever. Currently, I have an Android smartphone named "Purple", it's not meeting my needs anymore and I don't like it.

Most of the time, my cell phone has limited usage. I get and send text messages through the normal phone stuff and also through Facebook Messenger. Not everyday though. I may browse Facebook, but only for a few minutes then it's naptime on the bus.
I don't make or receive many calls on the cell. I live in Chicago, IL area. I also go to Detroit, MI area, and the only network that works at my parent's house is Verizon. But I can deal if the phone doesn't work there.

Why do I want a smart phone? GPS! And if I go to DragonCon (I'm a bit of a geek), then I want to have their app. Otherwise, I'd be just fine with a dumb phone.

Purple currently is really dumb and GPS crashes a lot, is slow, etc. If I'm going to have a smart phone for GPS, then the GPS needs to actually work. Seems fair to me, right? So, what do I do? I'm ok with using wifi as much as possible, but also want to function without wifi.

New phone? New company? New network? Suggestions please! I'd like to sort things out and coast for a few years if possible :)

terran

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Re: Cell phone advice
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2016, 03:16:08 PM »
Is this the thread you were looking for? We're decently happy with Ting GSM (tmobile network). We might try switching something that charges for exact usage instead of Ting's bucket approach.

Once you leave the major networks it definitely pays to find work arounds to using minutes/messages/megabytes whenever you're on wifi. We cut our usage of all three drastically which has helped alot. If you send many texts I would find out what kind of phone most of your texting partners have. Most of ours have iphones, so also having iphones (and using imessage) keeps our "real" texts way down.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Cell phone advice
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2016, 03:41:10 PM »
If the only reason you need a smart phone is GPS, then why not simply get a GPS?  Then you won't have to worry about burning your mobile data or your phone's battery on the road.

Sibley

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Re: Cell phone advice
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2016, 03:54:01 PM »
I could get a GPS, but that still leaves me as paying $60 a month for cell phone. I could also go back to a dumb phone. Really, I'm willing to consider all options, but I'm having trouble identifying all the cell phone related options to evaluate.

Currently, the family plan has 4+ GB of data. I average about 100mb a month.

Terran - that's the thread, thanks. I'll look through that, but it does look dated. Hopefully there's an update somewhere in it. :)

obstinate

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Re: Cell phone advice
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2016, 04:01:59 PM »
Carriers: Cricket, Ting, Fi, other low cost carrier. Definitely not Verizon.

Phones: Lightly used 1-2 year old flagship device, IMO, if only for the camera. I have an iPhone 6 bought for half of MSRP

PhysicianOnFIRE

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Re: Cell phone advice
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2016, 05:00:59 PM »
I've been happy with Republic Wireless. I have the Moto G phone, and a plan that usually costs $12 to $15 a month. I can turn on 3G service when I want to use it, but I'm rarely away from wifi, so it's usually only on when I travel.

I'm pretty sure MMM is where I first read about Republic. It's not perfect, but it has worked well for me. There were some bugs early on (phone would pause for 30 seconds before calling sometimes) but that hasn't happened in about a year.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Cell phone advice
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2016, 07:58:56 PM »
An unlocked, outright phone that can take any carrier's SIM. :)

eostache

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Re: Cell phone advice
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2016, 08:06:12 PM »
For light talk/text/data users, Tracfone prepaid can be less than $10/mo. You can buy only what you need.
I've been using it since 2007 and it has always worked great for me.
You can choose AT&T or Verizon service with Tracfone.
I've had my Tracfone branded LG Ultimate 2 phone for a year and a half. It runs on Verizon. It's been a great phone and I always have bars out here on the CO/UT border (think lots of remote places!), unless I'm in a canyon.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Cell phone advice
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2016, 09:49:41 PM »
I could get a GPS, but that still leaves me as paying $60 a month for cell phone. I could also go back to a dumb phone. Really, I'm willing to consider all options, but I'm having trouble identifying all the cell phone related options to evaluate.

Currently, the family plan has 4+ GB of data. I average about 100mb a month.

Terran - that's the thread, thanks. I'll look through that, but it does look dated. Hopefully there's an update somewhere in it. :)
I'm actually  not far different from you in terms of usage.  I use Airvoice on their $20/mo plan (unlimited talk/text, 100MB data).  There are other plans that are cheaper, but this one works well for me. Airvoice uses AT&T's and T-mobile's network (depends on which SIM you get).

As far as the phone is concerned, obstinate is right on.  Get an unlocked flagship phone from a few years ago (Galaxy S-whatever, Google Nexus, or even an iPhone), and you can take it to whatever (compatible) carrier you want.

Daley

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Re: Cell phone advice
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2016, 10:14:08 PM »
I'll look through that, but it does look dated. Hopefully there's an update somewhere in it. :)

Two things:

1) Most of the advice in the guide is reasonably timeless, and the recommendations for reasonable and solid providers doesn't change much.

2) What little does change, that's what the discussion thread covers to an extent, and where the main guide on my site are a bit more useful.

(By the way, the threads are stickied, referenced in the forum FAQ, and even linked off the main MMM recommends page.)

New phone? New company? New network? Suggestions please! I'd like to sort things out and coast for a few years if possible :)

First, let's nutshell a bit on what you should avoid in general. Stay away from providers that require or use proprietary handsets (Republic, Tracfone/NET10/StraightTalk/PagePlus/Total), offer poor to non-existent customer support (Republic, Tracfone/NET10/StraightTalk/PagePlus/Total), use draconian terms of service (Republic, Tracfone/NET10/StraightTalk/PagePlus/Total, Cricket - just read their service contracts), utilize and invest in anti-consumer practices (Tracfone/NET10/StraightTalk/PagePlus/Total, Cricket)... you get the idea. (See some patterns developing?) Quality providers may not always be quite as cheap as some alternatives, but they will be the least problematic and easiest to use. Unfortunately, the good ones don't have quite the visibility, and most people would rather continue to be exploited and abused while saving money than be treated like a human being who's respected as a paying customer. There should be far more considered than just the bottom line. If you're paying for mobile service, it should just work. No excuses. Also, be wary of recommendations for providers who have extensive referral programs.

That out of the way, you really need to work out specifics on usage to find your best fit.

If you want to stick with Verizon coverage? There's Selectel (Verizon with roaming), but any amount of mobile data on any plan that weighs in under $30/month is going to cost you about 5/MB using Flex Card addons to get you that 100MB or so. There's also Puppy Wireless with an assortment of Verizon plans (no roaming) - they're young still, but they're run by Kitty Wireless who is one of the older and more respected Page Plus dealers. I hadn't included them in the guide yet because of that business age, but they're straight shooters. Given the MVNO market is in flux now, age doesn't seem to matter as much on that front anymore... what matters is how they carry themselves in business.

Of course, AT&T MVNOs are going to offer you better rates, and you'll have a far greater selection of handsets. Airvoice, Puretalk USA and H2O Wireless are all decent options.

Lastly, if you're potentially wanting WiFi UMA network fallback access, Ting GSM supports that with any unlocked T-Mobile handset that supports UMA WiFi calling. That would give you close to PAYGO rates for lighter usage with the flexibility on selling points with Google Fi and Republic (though certainly far better executed than the latter mentioned service).

As for hardware, if you really need/want a smartphone and you decide to leave behind CDMA (Verizon) and opt instead for GSM (AT&T, T-Mobile)? Lumia 640 carrier unlocked, or a Blu Android handset. You shouldn't need to spend more than $100 on a decent handset that has a user replaceable battery.



I'm actually  not far different from you in terms of usage.  I use Airvoice on their $20/mo plan (unlimited talk/text, 100MB data).  There are other plans that are cheaper, but this one works well for me. Airvoice uses AT&T's and T-mobile's network (depends on which SIM you get).

As far as the phone is concerned, obstinate is right on.  Get an unlocked flagship phone from a few years ago (Galaxy S-whatever, Google Nexus, or even maybe an iPhone*), and you can take it to whatever (compatible) carrier you want.

*Unless you want to use an iPhone on an AT&T MVNO that isn't officially on the Apple approved provider list, then they'll completely break MMS support for your phone and force you to use third party websites just to set your data APN every time you do an iOS system update.

Edited for accuracy.

forestj

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Re: Cell phone advice
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2016, 10:33:03 PM »
I use a combination of Google Voice and h2o wireless.  h2o is nice because its pay as you go and it offers mobile data. However the per-minute and per-text costs are prohibitive. So I just use google voice for 90% of my calls and texts, via wifi.  I have two phone numbers, which is kind of annoying sometimes, but it works for me. That way its only $10 a month but I have full connectivity when I really need it.

Daley

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Re: Cell phone advice
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2016, 10:41:51 PM »
I use a combination of Google Voice and h2o wireless.  h2o is nice because its pay as you go and it offers mobile data. However the per-minute and per-text costs are prohibitive. So I just use google voice for 90% of my calls and texts, via wifi.  I have two phone numbers, which is kind of annoying sometimes, but it works for me. That way its only $10 a month but I have full connectivity when I really need it.

Your $10/month would be far better spent with Airvoice (same AT&T coverage) if you're wanting to supplement/leverage service with Google Voice. Airvoice's $10/month plan only charges 2/SMS, 4/minute, 6.6/MB versus H2O's 5/min/SMS and 10/MB.

I look at it this way: If you're fine/comfortable spending $10/month already, you might as well go with a plan that'll actually give you a bit more rollover and usage cushion for the cash spent.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2016, 10:44:52 PM by I.P. Daley »

Sibley

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Re: Cell phone advice
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2016, 10:33:47 AM »
IP Daley, thanks for chiming in! and thanks for the links, for some reason I wasn't finding them.

Fishinshawn

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Re: Cell phone advice
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2016, 04:35:20 PM »
We have 3 smart phones, an LG G3, an S3 and a S4 all on Ting wireless. Total bill for all 3 phones is about $35 a month I think. Customer service is awesome, you always talk to a live person usually within a minute or two of calling. The 3g and 4g data service is pretty decent, but with wifi and the work arounds you can find, I don't really ever use data. Use google hangouts, google call, when on wifi or Facebook messenger, and we don't use hardly any minutes or text messages. You can download google maps for your are and not use GPS to get places.