Author Topic: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst  (Read 4829 times)

spirotot

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Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« on: May 05, 2017, 07:27:33 AM »
Not to sound dramatic, but cell phones and cellular service have been causing me serious annoyance and even, to a degree, anxiety.

So here's the deal: about a year ago, we were riding along just fine on my in-law's Sprint family plan. Like $17/mo/line, just over $30 for our share of the plan. Unlimited call/text, more than enough data. Wife and I each had HTC One M8's (purchased used). Life was good (save for mediocre phone cameras, and mediocre battery life) until we purchased some Moto X Pure's on a super-sale on Amazon. Sprint gave us the run-around getting us the correct SIM cards for the phones, and their customer service was indescribably terrible. We switched to T-Mobile. In-laws had been having some customer service issues with Sprint, too, and it sounded like they might soon follow us to TMO, and share our family plan there. We'd have very similar service, better customer support (TMO customer support really is good), for just a few bucks per month more.

But, the inlaws never switched, so we were paying over $40/mo/line for TMO. TMO was a very pleasant experience overall, but we finally decided that our monthly bill was just not worth it. I also decided, at the same time, that I was not happy with Motorola's software updates (or lack thereof) -- they were like literally a year behind on security updates, not to mention OS upgrades... so, I spent a bunch of time doing research, and finally decided to buy a used Nexus 5x for my wife, and a used Nexus 6P for me, and switch to Project Fi.

This was a great decision, in theory -- always-up-to-date phones, even better phone cameras than the Moto X Pure's, theoretically similar battery life to the Pure's, cheap cellular service (we're around WiFi most of the time), etc., etc. I thought I could stop thinking about phones/phone plans for a year or more... life would be grand.

Except for that it wasn't. Our used phones have poor battery life. My wife's phone never lasts a full day. My 6P has the early shutdown problem, and it seems to be getting worse. We're 3 months into Project Fi, and I use only about 300-400MB per month, but my wife uses... 2-4GB. She streams music in the car. And yes, I set the Google Play Music quality to 'low'. And yes, we download playlists to our phones for "offline" listening, but she also likes to discover new music via the Google Play Music Radio. Streaming almost any media was free (didn't count against your data usage) on TMO, and I must have failed to factor this in to our usage estimates when I was researching Project Fi... Bleh..

Yes, I know I could ask my wife to not stream music, not use the radio feature, etc... but then, why have a smartphone at all? I mean really... Why have a smartphone? Yeah, I guess we could go back to dumphones and MP3-players, but how do you discover music then? (Without pirating it, that is -- I discovered plenty of good music back in my pirating days... :) ). Music discovery is something that we value. I'd also argue that "Use the over-the-air" radio isn't a real solution, either; neither my wife nor I are big fans of what's typically on the radio. Then again, maybe we haven't given it a fair chance.

But anyway, here we are. Fancy smartphones, with crappy batteries. "Frugal" cellphone service, except for that it doesn't let us use our smartphones as true smartphones, at least not frugally.

I'm at a point where I'm seriously considering buying brand-new Google Pixels (don't think I will buy anything but Google phones from now on, unless we happen to decide to switch to iPhones at some point; gotta have those monthly security updates), and switch back to TMO's 2 lines w/ unlimited data for $100/mo plan. TMO will even give us something like $325 per phone in bill credits for bringing the Pixels. Yeah, it's spendy, but we'll have brand-new phones with amazing cameras, reliable battery life, and a warranty. I can also stop thinking about data usage. This sounds super attractive to me, especially because my wife and I are both in school full-time + working full time, and I just do not have the time to continue spending hours researching our cellular usage, comparing cell phone plans, and hunting for used phones. I have homework, and work work. I'd like to just focus on that for the next two years without antagonizing over cellphones/plans...

Is TMO + Pixels worth it? We can "afford" it/them... But I feel like this is probably one of those important life decision points. Do I "suck it up buttercup" and continue on with our dying phones, and Project Fi (or maybe Cricket; approximately the same monthly price, but less "worrying" about data usage...)? Or is this a case where money really can buy happiness (or at least a lack of angst)? Is the happiness worth it? Maybe it's a question of how much value I place on my time (researching optimal phones/plans). IDK. If you have any thoughts, or stories to share about how you prioritize things like this, I'd love to hear them. If you made it this far, thanks for reading. At a minimum, typing this up was a cathartic experience for me. :)

StetsTerhune

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2017, 07:44:13 AM »
I never streamed music too much, but that seems really high data usage to me... definitely double check that that is actually where all this data is going. So many websites, facebook, etc. have auto-start video these days, you may be able to take cares of som of this data with settings.

Also, may or may not work for you, but my wife and I share one google fi account, with one of us having the normal SIM and the other just using one of the data-only SIMs (and only paying for the data use, no line fee).  We can still use hangouts/google voice for texts and calls.  Calls don't work quite as well on marginal cell service, but I rarely use my phone as a phone anyway. I don't recall what the family plan costs for 2 now, but we're only paying $20 a month plus $10 per gig of data.

spirotot

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2017, 08:48:31 AM »
Facebook does make up a couple hundred MB of her usage, typically -- I've already enabled the FB data saver stuff. But, Google Music is definitely the primary culprit, by a long shot.

Thanks for the response. I definitely don't use my phone much, and typically I don't _depend_ on it for comms -- no business needs, or anything. In other words, your suggestion for using a data-only SIM might actually work for me. That'd cut $15/mo off our Fi bill, which means we could use an additional 1.5GB of data and still pay approximately what we're currently paying.

That being said, I do go for long bike rides in rural areas by myself semi-regularly. I haven't had to call my wife for rescue yet, but when that day inevitably comes, I'd be pretty disappointed if I found I only had basic cellular service with no data connection, unable to place a VoIP call via the data-only SIM... IDK... I think this goes back to my original question that I have yet to answer for myself, which is essentially, "is paying for peace of mind worth it". (This, of course, assumes that paying for more expensive cellular service actually provides peace of mind; it _does_ seem like it would...)
« Last Edit: May 05, 2017, 09:40:38 AM by spirotot »

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2017, 09:04:34 AM »
That's a lot of data in streaming music!  Can you fiddle with the settings on your phones so that the phone will use wifi instead of data whenever possible?  I would think that your schools would have wifi almost certainly, and there is a good chance your employers have it as well.  If you have desk jobs but no office wifi, why not stream via your office computer?  If you have internet at home but no wifi there (and use data at home), then it would certainly be worth setting up a wifi network at home.

I.P. Daley would be a good one to ask about this.  He knows all about this sort of tech.

neo von retorch

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2017, 09:26:07 AM »
The new phones ("upgrades") are just consumeristic wants. The phones you have will work on any network. Have you researched battery life? There may be ways to "charge smarter" to improve your battery life, as well as find offending apps that are draining the life. Another big one is screen brightness. Just turning it down 10-20% can greatly reduce the battery usage. You can also decrease the "turn off display" timeout to 15-30 seconds. For another low cost option, look into getting a free or low-cost data plan through Freedompop. You can get the hotspot for $20-40, and then get 500MB/month for free. Toss that in the car and have the phone connect to that WiFi, and stream through there.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2017, 09:41:48 AM »
I'd just get the best plans that match your usage patterns (after doing what you can to keep usage down). Maybe it's even worth you staying on Fi and your wife going on another plan with more data.

I've found that the lower end devices can have better battery life than the flagships.

My stupid LG died last year, so I bought a cheap burner Huawei from the supermarket to replace it. Whilst there's a couple of things (some major) about the Huawei that annoy me, it's battery life is fantastic, due in part to the weaker CPU and smaller, lower-resolution display.

MayDay

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2017, 11:02:19 AM »
My H and I have the Nexus phones that your wife has. Yes battery life is meh, but we just charge whenever we are in the car, or at the office. Not worth buying a new phone over, not by a long shot!

I get that she likes to stream and that you all value that. But does she need to do it 8 hours a day, at places with no wifi? Can't she discover new music while on wifi networks? Idk.

We are on Cricket and are happy.

spirotot

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2017, 12:33:55 PM »
Thanks for all the replies, I really do appreciate them!

Some clarifying points on monthly/annualized costs:

* We currently spend $60-80/mo on Project Fi. ($720-960/year) When we embarked on the Fi experiment, I was hoping/expecting more like $45-50/mo ($540-600/year)
* Cricket ends up being $70/mo (total) for 3GB of data per line. ($840/year)
* TMO is $100/mo (total) for unlimited data. ($1,200/year)

Some misc. clarifying points:

* My wife doesn't stream via data all day; just during her commute and errands (some of which are for work), which is 20-40min per day on average. Google Music likes to unconditionally buffer the next track, so any time you 'skip' a track, you're essentially streaming two tracks, even if you only listen to one. That means, even with just a few skips, you've "wasted" 10's of MBs... "Just don't skip tracks..." I know, I know, but again, why have a smartphone...? :)

* With regards to phone "upgrades" being unnecessary -- I agree that this is mostly a "want", not a "need". But what I want is _not_ the flashy new soon-to-be-superceded-by-the-Pixel2 Google Pixel. I'm *very* happy with the speed of my Nexus, and with the quality of the photos, and the physical design, etc. What I want is not having to worry about my phone suddenly dying even though it says it has 50% battery left. I want to be able to send my phone in for warranty repairs if/when it has any issues (battery or otherwise). I want to not even think about my phone, to be honest -- I just want it to work. Do I sound like a complainypants yet? :) So, in my mind, that's what I'm weighing: is it worth it to pay for reliability and peace of mind, or is it better to keep on with our flaky, unwarrantied phones?

* I could replace my 6P battery for about $10 and 30-60min of my time... realistically, the cost would actually be a bit higher, as I have a DBrand skin on my phone currently, which would also need to be replaced... but point being, I could probably fix *my* battery life issue in the same amount of time I've spent reading/writing this forum thread. Maybe I could replace the 5X battery, too... although I've seen far fewer folks online doing that themselves. Not sure if it's more difficult... also not sure how much extra battery life a new battery would provide her 5x... also, replacing the 5X's battery will do nothing to prevent the apparently-somewhat-high chance of it developing a bootlooping problem in the not-so-distant future (due to solder expansion/contraction/cracking). Anyway, at this point, my fear is that replacing the batteries is, at the risk of sounding dramatic, like putting a bandaid on a bullet wound. Replacement batteries are often counterfeit. Even if it's not, what's to say that my phone's not going to develop the same issue 6 months down the road? (Similarly, what's to say that a brand-new Pixel won't develop problems 6 months down the road? IDK, but I guess in my mind it just seems like it'll be easier and cheaper in terms of mental energy and actual real-life time to ship it off for warranty repairs than it will be to research & repair myself...)

Hopefully I don't sound too much like I'm set on TMO + Pixels -- it's what I *want* to be set on, because it seems like the most convenient, mindless option... which yes, is what I want (again, school full-time + full time jobs...)... but I think my conscious is doing it's job and suggesting that I give Cricket a try for at least a few months... I mean, the worst case with that route is that TMO discontinues the Pixel rebates, and I have to spend another couple hours getting us transferred off Cricket onto TMO or whoever. But with the Pixel 2 coming out in ~6months, maybe the Pixel 1 prices will begin to drop... best case, we find some other folks to join our Cricket plan, and we lower our monthly bill to $40 total.


405programmer

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2017, 01:02:31 PM »
Thought I would throw an idea out there for a cool way to discover new music!

Listen to the radio service on whatever app you like while on wifi and every time a song comes on you like go and download several of that artists albums to your phone. Then you can just discover more of that artist while in the car! Also if she can cut streaming by 1 GB per month that would mean breaking even for most of the premium subscription music services. Personally I love Spotify and definitely get more than 10 dollars a month value out of it.

Downsides to this plan are you need more storage on your phone than you know what to do with, and you also have to enjoy listening to an album start to finish.

But it sounds like Fi is still cheaper than TMO so woohoo anyway?

spirotot

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2017, 01:19:39 PM »
Thought I would throw an idea out there for a cool way to discover new music!

Listen to the radio service on whatever app you like while on wifi and every time a song comes on you like go and download several of that artists albums to your phone. Then you can just discover more of that artist while in the car! Also if she can cut streaming by 1 GB per month that would mean breaking even for most of the premium subscription music services. Personally I love Spotify and definitely get more than 10 dollars a month value out of it.

Downsides to this plan are you need more storage on your phone than you know what to do with, and you also have to enjoy listening to an album start to finish.

But it sounds like Fi is still cheaper than TMO so woohoo anyway?

You know, that's a good point that I hadn't really thought about before... hm. So, my wife does listen to music at work, but her job is fairly hectic, which means music is mostly just custom background noise -- as far as I'm aware, she doesn't get a _lot_ of time to actually click through & select/download music...

BUT, maybe I could ask her to consider doing effectively what you just said in the evenings, or some other time, when she's not at work (and not driving, of course). It might be easier than I initially imagined, because Google Music has an "auto playlist" of the last 500 songs added to your virtual library. So, if I set that auto-playlist to auto-download to her phone, any album she adds to her library (which is one-click, compared to the 3-4 clicks + decision making it takes to add an album to a playlist.. annoying... and then it's added to the *end* of that playlist... so when you've got 100's of songs, yep, you've gotta scroll all the way down to find the stuff you just added...), it'll get auto-added to that "recently added" playlist... and, what's more! The recently-added playlist is sorted by... most recently added! No scrolling down to the bottom! Perfect! If the songs from an album are added in reverse-order, that might be a little annoying, but I'm going to do some experimenting... hm.

Inaya

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2017, 01:33:39 PM »
Have you tried replacing the phones' batteries? I just replaced the battery for mine, and it's like a new phone. Battery life is exponentially better, but the phone runs faster, cooler, and more efficiently now. And for some reason it fixed my GPS, which only worked on Wi-Fi before.


That said, I'm getting a Pixel 2. If you're sure you want Pixels, consider waiting for 2s, which will be out this year, likely near October. Who wants to drop $700+ on a phone only to have it go obsolete in a couple months? A year is bad enough.

spirotot

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2017, 01:48:29 PM »
Have you tried replacing the phones' batteries? I just replaced the battery for mine, and it's like a new phone. Battery life is exponentially better, but the phone runs faster, cooler, and more efficiently now. And for some reason it fixed my GPS, which only worked on Wi-Fi before.


That said, I'm getting a Pixel 2. If you're sure you want Pixels, consider waiting for 2s, which will be out this year, likely near October. Who wants to drop $700+ on a phone only to have it go obsolete in a couple months? A year is bad enough.

I haven't replaced any batteries yet. I have thought about it. I probably should...

spirotot

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2017, 01:54:41 PM »
BUT, maybe I could ask her to consider doing effectively what you just said in the evenings, or some other time, when she's not at work (and not driving, of course). It might be easier than I initially imagined, because Google Music has an "auto playlist" of the last 500 songs added to your virtual library. So, if I set that auto-playlist to auto-download to her phone, any album she adds to her library (which is one-click, compared to the 3-4 clicks + decision making it takes to add an album to a playlist.. annoying... and then it's added to the *end* of that playlist... so when you've got 100's of songs, yep, you've gotta scroll all the way down to find the stuff you just added...), it'll get auto-added to that "recently added" playlist... and, what's more! The recently-added playlist is sorted by... most recently added! No scrolling down to the bottom! Perfect! If the songs from an album are added in reverse-order, that might be a little annoying, but I'm going to do some experimenting... hm.

So, looked into the auto-playlist stuff, and discovered one major, but theoretically temporary, issue: any music downloaded for offline playback on her phone is automatically going to be synced to her Android Wear watch, which she uses with Bluetooth headphones for listening to music whilst running. A 500-song playlist is approximately 8GB, but her watch only has 4GB of internal storage. Her phone will work just fine, but it's not clear to me what music is ultimately going to end up on her watch. The latest music? Her running playlists? Some of each? Neither? Maybe the watch will just run out of space and get super slow and crash? :) This behavior is undefined, so far as I can tell.

Android Wear 2.0 allows you to pick which playlists get downloaded to your Wear device (tested this on a Wear 2.0 device I have; it was an unexpected gift... I didn't buy it :) ), but my wife's watch runs Android Wear 1.x. In theory, it'll be getting the 2.0 update within the next month... then she'll be able to select only her running playlists (much less than 4GB)... so I might wait to suggest making use of the last-added auto playlist until then. I don't want to invest time/energy in fixing a watch that has too much/the wrong music on it... heh.

neo von retorch

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2017, 01:59:21 PM »
That said, I'm getting a Pixel 2. If you're sure you want Pixels, consider waiting for 2s, which will be out this year, likely near October. Who wants to drop $700+ on a phone only to have it go obsolete in a couple months? A year is bad enough.

Wow, what forum am I on here? Ha ha!

To be clear, the Pixel phones from Google get 3 years of software updates, so... that's how long until they are "obsolete", depending on how you define it. But my (not that old) Nexus 6 only got 2 years of updates, and strangely still functions great now that they've stopped. And it's not even close to a "best buy" since you can get great phones for $200 brand new. If you're going for overpriced flagship, a Pixel is "as good as a not yet announced Pixel 2" since phone hardware/advances have reached a "really quite good enough" saturation point, and frequent upgrades are becoming less and less attractive (to frugal consumers.)

The real question is Who wants to drop $700+ on a phone especially when $200 ones can do nearly everything just as well...?

Inaya

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2017, 02:36:43 PM »
Me! Because I work hard and deserve it! /sarcasm

Lots of reasons. It's not exactly an impulse buy. I'll have it for years, so it's not like I'm getting a new flagship every year. I've never had a flagship phone even. I was going to get the Pixel, but the model I want is always out of stock so I figure just wait for 2. The bit about being obsolete was a bit tongue-in-cheek.

Although with the rumors of no headphone jack on the 2, I may end up getting a 1 anyway. (Or a 3 if this phone can live that long.)

PepperPeter

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #15 on: May 05, 2017, 02:56:25 PM »
I can relate to your stress.  When DH and I started on this MMM journey a few years ago, obviously, one of the first things to go was the fancy phone plans/phones.  At the time, we were living in pretty rural FL.  He was a good sport about it, but we tried so many different carriers - basically all the ones that carried in our area.  We could never get service.  He had to have a smart phone for work, and like your wife streamed music in the car as he drove all over the state (also for work), and it was a nightmare trying to get him reliable service with a phone battery that didn't die in 2 hours. 

Finally, after almost 2 years of shitty cell service, he said no more, we're paying for T-Mobile and that's the end of that discussion.  Though we've moved and could get better coverage with a cheaper provider now with less expensive phones, it's one area that remains Not Up For Discussion.  It kills me to pay that bill every month, but there's a peace of mind to not having to worry about your phone or your coverage, and if your phones enable you to do things you enjoy (listen to music, hike) with peace of mind, it might be worth it to pay for it.  It does sound like you're rationalizing your decision a little bit, but you don't have to justify anything to anyone but yourself and your budget.

Also +1 to streaming Spotify.  We were able to cut down on data when we switched to that, which lowered our cell plan cost.

Inaya

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #16 on: May 05, 2017, 05:10:20 PM »
If she's only really streaming in the car, what about satellite radio? I had XM a long time ago when I had a weekly 180-mile round-trip drive, and I really loved it. It looks like base packages are ~$11 per month, and you can get a "free" radio with a 6 month subscription. Assuming data at $10/gig and streaming 3 gigs per month, you would be saving ~$20/mo.

MayDay

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2017, 05:47:53 AM »
I just don't see how you won't be back in the same place in 18 months. Your current phones are only 18 months old. You are annoyed by problems they are having. I get it! But how is it going to be different next time?

Your phone sounds legitimately becoming non functional. You have to draw the line somewhere. I'm just not sure why a 700$ replacement is the way to go (are the new Google phones really 700$? That seems insane. At that price why not just buy an iPhone?)

Inaya

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2017, 06:09:07 AM »
I just don't see how you won't be back in the same place in 18 months. Your current phones are only 18 months old. You are annoyed by problems they are having. I get it! But how is it going to be different next time?

Your phone sounds legitimately becoming non functional. You have to draw the line somewhere. I'm just not sure why a 700$ replacement is the way to go (are the new Google phones really 700$? That seems insane. At that price why not just buy an iPhone?)
Preference for open source, customization, non-proprietary hardware and software, ability to self-repair, widgets, headphone jack, better hand feel, more comfortable with Android, Google integration, just don't like iPhones, etc. I think another Android phone, such as Samsung's Galaxy line, would have been a better comparison. (Although I really don't like where the new Galaxies are going either.)

neo von retorch

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2017, 10:45:02 AM »
I don't see why anyone would not just get a OnePlus 3T or Moto G5. Yes you get slightly more "vanilla" Google software from a Pixel, but... the value just isn't there in my opinion.

Fire1018

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #20 on: May 06, 2017, 11:39:43 AM »
The nexus phones are the problem.  Buy the pixel and your problem will be solved.

We are running a 'trial' on google Fi also.  My wife got the service and a nexus 6 as soon as project Fi was available to us.  She continually experienced the battery problems you talk about.  She spent lots of time talking to google Fi support to try and fix the battery life by adjusting settings and apps with no success.  She had her phone replaced through warranty and still had the same battery issues.  I don't think that it was a coincidence that the 'welcome to google Fi' gift was a spare battery! 

Quite a while later a coworker got the nexus 6s for use on verizon.  He experienced all the same battery and usage problems that my wife did.  It is miserable trying carry spare battery packs or to charge your phone any time you're near an outlet.

We broke down and upgraded her to the pixel and it solved all of her problems.  Now she loves project Fi!

Maybe we had two oddball experiences with the Nexus 6, but the pixel was a world of difference.

neo von retorch

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #21 on: May 06, 2017, 12:12:45 PM »
The nexus phones are the problem.  Buy the pixel and your problem will be solved.
...
Maybe we had two oddball experiences with the Nexus 6, but the pixel was a world of difference.

Probably not helpful, but were the Nexus 6's upgraded to the latest available Android versions? While I never had the battery issues you mentioned with my 6, the battery life got much better with the newer versions. Still rocking it now. Of course, it is a big (high resolution) screen, so if you use the phone a lot, you will burn through battery. I'm not a super heavy user - even Pandora time is without the screen.

StetsTerhune

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #22 on: May 07, 2017, 05:53:02 AM »
Probably not helpful, but were the Nexus 6's upgraded to the latest available Android versions?

I had a Nexus 5X for a while (recently died on me) and I swear it switched every Android update whether the battery life was or horrible. Get an update, last 50% longer, get another update a couple months later, go back to being bad again, another update, last 50% longer again. That, combined with the fact that the phone just entered infinite bootloop out of nowhere one evening, means I'm probably not going to get a phone from Google in a while.

neo von retorch

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #23 on: May 07, 2017, 08:48:17 AM »
The 5X is LG hardware - I'll probably avoid them. (The only other option would be to avoid all Android phones.) My Nexus 6 has been awesome; my wife and a friend both have Moto X Pure (2015). They'll all been great phones. So I'm still a Motorolla fan. I want a Nexus 6P, but I don't know much about Huawei...

Hargrove

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #24 on: May 07, 2017, 11:08:04 AM »
I'm confused. You switched plans, initially, to save 20 bucks a line. Now you're looking at a $100 phone bill and haven't even tried a battery you can get for like 18 bucks on Amazon?

As for data, what about Pandora on a computer at work and XM Radio for 11-20 bucks for the car?

If your question is "is there an industry that will just take 100% of the hassle out of this for me if I just spend infinite money?" then the answer is, why yes, there are plenty of options available for that. Your money will be assimilated shortly.

nick663

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #25 on: May 07, 2017, 11:28:19 AM »
I'm confused. You switched plans, initially, to save 20 bucks a line. Now you're looking at a $100 phone bill and haven't even tried a battery you can get for like 18 bucks on Amazon?

As for data, what about Pandora on a computer at work and XM Radio for 11-20 bucks for the car?

If your question is "is there an industry that will just take 100% of the hassle out of this for me if I just spend infinite money?" then the answer is, why yes, there are plenty of options available for that. Your money will be assimilated shortly.
Fwiw, you can get Sirius XM for $30/6 months easily.  Just have to call and threaten to cancel until they offer that price when it comes up for renewal.

letired

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #26 on: May 07, 2017, 01:12:42 PM »
I'm confused. You switched plans, initially, to save 20 bucks a line. Now you're looking at a $100 phone bill and haven't even tried a battery you can get for like 18 bucks on Amazon?

As for data, what about Pandora on a computer at work and XM Radio for 11-20 bucks for the car?

If your question is "is there an industry that will just take 100% of the hassle out of this for me if I just spend infinite money?" then the answer is, why yes, there are plenty of options available for that. Your money will be assimilated shortly.
Fwiw, you can get Sirius XM for $30/6 months easily.  Just have to call and threaten to cancel until they offer that price when it comes up for renewal.

+1 My mom got a new car that had an XM radio in it, and she just says 'no thanks' until they give her whatever works out to $5/month.

Inaya

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #27 on: May 07, 2017, 03:13:13 PM »
Probably not helpful, but were the Nexus 6's upgraded to the latest available Android versions?

I had a Nexus 5X for a while (recently died on me) and I swear it switched every Android update whether the battery life was or horrible. Get an update, last 50% longer, get another update a couple months later, go back to being bad again, another update, last 50% longer again. That, combined with the fact that the phone just entered infinite bootloop out of nowhere one evening, means I'm probably not going to get a phone from Google in a while.
My Galaxy S4 mini would get caught in infinite bootloops. Solved it by permanently removing the SD card.

fiStressRelief

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #28 on: May 07, 2017, 05:19:14 PM »
I have a Nexus 5x that I love.  Read about a lot of issues but have been lucky so far I guess.  Battery is ok, but not great.  I am slightly worried about finding a good replacement when the time comes since they have discontinued the Nexus line. I would probably look at a Moto or OnePlus but to me it just doesn't make sense to pay over 300 for a phone with all the options out there.

On the service, project fi is great but not if you need 2-3gb per month.  Also it doesn't seem to make sense to pay 100 to tmo for unlimited when your issue is the music streaming on one line. 

I recently switched to mintsim on a prepaid yearly plan for 177 which is under 15 a month for 2gb lte and then unlimited at 128kbs after. Maybe that is enough for Google music low quality?  That was a promo price so not sure if it is still available.  Obviously there is risk in prepaying with a newish mvno but you can't beat the value.

Keep us updated on your decision.

Hargrove

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #29 on: May 07, 2017, 06:16:15 PM »
I recently switched to mintsim on a prepaid yearly plan for 177 which is under 15 a month for 2gb lte and then unlimited at 128kbs after. Maybe that is enough for Google music low quality?  That was a promo price so not sure if it is still available.  Obviously there is risk in prepaying with a newish mvno but you can't beat the value.

Wait... so there's no "line access fee"? I couldn't see a total on the site. The monthly price is the monthly price?

fiStressRelief

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #30 on: May 07, 2017, 06:32:26 PM »
I recently switched to mintsim on a prepaid yearly plan for 177 which is under 15 a month for 2gb lte and then unlimited at 128kbs after. Maybe that is enough for Google music low quality?  That was a promo price so not sure if it is still available.  Obviously there is risk in prepaying with a newish mvno but you can't beat the value.

Wait... so there's no "line access fee"? I couldn't see a total on the site. The monthly price is the monthly price?

I can't speak to the month by month fees, but when I ordered the 12 months sim, they do tack on a bunch of BS taxes and shipping which obviously depends on where you live, but my total out the door with the promo was $177.

Hargrove

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #31 on: May 07, 2017, 06:41:52 PM »
I can't speak to the month by month fees, but when I ordered the 12 months sim, they do tack on a bunch of BS taxes and shipping which obviously depends on where you live, but my total out the door with the promo was $177.

Wow. It's 11.67/month if you do the 3 month promo, or you could use SHOPCLEVER in the promo code field for a year at 13.60/mo (or do the first and hope the second is still around when your first three months are up). That's impressive.

fiStressRelief

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #32 on: May 07, 2017, 07:02:30 PM »
I can't speak to the month by month fees, but when I ordered the 12 months sim, they do tack on a bunch of BS taxes and shipping which obviously depends on where you live, but my total out the door with the promo was $177.

Wow. It's 11.67/month if you do the 3 month promo, or you could use SHOPCLEVER in the promo code field for a year at 13.60/mo (or do the first and hope the second is still around when your first three months are up). That's impressive.
Ya, the 13.60 is what I got in on, but that is before those fees I mentioned.  Obviously do your due diligence on this one as there are a lot of customer service complaints, but it has been fine for me and my wife for a couple months now. We have decent tmo service in our area.

Sent from my Nexus 5X using Tapatalk


Aunt Petunia

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #33 on: May 08, 2017, 04:12:28 AM »
I've had Republic for 3 years now with no problems. It works better in my house than regular cell service due to routing calls over wifi. I had Virgin before and could only get a signal in certain spots. Also I can use all the features of my smartphone over wifi. Calls and texts use the Sprint network when wifi is not available. No need for data because there is wifi almost everywhere, and I don't need GPS to get around town. I have the Republic refund plan and only buy data if I am traveling. Average is 12.50/month.

spirotot

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Re: Cellphones & Service: A Story of Angst
« Reply #34 on: May 08, 2017, 10:16:08 AM »
Well, I/we did what felt like one of the least Mustachian things we've done intentionally so far...

Wife and I went to Costco Friday night and picked up two brand-new Samsung Galaxy S8's on T-Mobile's 2 unlimited lines for $100. $300 of Costco Cash is in the mail to us (Costco/T-Mobile promo...), and Galaxy VR headsets will be soon, too (probably won't use these much; might just sell them for $50/per, or something). Monthly payment plan for the phones themselves, at 0% interest.

Total monthly bill: $162.50.

Total _annual_ cost for the next 2 years: $1,950 (not incl. $300 Costco Cash rebate, or the few hundred bucks selling our Nexuses will bring).

And guess what? It feels really, really good. Short-term pleasure over long-term pleasure? Maybe... maybe. Probably..? But I tell you what: all that angst I was feeling when I wrote the first post is gone. I'm honestly a bit surprised at how much it's gone.

Was it because the angst was actually just an itch for an upgrade? Maybe... I think probably not. Either way, I don't really care. After dozens and dozens of hours (I am not exaggerating here; in cases where "normal" people might relax and watch Netflix, I tend to antagonize over lifestyle optimizations) researching what phones and plans fit our use cases the best, I can be done thinking about it for a good long while. Instead, I can antagonize over something else, like how I can make a Nissan Leaf fiscally worthwhile (I've done the math half a dozen times; our current vehicles/bicycles are far too cheap to own/operate to make even a used Leaf worthwhile, ha!). :)

This paragraph was almost a list of what were effectively rationalizations (i.e. "here's thing A, and B, and C that I really like about this fancy new phone!") I've developed post-splurge, but then I decided I didn't have to share/write that. If someone's genuinely curious, I'll type 'em up. But all the surprisingly awesome things (besides/in addition to the battery life) about our new phones are just cherries on top. Luxurious, yet practical, conveniences. This phone "just works"; it's really an amazing device. With a warranty. And we don't have to think about data. So I got what I wanted: a couple (or hopefully a few) years, at least, of peace of mind. What I am saying here is: if all I'd gotten was an all-day (or more) battery, a warranty, and unlimited data for the price/s above, I'd have been happy. But we got more.

The only things that seem to be capable of screwing this up are:

* T-Mobile deciding to be evil and changing our plan/pricing or something. $100/line, sucka!! Heh... If that happens, I'll pay off our phones, get them carrier-unlocked, spend a few hours switching us to AT&T or a T-Mobile MVNO or something.
* One of us destroying our phones in a drop. We have cases and screen protectors on the way... and frankly, we have the money to buy another phone (same one, or something else, who cares) if it really came to that.

« Last Edit: May 08, 2017, 10:23:05 AM by spirotot »