Author Topic: Smart Phone for Immigrant Chinese with No English (permanent resident PIL)  (Read 3765 times)

ivyhedge

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Hello,


My parents in law will move to the United States (with green cards) in two weeks and will need a cellular telephone (they will share one, at least in the beginning). They have had smart phones in their home state for years, so they are not interested in flip phones or "emergency use" units. My wife and I travel quite a bit, so when we are out of town, are there companies that are easier to deal with for immigrants who do not comprehend English?


We will give them an AT&T iPhone 5 to use and would like to know which options have we from which to select a reasonable data plan for a respectable price. We do not want them to have to constantly check data use rates (since they have never had to do that) and a reasonable price is $50-$75/month. We assume the plan will be in our name since they have no credit history; let us know if that is an incorrect assumption. Thanks, in advance.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2015, 09:44:07 AM by ivyhedge »

hope2retire

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Re: Smart phone for PIL (permanent resident)
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2015, 02:38:31 PM »
You can get tmobile which has unlimited talk, text data for 4 lines for $100. 10gb at 4G speed (2.5gb/line) and unlimited at 2G speed there after....

http://www.t-mobile.com/offer/simple-choice-family-plans-4-for-100.html

make sure you get your iphone unlocked from att before you cancel the service.


ivyhedge

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Re: Smart phone for PIL (permanent resident)
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2015, 02:45:44 PM »
You can get tmobile which has unlimited talk, text data for 4 lines for $100. 10gb at 4G speed (2.5gb/line) and unlimited at 2G speed there after....

http://www.t-mobile.com/offer/simple-choice-family-plans-4-for-100.html

make sure you get your iphone unlocked from att before you cancel the service.


They only need one line, and the phone has not been used for 3-4 months.

ivyhedge

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Re: Smart phone for PIL (permanent resident)
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2015, 07:33:00 AM »
Are there any other thoughts? I suspect I queried at an inopportune time (Sunday afternoon)! Thanks, again...

matchewed

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Re: Smart phone for PIL (permanent resident)
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2015, 07:57:01 AM »
How about just heading over to the communication superguide and doing the legwork?

ivyhedge

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Re: Smart phone for PIL (permanent resident)
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2015, 08:56:17 AM »
There is insufficient information about starting those plans without a credit history and what companies are easiest to deal with for immigrants.


It appears I was incorrect about a relatively simple solution to use a cellular telephone that we already have.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2015, 09:42:06 AM by ivyhedge »

Daley

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There is insufficient information about starting those plans without a credit history and what companies are easiest to deal with for immigrants.


It appears I was incorrect about a relatively simple solution to use a cellular telephone that we already have.

Nearly every single provider in the guide is prepaid, there is no issue of credit history. The other two providers that are postpaid still don't have a steep requirement because there are no contracts. If you have access to a hunk of plastic with a sixteen digit number that starts with the number 4 or 5 (Visa or MasterCard debit, credit, gift, or prepaid), you can pay for mobile phone service.

As for using an existing smartphone, so long as it's carrier unlocked and has US GSM/UMTS/HSPA frequency support on the 850/1900MHz bands, it's entirely possible your parents might be able to keep using the phone they already have if they own a GSM world phone. As for your iPhone specifically mentioned, same applies, though T-Mobile MVNOs are going to work far better on the configuration and data end than AT&T ones. Long story short, you might discover it to be a PITA to configure your iPhone for mobile data and MMS on the AT&T MVNO plan I'm going to recommend in a couple paragraphs. Choosing an MVNO between the two networks for most people, however, is going to be dependent upon the geographical service area met. This really won't apply to your situation, though.

Next, if they don't want to spend a lot of money and can't go under contract (for obvious reasons), they're just going to have to get used to using less data. Welcome to America, our mobile industry is expensive and sucks! Good thing it's pretty easy to use less data if you just plan ahead.

Lastly, given they're coming from China with no ESL experience, the best (and only real) carrier option is going to be Red Pocket - especially from a customer support standpoint as they have phone staff fluent in Mandarin. Don't bother with their GSMT plans despite the additional data, their auto-billing is still wonky on the T-Mo end, and the coverage is going to have a smaller footprint anyway. Instead, go with a GSMA plan (AT&T). All of their "unlimited" GSMA plans with data $40 and over has heavily throttled 2G data available after the high speed data allotment is used. $40 gets you 500MB of high speed data, $50 gets you 1GB, $60 gets you 3GB, and $70 gets you 4GB. Don't like the data allotment available at those prices? Again, see the welcome message above.

On the bright side (at least) to take some sting out of those data prices, Red Pocket's "unlimited" calling plans also include "unlimited" direct dial calling to both mobile and landline phones in China and Hong Kong and "unlimited" incoming international and 200 outbound international SMS text messages a month. None the less, they do claim to support carrier unlocked AT&T iPhones on their GSMA plans, but as I mentioned earlier, the configuration process can be annoying compared to a T-Mo MVNO on the device.

That should get you.

ivyhedge

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That should get you.


Thank you so much! I look forward to studying your reply in greater detail. One comment: I am certain there was no change to the iPhone's locked/unlocked status (I assume it remains locked). It was a work phone that a family member was allowed to keep at a contract's expiry. When he began using a new mobile that iPhone was simply disconnected. Is that a problem?

Daley

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Is that a problem?

Probably. If you want to use it with anyone but AT&T directly, you need to make sure it's carrier unlocked first. Although you can put an AT&T MVNO SIM card in the phone and make calls and send SMS text messages, you won't have any mobile data or MMS support until it's carrier unlocked. Now that self-unlocking is technically legal(-ish) again in this country, the prices for AT&T iPhone unlock codes has gone down dramatically on Ebay. First (if you can), try sticking a friend's T-Mobile SIM card in the phone (or ask for an unactivated T-Mobile SIM card down at Best Buy or something) just to see what happens to confirm if the phone is carrier locked or not. If it is locked and you find that AT&T won't work with you to unlock the phone for free for whatever reason (entirely likely since you weren't the account holder), some amount well under $10 should resolve the issue after doing an Ebay search for "at&t iphone 5 unlock". Just be sure to research the seller you go with first and read their requirements and instructions carefully before buying or entering any codes. Caveat emptor, etc.

As a secondary option, ask your in-laws about the make and model of their existing phone and whether it can be used on other providers. Phone Scoop and GSM Arena will be able to help you determine if it can be used in the US, unless it's some no name generic. The only phone better than a free phone is the phone you already have and are used to.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2015, 11:52:27 AM by I.P. Daley »

ivyhedge

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Re: Smart phone for PIL (permanent resident)
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2015, 12:23:39 PM »
[size=0px]I assumed you and your wife already have cell phones each from one carrier.[/size]


Thanks, Hope. We do not have personal cellular telephones.

hope2retire

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metropcs has unlimited talk, text, data for $30/mo and no annual contract. check if it is available in your area. You may have to get a phone since I am not sure you have a unlocked phone. You can always ask them to get a phone from china, if they are coming from there :). it better be cheaper. :)

https://www.metropcs.com/cell-plans.html