Tag Archive for cell phones

Phone decision

I’ve been spending a decent amount of time trying to figure out which phone carrier would rip me off the least and reading up on the many smart phones available on the market right now and others soon to be released.  What it really boils down to is how much money I want to spend.  At the moment I have many medical bills showing up in my mail box from the past three months and I really don’t have the extra money to drop on a phone nor to start paying for a monthly data plan.  I don’t know how much I’d actually use data anyway.  Most of my time is spent at home or work where I readily have access to wifi networks.  I also have an iPad3 with which I can do mobile things.  I’m actually quite satisfied with my current phone with the exception of the battery.  A quick search revealed I can purchase a new battery for about $5 so that’s what I did yesterday.  I got a new battery and a new hard case, mine is cracked in a few places, for $10 with shipping.  This should extend my phone’s life for a bit and save me the money I was trying to find for a new phone and data plan.

AT&T and Verizon attempt to copy T-Mobile

After T-Mobile’s announced the new plan for customers to more easily keep up with the Joneses and their new phones, AT&T and Verizon announced similar plans as well.

AT&T was the first to announce their plan called NEXT where customers could get a new phone every year if they agree to pay full price for their device over the course of 20 months.  At 12 months customers may opt to purchase a new device.  This sounds great except you basically end up paying the same for your wireless/data plan AND pay full price for your device.  Here’s an article that more eloquently explains everything.

And now Verizon has a similar plan called EDGE where you’re eligible for an upgrade every 6 months as long as you’ve paid 50% of the full price for your device.  Similar to AT&T, you end up paying for an unsubsidized phone AND the same wireless/data plan.  Here’s another article explaining things in more detail.

I really wish T-Mobile had better coverage so I could actually use my phone if I switched to them as my provider.  I also wish people would do the math on these “great deals” and decide what is really best for them in the long run.  I also wish there was some regulation of cell phone companies and cable TV/internet companies so us consumers weren’t constantly screwed with the option of pay the money or go without.

UPDATE 7/19/2013
CNET’s Ask Maggie column has a great breakdown showing the total cost of ownership.  The consumer pays more no matter what with T-Mobile screwing you the least.  Your best bet is to hold onto that phone for two years.

T-Mobile announces new phone replacement schedule

T-Mobile is truly turning the cell phone market on its head.  Earlier this year they announced no more two-year contracts and today they unveiled a new plan allowing subscribers to replace their phone every six months.  The new program is called JUMP! and costs an extra $10 a month, which includes premium cell phone insurance.  Just the insurance alone would cost you $8 a month by itself.

If you’re unfamiliar with how T-Mobile works, you can either buy a phone outright and then choose a monthly service plan, or you can pay a minimum amount on the phone and then pay around $20 a month for the next two years to pay off the phone.  This is similar to how AT&T and Verizon work, but you’re not locked in for two years, the phone may be paid off at any time and there is no penalty for leaving T-Mobile before the two years are up.  With JUMP! you can still pay the minimum amount required for a phone, and then you’ll pay $30 a month with the option to upgrade in six months.  The kicker is you’re not responsible for paying off the remainder owed on your phone when you upgrade.

So what’s the catch?  For me, it’s the fact T-Mobile still does not have adequate coverage where I live.  At best I could receive 2G data and have “acceptable” voice signal where I live.  That’s what I call unacceptable.  If i lived in a more heavily populated area like LA, NYC or Atlanta, I’d be signing up tomorrow.  For now Verizon still seems to be the best deal for me because of their data/voice coverage and the discount available to me through my employer.

Need a new phone

I’ve been avoiding the world of smart phones, or as my friend Soulman calls them, “phones,” for a while now.  I’m still rocking a slider with a full size QWERTY keyboard.  It’s great for texting and has been a decent phone until the past six months or so.  This week my phone epically failed me twice.  Occasionally my phone will lock up if I haven’t turned it off/on in a while and just blocks all incoming calls/texts.  The worst part is it acts as though nothing is wrong.  Then another day I went to bed with my phone having plenty of battery power and woke up late for work because it died in the night and did not perform its function as my alarm clock.

My first cell phone contract was with Cingular who was bought out by AT&T.  I’ve been with them ever since, but am now looking to get the best deal possible.  Out of the big three, this is what I’ve discovered this week.

T-Mobile is really shaking up the concept of a cell phone contract.  In fact, they threw it out the window.  You only pay month-to-month with no lock in, the only catch is you buy your phone un-subsidized.  While this may seem like a raw deal, you’ll realize how much money you save over time if you just do the math.  I would love to switch to T-Mobile, but unfortunately they still have the same problem they’ve had for years – cell tower coverage.  If you live in a heavily populated area or are traveling on a main road/interstate highway, you’re good, but if you branch out from those areas there’s a good chance your phone won’t work too well if at all.

Verizon boasts they have the best cell tower coverage in the country and it’s true.  They still offer 2-year contracts and have many options for unlimited talk and texting with tiers of shared data.  They’re also recognized for having some of the best customer service and customer experiences.  If you happen to have Verizon FIOS, you can get further deals by bundling your mobile, tv and home phone.

AT&T used to be the big dogs because it was the only place you could get service for your iPhone.  In the past few years that has changed and you can pretty much get any phone with any carrier.  Some of the features or settings may be different, but you can get the same hardware almost anywhere.  For single line plans AT&T tends to be the most expensive and I’m really not sure what you’re getting extra out of it.  Some bundle services similarly to Verizon, but I can’t really handle the lame DSL speeds in my area.  AT&T also offers 2-year contracts and their prices are similar to Verizon.

So which carrier is best for me?

Phones and phone accessories pretty much cost the same everywhere so that’s not a factor any more.  T-Mobile isn’t an option for me due to coverage and reception so that basically leaves it up to AT&T and Verizon. A family plan for our two phones with 4GB of shared data is basically the same price with either but Verizon does offer more options to lower our bill if 4GB is more than we need.  I currently receive a discount with my previous employer with AT&T and my current employer offers a similar discount.  My employer’s HR website says we can get a discount with Verizon as well, but Verizon’s site says it doesn’t exist.  Discounts aside, the only other factor is activation/upgrade fees.  AT&T charges $36 per line to upgrade a phone on an existing account and Verizon doesn’t charge anything extra to open a new line and purchase a phone.  So basically this comes down to if I can get a discount through my employer at Verizon.