Saturday, November 10, 2012

Smartphone Hunting (advice appreciated)

Ok, I'm looking to get a smartphone. We currently have Verizon Wireless... and my phone is a six-year-old LG VX8300 that I still like. But I need more options. I want to be able to access my Google calendar and send text messages. I also want the ability to pull up a map app if I need it. Or other websites as needed (I'd like to be able to pull up documents from websites during meetings).

So, Verizon Wireless is offering iPhone 4 for "free" with a two year contract. That's tempting, because the iPhone is tested and true. Every other smartphone is either too expensive to get or not of any great interest. I'd prefer an Android phone, but I haven't tried any and the ones getting good reviews tend to be a couple of hundred dollars even with a contract.

Following is my attempt to figure out what to get...

Prices: Hard to figure out. Every service seems to offer something different. So I'm going to look at two possibilities: A smartphone for me alone or phones for both Eric and I.

We are currently paying a base price of $60 with about $12 of taxes and fees. We have a 500 minute shared plan with our two lines (grandfathered in, Verizon Wireless doesn't offer this plan any more).

Verizon Wireless
Smartphone solo plan: One smartphone $40 w/unlimited talk and text with 2GB shared data $60 would be $100 base rate. I could get a free iPhone 4 (two generations old).
Two phone plan: One basic phone $30 w/unlimited talk and text (Eric's) and one smartphone $40 w/unlimited talk and text (mine) with 2GB shared data $60 would be $130 base rate. It would be only $10 more to upgrade Eric to a smartphone as well.

Credo Mobile
Smartphone solo plan: unlimited minutes $70, unlimited text $15, unlimited data $30 total would be $115, and I would probably have to spend between $100-200 to get a phone.
For $40 I could get 450 minutes, which would probably be adequate, and that would take the monthly base price down to $85, but I would still need to buy a phone.
Two phone plan: unlimited minutes family plan $119, unlimited text $25, unlimited data $30 for a single line, $60 for two lines. Again, we'd have to buy the phones too. We could lower the cost with limited minutes, down to $70 for 700 minutes.

US Cellular
Smartphone solo plan: unlimited min/text for $90, 2GB $25 makes for a base price of $115 a month. A 450 minute plan would be $50, taking the total down to $75 a month base price. I would likely have to purchase a phone.
Two phone plan: It would be $150 for unlimited min/text and data has to be purchased per line, with 2GB at $25. A 1000 minute shared plan with unlimited text is $100 with data at the same price. Smartphone would likely have to be purchased.

Sprint
Smartphone solo plan: $110 for unlimited min/text/data. $80 for unlimited text/data with 450 minutes.
Two phone plan: $210 for two unlimited plans, $150 for 1500 minute plan. I'm not seeing options for smartphone vs basic phone, but there might be other options.

AT&T
Smartphone solo plan: There doesn't seem to be one, it's all share plans. Unlimited talk and text with 1 GB is $40 a month + $45 for each smartphone. The 4GB plan is $70 a month + $40 for each smartphone.

Virgin Mobile: The coverage map was not encouraging.

SOLO SMARTPHONE PLANS
$110 for Unlimited min/text/data from Sprint
$115 for Unlimited min/text/data from Credo Mobile
$115 for Unlimited min/text/data from US Cellular

$85 for Unlimited min/text, 1 GB from AT&T
$100 for Unlimited min/text, 2 GB data from Verizon Wireless
$110 for Unlimited min/text, 4 GB from AT&T

$80 for Unlimited text/data, 450 minutes from Sprint
$85 for Unlimited text/data, 450 minutes from Credo Mobile

$75 for Unlimited text, 450 minutes, 2 GB data from US Cellular

TWO PHONE PLANS
$174 for Unlimited min/text/data with 1 smartphone/1 basic phone from Credo Mobile
$175 for Unlimited min/text/data with 1 smartphone/1 basic phone from US Cellular
$200 for Unlimited min/text/data with 2 smartphones from US Cellular
$204 for Unlimited min/text/data with 2 smartphones from Credo Mobile
$210 for Unlimited min/text/data with 2 phones from Sprint

$130 for Unlimited min/text, 1 GB with 2 smartphones from AT&T
$130 for Unlimited min/text, 2 GB data with 1 smartphone/1 basic phone from Verizon Wireless
$140 for Unlimited min/text, 2 GB data with 2 smartphones from Verizon Wireless
$150 for Unlimited min/text, 4 GB with 2 smartphones from AT&T

$125 for Unlimited text/data, 700 min with 1 smartphone/1 basic phone from Credo Mobile
$155 for Unlimited text/data, 700 min with 2 smartphones from Credo Mobile
$150 for Unlimited text/data, 1500 min with 2 phones from Sprint

$125 for Unlimited text, 1000 min, 2 GB data with 1 smartphone/1 basic phone from US Cellular
$150 for Unlimited text, 1000 min, 2 GB data with 2 smartphones from US Cellular

None of these take into account possible deals, these are the base prices as I see them on the website. For a lot of them, I'd probably have to buy a phone, and I don't really know what I want beyond "smartphone".

If I were to just get a smartphone for myself and leave Eric to fend for himself, I'd probably go for the unlimited text/data from Credo Mobile with 450 minutes. It's the cheapest plan with unlimited data, which is an area that worries me. Why skip Sprint? Because Credo gives 10% to causes I support. Maybe I'd go with Sprint instead, hard to say. For a two phone plan, I'm leaning toward unlimited text/data as well, which leaves us with Credo or Sprint.

Now, if I wasn't worried about running out of data (people who use your smartphones a lot, please tell me what your usage is like), I'd probably go for US Cellular or stay with Verizon Wireless. But the limits make me nervous like minute limits never did.

So, who has experience with any of the services and has a strong enough opinion to share? Who should I avoid at all costs? What phones, particularly Android, are the best? Any service you particularly like?

2 comments:

Roger Owen Green said...

That is precisely why I don't have a smartphone; too many options, and I don't want to e locked into a bad one.

trinalin said...

I know nothing of data access since I just use the WiFi of my phone (Samsung lets you turn off data completely, which is great). I also don't have a contract, just Pay As You Go. So I spend $100 a year for my phone use. But that also means I had to buy the Galaxy S III outright. If it gives me 3-4 years like my AT&T Tilt did (it might not, but hey, it might), I'll definitely be ahead of the game vs. a contract. At any rate, I don't think I could live without my phone now. It's a wonderful crutch. Heh.