Do I really need a Smartphone?

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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby Browser » Wed Apr 03, 2013 4:36 pm

Previous poster mentioned that you can barely find an old-school talk cellphone on T-Mobile. Same goes for Verizon, ATT, and Sprint too. I remember when I'd get an upgrade offer after my 2-year subscription was up to swap to a newer phone and get a $50 bonus to renew my 2-year contract. My 2-year contract with Sprint expired a few years ago, and I haven't heard from them. So I got on my online account at Sprint to see what offer might be waiting for me. I was rudely informed that no upgrades were available for my phone or plan. It is now obsolete. The only choice I had was to add another line -- you guessed it, a Smartphone line. Then of course I'd have to pony up for a new Smartphone. I can see that these guys would love to get rid of talk-only phones and phone plans altogether because they can skim off billions in profits on Smartphones that allow people to watch streaming TV shows while they are driving down the highway at 75 mph. At some point, we'll probably have to pay a premium to have a phone that is smaller than a floor tile and a phone plan that allows you to just make and receive voice calls. Capitalism marches on...
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby winglessangel31 » Wed Apr 03, 2013 5:29 pm

Browser wrote:Previous poster mentioned that you can barely find an old-school talk cellphone on T-Mobile. Same goes for Verizon, ATT, and Sprint too. I remember when I'd get an upgrade offer after my 2-year subscription was up to swap to a newer phone and get a $50 bonus to renew my 2-year contract. My 2-year contract with Sprint expired a few years ago, and I haven't heard from them. So I got on my online account at Sprint to see what offer might be waiting for me. I was rudely informed that no upgrades were available for my phone or plan. It is now obsolete. The only choice I had was to add another line -- you guessed it, a Smartphone line. Then of course I'd have to pony up for a new Smartphone. I can see that these guys would love to get rid of talk-only phones and phone plans altogether because they can skim off billions in profits on Smartphones that allow people to watch streaming TV shows while they are driving down the highway at 75 mph. At some point, we'll probably have to pay a premium to have a phone that is smaller than a floor tile and a phone plan that allows you to just make and receive voice calls. Capitalism marches on...

Okay, go ahead and blame the world. Go ahead and scream at everyone with a smartphone because you think they all drive dangerously and use their smartphones irresponsibly, Luddite. I would seriously suggest holding back from making unjustified generalizations that do nothing but ruffle feathers and rile people up.

You should probably realize that old-school cellphones are probably manufactured less, and that holding onto seemingly-unmarketable inventory is a bad business decision. If the world is trending toward smartphones, it is unreasonable to expect all telecommunications companies to continue to offer old-school cellphones at the same level as before. If you really wanted an old-school cellphone, go buy them from people who still sell them. They exist and legally too, you just have to find them.

Another note about "manufactured less": the rest of the world (largely) runs on GSM (think AT&T and T-Mobile, with SIM Cards) and not CDMA (think Verizon and Sprint). GSM phones are manufactured more no matter what. Since smartphones are the trend for high-performing economies and old-school cellphones are likely to be what people from low-performing economies want and can afford, those economies probably account for most of the business decisions for phone manufacturers. Since low-performing economies are likely to run on GSM networks instead of CDMA, old-school cellphones are more likely to be found with GSM capability and not CDMA. Which might turn out to be irrelevant information given the following Internet facts:
AT&T: I see 10 basic phones that are offered online. 3 are refurbished, so 7 new models.
Verizon: I see 8 basic phones that are offered online. All new models.
Sprint: I see 9 basic phones that are offered online. 2 are pre-owned, so 7 new models.

Barely able to find? False.

Another note that is my personal opinion: Grandfathering of old plans is a double-edged sword. I understand that businesses should not be allowed to bait and switch and screw with their customers, but they should not have to hold on to legacy things that are really no longer economical.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby Browser » Wed Apr 03, 2013 6:18 pm

AT&T: I see 10 basic phones that are offered online. 3 are refurbished, so 7 new models.
Verizon: I see 8 basic phones that are offered online. All new models.
Sprint: I see 9 basic phones that are offered online. 2 are pre-owned, so 7 new models.

That could be, but if you happen to be in a store like BestBuy you'll find only one basic cellphone from each of these vendors. Each has about 12-15 Smartphones on display. That represents what is primarily being marketed. They have an endless pathway to offer "upgrades" of these things forever to keep you on the hook spending money on them. Who the heck wants to be using the last gen Smartphone? It's a triumph of marketing over necessity isn't it? There are no upgrades of basic cellphones anymore and the ones that are available are crummier than the one I've had for five years. If you're the kind of person who likes to pay cash for a new car and isn't embarrassed to drive it for 12 years, I figure you're likely to own a basic cellphone or maybe no cellphone at all. If you lease your car and like to have a new one every 2-3 years, I figure you're likely to be lining up for the latest Galaxy or iPhone as soon as it hits the market. Which individual is likely to actually be able to retire when they expect to?
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby linguini » Wed Apr 03, 2013 6:27 pm

The problem with people who text and drive isn't that they use smartphones; it's that they drive cars. Anyone who is willing to risk others' lives in such a cavalier fashion shouldn't be allowed to operate a 3-ton 75-mph killing machine. Cars are inherently dangerous and are a hugely underrated risk.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby linguini » Wed Apr 03, 2013 6:33 pm

Browser wrote:If you're the kind of person who likes to pay cash for a new car and isn't embarrassed to drive it for 12 years, I figure you're likely to own a basic cellphone or maybe no cellphone at all. If you lease your car and like to have a new one every 2-3 years, I figure you're likely to be lining up for the latest Galaxy or iPhone as soon as it hits the market. Which individual is likely to actually be able to retire when they expect to?

On the contrary, I take the train to work because I don't want to waste my money on gas and car repairs just so I can spend two hours a day sitting in a giant steel death trap. I'd much rather spend a much smaller amount on something useful and safe, like a new phone that lets me answer work emails in the train so that I can leave work a little earlier. :D
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby matjen » Wed Apr 03, 2013 7:20 pm

Browser wrote:Who the heck wants to be using the last gen Smartphone? It's a triumph of marketing over necessity isn't it? There are no upgrades of basic cellphones anymore and the ones that are available are crummier than the one I've had for five years. If you're the kind of person who likes to pay cash for a new car and isn't embarrassed to drive it for 12 years, I figure you're likely to own a basic cellphone or maybe no cellphone at all. If you lease your car and like to have a new one every 2-3 years, I figure you're likely to be lining up for the latest Galaxy or iPhone as soon as it hits the market. Which individual is likely to actually be able to retire when they expect to?



Good lord. Were you one of those folks that argued that your trusty IBM Selectric was just as good as a word processor. To answer your question, the person most likely to retire when they expect to is the one who can be the most efficient and most productive which often means having the ability to leverage technology.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby leonard » Wed Apr 03, 2013 7:32 pm

matjen wrote:
Browser wrote:Who the heck wants to be using the last gen Smartphone? It's a triumph of marketing over necessity isn't it? There are no upgrades of basic cellphones anymore and the ones that are available are crummier than the one I've had for five years. If you're the kind of person who likes to pay cash for a new car and isn't embarrassed to drive it for 12 years, I figure you're likely to own a basic cellphone or maybe no cellphone at all. If you lease your car and like to have a new one every 2-3 years, I figure you're likely to be lining up for the latest Galaxy or iPhone as soon as it hits the market. Which individual is likely to actually be able to retire when they expect to?



Good lord. Were you one of those folks that argued that your trusty IBM Selectric was just as good as a word processor. To answer your question, the person most likely to retire when they expect to is the one who can be the most efficient and most productive which often means having the ability to leverage technology.


It also often means not overspending on unnecessary technology.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby gkaplan » Wed Apr 03, 2013 7:45 pm

What's a Smartphone?
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby winglessangel31 » Wed Apr 03, 2013 7:46 pm

leonard wrote:
matjen wrote:
Browser wrote:Who the heck wants to be using the last gen Smartphone? It's a triumph of marketing over necessity isn't it? There are no upgrades of basic cellphones anymore and the ones that are available are crummier than the one I've had for five years. If you're the kind of person who likes to pay cash for a new car and isn't embarrassed to drive it for 12 years, I figure you're likely to own a basic cellphone or maybe no cellphone at all. If you lease your car and like to have a new one every 2-3 years, I figure you're likely to be lining up for the latest Galaxy or iPhone as soon as it hits the market. Which individual is likely to actually be able to retire when they expect to?



Good lord. Were you one of those folks that argued that your trusty IBM Selectric was just as good as a word processor. To answer your question, the person most likely to retire when they expect to is the one who can be the most efficient and most productive which often means having the ability to leverage technology.


It also often means not overspending on unnecessary technology.

No one is suggesting getting the newest smartphone when it hits the market. I'm seeing lots of exaggerations and unjustified statements in this thread; the OP seems to have posed this question rhetorically, meaning only to display his/her hostile disposition toward those who have and sell smartphones. :annoyed
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby leonard » Wed Apr 03, 2013 8:03 pm

winglessangel31 wrote:
leonard wrote:
matjen wrote:
Browser wrote:Who the heck wants to be using the last gen Smartphone? It's a triumph of marketing over necessity isn't it? There are no upgrades of basic cellphones anymore and the ones that are available are crummier than the one I've had for five years. If you're the kind of person who likes to pay cash for a new car and isn't embarrassed to drive it for 12 years, I figure you're likely to own a basic cellphone or maybe no cellphone at all. If you lease your car and like to have a new one every 2-3 years, I figure you're likely to be lining up for the latest Galaxy or iPhone as soon as it hits the market. Which individual is likely to actually be able to retire when they expect to?



Good lord. Were you one of those folks that argued that your trusty IBM Selectric was just as good as a word processor. To answer your question, the person most likely to retire when they expect to is the one who can be the most efficient and most productive which often means having the ability to leverage technology.


It also often means not overspending on unnecessary technology.

No one is suggesting getting the newest smartphone when it hits the market. I'm seeing lots of exaggerations and unjustified statements in this thread; the OP seems to have posed this question rhetorically, meaning only to display his/her hostile disposition toward those who have and sell smartphones. :annoyed


The reality is that many bogleheads are going to question any recurring monthly expense in this price range. Labeling that expense "smartphone" and indicating many people do it isn't going to change that disposition. Add on top of that many question the pay off of these devices at current prices - well I think folks are spot on.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby crowd79 » Wed Apr 03, 2013 9:08 pm

Who needs a smartphone? I don't. It's a complete waste of my hard-earned money. Why pay $100's per month for a contract when I can get all I need with a Tracfone. I have triple minutes for life and only buy minutes every 3 months to keep service going. I spend less than $15 per month, literally.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby chaz » Wed Apr 03, 2013 9:44 pm

gkaplan wrote:What's a Smartphone?

It does more than my dumb phone.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby HardKnocker » Thu Apr 04, 2013 7:56 am

My thoughts on expensive cellphones/smartphones etc.:

If you are self-employed and need it for business then get one. You can write it off. If you are employed then it should be provided by company if necessary.

Otherwise skip it.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby Fallible » Thu Apr 04, 2013 8:39 am

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Last edited by Fallible on Thu Apr 04, 2013 1:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby matjen » Thu Apr 04, 2013 8:56 am

This just popped up in my WSJ. Coincidence or some internet business intelligence thingie is watching my habits. You be the judge! A quick review of cell phone history. If it requires login then just do a google search. A short history of cell phones.

http://live.wsj.com/video/a-short-histo ... 120A44F6D7
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby rixer » Thu Apr 04, 2013 9:40 am

I think smartphones are great devices, they're here to stay and I honestly would like to have one. I just can't justify the cost of service in my case. I'm retired and am home much more. At home I have cable and internet, when I travel I take the laptop. I have a navigator in the car, checks get auto deposited so I don't have to go to the bank hardly ever, I can receive e-mails at home instantly and I really don't use the social media to communicate with my homies.

I have a prepaid flip phone and it runs about $8 month. I can afford to get a smartphone and at some point I may but it won't be this year. Right now, this system works just fine for me.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby Browser » Thu Apr 04, 2013 10:28 am

Wondering to what extent it is desirable to have a Smartphone capable of 4G or 4G LTE? Are apps noticeably slower on 3G? I currently have a Verizon 3G Mobile Hotspot that I use with my laptop and would love to have 4G for the laptop, but don't know if Smartphone apps generally require the greater speed. In particular, how does turn-by-turn Smartphone navigation work with 3G? How about Pandora? Send/Receive photos? I'm guessing that video sucks with 3G, but I wouldn't be doing that anyway.

The reason I ask is that you can save $$ with prepaid Smartphone services like Boost Mobile and StraightTalk - about half the cost of contract Smartphone service with the major carriers. However, Boost (which uses Sprint) doesn't have very good 4G coverage, and none in my area. StraightTalk uses either AT&T or T-Mobile and thus better 4G if you are in a large metro area. However, StraightTalk (and I assume Boost) doesn't support roaming, so if you are out of the carrier service area, you have no signal. This could be a bummer when travelling, since ATT, TMob, and Sprint don't have wide coverage in less populated areas. This would affect voice calls as well.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby matjen » Thu Apr 04, 2013 10:33 am

How much are you paying for your Verizon hot spot a month?
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby Browser » Thu Apr 04, 2013 11:03 am

I have a legacy Verizon 3G hotspot that only costs $35/mo. for 3 gigs. I typically use about 2 gigs/mo. Hate to give that up. Looks like can now get a 4G hotspot with 4 gigs/mo. for $50/mo. from Verizon.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby matjen » Thu Apr 04, 2013 11:28 am

Browser consider this a reply to this and the other thread you have going. Assumes T-Mobile and/or AT&T are viable options for you as carriers.

Step 1) Buy a Nexus 4 right from Google for $300 or $350
https://play.google.com/store/devices/d ... &gclsrc=ds

Although it isn't LTE it HSPA+. It is quite fast and it and frankly basic 3G are fine for your needs.

"One common talking point is the Nexus 4's lack of LTE. My perspective on that remains the same: As far as I'm concerned, the issue's been blown way out of proportion. I use the Nexus 4 with one of T-Mobile's Monthly 4G plans, which provides HSPA+ data speeds up to 21 or 42 Mbps, depending on your location.

On my Nexus 4, I regularly hit speeds around the 18 Mbps mark. That's equal to or faster than what you're gonna get with LTE in a lot of places. And even if you do manage to clock in at a higher speed with an LTE device, you probably aren't going to notice much difference between that level and the HSPA+-level speed when it comes to real-world smartphone usage. Plain and simple, HSPA+ is not 3G."

Step 2) Assuming you live near a metropolitan area then take a look at T-Mobile. The $30/mo plan is a bit tricky now. So I must apologize to a prior poster because this was a simple process a few weeks back but they changed it according to who I spoke with this morning. I think you have to go through Wal Mart and anything over 100 minutes gets charged at 10 cents a minute. So your talk time is the variable. The data is 5GB which is a ton. I don't think I have ever gone over 2 or 2.5. The interwebs say it can be done with the Nexus 4 but they try and make it look like you have to buy a lesser phone from Wal Mart. YMMV. The no-brainer, easy solution (but more costly) is to just get the $60/mo plan at T-Mobile. That can be done with no research and in a matter of minutes. You can look at the other providers as well. I think Straight talk at $45 would be fine honestly but I am not 100% certain because I use T-Mobile and I know for sure what I am suggesting in that case.

Step 3) Dump your Hotspot

RESULT:
a) You now are paying somewhere between $30 and $60 a month with no commitment and you have a phone that will have Google's latest and greatest software and will last you 3+ years.
b) You will now have a very, very good phone that has a ton of potential. Scratch that, you will have a computer, a camera, a MP3 player, a movable map that can be searched, a newsreader, a book,a newspaper, a bank, etc.
c) You will also have a HOTSPOT as well. The Nexus 4 on T-Mobile has built in hotspot and tethering capability. So if you get the $30 plan working for you via Wal-Mart you are spending $0 more a month and getting more data and great phone. Only cost is the initial $300.

http://blogs.computerworld.com/android/ ... -revisited

http://blogs.computerworld.com/smartpho ... er-options

Wal Mart T Mobile Card. Look through comments: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Tmobile-30-Wi ... d/15443357
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby Browser » Thu Apr 04, 2013 12:04 pm

matjen - Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I'm not sure T-Mobile will work for me since I move around and am several months in the Midwest where, unless things have changed, there was no T-Mobile coverage. Therefore, AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint. I'll recheck this.

I noticed that Boost Mobile (Sprint) offers a hotspot option also for a couple of their phones at just $10 more per month - very attractive. But frankly, I wondered how well using a phone as a hotspot instead of a dedicated device works. Since Boost uses Sprint, it's 3G everywhere but a few metro areas where I don't go. I actually had a Sprint 3G hotspot at one time and it got so slow and crummy I got the Verizon 3G hotspot instead, so I have no confidence in Sprint 3G for data. That kinda rules out the Boost option for me. And, as I mentioned, the T-Mobile option might be out for me too due to coverage.

Appreciate the info about the Nexus 4 speed. Not sure how much difference higher speed will make on a Smartphone for me and hope that others can chime in on whether 3G is generally good enough on a Smartphone. Looks like the Nexus 4 version of 3G would be.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby matjen » Thu Apr 04, 2013 12:14 pm

Browser you are over thinking this. I live in Chicago. The coverage in the metropolitan area is fantastic. The drive to say Indy is completely covered except for perhaps 5 minutes (and this was with a much worse phone than the Nexus 4). I just drove to Colorado and had coverage most of the way. Unless you are spending time on a farm in the midwest you will be fine. IF that is the case, probably Verizon is your only option IMO.

Using a phone as a hotspot works absolutely fine. I have done it for years. Here is a real-world example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RaGZgwAewg

Lastly, REMEMBER, you are month to month so you can switch providers. HOWEVER, T-Mobile and AT&T use one type of phone and Sprint and Verizon use another so that is the limitation.

Good luck.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby ejvyas » Thu Apr 04, 2013 12:51 pm

Browser wrote:Wondering to what extent it is desirable to have a Smartphone capable of 4G or 4G LTE? Are apps noticeably slower on 3G? I currently have a Verizon 3G Mobile Hotspot that I use with my laptop and would love to have 4G for the laptop, but don't know if Smartphone apps generally require the greater speed. In particular, how does turn-by-turn Smartphone navigation work with 3G? How about Pandora? Send/Receive photos? I'm guessing that video sucks with 3G, but I wouldn't be doing that anyway.

The reason I ask is that you can save $$ with prepaid Smartphone services like Boost Mobile and StraightTalk - about half the cost of contract Smartphone service with the major carriers. However, Boost (which uses Sprint) doesn't have very good 4G coverage, and none in my area. StraightTalk uses either AT&T or T-Mobile and thus better 4G if you are in a large metro area. However, StraightTalk (and I assume Boost) doesn't support roaming, so if you are out of the carrier service area, you have no signal. This could be a bummer when travelling, since ATT, TMob, and Sprint don't have wide coverage in less populated areas. This would affect voice calls as well.



all mobile apps should work on 3G including navigation, streaming video and music.
Verizon, ATT, T should have good coverage area. ST probably uses the prepaid coverage area of ATT and T (very very less as compared to postpaid coverage). Sprint has horrible coverage last time I tested.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby Browser » Thu Apr 04, 2013 4:35 pm

matjen wrote:Browser you are over thinking this. I live in Chicago. The coverage in the metropolitan area is fantastic. The drive to say Indy is completely covered except for perhaps 5 minutes (and this was with a much worse phone than the Nexus 4). I just drove to Colorado and had coverage most of the way. Unless you are spending time on a farm in the midwest you will be fine. IF that is the case, probably Verizon is your only option IMO.

Using a phone as a hotspot works absolutely fine. I have done it for years. Here is a real-world example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RaGZgwAewg

Lastly, REMEMBER, you are month to month so you can switch providers. HOWEVER, T-Mobile and AT&T use one type of phone and Sprint and Verizon use another so that is the limitation.

Good luck.

I stay in the Iowa City area, not far from Chi. However, they don't even sell T-Mobile in that area as there is no service -- at least last time I looked. I was ready to try them awhile back if it had been available. BTW, just got back from a trip to BestBuy (in Phoenix where I am currently). Basically, it looks like all the prepaid services are pretty much 3G. Most don't even sell 4G phones, but Boost does and their carrier (Sprint) doesn't provide 4G service around here (or in many other places either for that matter). Go figure. The guy said that Sprint will be providing 4G in the Phoenix area soon, but that Boost and Virgin won't get it. I was told that it is typically the case that prepaid is lower on the foodchain so you are less likely to get 4G even if it is available from the carriers in the area. The only exception seems to be T-Mobile. Now we know why prepaid is cheaper than contract: no 4G, no roaming, poorer coverage. I'm left with the conclusion that if you go the prepaid route with a Smartphone to save money, you just can't count on ever getting 4G so it's probably not worth the money to buy a 4G prepaid phone or sign up with a prepaid plan that includes 4G. The nuttiest option I've run across is from StraightTalk. All of the phones they sell are 3G. But you can purchase an iPhone 5 for around $650 from StraightTalk for their prepaid service. But, as far as I can determine, this iPhone 5 is dumbed down to 3G because StraightTalk (which uses AT&T and T-Mobile) has very limited 4G coverage if it has it at all.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby matjen » Thu Apr 04, 2013 4:55 pm

I wouldn't get too hung up on the 3G/4G thing.

Assuming you know when you are going to IA, I would go T-Mobile and Straight Talk with the AT&T SIM card. Just switch back and forth as you see fit. I can't comment on whether AT&T will let you use the phone as a hot spot.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby Browser » Thu Apr 04, 2013 6:40 pm

matjen wrote:I wouldn't get too hung up on the 3G/4G thing.

Assuming you know when you are going to IA, I would go T-Mobile and Straight Talk with the AT&T SIM card. Just switch back and forth as you see fit. I can't comment on whether AT&T will let you use the phone as a hot spot.

Not sure I follow, as I'm naive about these things. With StraightTalk you can use your own unlocked phone with a SIM card purchased from StraightTalk. You may be able to use a locked AT&T phone as well, don't know. I'm not sure what kind of SIM you get when you purchase one from StraightTalk, but I'm assuming that you have to use the phone with the SIM that is installed in the phone and activated on StraightTalk. Are you saying you can switch between SIMs? I'm not questioning that StraightTalk would probably work OK in different locations but I'm thinking you will be receiving 3G service regardless of whether you have a 4G phone or are paying for 4G service with StraightTalk, which is an option.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby matjen » Thu Apr 04, 2013 7:11 pm

Browser wrote:Not sure I follow, as I'm naive about these things. With StraightTalk you can use your own unlocked phone with a SIM card purchased from StraightTalk. You may be able to use a locked AT&T phone as well, don't know. I'm not sure what kind of SIM you get when you purchase one from StraightTalk, but I'm assuming that you have to use the phone with the SIM that is installed in the phone and activated on StraightTalk. Are you saying you can switch between SIMs? I'm not questioning that StraightTalk would probably work OK in different locations but I'm thinking you will be receiving 3G service regardless of whether you have a 4G phone or are paying for 4G service with StraightTalk, which is an option.


Well I am just spit balling here and the devil is in the details of course but what I am saying is that I know T-Mobile and I know it is fast and allows your appropriate phone to act as a hotspot. I also know it is cheap relative to most other options. I also know the Nexus 4 and it is universally considered one of the best phones available and unique in that you can buy it unlocked natively and cheaply from Google direct. Google will update that phone first with its newest stuff and you don't have to worry about layers of crap the phone manufacturers and carriers put on these phones.

So that is my basic rock solid knowledge to offer. I can't comment about what others have told you about month-to-month speed relative to plans. I will say I am month-to-month and my home is not in a super great location for cell phone reception/speed (AT&T barely worked in the past here). My TMobile/Nexus 4 combo just did 6.917 mbps down and 1.484 up while my AT&T home service (U-Verse) did 9.14 and .95. I used speedtest.net. It is a free site that you can use to check your speeds at home or on your hotspot. They also have an app for smartphones. A T1 line which was standard for many smaller business a couple years back would be a guaranteed 1.54 mbps down. 3G is faster than a T1as well. http://www.pcworld.com/article/253808/3 ... test_.html

My thought is that if you are going to be in an area for a month a year where T-Mobile stinks and AT&T is decent then use T-Mobile as your service most of the time month-to-month. The month (or two) you are in IA, use some month-to-month solution (straight talk) that uses AT&T towers. Just switch carriers for that period (you keep the same phone number). This is long winded way of saying yes, you can replace the SIM card in a Nexus 4 and many other phones. It is simple to do. Again the devil is in the details. I would talk to both carriers and go through the plan with them to make sure it works. Just my .02. There are others on this board who are IT pros who are more technical who may have thoughts but for some reason they haven't really chimed in on this thread.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby Rhyno » Fri Apr 05, 2013 12:29 am

Whenever I see someone complain about the price of smartphones, they are really complaining about subsidized smartphones and the ridiculous data plans that go with them.

They miss two important points.

1) Smartphones do not have to be expensive
2) Smartphones do not require data plans

Obviously the reason major carriers claim otherwise is to sell ridiculously overpriced phones at "affordable" prices tied to a two year contract.
There are dozens of month-to-month and pay-as-you-go carriers that will serve your smartphone with any plan.

Depending on your situation a carefully selected plan with a used smartphone will be price competitive with a dumb-phone on a major carrier.

Personally, I have frequent access to WiFi, so I use a pay-as-you-go play with AirVoice wireless.
I make calls and text with WiFi where available. I also text using Google Voice instead of SMS, meaning that I'm using "data" rather than "texts."

Overall I spend around $5-$10/month with my Smartphone. That's a far cry from the figures that get thrown around.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby jollystomper » Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:19 am

Interesting comments, as I am also debating getting a Smartphone. I can see it being useful for "location relevant" applications, such as comparison shopping or GPS or taking pictures/video of something (though I rarely do much of that). But I don't really need "on demand" stuff like games or watching youtube. I can already get things like weather forecasts, travel alerts, stock prices, scores, etc via text messages. I usually listen to my mp3 while working out so I'd rather use a dedicated device that I don't worry about dropping or falling. And these days I prefer to be less accessible from work. :happy

But I'll keep looking and thinking about it, never say never.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby VictoriaF » Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:39 am

winglessangel31 wrote:Go ahead and scream at everyone with a smartphone because you think they all drive dangerously and use their smartphones irresponsibly, Luddite.


There is difference between Luddites and skeptical consumers.

Wikipedia about Luddites wrote:Luddites ...violently protested against the machinery introduced during the Industrial Revolution that made it possible to replace them with less-skilled, low-wage labourers, leaving them without work. Historian Eric Hobsbawm has called their machine wrecking "collective bargaining by riot..."


Luddites were violent and riotous and they were destroying the machinery that threatened their well-being. Prudent consumers evaluate new technologies against their needs and make decisions based on the complete picture. Smartphone skeptics are not threatened by smartphones and are not destroying them.

Smartphone owners may consider smartphone holdouts irrational, but there is little rationality in the smartphone owners' vehement defense of not just smartphone ownership but even ownership of a specific type of phones (Apple, Android, etc.). If smartphones are smart, why do they produce inane emotions?

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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby lwfitzge » Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:47 am

VictoriaF wrote:
winglessangel31 wrote:Go ahead and scream at everyone with a smartphone because you think they all drive dangerously and use their smartphones irresponsibly, Luddite.


There is difference between Luddites and skeptical consumers.

Wikipedia about Luddites wrote:Luddites ...violently protested against the machinery introduced during the Industrial Revolution that made it possible to replace them with less-skilled, low-wage labourers, leaving them without work. Historian Eric Hobsbawm has called their machine wrecking "collective bargaining by riot..."


The term I was thinking of was laggards as defined by: In the diffusion of innovation theory, the minority group (roughly 16 percent) of population, which is the last group to try or adopt a new product.

Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/defin ... z2PaYKvuVy
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby VictoriaF » Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:56 am

lwfitzge wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
winglessangel31 wrote:Go ahead and scream at everyone with a smartphone because you think they all drive dangerously and use their smartphones irresponsibly, Luddite.


There is difference between Luddites and skeptical consumers.

Wikipedia about Luddites wrote:Luddites ...violently protested against the machinery introduced during the Industrial Revolution that made it possible to replace them with less-skilled, low-wage labourers, leaving them without work. Historian Eric Hobsbawm has called their machine wrecking "collective bargaining by riot..."


The term I was thinking of was laggards as defined by: In the diffusion of innovation theory, the minority group (roughly 16 percent) of population, which is the last group to try or adopt a new product.

Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/defin ... z2PaYKvuVy


Laggards is a better term. Whether smartphone holdouts are already laggards or still have a few years to qualify for this distinction is not clear. I used to work for the telephone company; even recently there were still people using rotary dial phones. A quick Google search returns the following:

Bold Old Phones.com wrote:Q. Will my Model 500 Rotary Dial Telephone connect to a modern Plain Old Telephone System (POTS)?
A. YES!-- Earlier models (like the 1940's "Lucy" phone) sometimes have trouble connecting to modern telephone exchanges but the Model 500's are so reliable that millions remain in service around the world. Telephone exchanges still detect rotary pulses although you may have to pay for this feature if you are a business using a switchboard to access the phone network. But we have never encountered this problem for American homeowners using a POTS line.


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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby cjking » Fri Apr 05, 2013 8:25 am

I'm another one who doesn't see any need for a Smartphone. I'd quite like to have one and as soon as I have a reasonable excuse I will get one, but, having read the whole thread, the only suggested use that rings any bells with me is have quick access to my address book. (The time my Windows 8 machine takes to come out of hibernate when I just need a phone number drives me crazy. However this is a handful of times per year.)

I don't actually need a cellphone at all. I have an old one bought off ebay in 2005 that is compatible with the car kit that came with the three-year old car I bought then and still own. The phone stays there in the cradle permanently. I make less than one call a year on it, and receive none. There is no monthly cost, the call credit lasts forever and I've probably paid a total of £20 in the eight years I've owned it. (I used to keep the phone concealed, and the one time I broke down it was flat and I had to ask someone else to lend me a phone to call for help. I've decided that it's so ancient that the risk of theft is so low I can leave it on display almost all the time.)

At home, in both the rooms I spend nearly all my waking hours, I have a landline for phone calls, and windows computers with keyboards connected to fast broadband. My fast broadband costs 25% less per month than the cheapest smartphone data connection I could get.

At work I have a land line and windows computer with fast broadband. The only internet use restriction on my work computer that has ever bothered me is that they don't allow access to filesharing sites (including windows live and google docs) where I have personal info. stored, however that's not a huge problem.

I have a netbook I use only when on holiday. It cost me less than half as much as a smartphone, and is more functional since it includes a proper keyboard. I seldom browse without also typing and a proper keyboard is essential for typing.

The only time I visit a retailer is when I refuel my car or buy a fresh loaf of bread at the shop at the end of the street. Even groceries are delivered. I generally don't leave the house except to go to work or to walk to fetch my daughter from nursery.

I have a portable GPS device, a smartphone would be an inferior substitute. (Even if the GPS functionality were just as good, a smartphone would be worth several times a much, so couldn't leave it on display in the car as much, therefore more inconvenient.)
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby VictoriaF » Fri Apr 05, 2013 8:31 am

cjking wrote:I'm another one who doesn't see any need for a Smartphone. I'd quite like to have one and as soon as I have a reasonable excuse I will get one..

My situation is similar. For as long as I lead a regimented life--split between the office and home both of which have other communications--the need for a Smartphone is minimal. Even my travel during the past few years was rather structured. Once I retire and start leading a more active life and traveling longer and more spontaneously a smartphone will become a necessity.

cjking wrote:(I used to keep the phone concealed, and the one time I broke down it was flat and I had to ask someone else to lend me a phone to call for help...)


I asked for a phone help on several occasions (in the U.S., France, Sweden) and every time it worked perfectly. Whatever I wrote about smartphone owners above, I have to give them credit for the generosity in showing off and letting use their instruments.

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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby GeauxBR » Fri Apr 05, 2013 10:00 am

The wife and I take full advantage or our smart phones. Music streaming, email, they have great cameras, and general browsing of the internet. The question for us is "do we really need a desktop and laptop in the house".
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby Browser » Fri Apr 05, 2013 11:22 am

I am really liking the idea of going with a prepaid service to try out having a Smartphone. I'm investigating StraightTalk and Simple Mobile and a couple of others which let you use an unlocked phone with a SIM card. You can get plans as low as $30/mo. with 30MB of data up to $45 for unlimited. You have to buy a phone for full price upfront with these, instead of being subsidized by the wireless carrier, but it's still cheaper to do it this way. The worst that can happen is that you'll be out the cost of the phone if you drop the service -- you can sell it in the aftermarket however. This approach gives you the most flexibility since you can drop or change your plan at any time, not being locked in for 2 years. If you decide that you don't really need much wireless broadband with your Smartphone, relying on WiFi instead, you can simply switch to a cheaper plan or carrier with little no data charges. I learned that the norm outside the U.S. does not rely on subsidized contract plans from wireless carriers. We may wake up one of these days and realize that wireless carriers are utilities and that the cost of subsidized cellphone purchases is really outrageous. If you want to go the route of prepaid plans and unlocked cellphones, you will end up with AT&T or T-Mobile as your wireless carrier. These two use GSM, which uses replaceable SIM cards in the cellphone. Sprint and Verizon use CDMA, in which access is encoded into the phone hardware and replaceable SIM cards are not used. GSM is the world standard technology outside the U.S.; whereas CDMA is more exclusive to the U.S. So, you'll have to be happy with these two carriers if you want to use unlocked cellphones. Prepaid carriers such as Boost and Virgin use either Sprint or Verizon, so you are locked into their cellphones and can't migrate to another plan with your cellphone by swapping out SIM cards.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby winglessangel31 » Fri Apr 05, 2013 11:39 am

Browser wrote:I am really liking the idea of going with a prepaid service to try out having a Smartphone. I'm investigating StraightTalk and Simple Mobile and a couple of others which let you use an unlocked phone with a SIM card. You can get plans as low as $30/mo. with 30MB of data up to $45 for unlimited. You have to buy a phone for full price upfront with these, instead of being subsidized by the wireless carrier, but it's still cheaper to do it this way. The worst that can happen is that you'll be out the cost of the phone if you drop the service -- you can sell it in the aftermarket however. This approach gives you the most flexibility since you can drop or change your plan at any time, not being locked in for 2 years. If you decide that you don't really need much wireless broadband with your Smartphone, relying on WiFi instead, you can simply switch to a cheaper plan or carrier with little no data charges. I learned that the norm outside the U.S. does not rely on subsidized contract plans from wireless carriers. We may wake up one of these days and realize that wireless carriers are utilities and that the cost of subsidized cellphone purchases is really outrageous. If you want to go the route of prepaid plans and unlocked cellphones, you will end up with AT&T or T-Mobile as your wireless carrier. These two use GSM, which uses replaceable SIM cards in the cellphone. Sprint and Verizon use CDMA, in which access is encoded into the phone hardware and replaceable SIM cards are not used. GSM is the world standard technology outside the U.S.; whereas CDMA is more exclusive to the U.S. So, you'll have to be happy with these two carriers if you want to use unlocked cellphones. Prepaid carriers such as Boost and Virgin use either Sprint or Verizon, so you are locked into their cellphones and can't migrate to another plan with your cellphone by swapping out SIM cards.

Kudos for being teachable :) :sharebeer
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby rpike » Fri Apr 05, 2013 11:56 am

To me, there are 2 questions:
  • Do you find an always/instant on hand-held connected computer device useful?
  • Do you need that level of computer connectivity everywhere or just in places where you have WiFi access?
I find for me the first is true even if I am on the couch watching TV and want to look up something about a show or actor where I would not bother if I had to go to another room or boot up a PC or kick someone else off. With WiFi at home, a smartphone, tablet, netbook, or Chromebook satisfies this.

As for the second, if my work did not require and provide data access, for the most part I would not have a problem being disconnected when away from WiFi. Aside from work, my biggest use of the smartphone is using OverDrive to check out audiobooks from my local library and listening to them on the road or while exercising. I think the one thing I would miss w/o mobile data access is maps and navigation with real-time traffic, but there are smartphone apps which do off-line maps and navigation (albeit w/o real-time traffic). My wife just uses her phone for calls and texts and has a separate, dedicated GPS device for the car.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby protagonist » Fri Apr 05, 2013 12:10 pm

"Need" is a relative term. Today I was listening to my latest weekly news podcast in Spanish on my stupid smartphone (reliable source?, but good way to stay in touch and practice the language when living in a small Venezuelan island fishing village). According to this source, there are more cell phones in the world than toilets. 7 billion people. 6 billion cell phones. 4.5 billion toilets. My feeling is you "need" a toilet more than you "need" a cell phone, especially a smartphone. But maybe that's just me.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby protagonist » Fri Apr 05, 2013 12:17 pm

VictoriaF wrote:Smartphone owners may consider smartphone holdouts irrational, but there is little rationality in the smartphone owners' vehement defense of not just smartphone ownership but even ownership of a specific type of phones (Apple, Android, etc.). If smartphones are smart, why do they produce inane emotions?

Victoria


Funny. Touche.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby mrsscuba » Fri Apr 05, 2013 1:11 pm

Disclaimer: My cell phone plan is paid for by my company, although not the phone itself. And, I had my phone for 8 months paying out of pocket before the company started paying for the plan, so I made the decision to purchase one without that.

I am a software developer, and I was the last holdout in my department at work who still had a dumb phone. Like a lot of people here, I did not feel it justified the cost. In the end, the reason why I upgraded was because I knew that there was going to be a push in my company soon to develop smart phone applications, and I wanted some lead time to use one before that happened. I wanted to be one of the people who was asked to develop the apps, and I certainly couldn't do that without owning one myself.

I do not play games on my smartphone. The constant insinuation on this thread that people who own smart phones are just playing games on them is ridiculous. It reminds me of my mother, who when I was in the 2nd grade insisted that I could not have the computer that I was begging for because I would never do anything on it but play games. Now that I'm in my mid-30s making 6 figures in a highly competitive job market where I do nothing but use a computer all day, the joke's on her.

Some real world examples of how my smart phone has come in handy since I upgraded:

* I'm currently pregnant and on a high deductible health plan and contributing to an HSA. I went to the doctor and forgot to check the balance of my HSA before I went to my appointment. While I was waiting for my doctor, I was able to check the balance on my phone so that I knew how much I could charge to my HSA account.

* While out running errands about an hour from home, my husband and I decided to get dinner. I was able to make a reservation using OpenTable, and bring up the Groupon on my phone that I knew that I had, but had not printed in advance because we hadn't decided to go out to dinner until we were already out.

* Using Google Maps on a trip to NYC, I was able to get directions to the restaurant I wanted to go to from where we were right then (so I didn't have to plan in advance where we needed directions from) and navigate using the subway to get there. Google Maps told me what subway to get on, and then gave me walking directions to the restaurant.

* I was in NYC to run the marathon, and my husband was able to track me using the NYC Marathon app, so he knew where I was.

* While shopping, I can look up reviews and/or do price comparisons on the fly.

* You never ever have to say "I wonder if..." about something again, because wikipedia is RIGHT THERE. Not only that, if someone is insisting something is true and you know they're wrong, you can prove it right then and there!

* I don't like making lists on paper because they tend to get lost or collect as clutter, so if I need to take notes on something, it's easy to make them on my phone in places where I wouldn't have a laptop. Examples: furniture store, doctors office, etc.

I, personally, don't think that you need a tablet AND a smartphone AND a laptop -- having all 3 is pretty redundant, but I can certainly see the value in having 2 of the 3. As others have said, you don't NEED a smartphone. I do think if you're youngish, you will get one eventually because eventually you will find a use that you can't live without.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby Abe » Fri Apr 05, 2013 6:15 pm

I didn't even have a cell phone until about four or five years ago. A girl called me from AT&T the other day and said she wanted to see if she could save me some money on my phone bill, ha ha. I played along just to see what she had to say. She asked if I had a cell phone and I told her that I did. She said she could probably save me some money on a cell phone plan. I told her I paid $100.00 per year for my cell phone and I got 1000 minutes, but I had around $300.00 credit on my account because I didn't use that much. She ended the conversation right there. :happy
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby Browser » Fri Apr 05, 2013 10:54 pm

Abe wrote:I didn't even have a cell phone until about four or five years ago. A girl called me from AT&T the other day and said she wanted to see if she could save me some money on my phone bill, ha ha. I played along just to see what she had to say. She asked if I had a cell phone and I told her that I did. She said she could probably save me some money on a cell phone plan. I told her I paid $100.00 per year for my cell phone and I got 1000 minutes, but I had around $300.00 credit on my account because I didn't use that much. She ended the conversation right there. :happy

Yeh, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile are all about saving you money. :twisted:
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby mickeyd » Fri Apr 05, 2013 11:22 pm

No Smartphone. No cellphone. Hence, when I am asked why not(?), I respond thusly~ "I'm staying under the radar." .

Folks here seem to understand that. Ya gotta love South Texas.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby Browser » Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:04 am

This thread has been quite helpful to me, and motivated me to spend hours researching Smartphones and wireless plans. After all this digging I'm right back where I started. I'd really like to have a Smartphone to play around with, but I know that after the novelty wears off I would probably end up mostly using the thing as a phone. If would be fun to have portable, instant connectability to the internet but, as a practical matter, working with that small screen and no keyboard would really suck. That's why Smartphones keep getting bigger and bigger -- they now refer to most of them as Phablets and not phones. So the convenience of having one device that can be both a phone and a tablet is that neither function is performed very well. It's too big and clunky to be a decent portable phone and too small and neutered to be a decent internet device. And on top of that you are likely to be spending hundreds of dollars to blood-sucking wireless providers for the privilege of using one. Wish I could talk myself into one of these things but so far no good. I'll keep trying to find a reason to take the plunge -- I like the idea of prepaid because when I get tired of the thing I can jump off and my loss will just be the price of the phone instead of being on the hook for a 24 month contract.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby Ed 2 » Sat Apr 06, 2013 11:11 am

mickeyd wrote:No Smartphone. No cellphone. Hence, when I am asked why not(?), I respond thusly~ "I'm staying under the radar." .

Folks here seem to understand that. Ya gotta love South Texas.


same, I use my work phone and its FREEEEEE!!!!! No land line, I have Ooma at home. I save ~$2000 a year this way. I wonder if even W. Buffet have smart phone vs regular cell phone.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby protagonist » Sat Apr 06, 2013 11:49 am

matjen wrote:c) You will also have a HOTSPOT as well. The Nexus 4 on T-Mobile has built in hotspot and tethering capability. So if you get the $30 plan working for you via Wal-Mart you are spending $0 more a month and getting more data and great phone. Only cost is the initial $300.



Matjen, does this mean you can tether your Nexus 4 simply to your laptop via a USB (or similar) connection and get HSPA+ on your computer as well at no additional cost? And is this something built in to the Nexus 4 and thus possible regardless of what cell provider you use (assuming, of course, you pay for the data plan)?
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby protagonist » Sat Apr 06, 2013 11:58 am

I could be wrong about this, but my assumption is that a phone purchased today will last an average of maybe two years on the outside if you are lucky before it becomes obsolete, fails, or you lose it. Maybe less. So I divide the cost of the phone by 20 to compare cell phone/plan monthly fees. I think of a $300 phone adding =/- $15 to my monthly service. So with an 8 gig Nexus 4 and unlimited SmartTalk ($45/mo.) in my state of MA, for instance, your service will cost approx. $60/month plus tax- about $65/month total. To me that is a quick and dirty way of comparing the confusing world of smartphone costs.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby enderland » Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:09 pm

T-Mobile data service is crap along the I-80 corridor going east from Des Moines and basically doesn't exist (in my experience) east of 35 in Iowa. If you really want data coverage in the Iowa City area, T-Mobile isn't really the best plan.

That being said, I still have a T-Mobile cell prepaid plan (1500 minutes/30mb a month for $30, I use enough minutes staying in touch with people while driving this is worth it to me) while living in the Des Moines area. Data coverage is decent from Des Moines to Ames area. And all I really want data for is checking for critical email periodically while away from wifi and so 30mb is pretty sufficient for this.

I find having a smartphone useful even without a big data plan because I'm around wifi nearly always. Sure, because I have such small data per month I almost never have data turned on. But the entire world is becoming wifi-ed, go to Walmart or restaurants now and many are having wifi, so in effect, this is almost only a limitation when I'm driving (and probably shouldn't be using data, anyways!).

I've never felt a need for a data service on my cell phone. I get 90% of the benefits to having a smartphone even without a dedicated data plan.
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Re: Do I really need a Smartphone?

Postby tfb » Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:10 pm

Rhyno wrote:Overall I spend around $5-$10/month with my Smartphone. That's a far cry from the figures that get thrown around.

Exactly. Smartphones don't have to be $150/month. Used iPhones and Androids are very cheap. Prepaid plans are very cheap. Can't see why anyone would be against $10/month. A dumb phone ("feature phone") would cost about that much anyway.
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