New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

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Calm Man
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New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by Calm Man » Wed Jul 30, 2014 8:54 pm

This is probably easy to you all but I am lost. The speakerphone on my blackberry failed today as well as the ring tone and voice but on way to Verizon store in a panic I slapped it and it is working. But I have to get a new one. I have to accept that I need a smartphone with touch screen - it will be either an iphone S5 or a Samsung Galaxy S5. (Let's avoid apple vs android although I think I'd like to avoid apple as I have all these good micro-adapters that will work with androids but not iphones and the scree is bigger with the Samsung.)

But I was struck by the difference in the 2 plans.
Both have a $30 activation fee which seems stupid but so be it.
Plan 1: Contract. You pay $250 and get a $50 rebate (so $200) and then just pay the regular monthly fee. It is a 2 year contract.
Plan 2: No contract. You pay nothing down but another $20 a month (actually 30 with a 10 deduction on bill) for 20 months. After that it reverts to the regular monthly charge. But you can replace the phone after a year.

I could not fathom why anybody wouldn't just do the $200 down and lower monthly costs when the other would cost 20 x 20 = 400. The guy said that people wanted to change after a year. I said that I try not to change for a decade.

Am I missing anything here as I really would rather just pay the $200 down and plan on keeping the phone?

I also am confused with cases. I always have used a BlackBerry with a nice simple pop out holster. With the Galaxy 5S or iphone if I wanted a holster it looks like something called Otterbox. But some say that humidity forms inside. Some also say to keep it in your pocket and not be uncool. If it's in your pocket some say to use a case anyway for protection and some say to use a glass cover that they put on for $25 or so.

I am so confused that I was anxious when I left the store and praying the BlackBerry holds up. I am so used to the keyboard and no touchscreen and hate to have to decide on all these new things.....

Help....

livesoft
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by livesoft » Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:08 pm

You are in luck. I just had my spouse buy herself and me Samsung S5 phones while my son got an iPhone 5s.

If you buy from the phone company, there is no way to get a good price, so just pay your money. Some folks do want the latest and greatest and do not want to be locked into a plan which is why they buy without a plan. We have 4 smartphones now on our family plan. Since we are paying for the phones on the installment plan, our cell phone bill is now our highest monthly bill.

Samsung S5 is water resistant, so I would not worry about humidity. I do not have a holster, but got a Spigen minimal case about $6 online. I use mine in situations where sweat gets all over it (running, cycling) and just don't worry about it. I had a corporate iPhone before and a blackberry before the iphone. The S5 has a larger display than the iPhone which is its selling point. Otherwise, I really don't see much of a difference. OK, the text entry is lots easier on the samsung than on the iPhone for me.
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thedayisbrave
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by thedayisbrave » Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:15 pm

Have you heard of Republic Wireless? They are up-and-coming as one of the cheapest smartphone plans out there. There's a bunch of good stuff out there that you can read about, as they are reviewed by personal finance bloggers quite often (I know Mr. Money Mustache has reviewed them and so has J. Money from Budgets Are Sexy).

I'm a customer and so far so good. It was $300 or so up front for the phone, but there is no contract and the plans are $5-$40/month depending on how fancy you want to get. I was at the $10/month plan when in school, as I didn't need data since I was at school w/ free wi-fi all the time. Now, I'm on the $25/month unlimited 3G data plan... all I really use data for is Google Maps, e-mail, and Facebook so it's enough for me. I was paying $80 for the most basic AT&T plan I could find... so when you factor in my savings of $50ish a month, the phone/plan really pays for itself in a matter of a few months.

One of the only downsides though is that they don't offer an iPhone - they only offer two phones, the Moto X and Moto G. I have the Moto X and it's great. Very sleek, large screen, etc.

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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by livesoft » Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:22 pm

Pay off $650 phone over 2 years, no downpayment, so about $28 a month. We have a family plan where we share minutes and data, about $45 a phone a month.
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dolphinsaremammals
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by dolphinsaremammals » Thu Jul 31, 2014 4:56 am

I still have my clamshell Samsung, which is 15-20 years old and does nothing but phone calls. Well, apparently it has a text feature, but I had them turn that off. I pay about $30 a month (includes taxes and all those other charges) with no contract.

I use it to call AAA and for the occasional I'm running late phone call or something else really unexpected. That's the only reason I'd have to replace it if I outlive it. It is not clear which one of us is going to go first, given its so far longevity.

I have never understood the reasoning about non-clamshells or other non-covered phones. Periodically I get a phone call some friend's phone has decided to make itself.

jf89
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by jf89 » Thu Jul 31, 2014 5:37 am

Plan 1 is just fine and will be what the vast majority of people do in your situation. Ask the salesperson about something that happens a year after your upgrade date... it's little-known, but you're supposed to get $10 back (or something like that) each month on your bill starting at year three. Sounds like you just might be the guy that's designed for.

I have the Galaxy S3 and just use a basic soft plastic case (some call it a flexible TPU or rubber skin) so it still fits smoothly in my pocket ($5-$10). The phone holds up just fine after almost two years of bangs and drops. You won't need a full-out glass protector with this option, but the little plastic screen covers for scratches are always a good idea with a smartphone.

Otterbox is extremely popular to protect even more and as a belt clip/holster, if that's you're thing. Nothing better for that express purpose. If you go out onto construction sites, that's what the foremen and engineers have around their smartphones that are clipped to their belts.

As for the keyboard issues... well it's a common complaint heard about this generation of smartphones, but apparently not common enough to cause any change. You'll get used to the touchscreen faster than you think.
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sambb
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by sambb » Thu Jul 31, 2014 5:58 am

i love the iPhone and would pay 3x what i am paying for its ease of use and integration capabilities. I also have android and blackberry phones. good luck.

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Aptenodytes
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by Aptenodytes » Thu Jul 31, 2014 6:14 am

Some companies now have options where they are not involved in the hardware side at all. ATT, for example. That's what I do. Buy whatever phone you want from whatever source you choose, and ATT just provides the phone and data service. For someone who doesn't plan to get new phones that often, that's probably the best choice for you. Unless you have strong preferences about the service provider and your favorite doesn't offer this kind of plan. Or if your provider happens to offer the best phone at the best price then the installment option is OK.

prn27
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by prn27 » Thu Jul 31, 2014 6:16 am

The Moto X http://www.motorola.com/us/FLEXR1-1/Moto-X/FLEXR1.html might be a better and cheaper option to buy upfront.

angelescrest
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by angelescrest » Thu Jul 31, 2014 6:21 am

Calm Man wrote:This is probably easy to you all but I am lost. The speakerphone on my blackberry failed today as well as the ring tone and voice but on way to Verizon store in a panic I slapped it and it is working. But I have to get a new one. I have to accept that I need a smartphone with touch screen - it will be either an iphone S5 or a Samsung Galaxy S5. (Let's avoid apple vs android although I think I'd like to avoid apple as I have all these good micro-adapters that will work with androids but not iphones and the scree is bigger with the Samsung.)

But I was struck by the difference in the 2 plans.
Both have a $30 activation fee which seems stupid but so be it.
Plan 1: Contract. You pay $250 and get a $50 rebate (so $200) and then just pay the regular monthly fee. It is a 2 year contract.
Plan 2: No contract. You pay nothing down but another $20 a month (actually 30 with a 10 deduction on bill) for 20 months. After that it reverts to the regular monthly charge. But you can replace the phone after a year.

I could not fathom why anybody wouldn't just do the $200 down and lower monthly costs when the other would cost 20 x 20 = 400. The guy said that people wanted to change after a year. I said that I try not to change for a decade.

Am I missing anything here as I really would rather just pay the $200 down and plan on keeping the phone?

I also am confused with cases. I always have used a BlackBerry with a nice simple pop out holster. With the Galaxy 5S or iphone if I wanted a holster it looks like something called Otterbox. But some say that humidity forms inside. Some also say to keep it in your pocket and not be uncool. If it's in your pocket some say to use a case anyway for protection and some say to use a glass cover that they put on for $25 or so.

I am so confused that I was anxious when I left the store and praying the BlackBerry holds up. I am so used to the keyboard and no touchscreen and hate to have to decide on all these new things.....

Help....
There aren't many but I recall seeing several phones last year that weren't traditional smartphones and had good slide out keyboards. You might be happier with those. Otherwise you can't avoid some touchscreen on smartphones, though my recommendation would be to buy the a case with a built in keyboard--I think Ryan Seacrest invested in a company building that so it exists.

Rob Bertram
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by Rob Bertram » Thu Jul 31, 2014 7:04 am

I just started using the Moto X (Android OS) with Republic Wireless. The phone is about $300 plus another $50 or so for taxes and start up. It runs off of Sprint's network but can roam to Verizon. It prefers to use WiFi, so it works great inside office buildings, basements, etc.

There are other NVOs that are significantly cheaper than the national carriers. Ting also runs over Sprint's network. With Ting, you pay for what you use instead of a specific plan. I estimated that my wife and I would spend about $36/month for our family plan based on our usage. PagePlus runs over Verizon's network.

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topper1296
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by topper1296 » Thu Jul 31, 2014 7:25 am

I was a Samsung user, however I just switched over to iPhone. The new Samsung is too big for me to keep in my pocket and that before you put a case on it. I'm looking to carry a smartphone with me, not a small tablet.

The Wizard
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by The Wizard » Thu Jul 31, 2014 7:29 am

I prefer to buy my phone outright and then find a good prepaid provider.
I just switched to Consumer Cellular and was happy with their service on a just-finished 6000 mile roadtrip.
I have a GSM Android smartphone and use AT&T (plus partners) cell towers...
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sscritic
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by sscritic » Thu Jul 31, 2014 7:57 am

How much data are you buying? I see different prices than you do, but my Verizon website shows a discount on one plan for a certain level of data.

You need to know the price differential on what you are getting and how long it lasts. My interpretation is that there is one price differential for the first 20 months and another price differential for the next 10 years that you are going to keep this same phone (if we believe you).

bloom2708
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by bloom2708 » Thu Jul 31, 2014 8:03 am

Look at Ting or Republic Wireless. I will never sign another 2 year contract. That is like 75 years in cell phone years.

Get an iPhone 5 from Ting (or through Glyde). There are not subsidies for the phone, but you will save a ton of $ on your monthly bill.

We have 5 lines and pay between $85 and $105 + taxes per month. Just make sure you have decent Sprint coverage.
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GeauxBR
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by GeauxBR » Thu Jul 31, 2014 8:06 am

Look into the google nexus 5 as well for buying the phone outright. Me and my wife have both have one and it's fantastic. A little smaller than the s5, but larger than the iphone.

http://www.google.com/nexus/5/

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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by DFrank » Thu Jul 31, 2014 9:27 am

I'd go for the two year contract. Upgrading every year is pretty extreme, and I don't think anybody but a real tech geek would need to do that.

There are other case options for the Samsung phones besides the Otterbox. Otterbox's provide a nice degree of protection for the phone, but they are bulky, and as you note they don't have a holster option. I use a slimmer case that does have a holster on my S4, and my Moto Droid Razr before that. I don't know the brand that I have, but it's very similar to this: http://www.amazon.com/Maxboost-Protecti ... B00E1TLEHO:

Image

I did get my case from Verizon when I bought my phone late last year, so they should have this option for the S5. I do not know if a similar case is available for the iPhone.

Dave
Last edited by DFrank on Thu Jul 31, 2014 3:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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renata
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by renata » Thu Jul 31, 2014 10:07 am

Another vote for Republic Wireless!

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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by seeshells » Thu Jul 31, 2014 11:44 am

Perhaps a Tracfone LG 840G, for 19.99, supersharpie's similar question http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... 1&t=138314 Total cost about 40.00 w/no contracts! This avoids all other costs. Good luck!
Last edited by seeshells on Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.

livesoft
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by livesoft » Thu Jul 31, 2014 11:51 am

topper1296 wrote:I was a Samsung user, however I just switched over to iPhone. The new Samsung is too big for me to keep in my pocket and that before you put a case on it. I'm looking to carry a smartphone with me, not a small tablet.
My car has a spot for an iPhone, but the Galaxy won't fit. So I guess I need to buy a new car to fit my Galaxy.
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by hyla » Thu Jul 31, 2014 12:23 pm

I purchased my last two smartphones used from ebay, and while not the newest and fastest, they were in good shape and cost less than $100. One was a samsung with a slideout keyboard and touchscreen (Galaxy S3 I think), which may work for you if a keyboard is more important than the latest technology. If you get a used phone, just make sure it's for the carrier you plan to use, and is unlocked.

Buying cheap phones also circumvents the bulky case issue for me. I just throw on a sticky screen protector, and figure if I do crush the phone or drop it in a lake I can afford to replace it.

And, several other commenters have suggested prepaid providers... I heartily agree. I have PagePlus, a prepaid provider which uses verizon's towers, and I pay $30 month/no contract for more minutes and texts than I need and a modest amount of data, whereas the cheapest verizon smartphone plan would have been closer to $90 and locked me into a contract.

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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by sscritic » Thu Jul 31, 2014 12:39 pm

I always enjoy these threads. Someone asks about the difference between the $60k and the $70k Mercedes, and everyone jumps in to tell him to buy a Hyundai.

As I read the OP, he already has a contract with Verizon for his blackberry. He doesn't want to switch carriers. He doesn't want a five year old flip phone. He wants a new, modern, smart phone. Since he as lived a reasonably frugal life, he can afford to buy a new, modern, smart phone and use Verizon as his carrier. Until Calm Man comes back and says otherwise, I would take him at his word.

To quote one of my favorite posters and lunch companions:
If you buy from the phone company, there is no way to get a good price, so just pay your money.

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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by nordsteve » Thu Jul 31, 2014 1:12 pm

My kids have Moto G phones from Republic Wireless. They like them.

If you're going to go with a contract, stop at the kiosk at Costco and see if their deal is better.

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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by The Wizard » Thu Jul 31, 2014 2:55 pm

sscritic wrote:I always enjoy these threads. Someone asks about the difference between the $60k and the $70k Mercedes, and everyone jumps in to tell him to buy a Hyundai.

As I read the OP, he already has a contract with Verizon for his blackberry. He doesn't want to switch carriers. He doesn't want a five year old flip phone. He wants a new, modern, smart phone. Since he as lived a reasonably frugal life, he can afford to buy a new, modern, smart phone and use Verizon as his carrier. Until Calm Man comes back and says otherwise, I would take him at his word...
Problem is, Mr. ss, I don't believe Verizon Wireless offers prepaid plans (I could be wrong).
So if he re-ups with them, with a new VZW-provided smartphone, then he's locked into another 2-year contract with them.
I'm a bit rusty on VZW plans since I jumped off their ship a year ago...
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Rob Bertram
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by Rob Bertram » Thu Jul 31, 2014 3:47 pm

sscritic wrote:I always enjoy these threads. Someone asks about the difference between the $60k and the $70k Mercedes, and everyone jumps in to tell him to buy a Hyundai.

As I read the OP, he already has a contract with Verizon for his blackberry. He doesn't want to switch carriers. He doesn't want a five year old flip phone. He wants a new, modern, smart phone. Since he as lived a reasonably frugal life, he can afford to buy a new, modern, smart phone and use Verizon as his carrier. Until Calm Man comes back and says otherwise, I would take him at his word.
I agree that some of the suggestions of getting lower-quality phones are not addressing the OP's question. But the Moto X is equivalent to the iPhone 5 or the Samsung Galaxy, so it's a similar apples-to-apples comparison.

If this were an investing question and the OP said that he had a front-loaded, back-loaded, high expense ratio fund, wouldn't one of the suggestions be to move to a similar fund with a low cost provider like Vanguard? Most of the no-contract plans allow you to bring or pick your own phone, including the latest-tech smartphone. You can save a couple bucks by getting a used phone, but that's not a requirement.

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One aspect is easy for me

Post by davebarnes » Thu Jul 31, 2014 3:55 pm

I would never use Verizon.
A nerd living in Denver

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daytona084
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by daytona084 » Thu Jul 31, 2014 4:10 pm

The Wizard wrote:
sscritic wrote:I always enjoy these threads. Someone asks about the difference between the $60k and the $70k Mercedes, and everyone jumps in to tell him to buy a Hyundai.

As I read the OP, he already has a contract with Verizon for his blackberry. He doesn't want to switch carriers. He doesn't want a five year old flip phone. He wants a new, modern, smart phone. Since he as lived a reasonably frugal life, he can afford to buy a new, modern, smart phone and use Verizon as his carrier. Until Calm Man comes back and says otherwise, I would take him at his word...
Problem is, Mr. ss, I don't believe Verizon Wireless offers prepaid plans (I could be wrong).
So if he re-ups with them, with a new VZW-provided smartphone, then he's locked into another 2-year contract with them.
I'm a bit rusty on VZW plans since I jumped off their ship a year ago...
Verizon certainly does offer prepaid plans. I bought my Verizon Moto X from Wal-Mart for $92. The price per month is $45, which I get for $43.65 (less than that when on sale, and no tax) by buying refills at Callingmart.com.

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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by LadyGeek » Thu Jul 31, 2014 4:29 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (smartphone).
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SorenK
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by SorenK » Thu Jul 31, 2014 4:36 pm

I use a Galaxy S3 that I bought from ebay. It was originally a Sprint phone, but I use Ting, which has a pay what you use model. I am very happy with this.

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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by Gattamelata » Thu Jul 31, 2014 4:58 pm

Contracts are generally terrible. You can't bring your own device into the plan - you have to buy a phone at usurious, invisible rates on an installment plan from the carrier. What's worse, the installment payments never end, because they're baked (again, invisibly) into your monthly service fee, so if you want to keep your phone longer than the contract period, you'll continue paying it. The phones are locked to that provider, so even after your contract expires, if you want to take it to another carrier you have to beg the original carrier to unlock it for you. If you want to terminate your contract early, you'll pay a huge, typically non-prorated Early Termination Fee (ETF) and have nothing to show for the experience.

There's a reason the rest of the world mostly uses pre-paid mobile services. The idea of contracts is a joke everywhere else.

I bought an unlocked Nexus 5 from Google for $350 and took it to T-Mobile for a prepaid plan. I pay $30/mo for unlimited data, unlimited texts, and 100 minutes/mo of voice. If I go over the 100 minutes, I get charged a trivially small pay-as-you-go amount per minute. If I decide I don't like T-Mobile's service, I cancel my service and take my unlocked phone to another provider. No contract, no early termination fees, my phone belongs to me, no ridiculously unfavorable installment plan. All T-Mo provides is coverage.

And if you don't like T-Mo or their coverage isn't good enough for you, you can certainly get the benefits of Verizon's coverage by doing a prepaid plan through one of the many MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) that resells access to Verizon's network. Many of them restrict the phone you can use, but it's worth investigating.

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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by livesoft » Thu Jul 31, 2014 5:17 pm

Gattamelata wrote:Contracts are generally terrible. You can't bring your own device into the plan - you have to buy a phone at usurious, invisible rates on an installment plan from the carrier. What's worse, the installment payments never end, because they're baked (again, invisibly) into your monthly service fee, so if you want to keep your phone longer than the contract period, you'll continue paying it.
This may be true for you, but it is not true for us. The "pay-for-phone" installment payments do end when you have paid for the phone in our case.

As always, please read your contracts.
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by ourbrooks » Thu Jul 31, 2014 5:28 pm

In the folly of my youth, I used to buy the latest PC with the highest clock rate. Naturally, three years later, even the bargain models ran at a higher clock rate. I learned that a better strategy was to buy frequently but buy at the bottom. Yup, I was always behind the newest top rated models, but I was always ahead of three year old top rated models.

There's a similar phenomenon for cell phones; the top models of three years ago feature about the same processor speeds, screen resolutions, and storage sizes as the bottom models of today; compare an iPhone 4s with an Alcatel Fierce or a Moto E. I'm starting to follow the same strategy for phones as I do for PCs; upgrade every year or two but buy at the bottom. In two years, I'll buy a brand new Moto V or ZTE 29U for $125; yes, it will be a much poorer phone than a Samsung 7 or iPhone 10j, but, compared to the phone I have today, it'll probably have a much faster processor, much more memory, etc. and it will run the latest software with no need to upgrade on my part. True, I will have to transfer over all my data and settings, but I figure that if I do it every two years, I'm much more likely to remember how to do it than if I wait seven years.

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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by smackboy1 » Thu Jul 31, 2014 5:47 pm

Calm Man wrote:on way to Verizon store. . .

But I was struck by the difference in the 2 plans.
Both have a $30 activation fee which seems stupid but so be it.
Plan 1: Contract. You pay $250 and get a $50 rebate (so $200) and then just pay the regular monthly fee. It is a 2 year contract.
Plan 2: No contract. You pay nothing down but another $20 a month (actually 30 with a 10 deduction on bill) for 20 months. After that it reverts to the regular monthly charge. But you can replace the phone after a year.

I could not fathom why anybody wouldn't just do the $200 down and lower monthly costs when the other would cost 20 x 20 = 400. The guy said that people wanted to change after a year. I said that I try not to change for a decade.

Am I missing anything here as I really would rather just pay the $200 down and plan on keeping the phone?
To get the best discounts on plans you will have to negotiate with a live customer service rep on the phone, preferably the higher level CSRs that handle retention of existing customers. You get to talk to them by choosing the "I wish to cancel service" prompt in the phone queue. The CSRs in the brick and mortar stores are only good for touching the hardware, they are usually not authorized to give out the best loyalty discounts.

I don't think I've had to pay an "activation fee" in over 20 years. They are always waived if the customer is insistent.

If you want the newest smartphone model, a 2 year contract may make sense because VZW will subsidize the phone (~$300-400 value) and all the contract prices have the subsidy fee baked into them (whether you too the subsidy to get a new phone or not).

The Edge plan whereby you pay a monthly subsidy fee and have the option to switch phones in 12 months instead of 24 makes no financial sense. It's a sucker plan for people who can't do math. You would be better off taking the 2 year subsidized contract plan and just breaking the contract in the future. It's a better deal to just pay the early termination fee.

Once the 2 year contract it up, it makes no sense to continue month to month at the same plan rate because that rate includes a hidden subsidy fee. Negotiate the price down. The subsidy is usually around $20/month for each phone. You can usually get $10-25 discount/month. If you like to keep the phone and are willing to sign a 1 or 2 year contract you can negotiate additional discounts or credits.

It costs cell phone carriers $$$ to acquire a new customer. They don't like to lose customers to the competition. Use it to your advantage.
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rj49
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by rj49 » Thu Jul 31, 2014 5:52 pm

You might look at the Virgin Mobile $30/mo iphone plan, with no added fees or taxes other than state sales tax. The limitation is 300 minutes a month (or $45 for 1200 minutes), but you can use Google voice or Facetime audio calls without using minutes. They also offer discounted iphones (currently $400 for the 5c and $487 for the 5s), and use Sprint's network, with I think 2.5GB of data per month at 4G speeds. No contracts, no pushy salespeople, low monthly price, phone discount--perfect for a Boglehead that doesn't want to overpay for something.

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Fletch
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Location: USA

Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by Fletch » Thu Jul 31, 2014 6:00 pm

My suggestions:

1. Find out which carrier has the best coverage and best signal strength for the area you will use the phone. Pick them.

2. If you are not exceptionally technically adept, get the iPhone 5s. Very user friendly compared to androids. Preferably buy the phone from an Apple store, the help is very knowledgable compared to the Verizon or equivalent folks (my experience). Buy a book to learn about the phones capabilities such as one of the manuals by David Pogue. I expect you will find the phone will enhance your life more than you think. Internet, email, text, calendar, reminders, grocery lists, music, YouTube, weather, banking, credit card monitoring, and the beat goes on and on and on.

... Fletch
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.

Puakinekine
Posts: 836
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2007 9:18 pm

Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by Puakinekine » Thu Jul 31, 2014 6:15 pm

Fletch wrote:My suggestions:

1. Find out which carrier has the best coverage and best signal strength for the area you will use the phone. Pick them.

2. If you are not exceptionally technically adept, get the Nokia Icon or Nokia 930. Very user friendly compared to androids and apple. Preferably buy the phone from anywhere, no help is really needed. Read the free manual I expect you will find the phone will enhance your life more than you think. Internet, email, text, calendar, reminders, grocery lists, music, YouTube, weather, banking, credit card monitoring, and the beat goes on and on and on.

... Fletch
Sorry Fletch I've taken a few liberties :happy

Calm Man
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by Calm Man » Thu Jul 31, 2014 7:36 pm

sscritic wrote:How much data are you buying? I see different prices than you do, but my Verizon website shows a discount on one plan for a certain level of data.

You need to know the price differential on what you are getting and how long it lasts. My interpretation is that there is one price differential for the first 20 months and another price differential for the next 10 years that you are going to keep this same phone (if we believe you).
I have the lowest data plan which they don't even advertise at all. It is 300 meg per month. I use 30 per month as I only do email, an occasional look at cnbc or yahoo sports and NEVER streaming. So I have been paying Verizon (way past contract being over) $56 per month plus the government fees and stuff for about $50.

Calm Man
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by Calm Man » Thu Jul 31, 2014 7:39 pm

sscritic wrote:I always enjoy these threads. Someone asks about the difference between the $60k and the $70k Mercedes, and everyone jumps in to tell him to buy a Hyundai.

As I read the OP, he already has a contract with Verizon for his blackberry. He doesn't want to switch carriers. He doesn't want a five year old flip phone. He wants a new, modern, smart phone. Since he as lived a reasonably frugal life, he can afford to buy a new, modern, smart phone and use Verizon as his carrier. Until Calm Man comes back and says otherwise, I would take him at his word.

To quote one of my favorite posters and lunch companions:
If you buy from the phone company, there is no way to get a good price, so just pay your money.
You have Calm Man nailed correctly. I want to use Verizon as the reception is perfect here and wherever I go. I want to go to the Verizon store 1/2 mile away and buy everything and anything I need right there. I can afford whatever the wind brings for a smartphone. My life is reasonably frugal as the wives are no longer in it and I do whatever I want (which isn't expensive).

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Captain Sensible
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Location: North Carolina

Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by Captain Sensible » Thu Jul 31, 2014 9:12 pm

For what it's worth, here's my frugal solution. I'm omitting live hyperlinks below, since I'm not shilling, but the sites are easy to find:

1) Buy a used phone from swappa.com -- in my case, this was a Droid X for about $60. Swappa caters to phone-app developers and early adopters, so it's full of gently used phones and clueful sellers that know what OS it runs, carrier compatibility, etc.

2) Activate this phone with a cheap ($12/month) plan from Kitty Wireless, a reseller for Page Plus, which is in turn an MVNO for the Verizon network. This plan has decent talk & text, and just enough data service (10 MB/month!) to check email occasionally.

That's it! I had to learn to lock down the data services to stay under the data limit, but it works great for me and Mrs. Sensible. We realized we're in range of a wi-fi network most of the time anyway, which means email and all apps just start working normally.

Why pay more? :sharebeer

Gattamelata
Posts: 189
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by Gattamelata » Fri Aug 01, 2014 3:02 am

livesoft wrote:
Gattamelata wrote:Contracts are generally terrible. You can't bring your own device into the plan - you have to buy a phone at usurious, invisible rates on an installment plan from the carrier. What's worse, the installment payments never end, because they're baked (again, invisibly) into your monthly service fee, so if you want to keep your phone longer than the contract period, you'll continue paying it.
This may be true for you, but it is not true for us. The "pay-for-phone" installment payments do end when you have paid for the phone in our case.

As always, please read your contracts.
My general statement may be true for me but is not true for you? I don't even know what that means.

But yes, please read your contracts, because as I wrote, most cellular service contracts are extremely unfavorable to the consumer. They're all about limiting your choices, and yet are much more expensive than equivalent prepaid plans.

The chief advantage of contracts in the US is for consumers who want an expensive phone but can't afford to buy one outright and so need the support of the installment plan. But I think the Boglehead line in that case would be "Then you can't afford the phone."

As smackboy1 wrote, it costs carriers money to acquire customers. Contracts are a customer retention mechanism, and nothing more. They confer no discounts, no advantages, and no benefits to the customer above prepaid plans, which is why prepaid is the dominant paradigm in the rest of the world, where mobile service competition is much stronger.

Barefootgirl
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by Barefootgirl » Mon Aug 04, 2014 4:05 pm

I think I'm overpaying with my current provider T Mobile, and their service is not great where I live.

I have a Galaxy phone less than a year old and no contract.

Looks like I should look into the coverage map for Republic Wireless.

I am not a big smartphone user - mostly voice, some text, some Internet access, that's it.

Other suggestions? Thanks, BFG
How many retired people does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Only one, but he takes all day.

Shadow_Dancer
Posts: 162
Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2014 1:40 pm

Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by Shadow_Dancer » Tue Aug 05, 2014 12:02 am

Barefootgirl wrote:I think I'm overpaying with my current provider T Mobile, and their service is not great where I live.

I have a Galaxy phone less than a year old and no contract.

Looks like I should look into the coverage map for Republic Wireless.

I am not a big smartphone user - mostly voice, some text, some Internet access, that's it.

Other suggestions? Thanks, BFG
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Barefootgirl --

I’m sorry to tell you that if you think that you can use your Samsung Galaxy phone with GSM technology on Republic Wireless, it will not work. First, Republic Wireless uses Sprint, as its underlying phone carrier, and Sprint uses CDMA technology –not GSM technology. If you are unhappy with the coverage of T-Mobile and those smaller carriers which piggyback on T-Mobile, then your only choice, with the phone that you currently own, is to switch to AT&T or one of the smaller carriers which piggyback on AT&T.

Moreover, in order to use Republic Wireless, a person must buy her phone directly from Republic Wireless. Republic Wireless has to specially modify its phones so that they will run on its unique service. At the present time, I believe that Republic Wireless offers two phones –the Moto X and the Moto G.

Consequently, if you want to continue to use your Samsung Galaxy phone, Republic Wireless is not an option for you.


Shadow_Dancer

bnes
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Re: New smartphone - questions from a nervous upgrader

Post by bnes » Tue Aug 05, 2014 3:23 am

To get the best advice we need to know:
  • Where you make calls.
  • Minutes per month.
  • If you want to go cheap or go easy.
I pay less than $5/month to have a smartphone, but I'm willing to keep data off most of the time. My phones come from eBay and have never cost more than $200 used.

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