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Buying a cellphone: Good heavens! How do you choose!?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by DaveF, Mar 22, 2004.

  1. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I'm a telephonic luddite: I've still tethered to my landline while even my technophobic mother has a cellphone. But my girlfriend is dragging me into the 21st century and I'm looking for a cellphone. And I intend to go cell-only when I get a new apartment in a few months.

    She (my girlfriend) lives in Indy while I'm here Rochester, but she visited this weekend and we went to a Verizon shop for a bit today and looked around. Ack! There are approximately 8-million phones, three thousand calling plans, and (after checking online tonight) and 96 carriers to choose from [​IMG]. That's like a billion possible options!

    Once upon a time, I'd research all the options, learn the terminology, read Consumer Reports, and about 8 months later identify the perfect phone, plan, and carrier for my needs. But now I'm a working stiff and don't have the inclination to invest the time in a quest for the Perfect Phone.

    Any advice for the cellphone-ignorant? Another thread recommended http://www.phonescoop.com, which appears quite handy.

    Some specific questions confounding me:

    - Is it possible to by the cellphone and carrier independently? Or must you buy a Verizon brand phone for use with Verizon service?

    - How important is tri-mode vs, dual-mode capability?

    - Any independent coverage maps out there? The Verizon brochure shows almost completely national digital service. Can I believe it?

    - Any highly recommended phones?

    - Any sales techniques to be on guard for?

    - Any shopping methods to get a better deal from the salesperson?

    - Get the two-year plan, for cheaper up-front phone cost and discount on a new phone in two years? Or may more for the phone but be only locked in for 12 months?

    My best guess is to get the Motorola T730 phone from Verizon with the cheapest plan. My girlfriend and brother-in-law both have this phone, and it seems to work well with ok battery life. The GF is with Verizon currently and the in-network plan would cover almost all of my minutes. And I don't call that much so 400 anytime is likely sufficient.

    The runner up phone is the LG VX4500; I liked the design, it has better battery life, but is dual-mode and can't sync to a PC.

    Whew! That's a lot about getting a phone :b Any other commiserating thoughts?
     
  2. Philip_G

    Philip_G Well-Known Member

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    Wow, that's a lot of questions.
    I think my first step would be to go to www.howardforums.com and read about coverage in your area, sprint sucks here, but might be awesome in your area type of thing.

    In fact, most of your questions can be answered on howardforums. Probably best to look for advice from people in your domicile.
     
  3. Shane Bos

    Shane Bos Well-Known Member

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    as a cs rep for a major US wireless company I will give you my tips for choosing service.

    1st know your return period most are 14 days some are 30 but make sure you know it.

    2nd Don't shop anywhere that makes you sign a secondary agreement with the store that has nothing to do with the cell company.

    3rd Reception is the most important thing. If you haven't got it the plan don't mean anything.

    4th when talking about the coverage area make sure the salesperson is showing you the brochure and map.

    5th When you decide make sure you get a list of all mins and times and any other features for your service.

    6th read the bill closely and ensure that everything you are supposed to have is reflected on your bill. If you are not sure call customer care. Better safe than sorry.

    AS far as phones and plans those are carrier specific and I am biased and I don't want that to show through in these tips so I will leave that to you to research which will work best for you.

    Make sure you test your new service out within your return period. If you are not satisfied with it please address it right away it'll be much easier. After that period ends the service is yours for the term.
     
  4. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Philip - thanks for the link. I'll check that out. Yeah, I've got lots of questions, but I figure everyone who shops for a cellphone considers those, if briefly.

    Shane - Thanks for suggestions. Good info.
     
  5. VinhT

    VinhT Well-Known Member

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    For reference, everything I say will be in terms of GSM, since that is what I am most familiar with.

    Hard to say, it really depends on your personal preferences. My own policy is 1-year only, gives you much more flexibility. Take my situation, for example. I have an unlocked GSM phone and an AT&T one year contract. The data rates for AT&T are much too high compared to the competition. Should I choose to, I can simply switch carriers after my year is up, still use my current phone, and get a better deal.
     
  6. Travis Hedger

    Travis Hedger Well-Known Member

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    My question is, why do none of the Nokia phone have a standard ringer? You know, RING RING? Instead of these annoyingly QUIET songs that you can't hear when it is in your pocket.
     
  7. SethH

    SethH Well-Known Member

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    Wow, I thought I was the only person with this complaint. I have a Nokia 3595 GSM phone. I love the phone except for one thing: the ring. It does not a single "normal" ring. Every single ring on it is some type of song. And if I buy the $30 cable to hook it up to my computer I can choose from dozens and dozens of rings and guess what!?! . . . every single one is a song of some sort. It's really frustrating to me. I wish they would at least give the option. I realize their key demographic is teens/college students but you'd think they'd still be thinking about business people too. Actually, I'm still a college student, but I use my cell phone as my home phone and I really just want a normal ring so I don't have to be embarrassed every time my phone rings.

    Sorry for the rant.
     
  8. Sami Kallio

    Sami Kallio Well-Known Member

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    As for Nokia phones, my 6820 does have a simple ring, "ring ring" in the menu.

    If you travel outside of USA, your best option is to get trimode GSM phone that also supports 900MHz network. US is using 850 & 1900 as mentioned, the rest of the world is using 900 & 1800. If you don't then a dual will do.
     
  9. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I'm leaning towards a non-GSM tri-mode phone. Though it is unlikely I'd use the analog mode, it would be nice to have the extra coverage, just in case. Pity, though, that the phone I'd like to try is dual mode and doesn't have a PC sync feature. [​IMG]
     
  10. Jay H

    Jay H Well-Known Member

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    Going to resurrect this old thread..

    Have an old Analog/Digital TDMA phone a Nokia 5516 that I am getting hints that it will work on the old ATT network which I originally got this under the free2go prepaid plan. It wont work the the ATT->Cingular GSM networks so one of my options is a cheap Nokia 3120 which is a GSM/GPRS 850/1800/1900 phone.

    It is actually free with the 2 year plan at $34/month.

    Now, is there a big difference now by going without an analog phone. How is Cingular in the NY/NJ, or perhaps the whole NE ? I presume it's got to be decent, I mean I live not far from NYC, a huge market. I've checked the Howard Forums, got good recs for coverage, but less than Verizon. I get a small discount via my employer with Cingular whose cheapest plan seems to be $34/month.

    I am considering replacing my postpaid Analog/Digital phone if I have a problem and this is certainly not for extensive use. I am not person that needs or even wants to be "in touch" 24/7. I only think they are useful when travelling on vacation or meeting up with folks.

    Jay
     
  11. Sami Kallio

    Sami Kallio Well-Known Member

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    If you're traveling overseas then get something with 900MHz as well. Either 850/900/1800/1900 or 900/1800/1900.
     
  12. Holadem

    Holadem Well-Known Member

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    My cheap-charlie Nokia phone has a normal ring. It sounds like a house phone. It will be a cold day in hell before my phone "sings".

    --
    H
     
  13. Jay H

    Jay H Well-Known Member

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    Well, no immediate intention of going to Europe, but you never know. Then again, the next time I'm over there, my cell phone will probably be outdated anyway. I found out my company has discount programs in pretty much all of them, from Verizon to Nextel, to T-Mobile.

    Verizon has cheaper plans ($30) too but they're CDMA. I wonder if GSM is the way to go, certainly it's more universal as Europe is pretty much GSM I think.

    Jay
     
  14. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?

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  15. Jay H

    Jay H Well-Known Member

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    TonyD, Hey, not that I couldn't of found it otherwise. I did notice your link was broken!

    I notice I can get the Motorola V180 for free two with the 2 year contract... that is the complete Quad supposedly..

    850/900/1800/1900 GSM/GPRS

    Jay
     
  16. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I'd forgotten about this thread. I chose the Motorola T730 from Verizon. I never did get the cable & software to sync with my PC.

    Re: analog. I'm glad I've got that option as my phone occaisionaly loses the digital connection and falls down to analog.

    Friends with Cingular in Rochester have no major problems. Do any of the cell companies lack service in medium to large metropolitan areas?

    I only have the basic Verizon ringtones, but I like having some choices. I can assign different rings to different people to identify callers by sound. While I can't, it would be fun to import custom movie clips or songs to use for ringtones.

    To my ears, a traditional ringer sound from a cell phone is more off-beat or retro-goofy than any customized ring I've heard. But I'm not surrounded by teens with ringing tones from Britney or Godsmack.
     
  17. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Well-Known Member

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    While I'm not crazy about the 'singing' rings, I like the fact that my rings are pretty 'unusual' as not to confuse my phone ring with anyone elses.

    Ahhhh, I remember the days in mid 90's (when rings were basically all the same) and someones cell would ring and EVERYONE would check their phones.
     
  18. Marko Berg

    Marko Berg Well-Known Member

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    Those days are certainly over when everyone had to check whether it was their phone that was ringing. Phones with MP3 "ring tones" are becoming commonplace.

    Regarding plans, I have to say being locked into a contract for a year or two sounds like a bad trade-off in order to get a cheaper or free mobile phone. Where I am, combining phones and service plans is actually illegal, i.e. you buy a phone from an appliance store and get the plan you like from the operator of your choice as all phones are naturally unlocked. Not all stores that sell mobile phones sell plans from all operators, but they can't charge you more if you just want to buy a phone without a plan since the phone and the plan are always sold separately.

    As a result, mobile phones do cost more -- new models with latest gadgets are at first significantly more expensive than in other countries -- but you are never locked into a contract. You are free to switch between operators e.g. every two weeks if you don't like the service. Plans and calls are also cheap; some carry a monthly fee of about €3 and offer even cheaper calls. My service plan doesn't have the cheapest calls available, but it doesn't have a monthly fee either. Since I don't use the phone that much, my mobile phone bill was a total of €0.61 for the month of January this year. [​IMG]
     

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