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Seeking new smartphone and new cell provider
October 23, 2010 10:57 AM   Subscribe

iPhone/AT&T user, tired of my iPhone and wanting a new (reasonably priced) smartphone (thinking Blackberry) WITH GPS and a reasonably priced cell phone plan with minutes/unlimited text/unlimited data. BB/smartphone users, tell me your experiences, as well as T-Mobile users.

I have had an iPhone 3 for going on a year and a half now (or since it first came out), and the older model before that. I'm tired of the iPhone and looking for something new.

What I want in a cell-phone:
(1) Some web-browsing (not a heavy web-browser, but do like to look things up, probably open 5-10 web pages a day some days)

(2) E-mail, e-mail, e-mail (with G-mail)

(3) MUST HAVE GPS: iPhone's GPS has been a life-safer for me.

(4) Easy texting---doesn't need to be a touch-screen.

(4a) BB users/phones with keyboards: what's texting like?

(5) Visual voicemail

I don't have a single song or app on my iPhone, I use it mostly to text, some web browsing, and for phone calls.

What I want in a cell-phone provider:

(1) Decent customer service (AT&T has been great to me, but unfortunately their service is pretty spotty in the relatively major metro area that I live in)

(2) Reasonably priced (probably the most important thing)

(2a) Reasonably priced for unlimited text and data, and some amount of minutes.

I'm thinking BlackBerry/T-Mobile. Droid/Verizon seems wonderful but it sure is pricey, and I'm not prepared for that yet.

Share your thoughts, recommendations, love/hate experiences.

Thank you so much!
posted by Dukat to Technology (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Palm Pre!!!
posted by k8t at 10:58 AM on October 23, 2010


I just upgraded to the G2 on T-Mobile. I have been a T-Mobile customer for about 9 years and have zero complaints. However, my husband went through two different blackberry models on TMo and had horrible reception issues. Not sure if that's a common problem or just his crappy luck.

The G2 is pretty damned amazing, if you ask me. It fits all of your qualifications above - great GPS, easy texting via swype on the onscreen keyboard or using the thin physical keyboard, and flawless support for both G-Mail and Outlook. It runs on T-Mobile's new HSPA (?) network, and the difference between it and 3G is pretty obvious. It's also got vanilla android versus the custom UI of some other android phones, which I actually prefer for it's simplicity. I paid $200 for it with a 2-year contract extension.

I'm on a family plan, so I don't know how much this will help you, but we pay $89 for unlimited minutes, $20 for unlimited texting, and $25 each for unlimited data. I think the $25 for data is pretty standard no matter what plan/phone you have, and I think you can get unlimited minutes for an individual for about $50. The other cool thing that I have found about T-Mobile - the longer I am with them, the cheaper my bill gets thanks to loyalty discounts and special plans.
posted by tryniti at 11:09 AM on October 23, 2010


I have an HD2 on T-mobile so I'll throw in my input for both.

The HD2, IMO, is the sleekest looking phone T-Mobile offers. The only problem is Windows Mobile 6.5. It's pretty usable and HTC did a good job hiding most of the visual deficiancies, but it certainly is not as good as iOS or Android (don't expect a large, easy to acquire selection of apps either). The built in GPS works with Google Maps, but there is no free visual navigation program (that I know of). Texting is pretty standard, and pretty easy on the huge screen. Oh yea, at 4.3 inches, it has a pretty big screen.

My biggest gripe with T-Mobile is their spotty HSPA+ coverage. I guess they're still rolling it out, but check the coverage map first to see what's in your area. Their regular 3G coverage isn't great either, again check your coverage maps. The upside is the unlimited everything plan on T-mobile is significantly cheaper than it is on Verizon. Even cheaper if you don't sign a 2-year contract.
posted by Geppp at 11:18 AM on October 23, 2010


I use a BB Curve on Virgin Mobile. $35 a month for unlimited text and web, 300 minutes a month (or something; I've never hit the limit or even come close.) Reception is identical to that of Sprint CDMA phones. I never need to deal with customer service. I like the keyboard; I hated typing on other phones, and couldn't get the on-screen keyboards at Best Buy to work to my satisfaction. My texting is fast enough to annoy those who text with me.
posted by SMPA at 11:29 AM on October 23, 2010


the longer I am with them, the cheaper my bill gets thanks to loyalty discounts and special plans.

Really? How? I've been with T-Mobile for five years now (I've been off-contract for two) and never received an offer like this.
posted by limeonaire at 11:37 AM on October 23, 2010


The BB Curve 3G is fairly cheap on T-Mobile and has GPS and visual voicemail. I could never go back to a BB from the iPhone, but the keyboard was nice. The keyboard is the only thing I miss.
posted by elpea at 11:57 AM on October 23, 2010


Elpea: why wouldn't you go back to the BB from the iPhone?
posted by Dukat at 11:58 AM on October 23, 2010


This isn't available where I live, so I don't have one, but I am in love with my brother's phone. He has a BB (I dunno which one, it has the little roller ball mouse) that he paid $200 for. It's on Sprint, through Boost, he pays $50 per month for unlimited everything. Truly unlimited, as his phone and signal are powerful enough to tether to his laptop. He's a single guy, so he was able to ditch Comcast this way.
posted by Leta at 12:20 PM on October 23, 2010


I have a BB curve on T-mobile for work. It's my 3rd BB model with them--upgraded a few times. I'm quite happy with it, but it's also the only smartphone system I've ever used. I like the keyboard and have a hard time adjusting to virtual iPhone/iPod keyboards. I feel like I often have more reliable reception than my friends with AT&T iPhones.

I browse the web on it constantly. The email's been very easy to set up -- I have both work and personal email on it. I do not have a GPS model. so can't offer opinions on that. Texting and email and IM are all pretty seamless and you can do any of those from the same screen.

It kind of depends on how much you like the keyboard -- try it out for a bit if you can. I am a very fast thumb typer at this point!
posted by gingerbeer at 1:29 PM on October 23, 2010


I think you would prefer android - the internet experience is vastly better and apps too, though you say you don't use that (seriously, how were you using an iPhone without apps? that's where the strength is...) GMail is great on android.

I can't provide specific phone recommendations since my g1 is way out of date, but I'd suggest finding something with a keyboard you like (or a virtual keyboard if you're into that).

T-Mobile's even more plus (no contract, no phone subsidy) have very reasonable prices and I've been happy enough with coverage, customer service, etc.

T-Mobile has a visual voicemail thing, though I've never used it since I use google voice.

I love the GPS in my phone, it works pretty well (though not as well as my dad's droid x, so maybe newer android phones can do better) - I do have a little trouble on cloudy days but I think that's specific to my model. I mean, it has google maps behind it so that's awesome. I believe blackberry's version of google maps does not have turn-by-turn navigation, though I'm sure it can plot you on a map.
posted by R a c h e l at 2:54 PM on October 23, 2010


Any Blackberry is by far the best email device out there.

The BB Torch has a great web browser, GPS, and everything else you're looking for, including a nice touchscreen. (and will last a couple of days on a charge, unlike any Android phone I've used) It is one of the better phones I've used recently. Unlike the Curve, it feels very solid in the hands, and OS6 has left the stone age feeling far, far behind.

If someone says they don't like Blackberries, the question to ask is "have you used OS6?" If the answer is no, ignore everything they have to say, unless it's a complaint about pricing. It really is so radically different in every way that previous experience is useless. About the only thing that hasn't changed is the reliability of the email service.

The main reason I don't have one is that I've got a grandfathered data/SMS/MMS plan that's far beyond anything at&t offers these days and I don't want to lose it. That said, I use my SO's on a regular basis and like everything about it except the keyboard, and that's only because I have large hands that don't play well with the Zaurus/Pre/BB Torch style keyboards.
posted by wierdo at 6:31 PM on October 23, 2010


Actually, K9 on Android is significantly better than Blackberry's email client. Blackberry claims to do push email, but it is always about a minute out of date. Email arrives on my desktop, I read it and reply to it, and about two minutes later, the Blackberry vibrates indicating that it got the original email. WTF? (This is with an officially sanctioned blackberry enterprise server at a Fortune 500 company.)

K9 + my own IMAP server, on the other hand, does push perfectly.

Blackberry is a great system -- for dealing with 1,000,000 employees that all want to sell your email and pictures of confidential documents to your competitors. For actual email, pretty much everything else is better.
posted by jrockway at 9:23 PM on October 23, 2010


Your company's BES is running behind. That's not RIM's fault. I've tested it with the BES I run and notification happens in 1-2 seconds, which is about how quickly my IMAP server reports new messages to my phone on my personal account. Any difference seems to be purely random.

When Nokia Messaging works, it's pretty darn awesome, because it works like BIS, but maintains a connection to IMAP IDLE capable servers so can do the instant notification thing. Somehow it manages to use less battery than IMAP, even when the IMAP connection is held open.

BIS is not very nice if your email account isn't with one of the big ISPs they have special support for. In that case, the BIS server connects to your IMAP or POP account only once every 15 minutes.
posted by wierdo at 9:58 PM on October 23, 2010


Really? How? I've been with T-Mobile for five years now (I've been off-contract for two) and never received an offer like this.

I've been with T-Mobile for over a decade (since they were Voicestream). They've lowered my rates a couple times, even called me once to tell me they'd analyzed my usage and recommended a change of plan to save money.

For my 10 year anniversary with them, they gave me a free companion airfare too.
posted by JaredSeth at 3:15 PM on October 24, 2010


I've been wtih T-Mobile for 5 years and I love their customer service and coverage (I live in Los Angeles.) I have a BB Bold, which I hate, but only because I hate the track-ball feature, but I am a big fan of the optical mouse Blackberries, so if you do take that route, avoid the evil track ball and get the little touchpad kind.

I email and text all day and surf many sites. Typing on the keyboard is easy. It's pretty much my mobile computer. I use it for work and have unlimited minutes and data and all the crazy work-related RIM stuff that needs to go with it so I can get stuff wirelessly synched.

Also, you can download Google Maps for free (for a lot of smartphones, I think,) which has a FANTASTIC GPS, directions, search function, details/customer reviews, interface, etc. It is also a lifesaver for me and I use it more than the one built into my car. You just use your browser to go to www.google.com, clink on the link for "More" and then click on "Maps." Then you can install the app directly to wherever you want. Needless to say, my app is the 2nd one from the top, after my email folder. :)

Good luck finding what works for ya!
posted by buzzkillington at 10:39 PM on October 24, 2010


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