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New phone/carrier recs.
June 23, 2008 11:06 AM   Subscribe

It's come the time to buy a new cellphone. I have a RAZR V2 and it's falling apart. My Verizon contract is up in November. Should I re-up with Verizon and stay on my family plan or should I break off and/or go to another carrier? And what phone should I look into? All I know is that I do not want a huge fold out QWERTY keyboard like a 16-year-old girl with a Sidekick and probably do not want a Motorola.

I'm on a family plan with two other lines and I burn between 450 and 1000 minutes per month. It's cheaper for me to stay on the family plan, share minutes, and pay my parents as opposed to paying Verizon for my own line. I've noticed that most carriers have 450 and 900 minute plans. So I would assume I would have to get the 900 minute plan.

I need to get a new phone and my contract ends in November. I dislike a majority of the Verizon phones so that brings up the issue of moving to another carrier? I would like to somehow sync my contacts from my Address Book on my Macbook Pro and download pictures from my phone through a USB or similar connection. Other than that, there really isn't a huge need for anything else. Email would be a luxury but it's not necessary (I have a Gmail account).

Which carrier do you recommend I move to if I should leave Verizon. I have not had an issue with Verizon but it simply comes down to the phone selection. I'm a single 23-year-old aerospace engineer and I would like to buy a phone I actually like, even if its a tad pricey.

I could afford an iPhone even though I would not totally enjoy paying that much upfront and monthly. However, it would play pretty well with my new Macbook Pro. I'm sure there are other fantastic and cheaper phones out there. The Blackberry Pearl and Samsung Instinct come to mind even though one is on Sprint and the other is on every carrier.
posted by decrescendo to Technology (29 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I thought I was going to go up to the Verizon store and re-up for a Pearl but then I realized the plan is exactly as much as the iPhone plan.

That caused me to completely re-evaluate my phone situation.
posted by decrescendo at 11:11 AM on June 23, 2008


You have our permission to buy an Iphone. It is ok. You deserve it.
posted by R. Mutt at 11:14 AM on June 23, 2008


You have our permission to buy an Iphone. It is ok. You deserve it.

part of me says I'll feel like one of those Mac fanboys that I make so much fun of if I buy an iPhone (even though I have a Macbook Pro)

(But I don't sit around in Starbucks with it.)
posted by decrescendo at 11:15 AM on June 23, 2008


Maybe I should add the LG Vu to my potentials list?
posted by decrescendo at 11:20 AM on June 23, 2008


I recently moved from Verizon to AT&T and while it's not as good in terms of reliability of service (I live in NYC), it's many times better in terms of phone choice, phone options, and the ability to download applications. Verizon doesn't work with Gmail mobile, Google maps, or the mini Opera browser - 3 things that I've found indispensable with my new AT&T service.

I won't go back to Verizon until they remove those restrictions.

Cheers.
posted by alrightokay at 11:23 AM on June 23, 2008


I'm very happy with my Palm Centro, it's my first smart phone and I've waiting a long time to jump on board because I never wanted to carry a cinder block on my belt. This phone is tiny and it does pretty much everything any other smart phone and dare I say - the Iphone - can do at rock bottom prices. I picked mine up on sale for $39.
posted by any major dude at 11:30 AM on June 23, 2008


Are there any phones coming out in the near future that I should be sure to consider even though they aren't listed on carrier websites so far?

HTC phones? Garmin Nuvifone? Andriod? What carriers will these be in and will they be insanely expensive?
posted by decrescendo at 11:35 AM on June 23, 2008


really, your best bet would be to play around with the various devices if you can beforehand. surely someone in your office has a Centro or a Blackberry or an iPhone or something you can play with - if nothing else, the respective stores may have usable demos. don't feel bad about availing yourself of the two-week return period (30d in California). personally, I'd go with the iPhone when it comes out, but I'm already a convert - though the Android phones are the only other ones I'd say would be comparable. sure, my Blackberry can do all of the same sorts of things (once I install a whole bunch of other apps), but it doesn't do any of it as well as the iPhone.

keep in mind that going with a carrier like T-Mobile or AT&T will give you a much broader array of phones - both services use GSM, so you can more easily find unlocked/subsidy-free phones that just require a SIM to be shoved in the requisite spot. I find it real handy to be able to take my SIM out of the iPhone and shove it in my 5-year-old Sony Ericsson (which was originally T-Mobile) with no issues. (I did have T-Mobile unlock the Sony, though.) GSM is what a lot of the rest of the world uses, so there's more selection as far as phones go, and a lot of the new, exciting things come out in GSM versions first and CDMA (i.e. Verizon and Sprint) later.
posted by mrg at 11:49 AM on June 23, 2008


really, your best bet would be to play around with the various devices if you can beforehand. surely someone in your office has a Centro or a Blackberry or an iPhone or something you can play with - if nothing else, the respective stores may have usable demos. don't feel bad about availing yourself of the two-week return period (30d in California). personally, I'd go with the iPhone when it comes out, but I'm already a convert - though the Android phones are the only other ones I'd say would be comparable. sure, my Blackberry can do all of the same sorts of things (once I install a whole bunch of other apps), but it doesn't do any of it as well as the iPhone.

keep in mind that going with a carrier like T-Mobile or AT&T will give you a much broader array of phones - both services use GSM, so you can more easily find unlocked/subsidy-free phones that just require a SIM to be shoved in the requisite spot. I find it real handy to be able to take my SIM out of the iPhone and shove it in my 5-year-old Sony Ericsson (which was originally T-Mobile) with no issues. (I did have T-Mobile unlock the Sony, though.) GSM is what a lot of the rest of the world uses, so there's more selection as far as phones go, and a lot of the new, exciting things come out in GSM versions first and CDMA (i.e. Verizon and Sprint) later.


Oh I did not realize that Verizon and ATT were on different types of networks.

So buying an unlocked phone will work with the GSM carriers? And I think I heard something about everything becoming unlocked in a few years?
posted by decrescendo at 11:52 AM on June 23, 2008


Yes, in general any GSM phone will work on any GSM network. There are some minor frequency differences in various countries, but any quad-band/world phone should work anywhere you want to go.

Be aware that GSM is not the fanciest new technology, and you'll probably notice humming and chirping if you put your phone near a speaker (tv/computer/etc) but it is the most widely used consumer-friendly technology for cellphones right now.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:56 AM on June 23, 2008


So an iPhone will chirp next to computer speakers or car speakers?
posted by decrescendo at 12:00 PM on June 23, 2008


My coworker's Blackberry Pearl causes awful feedback over our office phones and sometimes affects computer monitors in the office as well. Personal experience leads me to be partial to T-Mobile service and Nokia phones (I have an E51 currently, which is somewhat similar to a Blackberry in functionality), but YMMV.

T-Mobile has an app on their website that will let you check coverage strength by city, zip, address, or intersection, and it's reasonably accurate in my experience. I think it'd be great if all carriers provided that. You might want to look into plans such as T-Mobile and Alltel offer with unlimited calls to phone numbers of your choosing, which can reduce the overall plan minutes needed if you tend to talk to the same people often.
posted by notashroom at 12:10 PM on June 23, 2008


Pretty much everyone I am good friends with is on Verizon, so I get that free mobile to mobile shit. So maybe that T-Mobile/Alltel thing would work out quite well.

But if I switched I'd be burning minutes like it was my job since my 450-900 minutes used probably just counts the BILLABLE ones.
posted by decrescendo at 12:15 PM on June 23, 2008


I think it's crazy to not go with a GSM carrier, Tmobile or Cingular. I was just in England for work (it you had told me 6 months ago I'd be going to England, I would have laughed at you). I unlocked my iphone, used a tmobile UK sim, and was off and running. If I had verizon or spring or something, good luck to ya! 90% of the world is on GSM - to me, no matter if the coverage is better or worse, it seems dumb not to follow and use GSM myself.
posted by thilmony at 12:29 PM on June 23, 2008


The iPhone is the single greatest consumer device since the personal computer.

At $199, there is really no competition.
posted by plexi at 12:32 PM on June 23, 2008


Do not renew Verizon because the phones are useless outside the U.S. They're on a network no one else uses. Go with ATT or T-Mobile.

Would like to be seen driving a bright yellow Hummer H2? Because those are kind of looks you will be getting when you whip out that iPhone in public. Best to avoid.
posted by Zambrano at 1:13 PM on June 23, 2008


hahaha yeah I give my iPhone wielding friend that look all the time

don't want it to be me but it seems like one of the best phones out there and I already have a Mac
posted by decrescendo at 1:18 PM on June 23, 2008


If you opt out of Verizon, you could get an unlocked Nokia and throw it on the 3G network. I have the N95-3 (North American edition) and really, really like it. If you like tech, the N95 will blow the top of your head off with what it can do: 5 MP camera, 30 fps digital recording, FM radio, GPS, non-disabled Bluetooth (read: you can move whatever files you want), lAdobe PDF reader, RSS feed, Internet, wifi, stereo speakers, mp3 player, in phone editing software for digital movies and sound, ability to use any mp3 as a ringtone, ability to sync media on phone to any home media streaming device, ability to make SIP calls, ability to use wifi for calling/IM chat, a 1.2 mp camera on the front of the phone for web chat/video phone calls, ability to upload to blogs/flickr/youtube/snapfish from the phone... All of these feathers come with the phone. You pay no carrier, monthly, to use GPS for example. You have the ability to do what you want to with the equipment that you have bought. A very non-American notion of what a mobile phone should be. The iphone has the N95 in interface and form as it is a beautiful creation. However, I would take the N95 over it, any day, if we were comparing applications and power. Drop me a mefi mail if you want further information.
posted by zerobyproxy at 1:33 PM on June 23, 2008


Hm that definitely sounds like quite the phone. I had a feeling there were phones out there that were that powerful. I just didn't know of them offhand as of yet.

I'll definitely look into that phone. So you can buy them off of Amazon and take them into the store to use them?
posted by decrescendo at 1:39 PM on June 23, 2008


You can get service from AT&T. The phone runs on 3G. Pretty quick too. I bought mine from Tiger Direct. Amazon has them but you have to get the North American edition n95-3. Otherwise, you will have an N95 which is engineered to work on European networks. You would lose the benefit of the speedy 3G network.

Depending on what you want the N82 is similar but doesn't have as many bells and whistles. You should look through the N series page on the Nokia site to see the many options. Some great products.
posted by zerobyproxy at 2:07 PM on June 23, 2008


I demoed an n95 for a few weeks. That's some awesome hardware! The software I wasn't in love with, but i'd say it's an awesome phone if you can get a deal. The 5-600 they seem to want for it is too much for me tho. I'm hoping to trade my old old blackberry for an iPhone in a few weeks, but if I wasn't going that route I'd be all over the n95.
posted by thedaniel at 2:58 PM on June 23, 2008


On July 3rd the LG Dare will be released. I'd say wait for it and check out some reviews, it could be a great phone that meets your needs.
posted by rbf1138 at 3:32 PM on June 23, 2008


The pearl is small but the 2-keys keyboard is really sucky. you'll never get very good at it (IMO), at least not to the degree you could get to with a *real* qwerty. If you're going to type a lot of messages, then qwerty is important. I haven't used an iPhone for long enough to tell how good the keyboard will be, but it is by all accounts, good-but-not-great (coming from my engineer, designer, and cs friends). Mac integration is obviously perfect.

I'm (hopefully) giving up my pearl for an iPhone in July. Perhaps a 1st gen one, but we'll see. If they drop to $100, then there won't be another phone that's comparable. The N95 looked pretty pricey last month, compared to a $399 iPhone. Perhaps they'll drop the prices through the floor (with an activation of course ...)?? Time will tell.

It's *okay* to like the iPhone. Just put it in your pocket and take it out without the theatrical LOOK-AT-ME-I-AM-COOL-BECAUSE-I-BUY-SHINY-THINGS gestures and people (gasp!) might not even notice what kind of phone you have.
posted by zpousman at 4:43 PM on June 23, 2008


I love my iPhone. I like to pull it out of my pocket and make the LOOK-AT-ME-I-AM-COOL-BECAUSE-I-BUY-SHINY-THINGS gesture. Really.

All joking aside... tis a great phone. I get excellent coverage in the DC area, it does everything I need (and more), and it has combined about 3 devices into one for me. I use it for personal email, work email, music, tv shows on flights, the list goes on and on. Oh - and I use it as a phone too!

The battery life can put you off at first until you realize how much you're using it as more than just a phone. And... I've had more than one Treo, and I can type faster on my iPhone than I ever could on the Treo.

Take the plunge!!! (Just wait till July 11th to take it.)
posted by matty at 5:40 PM on June 23, 2008


To say an iPhone is like a Hummer H2 is ridiculous. It's not some extravagant or impractical model; it's one of (the?) most popular / best-selling phone model of the last year.

If there were Hummers on every corner, maybe, but the iPhone... if anything, it's a Prius.
posted by rokusan at 8:59 PM on June 23, 2008


I sold my iPhone a couple of weeks ago for a Windows Mobile phone with GPS (HTC Touch Cruise), and I will say that the iPhone was the best phone I've ever used. But if you're like me and you want more than an amazing phone, it might not be the best fit. Admittedly Windows Mobile is ugly, hard to use, and well... not as nice, but it can run circles around the iPhone in functionality (bluetooth, sync, turn-by-turn gps, dev tools, etc)

Until we get some Android handsets in the wild, the iPhone will be on top. Don't be afraid to use something just because it's popular. The iPhone is a very, very good phone.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:45 PM on June 23, 2008


Heard of the Sprint SERO Plan

its a secret plan and the best phone deal on the planet... shh
except its available at any fatwallet or howard forums
posted by radsqd at 7:33 AM on June 24, 2008


Personally, I love my iPhone, but ATT is the worst service I've ever been subjected to, and on balance I miss my crappy free-with-the-contract LG phone. Even with a Griffin case to improve reception and following every piece of advice on how to hold the damned thing (and what kind of shit is that....I have to hold it a certain way to make sure my calls don't drop), I pretty much haven't had a single call since February that hasn't dropped at some point. I get voicemails a day later, texts hours and hours after they're sent, people calling me get weird network messages or it goes right to voicemail when the phone is on and presumably available to be reached....it's truly the fucking pits.

I was an Apple stockholder, and made a ton of money on the iPhone. I understand why Apple went with ATT...as a business decision it was great, but as far as service is concerned, I am living for the day I can go back to Verizon and use my phone indoors, in my house, and know - truly know - that I don't have an important call waiting for me somewhere "out there" that the network has yet to alert me to. I love my phone, but I don't trust the service.

Sorry, "service."
posted by nevercalm at 1:55 PM on June 24, 2008


Have you looked at or considered the Palm Centro for verizon? Granted the phones arent the best for VZW their service is hands down the best even on the cheapest handsets. You could also wait for the Blackberry Thunder - BB's answer to the iphone.

My girlfriend has a centro - she loves it. It was $100 - but she also has SERO.

I've been in a similar position as you for a few years - i'd like a great phone but im not sure its a smart move to sacrifice service for a nice gadget - what good is an iphone if it doesnt get a signal? Im waiting for iphone 3g reviews to roll out.

I used SERO with a Moto Q and HTC Touch and Windows Mobile is just appauling. What good is free data when you can't utilize it - ie. browsing the net(effectively/efficently). Though if this doesnt bother you theres plenty of good phones for Sprint on SERO.

Im currently using a U740 which takes care of my txting needs. Also Google (466453) is my best friend.
posted by AMP583 at 5:07 PM on June 26, 2008


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