more for my money in cell phones - sprint
June 23, 2009 10:07 AM   Subscribe

cheapest blackberry-esque phone & plan, either thru Sprint or taking into account the cost of leaving Sprint...

I lost my regular cell phone and finished my paper datebook. I haven't got the replacement phone yet, and I'm having trouble finding a replacement datebook that starts in June. I'll be very busy starting next week and need to be well organized, so am considering the electronic option. On the other hand, I'm pretty broke.

My old/ current Sprint plan ended up coming to about $70 per month, even though it was supposed to be more like $39... There seemed to always be a lot of fees or forgotten changes to the bill. I either want to really go cheap, spend like $25 a month and have the bare bones, or get something actually life-improving, that will help me keep track of things, have a useful and usable calendar, etc.

I don't talk all that much on the phone so limited minutes (within reason) is fine, and since one insane bill due to text messages I've kept that to a minimum without trouble. I think I renewed my Sprint plan last August. Any advice? Thanks.
posted by mdn to Technology (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you don't absolutely need cellular data service, you could get the cheapest phone plan you can find and buy a PDA (e.g. iPod Touch) to serve as a datebook/calendar/etc.

But then you've got two separate devices to keep track of.
posted by kidbritish at 10:30 AM on June 23, 2009

You could probably get most of the functions you're looking for by getting an older Motorola q9c from eBay. It's a good my-first-smartphone, it's old enough that my provider (which is Verizon, not Sprint, so ymmv) does not require you to have a data plan just to activate it, and you can find new ones and refurbs relatively cheaply on ebay.
Mind you, it's not going to blow your mind. There's no touch screen, it's a few versions behind in WindowsMobile, WinMo isn't that great anyway, etc.
But it's light-years cheaper than a Pre or an iPhone (one or both of which is what you really want, whether you know it yet or not), and it will keep track of your schedule, sync with Outlook, etc.
posted by willpie at 11:31 AM on June 23, 2009

Response by poster: hm, i see there are sprint Palm Centros listed on eBay as low as $5 - I have to assume that is going to go up once you start bidding, right? I never buy stuff on ebay so really don't know how that works... If I did buy one off eBay, I can just switch service to it by calling customer service?

I guess what I'm not sure about is whether what I want is possible - I feel like I spend too much money for not enough convenience/ utility, but I don't know how to reduce the cost or increase the benefit. What's the least you can expect to spend on cell service in the US? I've tried renegotiating with Sprint a number of times (at least every time my contract comes up and I've been with them for probably ten years now) but somehow the bill always seems to sneak back up... I don't know if that is just me, just Sprint, or if basically I'm not going to find much better than ~$70 / mo, so I should concentrate on getting a better gadget so at least i feel like it's worth having.
posted by mdn at 1:06 PM on June 23, 2009

Cell phones on eBay can be tricky. Before bidding, be sure that the low, low price listed does not include a contract and check how much time is left in the auction. If it's more than 12ish hours, expect the price to go up substantially (no reason not to keep an eye on it, though, just in case the price stays put. You can get good deals with a last-minute bid sometimes).
It looks like Centros for Sprint's network are ending around $70ish and BuyItNow'ing for $110+. A Palm Treo 700 would probably be a bit cheaper (also: bulkier, so take that into consideration). If you do look at Treos, the 700p uses PalmOS, and the 700w uses WindowsMobile. I prefer PalmOS, but I'm apparently in the minority.

I don't know the details of your phone bill, but ~$70/mo. sounds pretty normal to me for basic service with maybe an unlimited txt plan. Sprint has been marketing themselves as the cheaper alternative to other providers lately; it sounds like you've already done some negotiating with them re price, though. You might also find that your employer offers some sort of discount; mine does.
[important] In the event that you get a smartphone without adding a data plan to your line, be very conservative with the amount of internet usage you do. Many a person has been surprised by a very pricey phone bill because they did not understand how much data they were using on a pay-per-megabyte basis.
posted by willpie at 1:47 PM on June 23, 2009

How about a Peek mobile email device? $20 to buy, $15/month for service.
posted by NortonDC at 5:16 PM on June 23, 2009

The least you're going to spend with anyone is $40/month plus all the taxes, fees, etc.
Another vote for no-data-plan PDA (iPod Touch) separate from bare-bones phone.
posted by ijoyner at 8:54 PM on June 23, 2009

Check on Slickdeals to see if someone is selling their SERO plan (or on eBay). It's $30 a month on Sprint - 500 minutes/unlimited text/unlimited data. It won't get you a Blackberry service plan but I have used it with the Blackberry pearl and it was fine.

A lot of the SERO members are bailing on their plans to get the Palm Pre which Sprint isn't letting SERO members use (yet?). I am not sure what the ramifications are of switching from an ongoing Sprint contract to a SERO plan or if you can do so.
posted by getawaysticks at 12:19 PM on June 24, 2009

Response by poster: The peek is interesting but would prob just be an extra since I'm pretty sure i need a phone, so ... I guess I'm just hoping for more than there is. This breakdown gave me a decent sense of costs for smartphones.

ANyway, much obliged.
posted by mdn at 6:11 PM on June 26, 2009

« Older What flavours go with bananas?   |   Philly Skyline Photography Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.