put me out of my cell phone misery
May 24, 2010 12:34 PM   Subscribe

Boston Cell Phone Filter: Please help me with this seemingly simple cell phone decision.

Hi there,

Apologies for cell phone questions. I'll get a STD next week or something and ask about that to make up for it.

I lived in Maine for a few years and have US Cellular cell phone and plan. Service has been good, my monthly bill ends up being $62 a month for 650 minutes, unlimited incoming calls and free nights and weekends. I've never gone over, but I think that might be because of the free incoming calls.

My usage for the last month:
360 regular minutes
46 texts
287 free incoming minutes

Overall I've been happy with the service. US Cellular does not generally cover Boston, where I live now, but I think they rent from Verizon down here and it's been fine, no dropped calls or anything.

The problem is that my phone, a Motorola V323i has a dead battery. Actually 3 of them, because I bought two OEM batteries online which died quickly. It appears that these batteries age whether you use them or not, so new-old-stock batteries are pretty much dead anyway. At least that's what I understand.

So I get one long call on my battery and then the phone is dead. I'm currently working 12 hour shifts and this is really annoying. Well, it's just annoying anyway.

Other notes: I hate, hate, hate the idea of contracts.

So my options, as I see them are:
1) Re-up with US Cellular for another 2 years, get a new free phone.
2) Perhaps figure out this battery thing, can I get a new battery that isn't dead for my phone?
3) Get a new phone on ebay, but it appears US Cellular uses some other kind of technology than most of the carriers so phones are a little harder to find.
4) Get a plan with Verizon, pay more money, get a new phone and another 2 year contract?
5) Some pay-as-you-go thing?

I don't have much need for features other than good signal, durability and maybe, just maybe some way to check my email. I wouldn't mind a crude internet browser, maybe being able to check google maps, but not really willing to pay too much extra to get it.

I've been hemming and hawing on this for months, and now my phone is becoming totally inoperable. Can you help me flesh out some ideas about what to do? Verizon seems to have the best service around here.
posted by sully75 to Technology (4 answers total)
I have Virgin Mobile (powered by Sprint), which is a monthly service with no contract. I have the plan that's $50/month for unlimited voice (roaming included). I don't much care about text or Web. But they recently introduced some plans that favor text and Web access while limiting your voice minutes. Either way, you never get overage with these types of carriers; if you use up what you paid for, that's it until the next month or you go onto their website and add more money.

In my experience, the reception is good in metro Boston (I live in Newton and work downtown) and other places I've traveled around the region. I have no complaints.

The service only works with the hardware they sell.
posted by dust of the stars at 12:46 PM on May 24, 2010

FWIW, lithium ion batteries degrade with time, even if not in use, although decreasing capacity is also associated with the number of cycles the battery has gone through. If newly manufactured batteries aren't available for your model, and that seems reasonable for phones that haven't been produced in a few years, then any batteries you find would likely have similarly poor performance. Generally, it's not worth the money to buy a lithium ion battery now for future use.

I've been happy with T-Mobile in the Boston area. They have no-contract plans (Even More Plus) which is what I'm on. They are GSM so any unlocked GSM should work for voice. If data is important T-Mobile (US) does use a different frequency for 3G than most other carriers so you only get EDGE data speed if you don't have a US T-Mobile phone.
posted by 6550 at 12:57 PM on May 24, 2010

Page Plus is a pre-paid provider that uses Verizon's network. They have a plan with 1,200 minutes, 1,200 text message and 50MB of data for $30/month with no contract. Roaming off Verizon's network is expensive, as is sending international text messages. You can use any Verizon branded phone bought off Ebay or you can buy a new or refurbished phone from them and you can keep your current phone number by porting it in at no cost.
posted by ChrisHartley at 2:16 PM on May 24, 2010

I use the same T-Mobile plan as 6550, and can confirm that it works just fine with my pre-existing phone. The store employee was just like "Oh, so you have a phone already? Then this plan will be cheaper for you." I've been very frustrated with the reception both at home and at work and will probably end up switching carriers. But my coworkers who live in the same neighborhood say they have no problems. This is in Boston.
posted by serathen at 4:17 PM on May 24, 2010

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