the app for that exceeds your monthly allowance
June 24, 2011 12:13 PM   Subscribe

Smartphonefilter: how to choose a data plan under Verizon's new tiered-fee structure?

I am eligible for an upgrade next month and I was finally getting ready to get a smartphone with a $29.99/mo. data plan when Verizon announced (sort of) that it's switching from a flat fee to a tiered allowance structure. Supposedly it will only be $10/mo. for 75 MB and then $30, $50, and $80 for 2, 5, and 10GB. I would love to pay $10 instead of $30 but how do you know how much you'll use?

I only need it because social networking and personal email are all blocked at work. I'm in marketing so I have access to a remote server for all the good stuff but it's slow and shared with others and sometimes inaccessible, so basically I want a smartphone to keep fb/twitter/yahoo/gmail/linkedin/etc. open all the time and send/receive pdfs and word/excel/ppt files. I don't need to watch video etc. but do youtube videos count toward your usage when they're in someone's facebook feed, or just when you actually play them? Would playing pandora be a no-no?

And what about downloading apps? As I'll be a noob, I won't have anything, but would I need to limit myself to 1 app/month or something? Thanks for any advice you guys might have. It is bad enough to have analysis paralysis about what kind of phone to buy, now I have to predict my usage and choose a plan. Grar.
posted by headnsouth to Technology (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Ugh never mind about the 75MB. That's not available for smartphones, it's an access fee for regular phones. So the amount that was the flat fee for all use ($30) is now the fee for 2GB. What does 2GB buy?
posted by headnsouth at 12:26 PM on June 24, 2011

Apps are anywhere between 200k and 6.5 mb (possibly more, but I think that's the largest I've seen), but it's also possible to copy them directly to your phone's SD card over a USB connection to your computer, so that could be a workaround if you go with the $10. It looks like I've used about 300 MB this billing cycle (which started 6/6/11), and I mostly use my data plan for Facebook, Gmail, a never-ending Words With Friends game, and downloading apps occasionally. I think, though, that about 115 MB of that was when I downloaded the Metafilter podcast, so you can discount that. It's still well over 75 MB.

Hope that helps!
posted by shakespeherian at 12:27 PM on June 24, 2011

2gb is more than enough for most users unless you are streaming movies or videos all day. You should be fine with what you are looking to use it for.
posted by Monkeyzulu at 12:28 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oops, missed your update. It sounds like the $30 plan should be fine for you, and you won't need to worry about transferring apps from your computer in that case.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:28 PM on June 24, 2011

Best answer: No, you will not be allowed to use the $10 plan on a Smartphone. Best case scenario, you will be on the $30 plan and not go over 2 GB.

Videos will only count when you watch them, Pandora will eat up your plan fairly quickly. Apps won't be a big problem, and if you have access to wifi at home or work, take advantage of that.

My recommendation - walk into a Verizon store today and see if you can still get on the current Unlimited Data plan. They may or may not let you do it, but even if your current phone doesn't support it, add it to your plan and you will be grandfathered in with unlimited data even when you upgrade your phone next month.
posted by shinynewnick at 12:29 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have their unlimited and they can pry it from my cold dead fingers, but as a fairly heavy data user, I'm using around 2GB every month, and when I'm home, I make sure to switch over to my Wi-Fi and that's when I do most of my app installs/updates, moving data off the phone, etc.
posted by deezil at 12:31 PM on June 24, 2011

I have WiFi at home and work, meaning I only use the 3G when I'm out and about. I rarely come near my 2GB cap. The only time I did was when I was streaming Netflix over 3G. I live on my phone, so 2GB should be more than enough. Even if you go over your cap, chances are they will charge you $10 for each additional 1GB block (like AT&T does).
posted by msbutah at 12:32 PM on June 24, 2011

If you sign up for the unlimited $30 data plan TODAY, I think you can get it for at least the next two years without having to switch to the tiered pricing plans.

I spoke to a coworker who moonlights as a Verizon in-store sales rep, and he told me I shouldn't worry about the tiered plans since I'll be grandfathered into the $30 unlimited data.
posted by carsonb at 12:32 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, forgot to mention, I might watch a YouTube video or two here and there, but no huge streaming need, audio or video for me.
posted by deezil at 12:33 PM on June 24, 2011

Best answer: Worth noting is that if you get an account before July 7, you can get the $30/mo/unlimited use and keep it. If I were you, I'd go do that right now, because otherwise you're going to pay $30/mo/2GB, which may or may not be enough data for you.

Also, as a data point, I consider myself a fairly midrange smartphone user--I stream music, but not every day; I watch the occasional YouTube video, but don't do NetFlix--and I go through at least five gigs of data a month. My higher-use months (when I'm on vacation and not around WiFi points at all during the day, when I have music on all the time, when my kid watches YouTube on my phone during long car trips) I've gone over 20 gigs without even thinking about it.

The amount of data that your smartphone uses is going to go up, not down, in the next [x] years. Do yourself a favor and get the unlimited plan while you still can.
posted by MeghanC at 12:33 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Get the unlimited plan now. You can still upgrade to it without affecting your current contract. Then you're grandfathered in, pay the same as a 2GB plan user, and don't have to worry about data usage.

Then next month, renew your contact and get your new phone with grandfathered data plan.
posted by inturnaround at 12:34 PM on June 24, 2011

Almost irrelevant data point: Certain phones have maximum-size threshholds for app downloading. The iPhone, for instance, won't let you grab an app over a certain size without switching over to WiFi. However, app downloading is a minor bandwidth-sucker.

But nthing everyone else; unlimited plans are diamonds in the rough.
posted by griphus at 12:37 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

OK, I just went into my account on Verizon and poked around their usage analysis tools. My sister has an iPhone and averages about 200mb per month. I drive an old, old Omnia and average ~30mb per month. Granted, neither of us are power users, and I don't think my sister is streaming movies or anything. She probably turns on Pandora occasionally or something. Honestly, I was surprised at how little we used given the amount I'm online on my phone...

I'm on track to upgrade here any day (Droid 3! Keyboard!) and I expect my usage to up accordingly, but from the looks of it I'll remain well within the 2gb/mo limit. Not that it'll matter on my end. *crosses fingers*
posted by carsonb at 12:56 PM on June 24, 2011

I'm a fairly heavy user that uses pandora probably 5 hours a month, watches videos once a week or so and always on google maps, browsing, etc. My usage has been .5, .5, and .9 gigs a month the last 3 months.
posted by sandmanwv at 1:48 PM on June 24, 2011

We just switched to Verizon this week and we got unlimited. Whew.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:31 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

You've all convinced me. I bought the white iPhone with unlimited data tonight.
posted by Gridlock Joe at 7:11 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the feedback everyone!
posted by headnsouth at 2:01 PM on June 25, 2011

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