Zombie need phone with Brains, not to mention the Carrier that runs it
July 28, 2011 6:56 AM   Subscribe

Hate my iPhone. Want a new phone and a new carrier (currently AT&T). Which one is the most worth my hard earned money?

Mrs. Zombie and I both have an iPhone 3Gs. We both are not fans of how the company treats their customers who don't have the latest hardware, and then there's the monthly price. So we're insanely happy that at the end of August our contracts are up and we can move to a different type of phone and carrier.

Our current situation:
* two iPhone 3Gs
-mostly used for web, e-mail and texting. (very little time spent talking)
-Games are not part of the equation
-Mrs. Zombie runs a business with an online face that she NEEDS to be able to interact with (web usage is a focus here)
* monthly bill = ~$160

desired situation:
* two Android based phones
* monthly bill = ~$115

Besides AT&T what company can meet that mark for the price, and not be dicks to you when you have questions?

What phones should we get?
posted by zombieApoc to Technology (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
T-mobile can pretty nearly meet that price point [well, before taxes and stuff, anyway]; they've got a 1000-min, unlimited text, 2GB data family plan for $120/mo.

I can't guarantee they won't be dicks, though. I'm running maybe 60-40 [leaning toward not-dick] on that count.

My wife and I use iPhones on T-mobile, so I also can't speak to how the support Android.
posted by chazlarson at 7:10 AM on July 28, 2011

Also, camera quality isn't really part of the equation, I carry a camera to take pics, I don't need some cell phone with insane picture taking capabilities.
posted by zombieApoc at 7:10 AM on July 28, 2011

Sprint's data plans are pretty great right now. There are a variety of Android phone options, though I'd personally recommend sticking with their best sellers, i.e., the HTC EVO line, due to the possibility that you'll get cut off from Android updates if Sprint decides to discontinue the model.

Depending on where you work you can easily get a 25% discount on the total bill, too. Hint: You work at UPS.
posted by odinsdream at 7:10 AM on July 28, 2011

I'm running maybe 60-40 [leaning toward not-dick] on that count.

thanks for the laugh :P
posted by zombieApoc at 7:11 AM on July 28, 2011

Depending on where you work you can easily get a 25% discount on the total bill, too. Hint: You work at UPS.

I work at a company that I believe has a thing with Sprint. I didn't even think of that until you mentioned it. very good point.
posted by zombieApoc at 7:12 AM on July 28, 2011

I was on T-Mobile for over a decade until I switched to Verizon recently. Their data plan is surprisingly cheap (although I can't really tell you anything about the phones) and their customer service is not bad, if sometimes a little clueless.
posted by griphus at 7:15 AM on July 28, 2011

Also, I live in NYC and I got dropped calls rarely enough that I can't remember a specific instance.
posted by griphus at 7:16 AM on July 28, 2011

I just wanted to put in that Sprint has really taken their customer service up several notches in the past couple years. I've had them for over a decade, now, and their CS used to be unbelievably awful; the past couple times I've had to call in, the service I've received has been stellar. And I very rarely have problems with them or my service at all (no dropped calls in about 5 years!), so those would be a couple calls over a couple years.

They have an unlimited data/text plan with 450 talk minutes for 69.99 per month. It was my plan up until a couple days ago, and it was pretty sweet. I don't do much talking, but I was doing a lot of internetting and texting, so it worked really well for me.

(I stopped needing to have internet on my phone, and I'm going on maternity leave soon, so I downgraded to a bare minimum w/unlimited texts plan and a non-internet phone. Otherwise, I would still have it.)
posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 7:32 AM on July 28, 2011

T-Mobile customer now, love them. The only reason I plan to switch to Sprint later this year is because AT&T is going to eat T-Mobile. I was once an AT&T customer and I'd rather not be one again.

As for why Sprint: my place of employment has discounts with them.
posted by royalsong at 7:45 AM on July 28, 2011

great info.

Looking at an EVO 4G.

Spring can give me and the Mrs. a plan for 116$ a month. I'm sure it's mid $130s after fees but what the hey.
posted by zombieApoc at 8:50 AM on July 28, 2011

Note that news this week suggests that Sprint will be "end-of-lifeing" the EVO 4G. This might mean you'll get a screaming deal, though as odinsdream notes this could also mean you're cut out of future software upgrade path.

I believe the currently shipping EVO 4Gs run Android 2.1 -- newer phones are on 2.3 -- so this would put it two upgrades behind out the gate.
posted by donovan at 9:25 AM on July 28, 2011

I switched from T-Mobile to Sprint a little over a year ago to get the Sprint EVO 4G. I have had to have it replaced twice so far and am currently having issues with it (the camera doesn't start) and they haven't been helpful in solving the problem. It's starting to feel sluggish and slow in general and doing a full reset didn't improve its performance. I haven't enjoyed dealing with Sprint.

They suggested that my camera would work if I deleted some aps off my phone -- I don't have a ton of aps, but after the hard reboot I only reinstalled about half of what I had previously. It's infuriating because there are many aps pre-loaded by Sprint which you can't uninstall, for NASCAR and Blockbuster and "SprintZone" kind of crap. You can't get that stuff off your phone without rooting it, which voids the warranty.

I finally got exasperated and decided I'd try rooting the phone (and figuring out how to do that) but it turns out that you can't once you have the gingerbread update, which I have.
posted by palegirl at 9:46 AM on July 28, 2011

My next phone will be with VirginMobile. You pay more upfront for a nice phone (Motorola Triumph $300) but then only $35/month for unlimited text, data, and email (300 minutes talk time). You could also get a lower end phone, like the Samsung Restore for $80, then same price for phone plan. So that's $70/month, saving $45/month (from your target rate) which would pay for the phone in about 6 months.

They share the Sprint network for coverage. They might have family plans, not sure. But the rate is a month-to-month with no contract. You could try them out for 30 days, and if you don't like it, you can send your phone back for a full refund. You can cancel at any time with no cancellation fees.
posted by indigo4963 at 10:46 AM on July 28, 2011

Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread) is the current software version that is available for the Sprint EVO 4G. That is not out of date at all, in fact it's very current.
posted by dave*p at 12:28 PM on July 28, 2011

I'm on Sprint with a Samsung Epic 4G. I love the hell out of my phone and my service, although I admit if I had realized how little I would actually use the physical keyboard on this thing I might have gone for an HTC EVO instead. My wife has the EVO and is super-happy as well.

Be mindful that if you get a 4G phone, Sprint will slap an additional $10/month onto your bill, whether you actually use the 4G data connection or not. That's per-phone, so $20 for 2 4G phones. I don't know if that's included in the $116 figure they quoted you or not.

Regarding Sprint's bloatware - I'm running a custom ROM(Android software package customized by an independent developer - not sanctioned by Samsung or Sprint) so I never see any of that junk. My battery also lasts twice as long(or more) than it did on the stock software. As far as warranty goes - it's only voided if you can't reset your phone back to stock before you take it in. Unless it's just absolutely unusable due to physical damage, it's really hard to get an android phone into a situation where it can't be restored.

As far as the EVO's rooting capability goes, my wife isn't as geeky about this stuff as I am, so I haven't gotten to play with her phone as far as installing custom ROMs, etc, but the XDA Developers' Forum for the EVO is very active, with posts about new/updated ROMS as recently as today, so I have a hard time believe the thing is bulletproof. If you want to go this route with your phone, it can be very rewarding from a performance and usability standpoint, but getting there can be a fairly treacherous road. Still, if you're have some technological inclination and can follow(sometimes poorly-written) directions, it's well worth it. You can find video reviews of many custom ROMs on youtube to see the differences as far as performance, UI, etc.

Good luck wherever you end up!
posted by owtytrof at 2:38 PM on July 28, 2011

We both are not fans of how the company treats their customers who don't have the latest hardware

Just a word of warning, if you thought Apple was bad with supporting customers then you might get a nasty shock from Android vendors - many of who never upgrade the Android version beyond the one they initially released it with. You'll also have to contend with a sucky, buggy and bloated skin which they've slapped on the top in an effort to differentiate and a bunch of pre-installed apps by your operator which you cannot easily remove.

Some are starting to get better (on the update front, at least), but that still doesn't mean they are perfect or they don't try to push it. Case in point, HTC announcing that the Desire (launched only 17 months ago) wouldn't get an update to Gingerbread (effectively meaning that it received no updates in its entire life) - only to have to backtrack after massive backlash on Facebook.

Meanwhile the iPhone 3GS (released over 2 years ago) will be getting iOS 5 in the fall and has received at least 4 other updates.

On the upside, at least when the vendor support runs out 3 months after you bought the phone then you can root it and run Cyanogen Mod to get the later versions. Not something you can do with the iPhone after Apple abandon it after 2 years.

Full disclaimer: I own a HTC Desire HD.
posted by mr_silver at 2:46 PM on July 28, 2011

Sprint is awful w/r/t dropped calls, so bad that I am considering giving up a free phone plan from my job to get a plan with another carrier. Northeast US.
posted by mlis at 9:00 PM on July 28, 2011

I know this may be late, but as another data point I currently have sprint (living in NYC) with the newest EVO 3D. It is an awesome phone and the service is much much cheaper than any other place.
posted by The1andonly at 8:02 AM on August 10, 2011

Not too late. My current contract is up at the end of the month, so I'm still doing my homework.
posted by zombieApoc at 1:15 PM on August 15, 2011

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