cell phone service
June 11, 2005 5:56 PM   Subscribe

What are the best cell phones and plans available?

My Sprint phone stopped working and my warranty and contract have expired. They offer a $150 mail-in rebate for a new phone if I sign a 2-year renewal but that doesn't sound great to me. I'm in the US and only need a national plan and am also open to PDA suggestions (or maybe a cell phone/mp3 player?) All responses are appreciated.
posted by foraneagle2 to Technology (15 answers total)
Telebright Wireless Service Comparison Chart.

HowardChui & Howard Forums (For reviews of cell phones).
posted by mlis at 6:51 PM on June 11, 2005

I've been very pleased with T-Mobile. They have the highest rated customer service for the second year in a row by JD Power & Associates. That's no joke either -- whenever I call the customer service number, I'm speaking to a real human being within about 60 seconds (no phone-system maze, no waiting on hold for minutes at a time).

As for the phone, my only recommendation would be to go for one with Bluetooth; that can be rather handy if you later need to sync it with a laptop or PDA.
posted by Handcoding at 6:52 PM on June 11, 2005

I am also quite pleased with T-Mobile, but I think it wil depend a lot on where you live, because I use it in NYC and it's great, but when I visit my family in FL, I get barely any reception.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:07 PM on June 11, 2005 [1 favorite]

I'm in Texas with T-Mobile and have had no problems with them the last three months. They were really helpful with setting me up and the prices are reasonable. Plus the term is only for a year, which I liked better than being locked in with anyone else for two years.

I have a Nokia 6610 from them that I love to pieces, but you might want something more advanced.
posted by angeline at 7:27 PM on June 11, 2005

Do you need it to work well in specific location, like home or the office? If so, you should poll friends and coworkers about signal strength on the plans they use when they are in those key locations.
posted by Good Brain at 7:35 PM on June 11, 2005

Another vote for T-Mobile. I live in California, and am on a plan that gives me 3,000 minutes a month (that's 100 minutes a day!) within California, Nevada and Arizona, for $50 bucks a month. After taxes and everything, that comes to $55.
posted by curtm at 8:11 PM on June 11, 2005

Ditto for T-Mobile, on the customer service alone. I've had it for 3 years in NYC, and the first year the coverage was pathetic and annoying. I stuck with them because I had just ended a bitter two-year relationship with AT&T, itself a rebound relationship from my brutal divorce with Sprint, and the T-Mobile customer service was unbelievable. You always got (and still do) a human being within a minute or two, they bent over (and still do) backwards to resolve problems, issue credits without being asked, and have several times shipped me free new phones just because I lost or broke one. Almost scary how pleasant they have been. I find my phone works fine in Chicago, Albuquerque, Austin, San Diego, Atlanta, and San Fran, for what it's worth. And the NYC service has become utterly reliable. But it's the people and the attitude that has kept me a happy customer.

They still screw you on overages, though. No rollover minutes.
posted by realcountrymusic at 8:40 PM on June 11, 2005

I'm happy with T-Mobile, too. I switched to them after Cingular customer service called my husband a deadbeat after they cashed my check but didn't credit my account. (And that was the "supervisor." She actually used the word deadbeat.) I bought my latest phone through Amazon and got $200 in rebates on a $150 phone.
posted by Ruki at 8:54 PM on June 11, 2005

foraneagle2, I think you'll have more questions than answers from this question.

Here's why - go over to howardforums. You'll find that there are people who like/hate each phone + service.

Each plan has something competitive:
For nextexl it's push to talk
for tmobile it's rollover
Sprint, supposedly is call quality
Verzion it's quality + data plans
I'm sure Cingular has something along these lines too.

I tend to think (for people switching providers) that it's the phone not the service as much.

So here's a great cell phone finder widget.
posted by filmgeek at 9:39 PM on June 11, 2005

cingulair is the one with rollover.

I went with them because that's what the vast majority of my friends have, and it means I can call them for free.

The vast majority of cell companies let you call anyone else with the company without dipping into your bank of time. So, I'd say find out what will work where you need it to work, and then see who all the people you would be calling have.

If you don't plan to be doing a lot of calling, and it's an emergency-only phone, you may want to think about going with prepaid. But be warned, if you start to use a prepaid phone like a normal phone it will get very expensive very quickly.
posted by Kellydamnit at 9:47 PM on June 11, 2005

wow, that sounds so repetitive. Sorry, moved today, still unpacking, million degrees out and a street festival going on half a block away, so I'm completely brain fried.
posted by Kellydamnit at 9:48 PM on June 11, 2005

I'm not a phone person, so I went prepaid. I am averaging about $12 a month with Virgin Mobile.
posted by mischief at 6:15 AM on June 12, 2005

I signed up for a new contract in February and went with Sprint's fair and flexible plan. It's hard to beat if, like me, your usage fluctuates a lot from month to month or if you're not sure what your usage will be over the life of the contract. You've already been a Sprint customer so you know what their coverage is like.
posted by TimeFactor at 5:32 PM on June 12, 2005

I've been a T-Mobile subscriber for years (since it was VoiceStream in Chicago) and have never had any real problems. Their contract length is only a year on phones and they have some great nationwide phone/data plans available.

Amazon is the place to get your phone with all of the rebate offers available. Lots of great phones that you can actually make $50 off of. T-Mobile also offers somewhat fair upgrades every 12 months so if you're someone who wants a new phone every so often you can actually get an upgrade without paying an arm and a leg.
posted by cherryghost at 7:18 PM on June 12, 2005

Another vote for T-Mobile. I get a signal almost anywhere, don't get charged for roaming, and have never gone over my minutes (I get 600). They covered the phone (it's not swanky, but it's sturdy). Their website is useful, too--great FAQ, and easy one-time bill pay.
posted by hamster at 9:12 AM on June 13, 2005

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