Ninjas, hack my phone life!
October 21, 2011 11:24 AM   Subscribe

Cell phone ninjas, hack my phone life! What is the best cell phone and plan for me?

I'm looking for the optimal phone + plan.

I currently have an old, but trusty LG VX8300. It's been a good phone-- sturdy and reliable, but it's very old and lately has been behaving badly (weirdly shutting off for no reason, etc.).

I've been with Verizon for about ten years, but I'm getting disgusted with the overage charges, and the fact that there seems to be no text "alert" option to let me know when I'm nearing my maximum minutes or text usage. (Or is there?). It irks me that Verizon WANTS me to go over my plan, and wants to NOT help me prevent this. Perhaps this is a universal among wireless providers.

Plan Needs: When I had Verizon's 450 mins/month, unlimited mobile-to-mobile plan, I'd routinely go over by a hundred minutes or so, and get screwed. When I switched to the 900 mins/month, I didn't use nearly that number. I send and receive about 400 texts/pix per month.
(Oh, I'll also be in California for the upcoming months.)

Phone Needs: I'm concerned about SAR, and radiation levels in general. (All you skeptics, let's talk in 20 years.) I'm open to any kind of phone-- smart, dumb, iPhone, whatever. I'd like to spend the minimum dollars for maximum utility, lowest possible SAR.

And.... go!
posted by enzymatic to Technology (8 answers total)
Here's your 15 of your 20 years across the population of a whole country. Get an iPhone.
posted by mhoye at 12:19 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

You haven't said anything about the features you need, or if you prefer a touchscreen or a physical keyboard. You're going to have to share that info before anyone can make a good recommendation.

It sounds like your real beef is with your cell phone plan. If you don't like Verizon, forget them. Choose a nice cheap provider and buy a messages package which is usually worth it after you hit a couple hundred messages each month.

Word to the wise -- go to your Verizon account online! Up to a day or two before your bill is due, you can change your plan to match your usage for the month. So if you had a lot of texts, opt for the unlimited texts plan for that month. Then you can switch back, I think (but might have to wait another month or so). Verizon offers a lot of ways to make sure you don't go over; it's one of the few things I like about them. Also note that if you're in a rural area, some providers offer better coverage than others. Here Verizon is often better. But here in Philly, my Verizon reception is so-so (my home is a partial dead zone -- that's fun!).

This article lists phones' SAR levels. If that's literally all you care about (based on your question) then it should help you make an informed choice.
posted by Deathalicious at 12:31 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding Deathalicious. Answering these questions might help:

Are you looking for email and web (ie a smartphone)?
Do you use your phone in rural areas or mostly urban areas?
How much do you want to spend a month?
Do you want the latest and greatest phone or is last year's ok?
Do you want a full keyboard and/or touchscreen?
posted by golden at 12:53 PM on October 21, 2011

Another good question: What is your current level of usage, minutes and text-wise? Do you think that would change with a snazzier phone (easier to type, sounds better, etc.)?
posted by soelo at 2:18 PM on October 21, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for your feedback. To answer:

-- Don't necessarily need a smartphone. But if there's an iPhone with a low SAR, that could be useful.
-- I'm in a mix of urban and rural. Currently between two cities in California.
-- I'd like to spend under $60/month.
-- Last year's phone is more than OK. My current phone is more than 6 years old, and I'm totally happy with it, except that it's starting to act funny.
-- No real preference vis a vis keyboard or touchscreen. Slight preference for Apple products.
posted by enzymatic at 3:32 PM on October 21, 2011

Page Plus's Talk n Text 1200 plan is $30/mo for 1200 minutes and 3000 texts. They use Verizon's cell network.

Virgin Mobile's payLo is $30 for 1500 minutes and 1500 messages. Virgin uses Sprint's network.

Virgin's phone selection is rather better.. With Page Plus you'll need to find a dealer or buy a compatible unlocked phone and go through an activation process. Virgin also has a $35 unlimited data / 300 minutes plan.

These are prepaid plans, so you won't be subject to overage charges.
posted by unmake at 3:52 PM on October 21, 2011

Response by poster: Hm, I like the prepaid options. But it looks like the phones have pretty high SARs. Also, how easy/hard is it to port my number to a new service?
posted by enzymatic at 4:15 PM on October 21, 2011

Porting numbers is crazy easy. Don't even put any thought into it.

There is no such thing as a low SAR iPhone. Since SAR is what you keep talking about, just get the Samsung Blue Earth already.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:37 AM on October 24, 2011

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