Best Advice for cellphone & service (northern california)
February 2, 2004 7:53 PM   Subscribe

I'm in the market for a new cell phone, and I'm trying to find some knowledgable reviewers (particularly of carriers and coverage). [more inside]

Epinions used to be good, but it isn't updated much anymore. Can anyone suggest some sites with good (current) reviews?

Alternatively, can anyone recommend a carrier? I live in Northern California (read: two hours north of Sacramento) and the coverage maps indicate AT&T and Cingular have the best coverage for the areas I spend most of my time.
posted by keswick to Technology (8 answers total)
Try these forums.
posted by kickingtheground at 8:42 PM on February 2, 2004

Best answer: ... or, for that matter, howard forums.
posted by ph00dz at 9:14 PM on February 2, 2004

I like MobileTracker.
posted by rhyax at 11:03 PM on February 2, 2004

Mobile Burn could do with a redesign, but the content's top-notch. And there's none of that "this phone can't make calls, but that's a minor flaw when you've got Java 2.3! Thanks Motorla for a nothe r great phone!!" crap that so many mobile review sites suffer from.
posted by bonaldi at 5:29 AM on February 3, 2004

Mobile phone service is one of those things that is, at present, best dealt with in *real life* social networks, instead of in friendster clones. Just ask around in your area about what phones people have and how consistent their service is. Nobody likes their carrier, but you'll get better (if more sparse) data. If you only meet people with service from one carrier, it's some evidence that other carriers don't cut it where you are.

I wish somebody would come up with a nice visualization tool that was the entire U.S. divided down to the zipcode level. Then, we could overlay coverage maps for each of the big six carriers. People could submit their own data points (and we'd average the results, etc). Even if it was a binary map (good / bad), that would still be a big help. Especially in cases where you don't live where you'll use the phone -- like when you travel for work, or are moving.
posted by zpousman at 12:51 PM on February 3, 2004

Knowing you live in Northern California indicates one thing you need to know before you start picking carriers: avoid Cingular/Pac Bell/SBC/Whatever the RBOC is Calling Itself This Month like the plague. In other markets they may or may not be acceptable, but network coverage in California is frustratingly, consistently awful, with the worst awfulness (but not all of it) in the Bay Area. Also, the data services are insanely priced.

Everyone else, as carriers go, can proceed through your selection process. Just make sure you drop Cingular from consideration before you begin. I've used most of the other carriers, and they have their advantages and disadvantages, but the Cingular network is uniformly bad: it doesn't adhere to the published coverage map, has innumerable dead spots, and is constantly overloaded.
posted by majick at 1:03 PM on February 3, 2004

Response by poster: magick: I thought I made it clear that NorCal != Bay Area. This is one of my pet peeves. Thanks for the reply, though.
posted by keswick at 1:29 PM on February 3, 2004

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