Cingular Cellphone
February 23, 2004 9:46 PM   Subscribe

I'm buying my first cell phone now that my commute is changing from 5 minutes to 60. I want to send instant messages with the option of using an actual phone, I want it to be as cheap as possible, and I'd like to be with Cingular. The hiptop has arched my brow since it came out, but I'm not sure I'd like being on T-Mobile's network. Any thoughts?
posted by jragon to Technology (17 answers total)
Cingular rules.
posted by TurkishGolds at 10:03 PM on February 23, 2004

No, you don't want to be with Cingular. Particularly if you're looking for a cost-effective way to do data like messaging or are looking for cheap. Cingular's expensive, and the network quality I've experienced both locally and while travelling is alarmingly bad.

Pick anybody but; the rest are all about equally bad in my experience. Cingular's the standout for extra badness.
posted by majick at 10:05 PM on February 23, 2004

i like tomobile, their data rate is cheap, for ports 80 and 21 you can just get tzones for like $5 a month unlimited transfer, for other ports you need to pay more, but it's still not that expensive.

messaging on a phone though is difficult, i have a sonyericsson t610 and it is pretty much unworkable for IM, you can do email and things. i do IM via palm and bluetooth connection to the phone now, which works well, but is more expensive...
posted by rhyax at 10:13 PM on February 23, 2004

Lots of people have had troubles with the color sidekicks and replacements from t-mobile are currently at a 2 week backorder. I'd like one though; it does AIM very well.

It looks like Danger might have a new device by the end of the year.
posted by gluechunk at 10:54 PM on February 23, 2004

I've been with T-Mobile since they were Voicestream and I've got nothing but good to say about them. Customer service is fast and courteous, and I almost always have a full signal (Twin cities, Minnesota).

I'll second their data plan. For $20/mo I get unlimited bandwidth, which is extra nice now that the Sidekick has an ssh client.
posted by esch at 11:03 PM on February 23, 2004

This is not a driving commute, I gather? You will have full use of both hands?
posted by scarabic at 11:17 PM on February 23, 2004

i must second rhyax's t-mobile love.

Over the years, I've had service with Cingular (pac bell), AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.

Of all of them, T-Mobile has been the best, sprint runs a close second (their support is not as good as t-mobile's, but they do have good coverage in my area). AT&T and Cingular were poop.
posted by fishfucker at 12:26 AM on February 24, 2004

i have cingular at home and tmobile (hiptop) at work, and honestly, tmobile has much better customer service. i know this because i had to get my boss's color sidekick replaced six times. however, i have a black and white sidekick and i have never had any problems with it. my cingular phone works fine but i can never get through to customer service without a very, very long wait.
posted by sugarfish at 5:32 AM on February 24, 2004

Most of Sprint's phones have terrible implementation of text messaging.

I was told my phone would be upgraded to support embedded text messaging when I purchased it, only to be told now that I would have to buy a brand new phone, at full over-priced, in order to do that text messaging. Otherwise, it drops into a web browser to do SMS.

I am tempted to buy the Treo 600, which has a thumb keyboard, which would be good for text messaging, but I am not sure if I really want to invest in such an elaborate phone.
posted by benjh at 6:47 AM on February 24, 2004

Another former Cingular (must.stop.fists.of.death.) person who switched to (and loves) T-mobile.
posted by terrapin at 6:55 AM on February 24, 2004

TMobile is good. Pretty good signal. Good customer service (if you're nice, they can go out of their way to help you out). No two-hour waits on hold to talk to CSR (AT&T, I'm looking at you here).

However, the Sidekick in particular has two problems: rotten signal. And rotten Quality Assurance on the hardware side. I've had 5 devices, and they've all crapped out hardware-wise in *different ways*. Plus, the signal is often 3 or 4 bars worse than most other phones (like, other phone has 4 bars, Sidekick has no reception -- seriously). However, the AIM client, SSH client, and web browsing experience, as well as the overall integration is fan-freaking-tastic. Better than anything else, even the Treo 600.

I have a T-Mobile Blackberry 7320. It's sweet. Full keyboard. Nice sms and chatting. Webbrowsing is also ok, but just ok. There are some shitty user interface conventions used in the device, fwiw. YMMV, etc.
posted by zpousman at 7:26 AM on February 24, 2004

I've had no experience with the Hiptop/Sidekick, but I can say that if you are in California, Nevada, or New York City, T-Mobile and Cingular's networks are one and the same. (In CA/NV, Cingular shares the network they built with T-Mobile; in NYC, T-Mobile shares the network they built with Cingular.)

Personally, I'm not too unhappy with Cingular, although I am in an area where they've been running GSM from day one (as opposed to an area they converted from TDMA), and I've never had to call customer service for anything. Their lack of an unlimited GPRS data plan for a reasonable price kinda sucks, though.
posted by zztzed at 7:51 AM on February 24, 2004

I have Cingular now, and I'm not exactly pleased with them. First of all, when you first sign up, you think you know what you're getting into in terms of rates, but you'd be wrong. You think you're signing up for $39.99 a month, but you end up paying over $50 because of fees and service charges and whatnot. They're awfully deceptive, and I echo what everyone else has said about customer service - they're terrible.

Seems that people here are happy with T-Mobile - maybe I should check them out.
posted by MsVader at 7:54 AM on February 24, 2004

I have a T-Mobile Hiptop (B&W), and can pretty much echo what's been said here. T-Mobile's signal is OK- not great, but all the providers seem to suck equally, IMHO. Customer service is good. The unit itself has great functionality, but I've had to return two of them because of hardware failures. From what I've heard, the newer color models are more reliable.

The Hiptop is a great internet device, but kind of a mediocre phone. It's fine for me, since I hate talking on the phone and I'm not one of those people who needs to be "always available" (I rarely answer calls to it), but you pretty much need a headset to do serious talking due to the Hiptop's awkward form factor.
posted by mkultra at 8:01 AM on February 24, 2004

All your evals would be so much more worthwhile if you would inculde which area you generally operate in...

As for ATT, in NYC, their coverage is second only to Verizon but their (nationwide) cust Serv is laughablly inept.

Email me tho, if have ATT and you want a neat trick to get great cust serv each call.
posted by Fupped Duck at 8:10 AM on February 24, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks so much for all the useful information. Scarabic, to answer your question, this will be a bus/walking commute. I'm in the Seattle area which should get any major carrier's signal about the same, I imagine.

Looks like I'm leaning towards a hiptop, then. I want unlimited data with the option to make a call, so the akward form factor shouldn't be too much of a hassle.

Too bad to hear about the bad hardware quality, though. I found myself wishing Apple had some sort of solution for people like me :)
posted by jragon at 11:06 AM on February 24, 2004

I had Cingular in Seattle for about a week. Their coverage was abysmal. I, too, have been happy with T-Mobile.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:39 PM on February 24, 2004

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