I'm looking for a good deal on a PDA/cell with cheap plans.
March 14, 2007 1:59 PM   Subscribe

I am going to change my cell phone and probably my provider. What is the most savy way of going about this?

My contract is up. I have a rough idea of what I want, a cell / PDA which can sync with Outlook contacts and either a minimal data plan or none at all, for phone hours probably the cheapest plan. I don't need any software beyond a calendar and contacts that can be updated from my computer. I'm leaning towards Verizon for the provider but I'm pretty open. Whether my phone number changes or stays the same is not an issue.

What would your plan be for getting the best deal? Verizon store? Amazon.com? There have been threads here where wirefly.com gets slammed and others where it is recommended. What's your take?

I've also read claims that the best choice is to get an unlocked GSM phone with a SIM card. What are the benefits of doing this? How does it compare in cost to getting a phone with a contract? For whom is it worth it?
posted by BigSky to Technology (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I always use unlocked GSM phones. I only buy them because I probably spend 1-2 months abroad on average, and i like to be able to pop in a SIM card in foreign countries, and have a working phone without spending an inordinate amount of money on service.

Mrs. Oil has used wirefly without issue, but the phone she got (a T-Mobile MDA) was actually cheaper there than at the T-Mobile store even *before* the rebate, so we figured that there was nothing to lose.

I've used amazon.com and eBay to buy my phones. Also without any problems on either, except a few occasions where my foreign-sourced GSM phone didn't come with a US power adapter. (that was eBay.)
posted by PEAK OIL at 2:29 PM on March 14, 2007

Oh, and expect to spend ~ $100-200 more to buy it unlocked in the US, and to receive no discount at all from your service provider. Really, it's only useful if you're going to travel internationally.
posted by PEAK OIL at 2:31 PM on March 14, 2007

I have the Treo 680, bought it unlocked so I could travel with it and buy SIM cards in my destination countries. Also, I like T-mobile and didn't want to switch and didn't like any of their smart phones.

The Treo is awesome and does what you're looking for, but it also does a lot more than you are looking for so you could probably save money by going with a Q or a blackjack.

I like the idea of getting an unlocked phone, but if you are starting with a new company, you might as well go with the one that has the phone you want since you'll probably be signing a contract for a year or so anyway. Having to buy prepaid minutes always seems like a hassle when I am overseas, therefore I have avoided it here (in the US).

Think about the data plan. I survived Christmas at the in-laws by surfing metafilter on my phone.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 2:59 PM on March 14, 2007

Best answer: I was very happy with Sprint's service. If you google around for SERO, you can find some great deals.

email's in profile if you need more.
posted by rbs at 5:04 PM on March 14, 2007

T-Mobile will unlock after 90 days. If you're thinking about GSM and SIM cards, I'd definitely go with them - Cingular makes you wait a year before they unlock it, last I heard.
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:58 PM on March 14, 2007

Best answer: 2nd SERO with Sprint. For $30 a month you get 500 anytime, unlimited nights and weekends, and unlimited data. Can't beat it. And you can get a Motorola Q for $99, which syncs with Outlook as seamlessly as Microsoft products can.
posted by jtfowl0 at 10:28 PM on March 14, 2007

consumerist has had several insider-type pieces over the last week or so about how to get good deals from various cell phone companies that could be helpful ...
posted by oh really at 6:34 AM on March 15, 2007

I'd stay away from verizon. They cripple their hardware the worst, have crappy data plans, and have had a number of high-profile customer service disasters recently.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 1:39 PM on March 15, 2007

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