Time to Buy a Cellphone
June 3, 2004 11:11 PM   Subscribe

I've decided to enter the 21st century and finally get a cellphone. Any recommendations on service and brands? I just read a Consumer Report that was beyond inconclusive. Can anyone tell me what service they have and why they like it...?

...Or should i just do a lot of my own research?
posted by Slimemonster to Shopping (11 answers total)
Ask friends--it really depends on the area, unfortunately.
posted by gramcracker at 11:31 PM on June 3, 2004

Think about what kind of functionality you'll need and if you're willing to pay extra for it.

Do you have any bluetooth devices? A laptop with bluetooth? PDA? You'll probably want to be able to sync your contact list via bluetooth if you do.

Do you have a need for a grainy camera that takes lousy pictures? For most people it's just a novelty, but if you don't need it, you can certainly save yourself quite a bit of money by choosing a phone without one.

Do you need it to store a calendar and various other PDA functions? If so maybe you should look into "smartphones" that have those capabilities. Keep in mind the "smartphones" are generally a little bigger than your average cell phone since they'll need a bigger screen.

How are you going to be carrying it around? If you're a guy without a manbag, most likely you'll want it to be reasonably small so it'll fit in your pocket. I tend to favour Nokia phones since they have no antennas that jam into your leg when you sit down.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 11:41 PM on June 3, 2004

no bluetooth, i'm pretty sure, definitely no camera needed. I'm trying to get as much possible input from as many sources as possible.
posted by Slimemonster at 11:59 PM on June 3, 2004

Bluetooth is nice to sync your phone with your computer... saves a lot of triple tapping in contacts.
posted by nathan_teske at 12:15 AM on June 4, 2004

...Or should i just do a lot of my own research?

How about a little, at least? I would suggest, if you want to get the most out of AskMe, to come with a little more information than just "I need a cellphone." How about: where do you live? Anything! This is a big topic, with many considerations, and there are many opinions. You're not going to get helpful info unless you narrow it down a little first.
posted by scarabic at 1:06 AM on June 4, 2004

I've heard extremely good things about the Siemans S46 World Phone. It's low-frills (though I think you can get an MP3 player for it) but I see it all the time on business travellers because of its unparalleled reception.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:16 AM on June 4, 2004

Verizon seems to be the wise choice in Arizona, for what it's worth.
posted by oissubke at 8:47 AM on June 4, 2004

Some useful sites for comparing phones, carriers, and plans:





As others have noted here and in earlier threads, it's all about where you live. Ask people who live and work near you. Also, most carriers have a 2-week return policy. If you get your phone home and discover that you have to climb a ladder in your front yard to get any reception, do yourself a favor and return it.
posted by Alylex at 8:52 AM on June 4, 2004

I have an unlocked Ericsson R520m that I'm pretty happy with. It has the essential features (multi-band, data over GPRS or analog modem, BlueTooth) and none of the non-essential ones (color screen, camera). For service I currently use T-Mobile, but since the phone is unlocked, I can use it on any GSM network.
posted by kindall at 12:32 PM on June 4, 2004

See, I didn't even realize that there were major differences in regions. I'm very very new to the cellphone thing. I live in Seattle, by the way.
posted by Slimemonster at 4:13 PM on June 4, 2004

Slime, if you're new to the cell thing, and only want one for the classic "emergencies and urgent personal business" stuff, consider a pre-paid. It's a great way to dip your toe in and find out how you're going to use your cell. If your usage stays very low, you'll pay under $10-20 per month -- which is less than the $30 commitment most plans start at.

If you do find out you want to chat with your pals all the time, shop "with a friend", that sort of thing, you'll have a better idea what features you need from what your phone does or doesn't have.

For myself, I have a Virgin. You can get lower per-minute rates (Virgin USA is $0.25/min), but everybody else out there expires minutes in as few as 30 days (thievery!), compared with their 90. That best met my own needs. I hated being on a plan, especially when I only had a phone so my boss could reach me (and emergencies). This has worked much better for me. It does constrain me -- I hate counting minutes in my head, like the US Cellular "bullhorn" ad. But for calls that last that long I have a phone card and find a landline. And eventually (soon, really) I'll have to get back on a cell plan for business reasons (and I'll want one with more robust PDA functionality). But I'm just not the type to chat on a phone for hours.
posted by dhartung at 12:45 AM on June 5, 2004

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