Joined: May 6, 2010
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November 19th, 2011 at 9:49:19 PM permalink
I want to upgrade our current phones for smart phones as a Christmas present for me & the wife. Never had one before, and am looking for advice & commentary on what to look for when buying them and the data plans. I've had many friends more experienced with this than I recommend Android based phones, but I got to try my sisters' new Iphone last week and was impressed with it.

We do not use tons of minutes currently, and probably aren't going to be heavy data users. I envision us taking pictures, searching the web for info away from home/work, not going hog wild on the applications, and generally playing around on it. My wife will probably use hers more for updating Facebook & chatting on internet forums. Definitely getting unlimited texting, as we'll be getting my daughter a regular wireless phone in less than a year when she starts middle school.

So please give me your opinions on:

1. Iphone vs Android vs Blackberry vs Other?
2. How much does a data plan cost for you?
3. What features are must-haves and what features are overrated?
4. What carriers/networks do you prefer, and why?

I'm currently with Sprint, because I get a 20% discount from them via my employer. But I also can get that same deal on Verizon as well. I pay about $75/month now for our two phones and a moderate shared minutes plan. Am I going to get sticker shock when I price this?
"Bite my Glorious Golden Ass!" - Bender Bending Rodriguez
Joined: Dec 27, 2010
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November 20th, 2011 at 2:39:19 PM permalink
I probably won't be much help, but worst case you at least get a bump for your question.

1. The only phones I ever hear about (friends/coworkers) are iPhone and Droid, and I mean The Only. I would assume there is a reason for that.
2. Guys at work were discussing this last week, he said he pays around $80 a month for unlimited data.
3. As 'amazing' as these things are, I haven't found a single must-have use for a one of 'em. 80% of use I've seen is for games (wasting time), another 19% is people ruining good thinking conversations by hitting up Google. The one time I seen them used for a purpose was when we were trying to find a sunken ridge on a fishing trip. After 30 minutes of frustration, I broke out the paper map, my own bastardized version of triangulation, and found the ridge the old fashioned way. My friend, determined to defend his iPhone's honor, then tried to use the GPS app to determine trolling speed, which still registered 0mph well past the point that we were making wake. It also said we were in 20' of water, which we were setup to troll at, but my handy dandy Hummingbird insisted we were in 200'. (Hummingbird was right)
4. Total hearsay with no proof, but I generally hear AT&T is crap coverage and Sprint (?) slows download speed after a certain amount of usage.

Take this with a grain of salt, as I am extremely anti-smartphone. I will say that I find they take exceptional pictures, really top notch, but I am of course comparing it to my antiquated flip phone. If I could get one with just a call and text plan, I would get it just for the superior pic taking quality. But you can't get one without having to get the data plan, and $80 a month is a 4wheeler payment.
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Joined: Sep 15, 2010
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November 20th, 2011 at 2:46:57 PM permalink
Well, since you asked our simple opinions, here it goes:

1. Iphone vs Android vs Blackberry vs Other?

Personally I prefer the iPhone and the Apple iOS, because it's the most user friendly system that I know and applestore is fulfilled with apps. Regarding what you said about your need I would say that you should discard the Blackberry and focus in the other two options. Chosing the Android will give you more freedom to chose a phone model, specially one with a better keyboard. I do think that the keyboard is the main weakness of the iPhone.

2. How much does a data plan cost for you?


3. What features are must-haves and what features are overrated?

Unlimited calls, text, roamming, ID call. Since you are not gonna use heavy data run away from the unlimited plans. Something like 300mb or 500mb would be enough.

4. What carriers/networks do you prefer, and why?
I like at&t and verizon, because of the signal strengh and coverage. If you wanna save cash and you have that carrier in your area try Boost. Their service is very good for what you pay. But you cannot have iPhone on them, I guess.
No bounce, no play.
Joined: Jan 19, 2011
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November 20th, 2011 at 3:09:01 PM permalink
I'm with Sprint also, and recently upgraded to a 3G Sanyo Zio smartphone for free. If you haven't upgraded in 2 years, Sprint will give you $150 off a new phone, which made this one free, but I did have to recommit for another 20 months contract. No big deal there, and the Sprint workers couldn't have been more helpful or friendlier. I dropped my old plan and merged with my gf's plan for a discount, similar to what you're paying for unlimited data, texts, minutes.

The new 4G phones are much faster (and costlier) but not all cities have the towers that support 4G yet. Check Sprint's website or ask when you buy the phone. The newest iPhone is for Sprint customers only for the first few months.

All the apps available make it useful for everything. GPS, restaurant locators and reviews, Pandora, barcode scanners, etc. The entertaining time-waster Angry Birds does wear out the battery faster, but you can buy a back-up on ebay like I did. Sprint wanted $30 for an extra battery, and they didn't even have one in stock right then, but I found one on ebay for $8 (and free shipping).

Also, turn off WiFi when you don't need it. Constantly searching for a signal also wears out the battery.
"Poker sure is an easy game to beat if you have the roll to keep rebuying."
Joined: Apr 19, 2010
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November 20th, 2011 at 3:27:21 PM permalink
If you are texting a lot, get a phone with a keyboard. Touch screen phones are annoying to type on (see any of my posts which look badly spelled gibberish, that's probably using a touch screen... or I'm drinking...).

If you have wi-fi at home and at work, you don't need a massive data plan. I used about 100Mb/month at worst (once in a year), and I often use the phone to check facebook events, grab maps, etc.

iPhones are great if you want no mess, no fuss. The android phones I've found are more flexible and the use of the onscreen widgets if what I think makes them stand out. iPhones' new siri and face time apps are very simple and easy to use. My buddies swear by them. I swear by the Noom run tracker, onscreen sport scores and news readers on my Android 2.3.

I'd advise trying an iPhone and a couple of the latest Android phones out and seeing which has a nicer feel for you. I mean really try, dial, speak, and write. If sales man won't give you enough time, he's not helping. Battery time is less on these phones, but turning of wi-fi and auto updates will keep the battery going a lot longer.
"Then you can admire the real gambler, who has neither eaten, slept, thought nor lived, he has so smarted under the scourge of his martingale, so suffered on the rack of his desire for a coup at trente-et-quarante" - Honore de Balzac, 1829
Joined: Jul 11, 2010
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November 20th, 2011 at 4:55:54 PM permalink
If I had to limit my advice to four words or less, it would be this: stay away from iPhone.
It WA a nice, revolutionary concept in user interface, but by now Android has all the same stuff. Not being able to use your phone as you please on the other hand is a big deal. Just ask the friend that recommends that you use an iPhone this. Suppose, you have a book in PDF format. How do you get it to the iPhone to read? Forget books, download an MP3 file on your computer and want to listen on your phone. How long will it take you to get it there (hint: iTunes sync over USB is 1kbps)?
Do yourself a favor, get an android. There is no downside (well, except siri).
"When two people always agree one of them is unnecessary"
Joined: Dec 14, 2009
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November 20th, 2011 at 5:00:31 PM permalink
Speaking as a dedicated Android user, I believe this paraphrase by a tech writer whose name I can't remember says it best:

Apple gets you to buy a new phone by making you happy with your current phone.

Android phone makers get you to buy a new phone by making you unhappy with your current phone.

Basically, the fragmentation of the Android market means that, while all the phones run on Android, the versions are all slightly tweaked. Because all the versions are slightly different, updates are harder to implement, and manufacturers are loathe to take time away from developing new phones to go back and update the operating system on old phones. My original Droid was obsolete in about 3 weeks, and it was a viable phone for about a year. My current HTC Thunderbird is an incredible phone, but it is less than a year old and is now outdated; it got one OS update, at the beginning of May, that mad the phone unstable and caused it to reboot randomly. That was fixed in July; I don't expect to ever see an update to Android 2.3.4 ("Gingerbread"), even though the hardware can run Android 4.0 ("Ice Cream Sandwich"). Even the first iPhones got the latest updates from Apple.

I LOVE my Android phone. it is AWESOME. But so are iPhones, and an iPhone might be best for you.

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