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Advice on Smartphones

Posted on 2013-01-18
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Last Modified: 2013-01-20
My son wants to buy a smartphone.  He understands the basic tradeoffs.
Unless you can buy an unlocked phone then you must sign a contract, one or two years, and then you get a phone for free or at a discount.
You pay for minutes called, gigabytes downloaded, and number of text messages.
There's also whether you want 3G or 4G.  
My guess is that you always want 4G if you have coverage in your area.
He goes to school in Albany, NY so coverage in Albany is most important.
In a phone he basically wants most bang for the buck.  All else being equal, he'd get an iPhone – but that’s not a critical factor.
He currently has an old flip phone with Boost mobile, which is Sprint’s pay as you go phone plan.  He doesn’t put a lot of minutes on that.    
He is looking for the basics.  He doesn't need the latest and greatest.  He’s 25 years old and isn’t terribly social.  Not  knowing how much he’ll be using it, what sort of smartphone and contract/no contract would you advise getting?
Thanks,
Al
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Question by:alanlsilverman
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12 Comments
 
LVL 30

Assisted Solution

by:IanTh
IanTh earned 600 total points
ID: 38795819
you may find your local service providers will soon be doing pay as you go iphones its been hinted at by apple

a android pone is not like an iphone its a bit more iffy in terms of use iphone 1 click android 3-4 clicks to do the same
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 38795953
I can easily use an Android based phone... when I try setting up a iPhone, it takes time.  Why?  Because I know one and not the other.  I don't agree with the comment "in terms of use iphone 1 click android 3-4 clicks to do the same"

I find android FAR more useful than an iPhone.  For one, I'm not under Apple's controlling thumb.  For another, I can put some apps on the phone "screens" so if I want sports scores, I can have the ESPN widget running rather than having to open the app as I would on the iPhone.  Zero clicks compared to one.  

At the end of the day, the BEST thing for him to do is to go to a store and look at the phones and see how they work.  I've recommended phones to people that I love and had people say they were awful and others say they were great - a phone is a very personal choice and what works for YOU (or me) may not work for them.
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Author Comment

by:alanlsilverman
ID: 38796584
Can someone talk about the advantages or disadvantages and relative costs of buying an unlocked refurb phone and using pay-as-you-go cards?
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Author Comment

by:alanlsilverman
ID: 38796589
Or pay-as-you go like Boost mobile does it, where you can easily buy more minutes on the web.  Do other providers have this option?
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by:RobMobility
RobMobility earned 400 total points
ID: 38797317
Hi,

Take a look at some of the cellular providers such as AT&T who do some great prices on refurbished phones.

Regards,


RobMobility.
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LVL 48

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by:Mikal613
Mikal613 earned 400 total points
ID: 38797516
go on ebay and buy an unlocked phone.
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Author Comment

by:alanlsilverman
ID: 38797870
This has been helpful.  It's focused me on the core issues.  
As, or more important than the phones themselves is the cost and terms of various plans.  He doesn't call that many people and doesn't stay on that long with his current cell phone.  He'll text, but probably not a lot, nowhere near many teenagers. Probably most important is the cost of data. I would assume 4G is more expensive than 3G.  Is that true?
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by:IanTh
ID: 38798110
you wont get a old phone that supports 4g will you
in the uk 4g is more expensive or rather its capped whereas on Orange I had unlimited data on ee for 4g I have 16gb although ee do let me use the personal hotspot function free whereas orange wouldn't I do expect that to change once there is competition as ee had a 3 month lead for 4g in the uk so at the moment they dont really need to add as much value as they will have to align it to similar 4g contracts from the likes of vodafone and 02 when they get 4g in the summer
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by:IanTh
ID: 38798159
I mean to me the only 4g devices in the uk are the iphone 5, the new samsung galaxy s3 lte, nokia lumia but I expect any new phone to be 4g like I said apple/ee have hinted pay as you go iphone 5 soon if they do that other manufacturers have to follow really
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Lee W, MVP earned 600 total points
ID: 38798170
Data plans offered by carriers usually cap the data.  Some will let you go over and charge you insanely.  Others will slow you down to near unusable speeds if you exceed the cap.  Most smartphones have wifi capabilities but sometimes you may have to manually switch it on or off and depending on available wifi networks it can drain the batter faster.
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by:IanTh
ID: 38798268
Mind you in the uk wifi is growing on ee I have bt openview access and their app for wifi connects to bt openzone wifi when it finds it so the cap is not as important. For your info I do a test on 4g when I have lte on my iphone 5 I do a test using an app from speed test .net and the quickest I have seen was almost 27gps download and 29gps upload I couldn't believe it I had to google it and found out lte can use multiple aerials so probably the lte zone had multiple sending aerials.
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Author Comment

by:alanlsilverman
ID: 38799295
Thanks to all for your ideas and advice.
Al
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