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Cellular phone questions/advice...

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
Hey guys -

I've been thinking here lately about getting a cellular phone. It's a first because I've always hated the whole image and idea (but that's another thread...).

Thing is, this wouldn't be to augment my home line. This would be my one and only phone, period.

At least that's my desire.

Here's the deal: I hardly EVER use my phone. I'm one of those people whose entire network of friends and family are online and using e-mail and that's how I keep in touch with the majority of them (and more frequently than I EVER did before we all got online).

I call my mom once a week back in Georgia and chat for a bit and I'll call up my best friend in Nashville maybe once or twice a month. Both calls rarely go over 15-20 minutes.

Being out this weekend, trying to meet a friend in another city to help her move, I got a little lost (she gave nutty directions) and so I was in the position of trying to find a 7-11 or gas station with a FUNCTIONING phone.

There have been other instances in the recent past where I would've given anything to have had a phone with me in the car.

I don't use the phone a lot, period, but if I had one, I'm thinking about ditching the other one and just going with one that I can take anywhere. For convenience, safety, security, etc. I like that idea.

Questions:

1. Does that make sense? Are there any downsides to NOT having a wired-in, inhouse phone? I'm not aware of any.

2. If I had only a cellular phone, can I call anywhere? Is most of the country covered now and able to send and receive any calls I may make?

3. Any brands to look for, or, conversely, to avoid at all costs? What type of plan (knowing my very low usage habits) would you recommend? Any catches or "small print" type stuff I should be aware of or that would be good for a novice like me to look out for?

4. What's a fair/reasonable price to expect to pay for the phone AND the service?

I have VERY simple needs: I just want a phone that WORKS, has some sort of voicemail (is that through the company?) and I HAVE to have Caller ID. That's a must.

Do they make cell phones with Caller ID?

In general, how is it set up? I buy the actual hardware and then choose a company and/or plan to activate it? Or is the phone automatically tied to a company?

If I'm not happy with a particular company or plan, can I change that?

Finally, what are some of the stories and advice you can fling to me, regarding YOUR experiences (good and bad) with this stuff?

Honestly (even allowing for those occasionally longer-than-usual chats with faraway friends), I probably don't spend over 2-3 hours a month on the phone. I do a lot of quick local calls (under 5-10 minutes) and then the above-mentioned weekly calls home for 20 minutes or so.

At the absolute MOST, I might spend 4 hours a month TOTAL on the phone, but that's shooting really super high because, to be honest, I hate talking on them.

And if I'm going to get one, I only want it. Now that I have a cable modem, my needs for a wired inhouse phone line are REALLY nonexistent.

I've researched a bit of this myself, but to be honest, I don't know the terminology and the lingo and all the double talk. I don't know what the hell I'm supposed to be looking for and when I'm checking out a particular company, of course they're only going to tell me the good stuff and get all "salesman-llike" on me.

That's why I'm asking you guys. I know most of you probably have them and have WAY more experience than I ever will. Plus, I trust your opinions more than some guy who's job it is to SELL me one!



Can you help a brother out?

Feel free to e-mail me directly at pscates126@home.com 24/7 about this if you'd prefer.

I'd appreciate any knowledge/advice I could get on this!
post #2 of 37
One word... well, maybe two...

PRE-PAID

- DO NOT SIGN A CONTRACT! -

"they'll get you..."

And if you do sign away your soul and try to get out of it... they have "small print" for that too...

trust me... pre-paid only...

E PLURIBUS UNIX
-----------------------------
post #3 of 37
1. None, not really. Unless your cell phone breaks.

2. Yep. Unless you're in BackWoods County in the Great north woods or something. It's pretty much everywhere inhabited.

3. Nokia or Ericsson phones. To tell you the truth, go in and ask for something exactly what you're looking for, they are actually very helpful. I don't like Sprint PCS- that's just me.

4. Depending on the phone- phones are anywhere from free to 20 bucks to 150 for top of the line. Service, probably under 40 a month.

5.Voicemail and caller ID are features of every modern digital phone. Included with the service.

6. You buy the phone at the same time as the service- if you do it otherwise, it gets tricky (and much more expensive - you get a deal on the phone hardware when you sign up for service)

You can change companies for a small fee generally, service plans within the same company for little to no fee.

Personally, i've had great success with the Nokia phone/Cingular service. VoiceStream seems to be pretty good, as is ATT.

I've got the Nokia 8260 - the tiny one. The 3300 series is actually a better phone- it's cheaper, has more features and you can get it in orange
post #4 of 37
Take this for what it's worth. I've had a cell phone for a little over a year now but I'd say I'm only a little more informed than you. I don't talk on the phone much either. That part about finding a pay phone - it's only going to get worse. Cell phones are making them increasingly obsolete. If you have a cell phone in the car, even if you are temporarily out of range, it's still 100 times easier than trying to find a pay phone.

I wanted to do the Sprint PCS thing. The technology they use is better or at least it was when I signed up with them. I haven't kept current about that aspect since. Anyway, I found a store that offered Sprint's stuff. They had a bunch of phones to choose from. I went with a Qualcomm. It's a good phone but I keep seeing other ones that I think I'd like too. At any rate, Sprint doesn't offer Qualcomms at this time. If you go with Sprint, get a <a href="http://www1.sprintpcs.com/explore/PhonesAccessories/includePopUps/PhonePopUp.jsp?phoneType=Dual-Band" target="_blank">dual band</a> phone.

I didn't replace my land line though. I spend $30 a month and basically I use the cell phone for all my long distance calls. What I used to pay in long distance pays for a good chunk of what I now pay for the cell phone. The way I'm set up I'm not locked into a contract but I also don't get very many minutes - 120. For my usage that pretty much works for me. If I want to commit to a year long contract, I can get 3000 minutes for the same price. I'm probably going to end up doing that.

I think I paid about $150 for the phone. The prices today range from $130 to $500. The $500 version integrates a color Palm device into the phone. It supports caller ID. The $130 version has caller ID too.

From my experience Sprint's coverage is pretty good. Your "mileage" may vary though.

Hope that helped.
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post #5 of 37
Pre-Paid sucks.

Shitty phones, less reliable.
post #6 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by Jonathan:
<strong>Pre-Paid sucks.

Shitty phones, less reliable.</strong><hr></blockquote>

I beg to differ, Jonathan. Pre-paid is probably the best thing that has happened to cellular phone service, well..., since the antenna! If you do go with pre-paid, don't buy one of those "out of the box" setups like TracFone which you can get at 7 Eleven. Instead, go with something your local phone company offers, if possible. I have Verizon FreeUP, and I'm very pleased. It's digital, you get a great phone, no contract, and the rates are a lot better than the likes of TracFone. Good luck with your choice, pscates!
post #7 of 37
ugh.. i've only had any bit of experience with TracFone- YUCK.

Verizon could probably do it pretty well...
post #8 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by Jonathan:
<strong>Pre-Paid sucks.

Shitty phones, less reliable.</strong><hr></blockquote>

I tend to agree with you, Jonathan.

I myself have VoiceStream with a Nokia 3390 and it's pretty good.
post #9 of 37
Apparently, now you can add AIM to your Voicestream phone.

Thank God I don't have VoiceStream
post #10 of 37
Thread Starter 
I just spent a bunch of time at Nokia's website, seeing what's what.

I did that little thing where they asked you a bunch of questions regarding usage habits, features you consider important, budget guidelines, etc. and they kick back three possible phones that fit the bill.

Man, this is going to take some doing, because I'm starting from complete, know-nothing ground zero!

But I've learned a lot already just from the posts above, so thaks!
post #11 of 37
Avoid Sprint PCS. Their customer service sucks ass and their actual cellular service ain't that much better.

Avoid pre-paid. It's more expensive. Find an outfit that has unlimited usage in your local area. There are plenty of them out there.

And I would wait a while until 2.5G or 3G technology is standard in the US. You won't regret it.
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post #12 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by Jonathan:
<strong>Apparently, now you can add AIM to your Voicestream phone.

Thank God I don't have VoiceStream </strong><hr></blockquote>

I beta tested it before it was out and it wasn't that bad but I wouldn't pay for it.

[ 11-25-2001: Message edited by: EmAn ]</p>
post #13 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by ctt1wbw:

<strong>Avoid Sprint PCS. Their customer service sucks ass...</strong><hr></blockquote>

That hasn't been my experience at all. I haven't needed their customer service very much, though. But that's a good thing too.
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post #14 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by pscates:
<strong>Questions:

1. Does that make sense? Are there any downsides to NOT having a wired-in, inhouse phone? I'm not aware of any.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Not as far as I'm concerned. I ditched my landline about two years ago and haven't looked back... no solicitors!

[quote]<strong>2. If I had only a cellular phone, can I call anywhere? Is most of the country covered now and able to send and receive any calls I may make?<hr></blockquote></strong>

Any sizable city and all of the major interstates are wired now, and that's just digital service. On an analog band, you can probably go just about anywhere, depending on terrain. Some providers will make you pay through the nose for calls outside your local area, so look out.

[quote]<strong>3. Any brands to look for, or, conversely, to avoid at all costs? What type of plan (knowing my very low usage habits) would you recommend? Any catches or "small print" type stuff I should be aware of or that would be good for a novice like me to look out for?<hr></blockquote></strong>

I've had a Kyocera (Qualcomm) phone, a Motorola, an Ericsson, a Nokia, and a Mitsubishi. The Nokia and Mitsu models were, IMHO, crap. Along with the above-mentioned roaming charges, look at the per-minute rate if you exceed your plan's limits. Go with someone who lets you upgrade/downgrade plans should you need to. Sprint and Verizon have both been good to me (AT&T made me feel worthless for being their customer and had bad coverage in my area to boot), but I'd go with Sprint right now. $30/month for 3000 minutes, free long distance and no roaming charges if you stay digital.

[quote]<strong>4. What's a fair/reasonable price to expect to pay for the phone AND the service?<hr></blockquote></strong>

The lowest service plans I've seen have been about $20/month but IIRC that gets you an obscenely limited plan. You might be able to swing a free phone depending on your provider, otherwise they'll run about $30 and up. Sprint (no, I don't work for them ;-) has a $110 total rebate ($60 on the phone and $50 on service) right now.

[quote]<strong>I have VERY simple needs: I just want a phone that WORKS, has some sort of voicemail (is that through the company?) and I HAVE to have Caller ID. That's a must.

Do they make cell phones with Caller ID?<hr></blockquote></strong>

Caller ID is usually an extra charge. All the phones I've had have displayed the number out of the box - it's getting the name that costs you. Voicemail is absolutely standard.

[quote]<strong>In general, how is it set up? I buy the actual hardware and then choose a company and/or plan to activate it? Or is the phone automatically tied to a company?<hr></blockquote></strong>

Generally speaking, you can use any phone with any plan, assuming it supports the right band(s). You tend to get better deals (like the Sprint rebate) by buying it from the service provider.

[quote]<strong>If I'm not happy with a particular company or plan, can I change that?<hr></blockquote></strong>

That probably depends on the carrier. I know both Sprint and Verizon let you trade up or down. Switching companies will cost you (IIRC it's $150 for both of those companies unless your contract's up).

[quote]<strong>Finally, what are some of the stories and advice you can fling to me, regarding YOUR experiences (good and bad) with this stuff?<hr></blockquote></strong>

To paraphase Sammy Sosa, Sprint has been very very good to me. Verizon offers similar service plans but penalizes you for roaming, which it sounds like you need to do. AT&T conviced me to drop my home line in addition to cancelling my wireless service with them. Plus they charged me for five months of DSL service while repeatedly telling me to wait for a line installation, then figuring out that I was outside the effective range, but that's another story.

The phone I have right now is a Kyocera QCP 3035. It rocks. Before this, when I was with Verizon, I had first the cheap Nokia with all the different faceplates (I think it was a 5120) and then a Motorola V2260. The Nokia always felt pretty fragile to me, and the first time I dropped it (under warranty, fortunately) it shattered. I hear from friends that their more more expensive models are pretty nice, but I'd steer clear of the cheap ones. AFAIK the Ericsson and Mitsubishi phones I had (with AT&T) aren't made anymore.

Hope you can make some sense out of all this. Good luck!
post #15 of 37
[quote]Caller ID is usually an extra charge. All the phones I've had have displayed the number out of the box - it's getting the name that costs you. Voicemail is absolutely standard.<hr></blockquote>

Well if the person's name is in the phonebook then doesn't it display the name?
post #16 of 37
EmAn's right. It'll display the number out of the box, if you've got the name of the person attached to that number in the phonebook, then it'll display that too. And it's NOT an extra charge (in my experience)

I'll second the Qualcomm = Quality Phones statement. Had a Thin Phone forever, little bugger took SO much abuse, it only gave out after i got pushed into a pool with it in my pocket... too bad they don't make them anymore. The newer ones are meh.
post #17 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by pscates:
<strong>Are there any downsides to NOT having a wired-in, inhouse phone?</strong><hr></blockquote>
I use my cell phone almost solely, but I like to keep a landline, too. It's handy to have a number you can put on forms and such so you don't have annoying sales calls and the like on your cell.

I have answering service on my landline which automatically picks up all calls, and I can just filter through them. It's also useful to be able to give out a number to people you don't really want to hear from.

As for phones, I've owned several Nokias, and really can't complain.
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post #18 of 37
Thread Starter 
Cool. This is getting easier.

Between all the posts above, some active, indepth research on my part and visiting a few places today and talking to some people at the phone store, I think I can begin to process some stuff and start honing in on what I need.

Nobody wants my phone number anyway, Belle, so I probably won't keep a landline for filtering purposes.

post #19 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by Jonathan:
<strong>EmAn's right. It'll display the number out of the box, if you've got the name of the person attached to that number in the phonebook, then it'll display that too. And it's NOT an extra charge (in my experience)</strong><hr></blockquote>

Exactly. That's a feature of the phone, though, not true Caller ID. Getting the name of *anyone* who calls you requires signing up for Caller ID service, which'll probably cost you extra.
post #20 of 37
After going through the process myself recently, here are my tips:

1. Make sure that the area that you will be mostly calling from or receiving calls in is covered by digital service. Analog roaming services will cost money. Even though the cell phone provider says your area is covered, it may not be covered very well, ie, your area might be a singularity point in the coverage or there's something interfering with the signal, and will result in dropped calls and signal fade.

2. In light of number 1, don't sign a year long or multi-year contract until you're sure your area is covered. Cancelling those contracts will cost quite a bit of money.

3. 800 MHz phone service should penetrate buildings better. The 1900 MHz phone service is not as strong, but it's sort of inconsistent depending where you are in large buildings.

4. My research on the quality of cell phones seems to say it's a crap shoot. It's a variety factors mixed together including service quality that's very hard to predict. I was thinking pretty hard of getting a PalmOS powered one, but it would be better to wait a year for the integration and form factors to get better. The antenna amplifier thing (placed between battery and cell phone) seen on commercials is a fraud. Battery life is typically 60 to 80% of advertized times.

5. We live in a capitalistic society, expect bad customer service.


I got a cell phone in order to call long distance, and I tend to travel a bit as well. I got the Sprint PCS deal of 200 anytime minutes and 2800 night and weekend minutes with long distance included. Caller ID and voicemail are included. Caller ID only works if you're phone knows the number of who's calling essentially. The cell phone I bought is the Samsung N200. I'm going to keep my land line for a couple more months.
post #21 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by ctt1wbw:
<strong>Avoid Sprint PCS. Their customer service sucks ass and their actual cellular service ain't that much better.

.</strong><hr></blockquote>


I'm afraid I have to agree. Sprint PCS is fine until you run into a problem. I've waited 5 weeks for a credit from them and frankly their Customer Service is clueless when your problem requires anything beyond taking a payment. My bestfriend has gone through the same rigamorole and it get's tiring really quick.
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post #22 of 37
I am staunchy anti-cell phone but even a traditionalist like me must look to the future. I am increasingly weary of paying $40+ a month for a landline only to have long distance charges ADDED TO that. Rediculous. And it's stuck at my apartment instead of to my ass, where it would be most useful.

But I just know at some point I'd use it while driving and I'd have to cry for days at the person I'd become. Oh cruel fate!

JohnKentucky had a problem of not being able to order pizza because he didn't have a proper "home phone"...

On the solicitor tip, are they just not allowed to call cell phones or do they just not as an "ethical" rule (if telemarketers actually have ethics).
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post #23 of 37
Thread Starter 
Your situation is very similiar to mine, 'rat.

I've always hated the notion and have never desired one whatsover in all this time. But now that my Internet access is in no way tied to a phone line AND the fact that I don't talk very much, but do get out a bit and would like - for reasons of security and convenience - have a good phone with me, I've started to reconsider.

Honestly, during the day, while at work, I'll probably have it off and just let the voice mail get it...just as I currently do on my real, landline phone.

I don't want to be one of those people who has one glued to their ear everytime you see them. I don't even like enough people to do that.



Seriously, during the day, people call me at work. In the evenings, if I see a number that looks familiar or that I want to talk to, then I answer.

Other than that, for directions, emergencies, calling ahead to notify someone if I'm lost or running late, checking movie start times, etc., it would be with me in the car.

And no...I would NOT be one of those assholes who let it ring during movies and so forth. I have manners.

My life wouldn't change, really. Just knowing it's there - as much as I tend to be out and about - would be a nice thing to have.

I think...

<img src="confused.gif" border="0">
post #24 of 37
Thread Starter 
Oh yeah, regarding Caller ID: actually, the number thing would probably suffice. I know all the home, personal, cell and work numbers of anyone I'd want calling me, and would answer accordingly.

Any number I didn't recognize, I'll either take a chance or leave it for voice mail and check later.

I probably don't really need to see anyone's name if I know the numbers. I didn't know that part came built-in. That's cool.
post #25 of 37
'Scates-

Here's the deal with caller ID... when you program numbers into speed-dial/your phone book, and one of them calls you, it shows up as their name and number. Other numbers are just the number.

So, say you programmed my number, 123-555-3456, into your phonebook as "Jonathan"

When I call, it'll show

Incoming Call
Jonathan
123-555-3456
post #26 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by Jonathan:
<strong>'Scates-

Here's the deal with caller ID... when you program numbers into speed-dial/your phone book, and one of them calls you, it shows up as their name and number. Other numbers are just the number.

So, say you programmed my number, 123-555-3456, into your phonebook as "Jonathan"

When I call, it'll show

Incoming Call
Jonathan
123-555-3456</strong><hr></blockquote>

With my phone it just says the name if it's in the phonebook. It doesn't show the number unless it's not in the phonebook.
post #27 of 37
Why do you, at 14, have a cellular phone?
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post #28 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by groverat:
<strong>Why do you, at 14, have a cellular phone?</strong><hr></blockquote>

The same reason anyone else would... to make or receive calls without being on a landline.

BTW: I had my first at 15.
post #29 of 37
Mine's for drug dealing

Parents get them to find where their kids are.
post #30 of 37
I think the only reason I would possibly allow a cell phone for the kid would be to limit the possible outgoing numbers to 911, my phone and the mother's.

What's next? Credit cards at 13? (Please God don't answer that with a 'yes')
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post #31 of 37
hey! just had to comment on this, Scandinavia, where I live, (maybe in additon to japan) is currently the place on earth where the most people have cellurlars... And EVERY 13 year old has one. My younger sister is 11 and just got her first. You might find this strange, but your all gonna be there in a while. My sister, by the way, almost only use her phone for SMS messaging, its a nokia ofcourse - so she sends me a lot of cute cartoon pictures while i'm in the midle of important meetings...

The 7650 with Symbian OS, MMS (MulimediaMessenging), Built in camera, GPRS, java and colorscreen brings us almost up too par with the coolest japanese phones, too bad you will have too wait a while for the US version. this phone really kicks the handspring Treos ass, and I think Steve Jobs is so right about the Palm/PocketPC market right now. The Nokia 9210 outsold both PALM and iPAQ together in Europe last quarter.
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post #32 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by a10t2:
<strong>

The same reason anyone else would... to make or receive calls without being on a landline.
</strong><hr></blockquote>

Exactly.
post #33 of 37
I would say go with Verizon. I had Cingular when it was PacBell and it was pretty spotty coverage in LA. Sprint was worse. My company uses AT&T which is also pretty bad. You should be able to get a tri-mode phone from them pretty cheap. You can sign up for a national plan with free long distance, 150 minutes and no roaming for about what you would be paying for a land line. You can get a nokia for $60 on that plan, although I prefer Motorola. You can get a star-tac for a hundred. (I used to have that one, it fit in my pocket, and I liked that when folded the keys and screen won't be screwed with)
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post #34 of 37
Sometimes I feel, at 20 years old, I'm from a completely different era than people even 2-3 years younger than me.
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post #35 of 37
I agree with tmp . Some people I know have Verizon and it's better than VoiceStream (what I have) and it also seems better than AT&T.

[ 11-28-2001: Message edited by: EmAn ]</p>
post #36 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by groverat:
<strong>I think the only reason I would possibly allow a cell phone for the kid would be to limit the possible outgoing numbers to 911, my phone and the mother's.

What's next? Credit cards at 13? (Please God don't answer that with a 'yes')</strong><hr></blockquote>

You obviously don't live in UK... nearly every kid from age 13 upwards has a mobile phone. SMS messaging is the most common way to communicate (shouts of "I'll text you later", etc, can be heard in high schools round the country).

Amorya

post #37 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by Amorya:
<strong>

You obviously don't live in UK... nearly every kid from age 13 upwards has a mobile phone. SMS messaging is the most common way to communicate (shouts of "I'll text you later", etc, can be heard in high schools round the country).

Amorya

</strong><hr></blockquote>

That's what it's starting to sound like here too, well at least in my school.
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