Cellular phone questions/advice...

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
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 [email protected] 24/7 about this if you'd prefer.



I'd appreciate any knowledge/advice I could get on this!
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    ferroferro Posts: 453member
    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

    -----------------------------

  • Reply 2 of 36
    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
  • Reply 2 of 36
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 36
    Pre-Paid sucks.



    Shitty phones, less reliable.
  • Reply 5 of 36
    [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!
  • Reply 6 of 36
    ugh.. i've only had any bit of experience with TracFone- YUCK.



    Verizon could probably do it pretty well...
  • Reply 7 of 36
    emaneman Posts: 7,204member
    [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.
  • Reply 8 of 36
    Apparently, now you can add AIM to your Voicestream phone.



    Thank God I don't have VoiceStream
  • Reply 9 of 36
    pscatespscates Posts: 5,847member
    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!
  • Reply 10 of 36
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 36
    emaneman Posts: 7,204member
    [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>
  • Reply 12 of 36
    [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.
  • Reply 13 of 36
    a10t2a10t2 Posts: 191member
    [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!
  • Reply 14 of 36
    emaneman Posts: 7,204member
    [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?
  • Reply 15 of 36
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 36
    bellebelle Posts: 1,574member
    [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.
  • Reply 17 of 36
    pscatespscates Posts: 5,847member
    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.



  • Reply 18 of 36
    a10t2a10t2 Posts: 191member
    [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.
  • Reply 19 of 36
    thttht Posts: 3,064member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 36
    [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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