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Mobile Device costs
Old 11-19-2013, 09:28 AM   #1
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Mobile Device costs

In particular, phones and tablets.

Am thinking I may be ready to step into the world of mobile devices. I have a 7 inch tablet that I bought from Big Lots about 2 years ago for $79, and while it works, it has a touch sensitive, rather than a capacitive screen, and it's too "jumpy" for me.

Now, as I look at newer phones and tablets, realize that the technology has passed me by. In particular, I am totally confused about the phone contracts. Evidence here in this new $49.95 ad:
LG G2 - Black cell phone from AT&T

I tried to read the contract, but honestly can't comprehend what is being stated, so my first question is: "What would my maximum cost be, for the 2 year contract, if I only used the included amount of usage." (Including the cost of the phone, activation, and whatever else in mandatory.)

A secondary question that seems to come up, is, if using WiFi connection, are there usage limits?
I tried to get the answers to these questions at the local dealer, but I don't think we were talking the same language.

Thanks in advance...
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Old 11-19-2013, 09:41 AM   #2
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I can help a little with the secondary question. my provider AT&T promotes wi-fi use as a way to reduce the data use on the 4g network. so there are no limits on the wi-fi. For instance, DW and I still have legacy 'unlimited data' plans. Which are not really unlimited, because when DW started watching more video on her phone, she received a warning letter that if she didn't use less data, they would slow her account down. They recommended she use wi-fi instead. So now she uses more wi-fi, has not changed her viewing habits, and has not received any follow up letters from AT&T.

I believe AT&T has even been expanding it's wi-fi network to accommodate the requirements of its users while holding down on data use.
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Old 11-19-2013, 09:57 AM   #3
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You'd have to go through and pick your data plan. ATT requires a data plan on smart phones even if don't use it. when you add the phone to your cart, the next screen gives you plans to select from for the phone. So you don't know what the cost is until you pick all the options. Looks like the cheapest contract is $70/month + activation fee.

You can use your own wifi when it is available for internet use. You have to remember to tell the phone to use wifi for data and not the 4G network to avoid carrier charges.
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Old 11-19-2013, 10:04 AM   #4
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Well you need a voice plan, an 'approved' data plan(may be small amount). Then of course taxes and fees, unless you kick up a fuss they will also add in insurance. I went to an AT&T store(my only choice, long story). Their helpful, don't tend to tell you to much you don't make issue out of.

One thing that helped was a lot of study up front on the plans. Will I use AT&T after this plan is up, nope.

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Old 11-19-2013, 10:44 AM   #5
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Minimum smart phone contracts are typically $70 plus taxes a month for 24 months.

Plus whatever upfront costs for the phone, activation fee, etc.

So you could be approaching $2000 over 2 years.

Tablets, even those with cellular radios, don't require contracts, unless you buy the tablet through a carrier which is subsidizing them. Instead of paying several hundred for a tablet, you pay $100 or less, in exchange for signing another contract.

Something to consider is a prepaid plan where you pay the full price of the phone, which could range from $300-600 and a lower month-to-month plan. So you can research things like Straight Talk and other plans.
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Old 11-19-2013, 11:04 AM   #6
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Something to consider is a prepaid plan where you pay the full price of the phone, which could range from $300-600 and a lower month-to-month plan. So you can research things like Straight Talk and other plans.
I would also look at the StraightTalk option. think it's $45/M. Also tracfone has some smartphones now which can be cheaper if you don't use a lot of data, that is use own wifi and not their minutes.
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Old 11-19-2013, 11:05 AM   #7
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I use a tablet with no data plan, as does DW with her iPod touch. WiFi is easy to find these days which means Skype is available for phone calls. When traveling out of country, US toll free numbers are still free with Skype, so the very long phone calls I had with Penfed from France and England when my CC had been cloned cost me nothing.

I also have my regular "dumb" cell phone at $30/month that can be used out of country for emergencies.
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Old 11-19-2013, 12:50 PM   #8
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One thing to keep in mind with prepaid is that the phone options are more limited with prepaid plans in the US. Typically lower end and older models.

But last year's top end phone may be perfectly serviceable. It's just that if you want the latest features, like the fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 5S, you pay the higher contract prices.

Tablets with cellular radios cost mroe than Wifi-only tablets. However, if you travel abroad, it may be a good option to have for Internet access. Broadband in some locations, including many industrialized countries, could be dodgy, especially in smaller hotels.
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Old 11-19-2013, 12:53 PM   #9
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One thing to keep in mind with prepaid is that the phone options are more limited with prepaid plans in the US. Typically lower end and older models.
Many of these prepaid plans, especially the MVNOs, have an option to bring your own phone and you just buy the SIM card from them.

If one is going to buy a new smartphone, I'd strongly recommend one that is unlocked. They may cost a little more, but they don't lock you into a contract or a specific wireless provider.
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Old 11-19-2013, 01:39 PM   #10
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Yeah you can lower your costs. However, Verizon and AT&T tend to have the most coverage, especially for LTE.

The prepaid plans may not include the use of LTE networks.

But if say T-Mobile has good LTE coverage (typically in bigger metro areas), you might be able to save some money.
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Old 11-19-2013, 01:58 PM   #11
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A fellow at work is buying an unlocked smart phone. He then plans on using various sim cards, depending upon which country in which he is traveling. I don't know much about this method.
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Old 11-19-2013, 02:02 PM   #12
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A fellow at work is buying an unlocked smart phone. He then plans on using various sim cards, depending upon which country in which he is traveling. I don't know much about this method.
This is actually a fairly common practice among those who regularly travel abroad.
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Old 11-19-2013, 02:08 PM   #13
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This is actually a fairly common practice among those who regularly travel abroad.
You can get unlocked iphones on ebay. I was considering one to just use wifi without a carrier. You can also make VOIP call with an app for google voice.
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Old 11-19-2013, 03:34 PM   #14
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First you must establish your usage model.

Our usage model fits this set of machines in order of mobility:
1) Simple Tracfone plans
2) Nexus 7 tablet, wifi only
3) Laptop with wifi only
4) PC with big screen -- the boat anchor for heavy duty lifting

I would highly recommend the Nexus 7 tablet. It is has a very good screen, one of the best for small tablets. Only about $229, no monthly plans. It is Android so you will get familiar with these features should you decide to go the smartphone route. It has the latest software. You can get it with celular capabilty (LTE) but I haven't gone that route -- don't have the need.
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Old 11-19-2013, 03:46 PM   #15
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I finally broke down and got a Droid Maxx from Verizon last Friday. I looked at all kinds of smartphones, including prepaids from Walmart. Since I think I will be a really light user, the Walmart deal looked good at first. But then I read reviews of the phones and saw things like dropped calls and really slow access to the internet and don't always work in all the areas that the carrier covers. I needed something that works well in my home area and where we vacation, which is somewhat remote, and I know Verizon works there. The next thing important to me is battery life. I just don't want to have to recharge daily. The Droid Maxx is a phablet (a combination of a large phone and/or small tablet) which I can read easily. I don't mind the larger size because I won't be carrying it in a pocket, but in my purse. The young men who helped me at Verizon were awesome. First, they opened the door for me as I entered and left. Really impressed this old woman. I was introduced to the areas of the store, had some basic questions answered, and then was encouraged to browse while waiting for a "Solutions Specialist". This gave me a few minutes to actually pick up different phones I was considering. The Solutions Specialist asked about my needs and then came up with the least expensive plan to meet them. For example, I don't text, so my plan does not include it, and that saved me $10 per month. He also talked to me about accessory package specials and I chose one. I wouldn't have remembered to get a protective covering for the screen, but he suggested it, and I was glad. Then after I got all my stuff, I met with the "Experience Specialist". He works in a training area with a screen that shows phone features and icons. He also suggested some free apps I might like (I went with a flashlight app and an alarm clock app-some others I'm still considering). All in all, I spent over 2 hours there and really felt comfortable with my new phone when I left, and I never felt like they were trying to get me to buy things I didn't want or need. I don't know about any other carriers, and they may all be great, but I was just really impressed with Verizon. This was a new store, so even other Verizon places may not be so good. Good luck with your decision.
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Old 11-19-2013, 06:20 PM   #16
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Thanks for the replies... Beginning to feel a little more comfortable.

As Luck would have it, an hour ago, received a note from Mr. Money Moustache about Republic Wireless. He gets a little kickback I think, but his review looked pretty good... especially from the cost standpoint.
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/...ng-competitor/


I'm always skeptical, so if you get a chance to look at the "deal", maybe you'll see some downsides. Republic has limited 4G in my area but I don't know what I'd be missing if I could only get 3G.

Thanks again for the help.
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Old 11-19-2013, 06:25 PM   #17
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Thanks for the replies... Beginning to feel a little more comfortable.

As Luck would have it, an hour ago, received a note from Mr. Money Moustache about Republic Wireless. He gets a little kickback I think, but his review looked pretty good... especially from the cost standpoint.
I think your phone is locked in with Republic if you go that way. That's fine if you like the service and keep it for years, but if you wanted to change service your phone would be useless. You can't bring your own unlocked phone there.
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Old 11-19-2013, 06:29 PM   #18
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4G (specifically LTE) is much faster, probably more reliable if you decide to view videos.

Of course, that means you have to be more careful about your caps, because the faster speed may reach your cap before you realize it.

OK, Republic Wireless is an MVNO for Sprint, which may be the weakest of the 4 major carriers for LTE -- either them or T-Mobile.

But if you have good Sprint coverage in your area, it might be worth it.
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Old 11-19-2013, 06:32 PM   #19
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If I just had to have a smartphone, I'd take a close look at the Nexus 5. Check out the reviews. Cost is about $350 and it has just come out. Others have said pairing this with T-Mobil could be a good way to go. I was looking at this as a gift idea for our son, just the phone not the plan.
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Old 11-19-2013, 06:32 PM   #20
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Which is the carrier that has the commercial about them now having iPhone and people throwing their phones away?

I think it sounds like among the prepaid plans, Straight Talk may give you access to the best LTE network, AT&T. I'm not sure if any prepaid uses Verizon's LTE network.
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