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15 May 2007

Can you help me figure out what I need in a cellphone? So I think I need to get a cellphone, mostly as a business phone.[More:]I don't plan to give up my home phone right now. I've never had a cell phone before and don't know anything about the various plans, or the kinds of phones out there. (Don't some plans give you a phone?)

I don't really like to talk on the phone, so I don't think I'm looking for massive free long distance or anything.

I guess since I'm such a neophyte, I'm mostly hoping to get help figuring out what questions to ask myself and the potential providers. Although reasoned recs for good plans would be welcome.
Definitely get the free (or really cheap) phone with plan. Don't bother paying for the phone insurance- I did that for about a year, and what a waste of cash that was- it's so expensive, you're better off saving that amount of cash each month, in case of your phone breaks and then you can just buy a new one. My co-worker filed a claim with her phone insurance, and it takes several weeks to get a replacement phone, and what are you supposed to do in the meantime?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 15 May | 11:06
Do consider whether or not you need or want a contract.

I begrudgingly got a cell phone with a Cingular contract a few years ago. Like you, I don't really enjoy talking on the phone, but I travel a lot and finally it seemed as though the added convenience and safety a cell can bring were no longer really a luxury.

However, I found that having a cell did not change my habits. I still didn't talk much on the phone, and only used it to coordinate travel. It also became irritating that people began to call me for no reason, just because they could now that we both had cells. Then they'd get irritated with me because I often had it turned off or left it at home and wasn't using it reliably. All this enjoyment was costing me about $60 a month for 400 minutes I never came close to using.

So I got rid of the phone when the contract was up and got a Tracfone instead. You purchase the phone (mine was $25), and then at scheduled intervals you purchase minutes to keep your account current. You never lose these minutes, so they accumulate. I've had this phone nearly a year and have spent about $80 on it, and there are hours of unused minutes on it. This, to me, is the perfect solution - convenience and safety of having a phone, but no monthly contract, just a scheduled purchase of $10 or $20 worth of minutes every three months. I tell everyone "My phone is prepaid!" so they know I don't want to use it for idle chatter. The reception is great and seems to work everywhere. The phone is simple, but then I'm not the type to use my phone to manage my stock portfolio or track my calorie count or anything.

You can also purchase more minutes on the fly, as needed.

So, just something else to consider. There is a cellphone chooser online that was somewhat helpful to me in making this phone decision.
posted by Miko 15 May | 11:29
Thanks, that's the kind of advice I'm looking for.

I should have said that I will be putting my phone number on business cards, so I need something that will be reasonably persistent or allow me to move my number.
posted by omiewise 15 May | 11:44
Given that most modern phones are not very robustly constructed, I stick with the contracts and update to a new phone more or less every time the contract runs out. I have a couple of spares in case mine dies mid-contract (or I lose it) and, but sticking to a plan, I am able to use the phone whenever I need it, instead of running out of pre-paid time at the worst possible moment. Being totally anti-social, I have never had a problem with huge phone bills, but have had some large-ish ones when I have been travelling and need to deal with issues - it's good to know I can use the phone whenever I need to, rather than worrying about how much time I have left.

Unless you really need them (or are a gadget-freak like me), don't get sucked in by fancy features on a phone, although a reasonable camera is handy to have. Sometimes you can negotiate a better plan by downgrading the bundled phone, too.
posted by dg 15 May | 18:48
This Onion AV Club bit about Jeff Tweedy || I just tried to