Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Quest For A Decent Cell Phone

Well, Mrs. Axinar got to comparing notes and we realized that our cell phone contracts are both up at the end of the month.

Now I'm on a grandfathered plan at AT&T that I got around the time of Spiderman I - 250 daytime minutes, 3500 night & weekend minutes for $30/mo., plus a package of 200 text messages and unlimited data that I picked up a few years back for $20/mo. This is running through a Nokia 6682, which actually is a pretty capable phone, but it doesn't have 3G.

Mrs. Axinar is on T-Mobile and is thinking of switching to their "myFaves 600" plan - 600 "Whenever" minutes, unlimited nights & weekends, unlimited calls to the five numbers she calls most for $49.99, then 400 Domestic text messages for $4.99/mo.

So the group math is my $50/mo. + her $55/mo. for a total of $105/mo. before all the nasty taxes.

Now, after a tremendous number of phone calls to Verizon Wireless, we found out we have access to a group discount, so we can get a "Family" plan with 700 minutes and unlimited text messages on both lines, then an additional "V.Cast" package for me for a total after discount (but before taxes) of just short of $105/mo.

Sounds like a deal, right?

Only problem is - I can't find a phone I like.

Now one of my original reasons for wanting to get a new call phone in the first place is that Yahoo Go! stopped working on the 6682 quite a while ago. Unfortunately the new version of this application doesn't seem to do contact sync and doesn't even seem to have a good way to access and work with your Yahoo contacts online so the main reason for getting the thing seems to have disappeared. The Yahoo Go! application also doesn't seem to work on any of the Verizon phones, so this would appear to not be an issue any more.

It's also questionable at this point whether or not Opera Mini will run on Verizon, although, from what I have seen, the built-in browsers on some of these Verizon phones look pretty capable.

The biggest problem is most of the reviews bite the big one.

When I stopped up at the local Verizon company-owned store, I was accosted by one of the reps as usual and he was trying to herd me in the direct of the LG Dare and was telling me how he could get us up and running TODAY and then switch the numbers over when the contracts expired.

Now I took a look over at the date-sorted CNET reviews of the LG Dare and, although a great number of people seem pretty impressed, the bad reviews are REALLY bad.

Basically the LG Dare looks to be an attempt to compete with the iPhone. Actually it's touch-screen does seem to be a little easier to use, but it worries me not having a full keyboard anywhere on the thing.

Speaking of the iPhone, I did start to calculate out what it would cost to move to a "Family" plan on AT&T:

$70/mo for a 700 minute plan with rollover (might come in handy on heavier months), 200 text messages for me for $5/mo., $15/mo. for 1500 text messages for Mrs. Axinar, then $15/mo. for MEdiaNet Unlimited for me. Total: $105/mo. again.

BUT, again, I'm having trouble finding a phone.

There is of course something like an unlocked Nokia N95 that would set me back more than $400. Doesn't sound like a good first option, although it is the closest thing to the 6682 I have seen.

There's the iPhone, but that's $130/mo. for the 700 minute plan ... way over the $105 we have sticking with our separate plans. Then there's this issue of the iPhone not having a user-replaceable battery. Not good.

Now - no question about it - the UMTS voice system for 3G is the CLEAREST signal I've ever heard by a long shot, so I'm thinking maybe the Motorola MOTO(TM)Z9.

But even from the main CNET review of the Z9 I can see there's trouble - for instance the memory card being under the battery hatch. The user reviews are pretty good, however.

Now there are Sprint, T-Mobile, and Cincinnati Bell Wireless to choose from. I've always thought Mrs. Axinar sounded like the inside of someone's colon on her T-Mobile phones, so I've been leaning against them. Mrs. Axinar used to work for Sprint and used to get hit for trumped-up roaming charges on Cincinnati Bell Wireless years ago so we've been leaning against them. T-Mobile and Cincinnati Bell Wireless of course don't have 3G either.

So, pretty much, we may be completely an utterly toast on this endeavor and may simply have to sit back and wait until something better comes out.

Hopefully at least T-Mobile will let Mrs. Axinar change her rate plan and go month-to-month ...

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At August 4, 2008 at 9:55 AM, Blogger Cincinnati Therapy Guy said...

I picked up a phone that has large keypad numbers as I can't see those small ones - I hate getting old!!

At August 4, 2008 at 6:51 PM, Blogger Axinar said...

Which particular phone did you get?

At August 4, 2008 at 8:11 PM, Blogger Mark Miller said...

You want a Sprint Mogul. It's worth the $300.

Windows Mobile 6 comes with pocket Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Acrobat Reader. Slide-out QWERTY keyboard, WiFi-G plus 2MP camera and flash; every possible geek-toy is built-in, or can be downloaded. I even loaded an HP-41CX emulator instead of the factory calculator. Despite reports to the contrary, I can confirm that Google Maps works fine with the on-board GPS.

Sprint network speed is best of all of them and you can use the phone as a wireless modem for your laptop (extra charge). Verizon also accepts the Mogul.

I got 1500 shared anytime minutes and all the text & internet goodies for me and the wife for $130. Added our 15 & 16 year old kids for $10/each (phone & text only). She gets a 26% discount on the whole shebang for working at Childrens Hospital, bringing the total to $111 per month. The kids have jobs so they pay their share, making my out of pocket $91 a month. Formerly had 2 Blackberrys on Nextel at $150/month. Life is good.


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