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[Cell phone plans] ... or How I Learned To Not Worry About Getting Screwed

LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
Hey guys,
So as many of you know, I'm moving to CA in September. I've been living in NZ over the past couple of years, where the cell phones and plans are undeniably crap.

Now I'm back in the UK, I've become accustomed to not being completely screwed over by shitty handsets and plans. It's like some sort of GSM Utopia.

However, as we all know, the United States of America is not so pretty when it comes to phones. Even worse, because of a tragic twist of events, my girlfriend got a Verizon phone back in the day, then convinced all her friends and family to do the same, so if I want to call her for free (which I do) then I have to be on Verizon too :x CDMA phones are just not very good. Crappy Nokia if you're lucky, or some godawful Motorola or Samsung otherwise.

I've come to terms with this, and expect to get a Samsung Juke and then an iPod Touch so I feel better about myself.

However, what's the deal with a 2-year plan? The only phones I know that manage to last longer than 12 months are Sony Ericssons and Nokias, and usually that's with something breaking around the year mark (I have a Sony Ericsson with a busted joystick). There's absolutely no way that I'm signing up for a 2-year plan for a phone I expect to become non-functional in half that time.

Do Verizon sell 12 month contracts? What's the penalization for getting one? How likely is it that I can go into a Verizon store and haggle with the guy to get a 12 month contract and the handset for less than $50 (free preferably)?

Lewisham on

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    ToyDToyD Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Virtually no one has 12 month contracts that I know of. However, I have had luck with my little POS samsung phone lasting nearly 3 years so far.

    You can buy unlocked phones and simply transfer your SIM card (or get a new SIM card) to the new phone, however you pay an assinine price for those phones in my opinion. I've never had to get a new phone mid-contract, I'm not sure what kind of cost that would be.

    I plan to leap into the new iphone 3G next month, so we'll see how that goes as well.

    ToyD on
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    ShogunShogun Hair long; money long; me and broke wizards we don't get along Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    You can get a 1 year contract but you have to specifically ask for it and it will cost you more. I was told this directly by a verizon rep when I was thinking about switching. Glad I didn't. CDMA is practically a dead architecture and frankly, America is light years behind the rest of the world in cellular technology. Then again, we're light years behind everyone in just about everything.

    edit: If you want the best deal on a phone talk the rep up about accessories. Ask for his card and explain that if he can cut you a great deal on the phone you'll make it up to him by buying a bunch of accessories when you come back. Then you just don't come back.

    Shogun on
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    tsmvengytsmvengy Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    You can pretty much only get a 2 year contract unless you want to pay out the ass for a phone. HOWEVER, if you get a two year plan, and then move out of the country after one year, verizon will let you leave without an early termination fee.

    I have a crappy free samsung phone that I got 2 years ago with my verizon contract, and it still works great. Granted, it doesn't do anything except call/text, but that's plenty for me.

    tsmvengy on
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    theantipoptheantipop Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Both Samsung's I've owned have lasted 4 years. My current one has survived innumerable drops and even a short stay at the bottom of a lake. Both times I've bought one of their mid-range clamshells, so I'd say if it's just durability you're after, Samsung makes some good phones.

    theantipop on
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    Rigor MortisRigor Mortis Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    I have a Siemens phone that's been going since 2001. Still works fine, and it was my only phone (no land line) for years, so it saw a lot of use. Battery life is not what it once was, though.

    Rigor Mortis on
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    Centipede DamascusCentipede Damascus Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    What you could do also if you want to talk to your girlfriend for free is get a MyFaves plan with T-Mobile, where you can choose 5 numbers from any network to talk to unlimited any time. I really recommend staying away from Verizon if at all possible, their rates are ridiculous. T-Mobile and AT&T are both GSM providers with relatively reasonable plans.

    If you want to get a 12 month contract instead of a 24 month contract, the easiest way to do that is to not get a phone with your activation. If you still have your UK GSM phone, it will generally work with a US SIM card as long as it is unlocked. Generally the 24 month contracts are dependant on the initial phone purchase discount and not the actual plan.

    Centipede Damascus on
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    smokmnkysmokmnky Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    You know I've actually seen at some AT&T stores where they have a 2year contract phone price and then in little tiny letters they show the 1year price. So say the phone is $99 with a 2year and then you'd see like $199 or $149 for the 1year. Also just ask the clerk, I'm pretty sure they have 1year deals but don't advertise them.

    smokmnky on
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    RandomEngyRandomEngy Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    So my current plan is with Virgin mobile and I get the per-minute plan that works out to something like $15 a month. However all their phones are just awful. Is there a way I can buy a decent phone and still somehow keep the low monthly bill? I only talk like 50 minutes a month and send a handful of text messages.

    RandomEngy on
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    yalborapyalborap Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    RandomEngy wrote: »
    So my current plan is with Virgin mobile and I get the per-minute plan that works out to something like $15 a month. However all their phones are just awful. Is there a way I can buy a decent phone and still somehow keep the low monthly bill? I only talk like 50 minutes a month and send a handful of text messages.

    An unlocked phone.

    yalborap on
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    RandomEngyRandomEngy Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    yalborap wrote: »
    An unlocked phone.

    So, any unlocked phones will work with any prepaid service?

    RandomEngy on
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    theantipoptheantipop Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Are Virgin phones GSM?

    theantipop on
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    Centipede DamascusCentipede Damascus Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    I believe Virgin works on CDMA, unfortunately.

    Centipede Damascus on
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    mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    so if you do go verizon i would think about an LG phone. i have one and its plenty durable it has been washed, dropped, taken down the river in a leaky drybag, and it always come back working perfectly. there was the one time i had to put it in the sun in a container of rice, but it was fine

    mts on
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    EricKeiEricKei Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    T-Mobile offers something called FlexPay. Basically, you pay the month BEFORE you use the phone, and there's no contract. The thing is, there's no overages. You hit the ceiling on yer monthly minutes, and the phone cuts out. Period. You can pre-fill the account with prepaid time cards and such, too, if you are getting close to the limit. I just signed up for it (same price as comparable normal plan), so I'll see if it's all it's cracked up to be.

    They also offer a 1-year plan.

    EricKei on
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    LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Thanks for all the suggestions guys. I'll keep it all in mind when it comes round to me getting my phone.

    Lewisham on
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    JAEFJAEF Unstoppably Bald Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    If you're going to be setting up a brand new account with a carrier I would seriously recommend looking at Sprint's SERO plan. You can get an all-purpose PDA for GPS, some mobile gaming, random apps (I use mine for AIM), browsing the web, etc. included in the plan at a retardedly low price. $30 for 500 minutes or $50 for 1250, and that's INCLUDING unlimited PDA data and texts (texts may save you on minutes if she likes to do that.)

    If the phone is JUST for talking with your GF this may not be the best plan since it will count against your minutes to call Verizon, however free nights & weekends start at 7PM as opposed to 9PM with Verizon. Also this is ONLY with a 2 year plan, so if you plan on leaving the country before that this may not be right for you.

    You can get the Mogul (best CDMA Windows Mobile PDA on the market) for $300 after rebate and it'll do everything your ipod will and save you the trouble of buying one and carrying two things around. They also offer a cheap extended warranty plan if yo shit fails.

    There are many reasons this may not work for you but if you'd like more information PM me and I can go over all the details with you. To browse the deal hit www.sprint.com/sero/ and use e-mail savings@sprintemi.com

    JAEF on
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