Should I Get a Smartphone?


Whenever I’ve asked a question to my faithful readers, you haven’t disappointed me with your answers and reasoning. I have a dilemma coming up at the end of June, and I’m not sure which way to go. I’ve seen other bloggers ask this question, so I thought I would seek your advice on whether or not I should upgrade my dumb phone to a smart phone.

Currently, I have a basic plan that includes unlimited calls and texting, but I have a dumb Pantech phone. That sounds really mean to my poor Pantech, which has been a great phone for the last couple of years, except for the time I sent it through the washer, but we won’t talk about that.

My cost is pretty basic. The plan is $39.99/ month with $5.99 for the texting. However, when you add all the taxes and usage fees, the bill is usually around $66 a month. $20 in taxes and fees per month is ridiculous to me. This is the cheapest non-smart phone contract AT&T offers in our area. In fact, you can’t even get this plan anymore. When our local carrier was bought out by AT&T, my plan was grandfathered in. It would be even more expensive if I were a new customer. The only other major carrier in the area is Verizon, and pricing is similar.

Jim has recently tried out a couple of prepaid, no-contract plans. He upgraded to a smart phone to send some of his practicum data when he was completing his master’s degree. He went with a Virgin Mobile, no contract plan and bought an LG Optimus Elite phone for $60 on Ebay. This plan cost $35 a month for 300 minutes of calls, plus unlimited texting and data. The cost was great, but the network in our rural area was not very good. In the right zone, everything worked fine, but if you went to certain areas in our county, like near our daughter’s school, he had no service.We compared my AT&T service with his. About 75% of the time when he had no service, I did. I also felt like the phone was a pain to use, but maybe that was because of the slow service?

Since his new job will require him to work with four school districts over an 80 mile radius, this wasn’t cutting it. He decided to switch to Straight Talk. He then found a deal on Ebay for a set of two iPhone 3’s for $202. He used one with this new plan. It costs $45 a month for unlimited talk, text, and data. It seems to work  well so far, although the service is still not as good as with my AT&T phone.

It’s really a pain because when you look at the coverage map, it shows we are covered, but these plans just don’t work in many areas. We also can’t take advantage of some of the new services, like Republic Wireless. They are not available in our zip code.

With that bit of background, my options are as follows:

1) Continue with my current phone and AT &T plan without a contract. I know I will have service in most places. Remember, I work one day a week on the reservation and do commute over a mountain pass a couple of times per month. I would not be able to do online work during the workday, (not that I spend my workday doing other things, but I do get breaks and nave no shows). However, I am only working about three days a week, so my laptop works just fine at home. Cost $66/month or $792 per year if my current phone doesn’t die.

2)Upgrade to a smartphone with a contract. I would likely get an iPhone 4s for a $99 upgrade, and continue with an AT&T plan for a ball park of $110 per month? I am not technical, and I don’t want a phone that’s difficult to use. $1320 per year +$99

3)Use the iPhone 3 we already bought on Ebay, and change to Straight Talk. I would have worse service, but I would have internet access wherever the phone worked. $45/month plus the cost of the used phone is a pretty good financial deal. The phone would have no warranty, and I’d have to buy another one if it died. Although it’s outdated, I’ve never used any smart phone, so I’m sure it does loads more than my dumb phone. $540/year + $101

4)Buy an iPhone 4 or 4s and use Straight Talk. $45 per month, plus the cost of the phone, which I could buy used or new.  I see no reason that I need an iPhone 5. We could also sell the other iPhone 3 for about $100. $540/year + $300-$500

Which option should I choose, or is there a better one? We don’t have a land line, so our cell phones are our connection to the world. I would appreciate advice from anyone who has made the upgrade to a smart phone or decided not to.



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  1. It is all about the coverage. If you are not currently a data user, then there is no need to be one. Those plans are very expensive and you have to have the coverage. I would stay with a dumb phone. There are many times I wish I still had a dumb phone.

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