Looking for new Smartphone & service

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Old 09-29-19, 07:42 AM
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Looking for new Smartphone & service

I have a flip phone with Consumer Cellular that's simply starting to wear out, battery doesn't hold a charge as long, buttons not always working, etc. Service with them has been fine but I don't want or need to use data, maybe occasionally. I prefer to do that at home on my laptop (yea am 60+). Consumer Cell will move you to the next data plan, $10 more if you exceed the plan you're on. I know I could just turn data off on the phone - but I would occasionally use it as a GPS. I know I could download maps and use Google Maps offline as I do with my tablet - but have experienced mixed results.

One plan I saw, Tracfone - has a data carryover plan. That looks attractive. Was also considering Net10. One of my sons has used Net10 for years - he only has the $35/mo plans, uses Google Maps and rarely ever runs out of data. I guess you don't run out, it then operates at 2G instead of 4G.

I wonder if anyone here uses Tracfone and what their experiences were. I know there are many consumer reviews online but with most companies most seem to be quite negative. I would trust this forum over comments I find on other sites.
 

Last edited by stevek66; 09-29-19 at 10:29 AM.
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Old 09-29-19, 08:48 AM
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The three biggest wireless carriers are AT&T-Mobility, Verizon and T-Mobile. Pretty much every other provider piggy-backs on them. So your service will be only as good as the big boys are allowing them to be (of course they are regulated by Federal law, but that may or may not make a difference). I have T-Mobil and it can't handle rural areas as AT&T or Verizon does. But they claim they are as good. So I must use roaming data.

What better reviews can you get than first hand information from your son? If it has the features you want, then go for it.
 
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Old 09-29-19, 10:39 AM
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True - I do certainly value my son's review. I actually had Net10 smartphone service 3 years ago. Still have the phone, bought it because the company cellphone fell in the sink, got wet and stopped working. Not submerged, but got water on it. I went to KMart and bought the Net10 phone so at least I'd have something, and a bag of rice. Believe it or not what I heard worked - put the company flip phone in a bowl of rice for several hours and it started working again.

Used the Net10 for a few months. I still have it but it's too small for what I'd want to use all the time.
 
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Old 09-29-19, 07:12 PM
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The first thing I think needing to be taken into account is level of service in your area. I haven't yet found a city or area where one carrier didn't have better or worse service than another - Sprint might be good in some areas but it is not where I live whereas TMobile is pretty good here but not in Baltimore where a friend of mine lives. Then start comparing your needs to plans. My father is a phone-only kind of person so he carries an old flip phone and has pay as you go service but gets by with a 1,000 minute purchase each year.
 
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Old 09-30-19, 03:37 PM
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Over the 30 years I've had a cellphone (in the 80s actually had one with a cord to a handset from the transceiver), different companies had different results for coverage. Even now with the AT&T system (used by Consumer Cellular) there's some dead spots where I travel. If I was retired I'd be fine with a flip phone and probably could get by with 1,000 minutes a year. I'd like a smartphone for streaming music in the company van and for GPS functions.

Saw a Total Wireless in a dollar store - when I got home did some research. Found that uses the Verizon network and even customer reviews were pretty good. Saw them online but didn't really acknowledge them.

I don't need or want to always be 'connected' with social media. I won't be using it for email, checking it every few minutes.

I noted your forum name. I have and prefer a stickshift in my car. Unfortunately as you likely know they're being phased out.
 
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Old 09-30-19, 08:11 PM
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The "piggy-back" companies are called MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators). They don't own any hardware so they lease excess capacity from the big carriers. And they sell it to their customers at a reduced rate by spending less on fixed costs, like advertising. And customer support. And they're limited on the options they can offer, which is a precaution against them competing directly with their overlord carrier.

Verizon is the Big Cheese where I live (closest to 100% coverage) so I'm on an MVNO that piggy-backs off Verizon's hardware. The name of the company is Page Plus Cellular. MVNOs generally limit you to the phones branded for the company whose hardware they're using, which means you have to use a Verizon phone on PPC.

The plan I'm on is a combination of 400 talk minutes or 400 messages a month (each message = 1 talk minute) and 100MB (yes, mega-bytes) of data. Costs me $12, reduced to $10 because I signed up for auto-pay. My phone tracks the minutes used and warns me before it runs out, so I can add more time, if needed.

And you can bring your own phone but it has to be Verizon-compatible and of recent enough vintage that it supports Voice Over LTE (a requirement driven by Verizon itself, on account of it ceasing its network's CDMA support as of January 1 of 2020).

I also have a back-up phone that I use for some outdoor activities when I only carry it for urgent or emergency calls. On it I pay $10 for 100 talk minutes (and 1 message or 1 MB of data equals 1 minute of talk time) but those 100 minutes don't expire for 120 days. So I'm spending 8.3 a day for my emergency phone.

As far as call service goes, you couldn't tell you weren't on the (much more expensive) Verizon network. Which you are, at least mechanically. Call quality and coverage is the equal of Verizon's.

But their customer service is crap. They have a web interface that's reasonably sophisticated and will do everything that most of their customers will have need of, which should prevent you ever having to interact with their CS people. But lord help you if you fall outside the norms.

TracFone, BTW, owns PPC. TracFone also is a Verizon MVNO, so they, too, are piggy-backing off Verizon's hardware. PPC just aims for a lower market segment than TracFone does. PPC caters to the no-frills customers.

I generally buy my phones off eBay. I usually can find about a 2-year old phone for less than half its original price. And honestly, I've had better service from the slightly more upscale used phones I've bought than from the cheaper ones I've bought new.

Right now the cheapest phone that Verizon is selling that is VoLTE compatible is $80, the LG K20V (the 'V' means it's verizon-branded), which you can find used on eBay for less than $50.
 
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Old 10-01-19, 06:39 PM
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I don't even like using a cellphone for talking, I much prefer to talk on my home phone. It's analog in the house, but internet based. Being in the business years ago I wired the house and equipped it with phones in almost every room. so there's always one near by. It's a modified 1A2 system with hold and intercom. Don't want to carry a smartphone around when I'm home. I know most don't have landlines and use cellphones exclusively.

Good information re: the 'V' meaning a re-branded Verizon phone. Total Wireless uses Verizon's network. The VoLTE is in the price range I'm looking for. What's good about Consumer Cellular (what I have now) in one way is bad for me in another. For talking, when I had the 250 min/month plan they'd move you to unlimited if you went over for $5 more. Same with data, I'd probably get 2g/month to just use Google Maps (I'd first try downloading maps and using it with data off) but that may not be enough. They'll move you to the next 10g I think it is for $10. I don't want to pay and extra $10 or $20 for data, I'd rather just operate at lower speeds like other carriers do. So - I may move to another carrier.
 

Last edited by stevek66; 10-01-19 at 07:26 PM.
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