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livelaughlove21's avatar

What is the best cell phone service for the money - in your opinion?

Asked by livelaughlove21 (14586 points ) September 10th, 2012

My first cell phone was through Virgin Mobile. The price was right, but the phones were terrible. I switched to Boost Mobile a few years ago. Again, the price is right, the signal is a bit better, and the phones are better as well, but they could be better.

I just got a new smartphone, a Kyocera Hydro. I love the phone, but it keeps freezing up. I returned one, thinking it was a defective phone, but the new one is doing the same thing. I looked on the Boost site at their different phones, but it seems this is a problem for most of their phones. I’m not sure if I should just deal with it or switch to a non-prepaid service.

So, in your experience, what cell service has the best bang for your buck? I’m not willing to pay $100/month to have a cell phone, but a good data package is important. I text and surf the web way more than I talk on the phone, so I’d need less than 500 minutes per month of talk time. I like Android phones because of he apps, but I’m open to other phones as well. Good service is important to me. Money is probably the most important factor, though. I know that Verizon has great phones and great service, but the people I know that have it pay wayyy too much for it. I know Verizon has prepaid phones, but I hear they’re awful.

Any thoughts?

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19 Answers

RareDenver's avatar

It would help if people knew what country you were in.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Sorry. I’m in the US.

drdoombot's avatar

I use Straight Talk. Compatible with ATT/Tmobile phones, $45/month for unlimited talk, text and web. The web is not really unlimited, but if you keep it to 100mb per day, you won’t have any problems.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Same as drdoombot, it’s great!

TMobile sucks, don’t ever do the contract with them, their service is terrible and bills keep going up while service and phones go down…awful.

livelaughlove21's avatar

So what towers do the straight talk phones work off of? In other words, who’s the signal provider?

jerv's avatar

Verizon is the only network that works wherever I am. Those around me who lose reception in buildings, or at work, or wherever, all have one thing in common; they are not Verizon. There is a reason they are pricey, but looking at the less expensive alternatives, it wouldn’t be worth the price drop for me to have a crap phone and no coverage at work.

As near as I can tell, Straight Talk uses whoever is closest; they have deals with everybody. The catch? While their voice coverage is good, their Android coverage is spotty. (Maybe they don’t have the same deals fort 3G networks as they do for voice?) Not bad if they server where you are, but useless if they don’t.

jaytkay's avatar

Does Straight Talk allow forwarding when the call is not answered?

I need that for Google Voice.

Also, according to this Salon link , Straight talk uses Verizon and AT&T networks, plus T-Mobile for roaming.

But phones are either Verizon or AT&T/T-Mobile compatible, so your provider depends on the phone.

woodcutter's avatar

Straight Talk is Verizon and is also in with tracfone. As far as I know they don’t have call forwarding ,or roaming

livelaughlove21's avatar

@jerv I’d be happy to pay for Verizon if I could afford it. The problem is that I’m a college student, my husband is the only one working, and we just bought a house. No room in the budget for such a luxury.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I actually have a separate question about Verizon. They have an $80/mo prepaid plan with the $150 Samsung Illusion, unlimited everything. However, according to the website, my husband and I could get better phones for less if we signed the contract, $40 each for the phone and $70 combined for the 4gb unlimited plan. That comes to $75/mo each. The people I know with Verizon pay over $100/mo. What gives?

jerv's avatar

The contract has it’s benefits. Do you think I’d pay $500—$650 for a phone? No. But if I can get it for $150–200 just by buying a service I was going to need anyways….

A single-phone contract is generally a bad deal. Multi-phone contracts though, they provide kind of a bulk discount. How many of the Verizon customers do you know have just one line, and how many have many?

livelaughlove21's avatar

@jerv The people I know are those I have worked with and gone to school with, so I have no idea whether they had a family plan or individual. My friend from high school had Verizon with her parents and brother (4 lines) and her portion was nearly $150. This was back in 2008 or so, and I hear their plans have gotten less expensive. Is that true?

I went through the motions on the website as if I was going to sign up. I opted for the 4GB unlimited talk and text, 2 smartphones at $99/each, with full insurance on each device and it said it would be $199.99 initially and $166 per month. That’s a little over $80 each, which is doable. Of course, the first bill would be $70 more because of the activation fees.

It seems to be a pretty decent deal, considering the phones I chose were the Droid 4 and an iPhone. I wish we had more people to be on the plan with us to make it a sweeter deal, but we don’t.

jerv's avatar

They have. I remember what plans used to cost in the mid-‘90s, and it’s nice to see the downwards trend in plan prices has continued.

livelaughlove21's avatar

So both my phone and my husband’s were so slow, kept freezing up, and were driving us crazy. So, we went out and got Verizon. I couldn’t believe I was approved with no deposit, because my credit score is in the mid-600’s and I heard Verizon had the strictest credit requirements. Oh well…

I got three lines (2 smartphones, 1 basic phone) with unlimited talk/text and 4GB shared data. Our bill will be around $211/month, which evens out to $60 for the basic phone that my mom is using, $75 for my husband’s Droid Incredible, and $76 for my iPhone 4. The data thing confuses me to no end so I hope 4GB is enough.

People complain about Verizon being so expensive but when you take into account the great phones (at great deals with a contract), insurance that apparently covers it all, and fantastic signal – all under $80/month per line…I mean, I think that’s pretty good. Especially considering the alternative, and the fact that Verizon’s prepaid plan with a smartphone is $80 per person with very few phones to choose from.

Hopefully I’ll still feel this way in a few months – because I’m stuck with them for at least two years.

drdoombot's avatar

@jerv If you do the math, it will be cheaper to pay $600 up front for the phone and stay off contract than get a subsidized phone and pay the higher monthly contract rate.

Using T-mobile as an example: A Samsung Galaxy S3 will run you $280 (on the website). The cheapest all-inclusive unlimited contract plan is $80/month. At 24 months, your total cost is $2200 (not including taxes). If you paid $600 up front for the same phone and went with T-mobile’s own unlimited prepaid plan for $60/month, your total for 24 months of service would $2040, a savings of $160 (plus you save on taxes by buying prepaid cards online). The service/coverage is identical for both plans.

Depending on the plan you get and the carrier you use, your savings can be even greater than the example above. I have yet to see an example where it pays to go on contract.

jerv's avatar

@drdoombot I am aware that the contract cost in total is higher, but the cost difference isn’t terribly much. I saved far more than that by buying my wife’s Droid 3 at Costco, and one of the benefits of my wife’s job is a discount on Verizon.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@drdoombot What about insurance to cover theft, loss, damage, etc? And if you don’t have the contract, you can’t upgrade in 18–20 months. There’s your $160 right there.

rojaroja's avatar

My first mobile was Nokia 5233

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