General Question

Zone36's avatar

Can anyone help me find a cell phone and plan?

Asked by Zone36 (416points) November 21st, 2010

I have been out of the country for four years. I live in Washington State. I know the tax on cell phone plans here is about 20%.

Here are what I must have:
At least 300 minutes
Texting, Email capabilities really cheap/unlimited

Here’s what I’d like:
Instant messaging
Maybe skype
Unlimited mobile to mobile (like Sprint)

The icing:
Unlimited Data for the web

What are some ways I can fill what I must have? (phones/plans)
I know how expensive and good the best stuff is, but how about the middle of the pack?

How about for things I would like?

I’m also worried about reliability of the providers. Is there a big difference between AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint?
How about the smaller providers Boostmobile, T-mobile, Virgin etc…

Take for example Virgin mobile prepaid. $25 a month Unlimited Text, Email, Data and Web plus 300 minutes.
I find this very suspect. It seems too good for such a low cost.

One major reason I want to be able to connect to the web is I have friends in Japan. I would like to be able to IM or email them, but I’m not sure how much that really costs to do.

I also thought it would be cheaper to use skype and call them internationally.

If you have any other thoughts please feel free to tell me.

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5 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

Lucky you. you live in the home state of T-Mobile cellphones.

I have had T-mobile since 1998. i have throroughly been satisfied with the service and their phones. J.D. Powers and Associates list T-Mobile as number one in customer satifaction. and, i agree. each time i have a question from T-Mobile, there is a real person that answers the phone.

T-Mobile has a wide range of options for you. i highly recommend them to you.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I’ve had Sprint for 8 years, and have 4 phones on one plan. We share 1500 minutes, and I pay $129 a month after taxes. That includes roadside service on three phones, service to Canada on one, and a data plan on one phone, unlimited texting. With the Sprint-to-Sprint free calling, we have never gone over our minutes; two of those phones are for my daughters, who are in their early 20’s.

Sprint’s GPS system is awesome! I believe most if not all plans include unlimited text messaging these days.

Check in your area to see who has the best cell phone tower placement; you will have less dropped calls. You might want to choose a carried that people you will call frequently use, to take advantage of in-network savings on those calls. Also, think about if you want to get an iPhone or and Android. That will limit your choices as well.

jerv's avatar

I am in the Seattle area. For two phones sharing 700 anytime minutes, and free mobile-to-mobile and nights/weekends, an unlimited data plan for my Droid X, roadside assistance, and insurance on my Droid X (but no texting) I pay about $100/month. If you only had one line and dropped the insurance and roadside assistance, you could add a decent texting plan, but with email and IM, why bother?

Being a Droid, it automatically has Google Navigation for free, along with Google Talk, and you can get IM apps like Meebo and IM using your unlimited data plan.

Verizon is pretty damn reliable in this area. I have yet to drop a call in the year-plus I’ve been on their network.

stemnyjones's avatar

What carrier has the best coverage for me is irrelevant to your question, since I live on the other side of the country.

I can tell you about other factors, though.

AT&T and Verizon are going to be generally more expensive than the other carriers. AT&T, in general, has better coverage in the south, and Verizon has better coverage in the north.

I worked in an AT&T call center for 2 years. The customer service really just depends on who you get on the line when you call.

I used to use Sprint, and their customer service was HORRIBLE. They were constantly adding features to my account when I called for something unrelated, like my balance or a problem with my phone. Once I paid my $200 bill online, and somehow the payment went through twice, and it took me a week of being on the phone with either Sprint or my bank about 8 hours a day before it was resolved.

Now I am using Sprint again, and I’ve seen considerable improvement. 3 months in and no crazy problems like before, and the coverage is great where I live.

I have a family plan with 2 phones, unlimited texting and data, and my bill is about $120/month.

I also had T-Mobile for a short period of time, and I didn’t have problems with the customer service or anything, I just had horrible coverage where I live. Every once in a while I would get a service rep on the phone who couldn’t speak english well enough to understand what I was saying, and I’d end up hanging up and calling back.

Definitely do your research – check each carrier’s website for the plans available and coverage in your area.

The best advice I can give you is don’t listen to the store reps. Always go with over-the-phone service as often as possible. The store reps are paid on commission and are notorious for lying to get you to start up service (hint: no one will EVER waive your activation fees without a fight, no matter what the store rep says), telling you they cancelled your account but really leaving it open, etc.

Moegitto's avatar

Virgin mobile has everything you need. It runs off the sprint network and has 3G.

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