Fall Cell Phone and Plan Analysis

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Well, it’s time for Rich’s twice-yearly shuffle of cell phones and plans. When number portability strikes, it will be even easier, but right now of the five or so phones I manage for my family, most have contracts ending around now. here is what I’m doing and other advice for you:
h4. Best GSM Plans
* T-Mobile – Family Plans. If you have a high usage person and some low usage folks (fits me to a tee, I’m high usage, Connie and my parents are low), then T-mobile has some of the best plans I’ve seen. The Family Plan right now gives you 800 minutes shared between two phones for $70. You can add another phone for $10/month. Does require a one year contract. Amazing thing is that this includes nationwide roaming, long distance, unlimited weekend minutes *and* unlimited calls to any other T-mobile phone. How amazing is that. Heck, I think everyone should get one so their retired parents can have a phone.
* Otherwise, for a single person, the “Get More 1000:”http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00009MQDG/qid=1062560342//102-7967833-8380932?v=glance&s=wireless seems about unbeatable if you can stand the T-mobile coverage. Again, it has just about everything, nationwide roaming and long distance. Doesn’t have unlimited nights or weekends or T-mobile calling, but at 1000 minutes, most folks aren’t every going to max out their bucket.
* Now Amazon doesn’t have the Family Plan on their site, so I think you have to buy the phones and then call T-mobile to switch plans. That is what I did with our two Blackberrys.
h4. GSM Devices
Check out
* “C|Net”:http://reviews.cnet.com/Wireless/4521-6525_7-5021435-1.html?tag=promo2 which has a bunch of reviews that tend to be old, but interesting to read and there really aren’t reliable sources of reviews I’ve found for phones on the web amazingly enough. C|Net has the most volume, but the quality is pretty suspect these days. it is too easy to spam it.
* “Amazon”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/browse/-/548156/1/ref=br_lfsrt_/102-7967833-8380932?rank=%2Bsalesrank&x=6&y=13. On the mass market, Amazon has the absolutely most amazing prices.
Here are some phone recommendations:
* “Blackberry 7320”:http://blackberry.net. We’ve been using for a while. Love the device, but have to say the current software on the data side leaves quite a bit to be desired particularly if you are using POP3 pulling. They are essentially out of stock of these devices, but they are a Blackberry with great Exchange integration as well as being a GSM phone.
* “Samsung V205”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00008AJJ8/qid=1062560198/br=1-5/ref=br_lf_wr_5//102-7967833-8380932?v=glance&s=wireless&n=548156 with its integrated camera. I personally think that you shouldn’t buy a phone without color screen and a camera right now. If you can hold off though, wait until this Christmas when the deals and new phone will fly.
* “Nokia 6610”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00009YRTI/qid=1062560068/br=1-2/ref=br_lf_wr_2//102-7967833-8380932?v=glance&s=wireless&n=548156 or the “Motorola T722”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00009PGMZ/qid=1062560068/br=1-4/ref=br_lf_wr_4//102-7967833-8380932?v=glance&s=wireless&n=548156 both seem trusty dusty reliable. Both are color and have reasonable interfaces. I’ve got a CDMA Motorola T720 and it is pretty good.
h4. CDMA Choices
In the Seattle area, for the best coverage, I’ve found that Verizon is still about the best choice at least for my commute. Here’s the latest best choices for them:
* “Americas Choice”:http://www.verizonwireless.com/ics/plsql/plan_detail.intro?p_hdr_id=160030499&p_plan_category_id=26948&p_section=SHOP. These are free roaming and long distance within the Verizon network (pretty extensive, most major metros). Not as cheap as T-mobile, but $40 does get you 400 minutes plus unlimited nights/weekend and 1000 mobile-to-mobile.
* “Let’s Talk”:http://letstalk.com. Amazon doesn’t sell Verizon, but Let’s Talk seems to be the top hit on Google, but no one seems to offer much discounting.
* “LG VX6000”:http://www.letstalk.com/product/product.htm?depId=1&pgId=100&prId=24469&zip=98004&indexAdd=0&addToExisting=. Expensive at $300, but has the camera phone. There seem to be much smaller subsidies on Verizon these days so the phones cost quite a bit more unless there is a promotion going.
h4. Upcoming phones
“C|Net Upcoming”:http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-3504_7-5021180-1.html?tag=cal. Finally, using C|Net, a look at upcoming phones that you can drool over. This site is a bit thin, but the “Siemens SL56”:http://reviews.cnet.com/Siemens_SL56/4505-6454_7-21008701.html?tag=prmo1. This has a cool sliding design and is color, but no camera.

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