Connie's 7230 finally gave up the ghost. Naturally two years later, so it is out of warranty, so time to buy a new phone. Naturally, T-Mobile makes it hard to do this and stay with T-Mobile. Both Cingular and AT&T Wireless are smarter. At the end of your commitment period, you get the same deal as a new customer. At T-mobile, you only get the retail deal, not the new customer deal from someone else. So, it looks like we are off to Cingular and the new Blackberry 7290. This thing is quad band (850, 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz) so its coverage with Cingular/AT&T should be very good.
But with this, we need to get on a family plan since I've got my "Wildseed":http://wildseed.com phone as well that needs a plan, so we need to find another "free phone". There are quite a few new review sources.
I used to just have "Cnet":http://cnet.com, but thanks to blogging, there are many more sites like "Mobiledia":http://mobiledia.com with reviews like the ones below. Also checkout "Cellreception.com":http://cellreception.com for various user comments a database of where cell towers are. "Letstalk.com":http://www.letstalk.com/reviews/reviewlist.htm/depId_0/pgId_100.htm also has a review list that is very thinly populated unfortunately. Other sites include "Phone Scoop":http://www.phonescoop.com/phones/finder.php which has a great phone finder where you put criteria in. So here are the low cost phones to consider. None of these sites tell you if these are 3GPP phones. That is do they support AACplus so I can listen to music via "Melodeo":http://melodeo.com
* "Motorola V551":http://www.phonescoop.com/phones/user_reviews.php?phone=591&s=h&p=2. This is a $50 handset from Cingular via Letstalk.com. So its not quite free, but close. Nice things are that it is Bluetooth, has EDGE (so it is fast where that's available), had an OK camera (640x480), but is MIDP 2.0, so it can run "mFoundry":http://mfoundry.com.
* Motorola RAZR V3 Review - First Look. This is an amazingly thin (and expensive at $400 to the customer phone). It is super thin clamshell loaded with features like Bluetooth, MP3 ringtones and camera.