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what is the luddite version of a 'pay as you go', no contract, just talk and text cell phone?

 
Judith Browning
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Well, as usual I go to my favorite group for advice...I got lost in too many options when I searched for what we want on line.

We do have the option of being added to a son's plan but thought I would also see if there are any 'simple' choices out there that others have used and been happy with?

Parameters that would be nice: less than $20 a month ( and NO hidden charges tacked on); pay as we go; no contract; just talk and text; and the phone itself needs to have a 'qwerty' keyboard...not the press three times to get 'c' and twice for 'e' and all...

thanks folks

...and yes, discussed and ruled out carrier pigeons long ago
 
Chris Kott
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Semaphore? Heliograph?

I think the kids call them burner phones these days, usually favoured by those using them for illicit or otherwise frowned-upon activities.

But beyond that, I'm not even in the right country to help you out. Here, though, you can still pick them up at 24 hour convenience stores and mall kiosks.

And if the evidence on the burner was hot enough, you could send smoke signals! (I was going to make that joke about batteries failing, but that isn't actually funny. Don't charge anything on soft surfaces.).

Hope you find a solution you like.

-CK
 
Tereza Okava
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Judith, I'm assuming you need a new phone as well as service for said phone.
In the past I've bought cheap, unlocked phones off of e-bay and put simple pay as you go plans on them. These plans (at least last time I was in the US) I could buy a "recharge" card in a pharmacy (which is also where i get the chip, if the phone does not already come with a chip and number assigned --sometimes they do). This is what I did when my daughter traveled with me, we ended up with California numbers (we were not in California) but the calls were free on the plan I had so who cares.
I'd say it sounds like a used, unlocked blackberry might be a good deal for you if you need to have a real keyboard. Otherwise, it's either a flip phone (no keyboard) or a smartphone made for web applications.

As for pay as you go plans, I have used Tracfone, Orange, and a few others. Literally, whatever is available in the drugstore at the train station or pharmacy where my plane lands is what I go with when I'm buying a chip and plan for my phone.
 
Ellendra Nauriel
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For a while I was on Mint Mobile. One of the phones that works with their network has a keyboard, which was one of my requirements too. I had to switch because they didn't have coverage in any of the areas I needed it, even though their map said they did.

I'm currently using Tello, which is $7 a month. The phone I had from Mint wouldn't work with Tello's network, but they did have a phone with a built-in stylus and an on-screen keyboard. I don't know if that's luddite enough though.
 
Skandi Rogers
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While I'm not in the right country I might be able to help, you're looking for a business tariff where you rent the line and then pay for anything you use on top. You will also need to provide your own phone (not hard grab one of the kids old ones) Most phones can be unlocked to any network if locking is still a thing over there.
 
Stacie Kim
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https://www.ebay.com/itm/123722253008?chn=ps&norover=1&mkevt=1&mkrid=711-213727-13078-0&mkcid=2&itemid=123722253008&targetid=4580909047876964&device=c&mktype=&googleloc=&poi=&campaignid=410488100&mkgroupid=1236950807674763&rlsatarget=pla-4580909047876964&abcId=9300489&merchantid=51291

This might give you some ideas. It's a basic "slider" phone. You can opt in for a one year TracPhone agreement.  HOWEVER, the details in the listing say it's locked for Verizon.

***I don't have any experience with this, I am only passing along what I've found online. You'll have to find out all the details for yourself.***

I have a basic slider phone with Verizon. My hubbie has a basic flip phone. We have an OLD plan that's been grandfathered in to their current company. We get a "basic phone" discount and a military discount. Hubbie and I pay almost $60 for both ($30 each).
 
Judith Browning
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thanks everyone!

Ellendra Nauriel wrote:For a while I was on Mint Mobile. One of the phones that works with their network has a keyboard, which was one of my requirements too. I had to switch because they didn't have coverage in any of the areas I needed it, even though their map said they did.

I'm currently using Tello, which is $7 a month. The phone I had from Mint wouldn't work with Tello's network, but they did have a phone with a built-in stylus and an on-screen keyboard. I don't know if that's luddite enough though.



Maybe!  I looked at Tello's  site and like the offers.

Have you used the plan long enough to find any hidden costs or downsides?

I see their refurbished phones and have nothing to compare except I know I don't want the one with the three in one texting buttons.

at the moment we have a wall phone that is included in our internet service and are planning to get rid of that and go with a simple service cell and use the library's wifi.

I checked for coverage here and it looks a little iffy for the cheapest plan...will have to study on it...thanks!

will look at Mint Mobile again too.....
 
Ellendra Nauriel
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Judith Browning wrote:

Maybe!  I looked at Tello's  site and like the offers.

Have you used the plan long enough to find any hidden costs or downsides?



I've been with them for over a year. No surprises yet.
 
leila hamaya
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hey judith, without knowing all your specifics and making some assumptions..

-- you might look into getting a free cell phone, sometimes weirdly called "obama phones" cause he started the program with the feds...to provide free cell phones to low income people.
anywho theres several ways to access this, because i am pretty sure you would qualify for this -- through lifeline (landlines mostly), through safelink -- through assurance wireless, and theres a few others.

its basically all the same program but you can get it through different service providers.

anywho they send you a free phone and its free minutes each month. its related to a program to get cheap home internet too, they just have been doing more of that too --

drop some links ---
best one is --> https://www.safelinkwireless.com/Enrollment/Safelink/en/Web/www/default/index.html#!/newHome

another --> https://www.lifewireless.com/

a list of a bunch of them -- https://www.freegovernmentcellphones.net/states/arkansas-government-cell-phone-providers

also they offer free smart phones, assuming thats what most people want. you can specially request a flip phone or simple version if you prefer...i know some folks who really would rather have the simple "stupid" phones =)
 
leila hamaya
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some other thoughts - even good phone keyboards kinda suck, just get a mini wireless keyboard/bluetooth keyboard or some such...and use with smart phone?

additionally cheap internet --> https://www.internetessentials.com/
this is if xfinity / used to be comcast is in your area. its a cloal thing whats there, but most places are rolling out or have rolled out freeish/cheap internet, unless youre really rural. i just actually set up a new spot so i got this cheap 10$ a month internet set up through "internet essentials". its a little slower than the 50$ a month service, but not bad....i dont use high bandwidth stuff so it works about the same for me...
 
Judith Browning
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Hi Leila! thanks for those links...most of our life we would have qualified but at the moment do not.  
I'm glad to know about those offerings though...one day soon we might need them


 
Judith Browning
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We have signed up for Tello's $10 a month (plus tax) unlimited text and talk and 1GB data.  I even bought a refurbished 'smart' phone through them.

It seemed like the best and most trusted offer available and had all the criteria that we were looking for.

Surprisingly we can switch to our landline phone number so it will still be a local looking number and we won't have to notify folks of a new number.

Our plan is to overlap with internet service for a couple weeks to make a smooth transition.


EDIT:  we plan to share the phone as we have shared a landline for many years...I just realized that most cell phones are 'personal', one per individual...surely others have only one per household?  
...and it will likely stay at home like the wall phone unless it is a longer trip than usual...not planning to take it on hikes or anything.

We are both into paper maps and compasses though so GPS is still unnecessary
 
K Eilander
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I recently asked a similar question online, and the most helpful response was someone who referred me to this website that specializes in comparing the different prepaid plans.
https://prepaidcompare.net/

Hope it helps you too.
 
Dan Boone
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I have a freelancing client whose project needs a dedicated cell number.  As part of that work I have been using a Family Mobile phone from Walmart.  It's not quite as cheap as the deal from Tello that Judith got, but I'll mention it here in case it suits someone's needs.

Phone got purchased over the counter in the electronics department from Walmart.  About $45 for a cheap android smartphone with the full functionality you would expect from one of those.  Also a fair bit, but not a crippling amount, of the shovelware apps that usually get bundled with free phones.

No contract, no monthly subscription, no need for them to have my name or billing information.  Voice/data/text (a couple of GB of data) comes on a scratch-off PIN card you can also buy over the counter at Walmart, although not all Walmarts seem to sell the Family Mobile line.  You can also buy new PINs online at some loss of privacy, but a gain in convenience obviously.  All the cards are monthly; which means, they enable the phone to work for 30 days after you type in the PIN.  If you use up your data before then, you can buy a data-only card to top up.  The cards have different amounts of data but they all seem to offer the same more-or-less-unlimited voice calls and texting.  The cheapest one is, I think, about twenty bucks; the one we use is $25.  

I know people who call these "terrorist phones" but obviously if the number crossed the radar of any police authorities, they could cross-check with Walmart and pull the surveillance cams that show whose smiling face bought the phone or the top-up cards.  Which would be a pretty dumb way for a criminal to get caught.  So the value here lies in the lack of an administrative/paperwork overhead for managing the phone and preventing unwanted/unneeded ongoing charges.  
 
leila hamaya
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yeah ^^^this is what i have done before ^^^ pick up cheap phone at target, etc...thats before i got on the free safelink plan, which i am very happy with, but i may not be a good one to judge. i dont like talking on the phone, classic introvert style, but you do need one for certain important things and in that my free cell phone gives me way more than i need. actually i think i got a nice one a couple years back through the free safelink dealio, the random one they sent is larger than most.because i qualify for state health insurance, that automatically qualifies me for the safelink free phone, anyone on food stamps, state health insurance, or social security can automatically qualify very easily....just by showing that paperwork.

while we are on this subject for anyone else...or just some general ideas - you can also get a free VOIP, through gmail.

when they first rolled that out it was great, well for completely free, sometimes it dropped calls or there was a weird...ping...but for ...turning your laptop into a phone for free, it was cool =)
...and could basically turn your email/laptop/desktop into a phone with a microphone and a headset /bluetooth speaker...it used to be my only number for a few years a VOIP through gmail...google voice.

another weird tip i have is there are several apps that can be downloaded onto a smart phone that will basically still allow you to use the smart phone. it works over wifi, so you need an internet connection, or use public wifi.
you can also use them to turn a small tablet into a phone, again you need a headset and mic.

i havent used them in years but for quite a while i used text now --> https://www.textnow.com
and i know theres a couple of other similar apps, i think they are still the same. so that would be...if you run out of money to go buy freshy cards on one of those disposable smart phone , you can still use the smart phone to make an receive calls and texts (mostly i just text, anyway, introvert style!) by downloading this app and getting a new phone number.
so i used that for a while, and it was great because it even worked in the super rural place i was deep in the siskiyous
i dont know the names of the other apps, but i think theres a few more that work similarly...

also same can be done with google voice, turn your gmail into a phone...although they keep tweaking their apps and such...used to be easier and better...they maybe caved to pressure not to make their VOIP that great. but you can use a Voip through gmail to make and receive calls and texts, and hook this up on any tablet or laptop or a smart phone.
 
John Weiland
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We've been reasonably happy with Tracfone....started out some time ago with a Nokia on that service and now both my wife and I have older iPhones operating through Tracfone.  For texting, you are shackled to the touchscreen qwerty keyboard as offered, but since it can do Bluetooth, I'm intrigued by the possibility of using a full-size keyboard when needed.....in fact have a Bluetooth keyboard for our iPad so may need to check that out.  Somewhat strangely, Tracfone has "Basic" plans and "Smartphone" plans....but unless I'm mistaken, I've never switched away from Basic where I typically purchase a 365-days for $99.00 plan with 400 minutes and some amount of texts (you can tell I use the latter as an afterthought... :-)  ).  Somehow, even these Basic plans allow you to buy Data, so I've seen no point in buying a Smartphone plan which starts out at 2X the price for the plan, but has more built in talk/text.....guess I just like to buy cheap and buy more only when needed.  If any of the talk/text/data get used up before the 365 days is over, they are $5/10/10 for adding more of each, respectively.  In case any of this is helps..... Good luck!

Edited to add.....upon some perusal, looks like Verizon is making a play for the purchase of Tracfone.   Hmmmmm....I wonder where that will lead..... :-/
 
Judith Browning
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So far so good with Tello...

We have a good signal.
I'm still figuring out what I can disable on the 'smart' phone itself.  Unfortunately this particular phone comes with factory google stuff, some I can turn off but little I can do about most but avoid using.

It appears that our biggest problem is going to be disconnecting from Windstream/Kinetic.
They have little information at their site, only that when signing up there is no contract and you can quit 'anytime'.

From the reviews we've read it doesn't sound that easy and apparently they insist on a reason for leaving them and it better be a good one.

We had planned to 'port in' our landline number which is possible and easy to do with any other provider EXCEPT Windstream...from the reviews it sounds like they stall and make excuses to keep you owing them money.

So, we'll just keep the number assigned as temporary with tello and put our energy into canceling the old service.

I'm hoping permies doesn't use much data and have it set on mobile view.  
Other than that I've added a link on the phone to wikipedia and duolingo (not the app)...priorities
and we're enjoying texting and calls.

now to untangle the old service.....

I'm going to look for a good thread that I remember here about how to use less data...
 
Judith Browning
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here's the link to how to use less data

maybe something helpful for cell phone use also...mostly for pc's.
 
leila hamaya
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yeah they have so many apps and such and generally tie up the phone with stuff you dont want. it's been a while since i messed around with any of this, but the first step to "unlocking" the phone is to turn on "developer options" and make yourself a "developer" kinda like administrative settings on a laptop.
this can allow you to delete some things but still some of it sticks.
if you completely "unlock" the phone you can mess around with more.
https://www.greenbot.com/article/2457986/how-to-enable-developer-options-on-your-android-phone-or-tablet.html
 
Judith Browning
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thanks everyone!

We have had a month with Tello and are pleased.  Had to give the landline/wifi company some notice so we have it arranged to shut off the 25th.
That's given us some time to get used to a cell phone...not as hard as expected but a slightly annoying excess of 'stuff' on it.  I've been able to disable a bit and can ignore most.  

At the moment, we have the 'economy' plan that includes 1GB data with unlimited text and calls. This month we hardly used any of the data because we still have wifi here so were able to renew a day early and the unused data rolls over to the next month.  It does not if we let the plan renew automatically.  

I'm learning just how many megabites different things use...texting is unlimited included in the plan but if I send a photo with a text that uses 1MB and 10-15 minutes on permies uses 3 or 4.  A few duolingo lessons use another 3 or so.  It will be an interesting experiment in mindful use rather than surfing

We are so in the habit of going everywhere without a phone that it sits at home on the table...and have had a hard time remembering to turn the ringer back on.  

If anyone is looking to cut costs the plan we got is $10 a month plus 21cents tax.  
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