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Getting my first smart phone - where do I begin?  RSS feed

 
master steward
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I am thinking I may need a smartphone next year so I'm trying to discover what kind of plan I need.

I know nothing about them.  But I do want to be able to rent bicycles, pay parking fees, and take payments through something like Square.

I may also check my email and permies from time to time.  But someone told me that cell phones can talk to wi-fi so I can find a hot-fi spot to do that instead of using the cell stuff.

How many units of internet (whatever those are) do I need per month to do things like this?


I also want to take photos, lots of high-quality photos.  But my computer doesn't talk to the wi-fi so I wonder if I can have something like an SD card for my phone.


What other questions to I need to ask myself before I buy a phone?
 
r ranson
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is this good?

100MB Non-shared Plan
INCLUDES:

100 text messages12
Call Display with Name Display4
Voicemail8
PLUS:

Includes all monthly ... Communications service fees.
Available on month-to-month.
Overage $10/100MB.



edit: that has fifty minutes of canada wide calling.  My average use is 4. 
 
pollinator
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Never buy just enough tractor. That advice has stuck with me and served me well. If you buy the tractor that's a step bigger than you think you'll need, you will most certainly put it to work doing things the smaller class tractor shouldn't be doing.

I've found it works for me to think of mobile phone and mobile service in the same way. I've been in limited plans thinking I would only use this much data and that many text messages when only to have the overage fees get a bit painful. Our solution was buy a very good mobile phone and simply subscribe to an unlimited plan. It feels like a lot of money at first, but I've found that I'm actually using the tool far more than I anticipated and so my overages would have been crazy expensive. I'm better off in the long run with an unlimited plan.
 
r ranson
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mmm, tractor!

That's the thing.  It's like I'm used to doing all the farm work with a stick I found, then suddenly it's time to buy a tractor.  I don't know what one to get.

Also, we have some of the most expensive cell plans in the world.  If I were to get unlimited, it would eat up my entire pension.  (edit to add: wow they have plans that are more expensive than my entire monthly income - that's pretty scary)



At the moment, I use less than 4 minutes of talk time a month, with an all-time high of 8 minutes one month when we had a huge family emergency. 

I don't text and don't plan to start.  I have no friends to text to.

I don't really know what else people use phones for.  Candy crusher?

The big use would be during a festival or market.  Some people don't use cash any more, so I need to be able to take their money somehow.  That's why I'm thinking Square (which syncs with my etsy account somehow)


We have two main kinds of plans. 
One where you get a free phone, but you are locked into that plan for 3 years (even if your phone breaks).
The other is where I buy a phone and connect it to the plan.  That way if my needs change, I can change the plan. 

The second one has more expense but costs less per month and more flexibility. 
 
garden master
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100 mb won't go far unless you stick with wifi hotspots. I have wifi at home and work and I try to download files for things like podcasts while on wifi but I easily use more than 100mb per month. But I'm also fairly engaged with tech and need to use apps in the field for my work.

I'm on a shared family plan and even with my field use I use far less than the rest of the people on the plan.

Looking back through my past data use for this year my lowest month was 800mb and my highest was 3,000mb. Seems like I'm averaging around 1,500mb per month.

My guess is you would use a lot less than me but I still think 100mb could be pushing it unless you really were careful to get on wifi hotspots.
 
r ranson
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I didn't know podcasts could be on a phone.  But I can download things like that on a wi fi?  Can a phone make music too if I downloaded it at home like I do with an MP3 player?

I really can't see using a phone much.  But some shops and parking don't accept cash or credit card, only phone payment.

Maybe I could buy the phone now and just use wi-fi until I learn how it works?  That way I would train myself not to use the data units unless I'm on wi-fi?
 
r ranson
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250MB data
100 minutes of Canada-wide talk
Unlimited incoming calls
Unlimited text to Canada and the U.S.

That's like twice as much for the same price... I think.  Is it?
 
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My advise is to change your mind.
Mobile phones IMO are an intrusion to a peaceful life, they encourage ' immediateness' in that everything must be done now!
I see no real advantage of them, unless you are always late and need to call and come up with another reason why you are late,
unless you have that attitude that when an idea comes in mind, you can't write it down, think on it and do something later.
 
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Look up data usage calculators online.  Play around with a few different ones to get an idea of how much data you'll need.  I've found they usually underestimate, though.

I found this about Square transactions:

Signing in to Square Register ~ 8 kb of data
Declined payments ~ 4 kb of data
Completed payments ~ 10 kb of data
Issuing a refund ~ 4 kb of data
Resending a receipt ~ 4 kb of data



One megabyte is 1000kb.

Koodo is a bit different in that you pay off your phone a little at a time each month, but you can change plans whenever you want, within certain restrictions.  Their deals change all the time, so you can play that game if you want.
I just discovered Public Mobile which has the cheapest plans I've seen lately.  You need to have your own phone, though.  You can make your own plan, picking the features you want, but they don't match exactly what you need - super minimal talk and no texting with data. There are some data only plans, but that means no phone calls at all.

Those companies are both Telus subsidiaries, so use the same network.

I only have 100mb of data/month.  I check the weather forecasts on Environment Canada's site and my email pretty regularly.  A bit of online banking, like once or twice a month max.  That's about it.  Occasionally I'll use up my data before the end of the month, but not very often - usually only if I start consulting the google for things.  If you can use wifi for accessing this site, 100mb would probably be enough for you.

Most phones have a decent amount of memory already for photos, but you could always upload your photos (using wifi of course) to online storage if you need more space.
 
Jan White
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John C Daley wrote:My advise is to change your mind.
Mobile phones IMO are an intrusion to a peaceful life, they encourage ' immediateness' in that everything must be done now!
I see no real advantage of them, unless you are always late and need to call and come up with another reason why you are late,
unless you have that attitude that when an idea comes in mind, you can't write it down, think on it and do something later.



I mostly treat my cell phone like a landline.  When I'm out of the house, I don't answer it, I answer texts only if I want to, and I use minimal data.  Being able to communicate and plan on the run is invaluable in certain situations.  Just cause you have a cell phone doesn't mean it needs to be in your face all the time.
 
gardener
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You can shoot info and photos and stuff from your phone to a personal computer or lap top via bluetooth, via a memory chip, or via a USB cable.  I went for a Samsung Galaxy S5.  At the time, in the store I was at, it had the highest quality camera, and the highest amount of memory for the price.  It has served me well, as has having an unlimited plan.  I did not go for a contract, just a monthly bill.  It's expensive, but I can call or text across Canada unlimited and I have a shwack of data.  I also had a friend put a cap on my data so that I can not go over my data limit.  I don't know how he did it, but it works; I never go over.   It can be distracting to own a smart phone, if you let it, but so can a laptop, at home, with a permies.com addiction ;)  
 
Daron Williams
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r ranson wrote:I didn't know podcasts could be on a phone.  But I can download things like that on a wi fi?  Can a phone make music too if I downloaded it at home like I do with an MP3 player?

I really can't see using a phone much.  But some shops and parking don't accept cash or credit card, only phone payment.

Maybe I could buy the phone now and just use wi-fi until I learn how it works?  That way I would train myself not to use the data units unless I'm on wi-fi?



These days you can really just think of a smart phone as a mini-computer. I can do most of my permie staff stuff on my phone (just use desktop view instead of mobile), I make GIS maps, take detailed environmental restoration surveys, watch videos, take notes, navigate using GPS, etc. My phone gets much more use than my laptop computer. I also read a lot of ebooks on it (kindle app - makes my phone work as a kindle without buying a kindle - the app is free), my library is connected to a service that lets me checkout ebooks and audio books and read/listen to them through my phone. I also follow podcasts on it and for example I will be listening (phone can play through my car's radio) to Paul's newest podcast in just a few min on my drive home. Mostly I can do all this on wifi or by downloading stuff ahead of time.

For my environmental restoration work my phone is one of my most useful tools to have in the field. I can collect all my data with it, take pictures, check email and my office phone forwards to my smart phone when I'm in the field.

In the past most of my social media browsing was done on the phone though I have stopped using social media for the most part these days... I also used my phone to record Facebook live sessions when I was helping a local non-profit with promotion.

I still use my laptop when I need to type a lot and do some more complex stuff where a bigger screen is very helpful. But looking at website stats for example the majority of people visit websites on their phones these days.

A smart phone is really just a small computer and can do the majority of what a laptop can do.
 
master steward
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I think it usually makes more sense to buy a phone (decent used or refurbished or "out of fashion" ones can be found for a fairly good price) and connect it to the plan.

I'm wondering if a tablet might work for you. Some tablets have great cameras. I've recently learned that when a client calls me to pay via credit card over the phone, I can't use my phone to talk *and* do the credit thing-y at the same time. So then, I call them back using Google Voice on my laptop, and enter their credit card stuff on my smartphone app.

Our (my) tablet is the kitchen music provider, so I don't have my credit card app on it right now. It doesn't seem right to have my account and card stuff on there with half a dozen boots and visitors poking around on that device.

(Btw/a little OT:  I use a PayPal credit card app and swiper, which is the same fees and works about the same as Square, but puts the money immediately into my PayPal account, for which I have a debit card. Square takes a day or two to get it in your bank. I already have (had) a PayPal account, so that makes it one less thing to track. I like it.)

The downside of a tablet being that if you add it to your cell phone plan in addition to your phone, there is usually a separate charge for an additional device. Though if it costs less than a smartphone (???) that could be good for getting things rolling in this way.

You'd definitely want an SD card for either the smartphone or the tablet.

I'm sorry I don't have a suggestion about how much data to estimate. We're data gluttons here, and use our phones as hotspots when our internet gets slow or choppy. 

This part might be TMI....

I use my smartphone for (maybe, sorta in this order):
  • e-mails (three e-mail accounts)
  • calendar (syncs with my and multiple google calendars)
  • Evernote (syncs with my laptop version of the app)
  • texts (I text with family and now more and more clients want to text or only respond to texts, not emails)
  • internet - permies.com; searching for info, recipes, etc.; social media; client tasks
  • phone (I avoid making phone calls!)
  • Audible (for audio books)
  • camera
  • banking - I use banking apps to deposit client checks, make transfers, etc.
  • google maps

  • Other apps that I find myself using (not in any particular order):
  • Clock / alarm / stopwatch
  • Calculator
  • Flashlight
  • Magnifier
  • PayPal Here (the PayPal credit card app)
  • Airbnb
  • Samsung health app - tracks my steps (which I'm trying to increase!)
  • Maps of All Countries - a geography game/app (I'm trying to improve my geography knowledge)
  • Trello
  • Podkicker (a free with ads podcast app)
  • YouTube
  • Netflix
  • Keeper (my password keeper app that syncs with the app on my laptop)

  • Both Paul and I use the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 which came out four years ago in 2014, and Fred is even using my old Note 2 which works, but some times temperamentally. Paul's probably had his Note 4 almost four years, and I've had mine at least two years. It's "old" enough that some places no longer have the cases, or screen protectors, etc. for them. But they work fine (don't explode like the Note 7's that were recalled!) and were far more affordable than the "latest / greatest" smartphone.

    Good luck figuring out the best options, R!

     
    r ranson
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    John C Daley wrote:My advise is to change your mind.



    Almost there.

    I tried to buy a smartphone before but got so fed up with the confusion. 

    Problem is selling stuff I need a smartphone because people don't carry cash.

    Also, I want to rent one of those bikes sometimes. 
     
    Jan White
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    r ranson wrote:

    John C Daley wrote:My advise is to change your mind.



    Almost there.

    I tried to buy a smartphone before but got so fed up with the confusion. 



    You might be overthinking things.  With the amount that you plan on using it, any phone will probably be fine.  You won't know what features you like or hate until you use a smartphone for a while, and you won't know what kind of plan works for you until you try one out.

    Maybe buy an older used phone for cheap and get a monthly plan you can cancel anytime so you can see what you think. 
     
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    get a moto at Target - use consumer cellular as the carrier (hook up to it at target when you buy the phone). yes, your new smartphone is a phone, computer, camera. disconnect your land line-you will not need it (just an internet line only). the more you use it the more expensive it is. don't make it too complicated.
     
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    r ranson wrote:The second one has more expense but costs less per month and more flexibility. 



    Go for the second option. I think you'll like it the best.
     
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    My credentials: In my day job, I'm a computer nerd, and I regularly volunteer my time to help older ones get their first phones and tablets, and teach them how to use them. In the past 6 years, I've probably taught about a hundred people, mostly over age 50.

    You are describing plans with megabytes. You will not get very far with 100-250 megabytes of data. You might be able to download a single program with that much data, but you won't be able to use it until next month with that much. Next month after it gets here, your megabytes will be used up in less than 10 minutes. I actually had a friend that bought a phone on a phone plan like this, and we couldn't even update his phone (always a first step after getting a new phone) on that amount of data. We could have used wifi for that, but the phone he bought was so cheap, it wouldn't connect. He was frustrated with his phone because of it, and I don't think he uses it at all now because of that experience.

    You need to think in terms of gigabytes of data, 1000x more than megabytes. For the things you describe in your first post, you want at least 2 gigabytes of data. If you do the bulk of your surfing, Google Maps, square-ing, and banking on wifi somewhere, you could get by on 2 gigabytes of data. But, I should warn you, you should do your banking and square transactions on your own data. Using public wifi for that is asking for trouble.

    I prefer Samsung (Android) devices, and as of this date, you want something at least as new as "Nougat", certainly no farther back than "Marshmallow". Yeah, older devices are cheaper, but they're also more frustrating. They're slow, too. You want something with at least 2 gigabytes of RAM, and 16 gigabytes of space. The space is often misnamed "memory". If you buy a phone with only 8 gigabytes of space, you will be sorry.

    Yes, you want a micro SD card to boost what you have. I recommend SanDisk brand. Get at least 16gb, 64gb is better, but get at least 16.

    If you aren't all bored out of your gourd from the above, I'll come back around later, if there are questions.
     
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    Ronnie Ugulano wrote:
    You are describing plans with megabytes. You will not get very far with 100-250 megabytes of data. You might be able to download a single program with that much data, but you won't be able to use it until next month with that much.


    I reluctantly agree. Until you get a feel for your needs you'll pay overage charges every month. Canada is pricey. If I stay off YouTube I can use 1000mb. Maybe try monthly plans before committing to a 2 year contract.
    I bought an older, drop proof phone. But the camera has no flash, storage is too small for all my apps, and the Android version is older than 6.0 so it doesn't get security updates.
    But it's still great for GPS, podcast and mp3 player, email and web browser.
    I use chrome with a Google account so it has the same bookmarks as my home computer.
    That was a bit rambley, but hope I helped.
     
    John C Daley
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    R Ranson, I guess you may have a good reason to have a device that lets you get paid, maybe just don't think of it as a phone and you may survive!!
    As for people leaving a mobile phone ringing in their pocket without answering it!!!
    or turning it off until they need to use it hah aha haha never seen it happen.
     
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    Smartphones are like any other tool. You need it to do the things you get it for. If it doesn't do those things, what's the point?

    In that same line, I view a smartphone kind of like a tractor: really useful for some things, but not exactly needed. Could you do most tractor work other ways? Yeah, but with more effort and time. Tractors are also an investment. If you will only use a tractor for a singular thing twice a year, is it worth it to buy?

    In other words, will the sales and other bonuses of having a decent smartphone that can process sales make up for the expense of having the bloody thing?

    For the record, I agree with the person who said you probably want a couple gb of data, because using unsecured,  random Wi-Fi to run payments not only puts your financials at risk....but also your customer's card information. Just a thought.

    It's also true that a ton of people just don't carry cash anymore. My sister does direct sales and ended up getting Square so she could actually make sales at events. It's a hard choice to be sure, so I would consider the pros and cons carefully.
     
    pollinator
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    I guess this will be in the FWIW department and not really answer all of your questions or needs, r ranson, but some thoughts.

    First,....and I may not have read the various entries carefully enough, but I did not see reference to "prepaid" phones/plans.....are those available in Canada?  Right now, after having returned from my first work-related trip/conference in ~15 years, I can see where my old Nokia dumb-phone (I would never say that to his trusty and loyal face!...) has its limitations.  Still, I think I bought the thing in the mid-90s for under $100 USD and, with the low degree to which I call and text on the thing, I purchase a (double-minute) 800 unit/365 day plan for $99.99 per year (that's give or take whatever blue-light special they may be offering at the time of re-upping the minutes).  If I convert this to a Smartphone, I realize that there will be some unknowns with that new device, but I'm anticipating having the same sort of usage as before along with recommendations on another thread here of minimizing unnecessary apps and other byte hogs and using wifi where possible.  Also, both wife and I are just the type to quite rarely have the phones on and use them mostly for emergency or quick-call/text use.  I admit I've been really trying to stay away from subscriptions of any kind.  The power bill, heating oil, and taxes of many stripes are all versions of "subscription" that one has to prioritize.  With a pre-paid plan, if you use up all of your minutes too early, you sign up for more.....**IF** you want to.  Although you can cancel a subscription service, I'm not sure what kind of re-imbursement you might get for those blocks of time when you paid for the subscription but were not using the service.  Each person has their threshold here.

    Second, I'm not sure I would compare tractors to cell phones/plans.  Tractors have an inherent value that hold better than most vehicles or purchases out there....witness the number of 1940's and 1950's tractors still in use while the 1980s MacPlus would hardly rank as an acceptable door-stop and is far too light to be repurposed as a boat anchor.  Like computers themselves, cell phones almost seem to be obsolete within a year.  Again noting that each has their priorities, "buying low" when it comes to computers (and cell phones) has saved me a fair amount of cash.  When at a recent conference and having offhandedly brought my old Gateway Win7 laptop along, it seemed like the older software/hardware was having hiccups with the wifi.....but after downloading and installing Chrome while sitting in the hotel room, the thing seemed to do just fine for basic browsing needs.  Your potential need for secure selling/purchasing seems to me to be the priority driving the interest and here is where you may need to focus your attention. 

    At any rate, I hope you come up with some good options.  I suspect I will be taking the dive soon as well and will weigh pre-paid versus subscription at that time.  If I hang on to my Nokia long enough, my much younger co-workers assure me it may be worth a pretty penny on the "retro" market!  And then I can use the proceeds to buy a 10-year old iPhone..... ;-)
     
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    What I have found works best for me is to buy the cheapest smart phone available on a prepaid plan on the best network for your area. In the states these can be had for between 35 and 45 $usd. Then I use an unlimited text/call plan that comes with 1gb (1000 mb) of data for 35 $ a month.

    Works great for me and I am careless with my phone. You can buy a case if you want it to last longer.
     
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    2centavos here.

    I use the Motorola/Lenovo G5+. Wanted relatively cheap, largish screen, quality hardware. And the full retail UNLOCKED version works on ANY, yes ANY, carrier and network out there. Lots of good phones to choose from, though.

    I _strongly_ advise getting the most memory any particular brand/model offers because, provided the phone survives your lifestyle, whatever that may mean, the extra $75 or so will be money well spent in 2yrs or less.

    Accessorize it with the largest microSD chip for extra storage that you can get your eyes and wallet around (say 64GB at a minimum). Phone life will be _much_ easier and less stressful because you "closet" will, for all practical purposes, be infinite. IOW, you will never have to worry about whether the next  10 really important pictures will fit on the phone.  (I guess some people will find a way to fill that closet, but then there's always _somebody_...)  However, caveat here: You or somebody must set up the phone to actually _use_ that extra large closet you installed. That means somebody has to learn or know a fair amount about phones and that phone in particular. Not impossible by any means, but it's like driving a car - simple, but really troublesome until you get familiar.

    Accessorize it with a "case" of some sort, at least give it a one-piece bathing suit with a rubbery surface so the thing doesn't just slide out of you pocket 20 times an hour. My old flip phones never had that problem; the new whizzy thing just wants to sluice out everywhere.

    I don't use the slick film many people install over the screen - "protection". Can't see any real bennies there for my usage. YMMV.

    WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO CARRY IT!!! This is NOT a trivial or rhetorical question. Back pocket seems to work for teenybopper girlies, but if I sit on the thing, I'm going to be the proud owner of two half phones in jig time. Belt clips fail, leaving a really dreadful feeling when you reach down and feel... Nothing. Besides they get trashed by tools, rolling on them when you under cars... Breast pocket will occasionally eject the phone and the thing is _seriously_ at risk when I'm leaning on or over anything chest-high. But I carry it in the breast pocket when possible and in my hip pocket once in a while (hotter'n'hadies and my tee-shirt doesn't have a phone pocket). Any belt pouch worth serious consideration should have hard plastic inserts protecting the _whole_ phone from sharp pointy things (table corners, anyone?). Yes, good, hard, protective pouches do exist and yes, you will likely have to search some.

    For me, buying new and paying full price (on sale) for a completely unlocked phone was purely a no brainer. What I got is a phone that will get in bed with any carrier or network and is absent all/any ads from the provider. For that same hardware, Amazon, Walmart, Target and some other retailers sell the phone I paid $250 for for $40 - what you get with it is ads and more ADS. Plus the phone is locked to one particular carrier or network. But it's a really great deal if you have high ad tolerance.

    Here is a link to one of the best phone-nerd sites I've ever seen. Don't worry, there _are_ real people there. I have found it's info excellent, but you have to wade through a few hours of nerdish to get the feel and find what relates to your situation.

    https://www.howardforums.com/forums.php

    I just caved and got a smartphone about 9 months ago. Somebody said they intrude and that's definitely true, sorta. Takes two to tango, though. I was _extremely_ glad I had that phone when I found myself snowed in at a truck stop in Montana (!) for 7 days. Got me weather, pics for the family, Hop-along Cassidy novels to while away the time and bank access to let me know how close I was to a serious diet. Not to mention GPS and state hiway apps which detailed the miseries ahead on live web-cams.

    The besides calling, "apps" I use most would be weather, texting, gps/maps, camera. Special (occasional) use includes the highway-info apps for all the states I get close to, some wifi network status reporting, online (and off) library app to file and display e-books and audio books. And, of course, the web browser. Speaking of which, just this week I installed the Yahoo email app. I have a business account there from which I feel a strong need get notices. Happily, the yahoo app turns out to one of the least futzy and most usable email apps I looked at, and even more happily I hardly use it at all.

    The phone also has a bright flash-light mode. Doesn't walk the dog yet, though. I'm still brooding on the best safe carry method, but I'm afraid there probably isn't one.

    Cheers,
    Rufus
     
    Rufus Laggren
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    Last thought: Carriers.

    Think resellers. For example PagePlus, which I use, resells Verizon at decent prices. Their site and services has proved spotty but adequate so far. Check out the discussions on the Howard site. Mountains of info - but with careful reading trends emerge.


    Rufus
     
    John Weiland
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    Wow,....thanks for the input and the link, Rufus L.  This will be useful in the coming months as I plan a transition.  I'm wondering what a good website might be to compare price/features for different phones.....does the howardforums have a function for such a comparison?  Thanks!
     
    Rufus Laggren
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    John

    > compare... function

    Not sure what you mean, exactly. The Howard site has all the info you could want, but they're not a seller site where you select 3 or 4 products and they offer up a table with a few data points for each phone. It's all first person narratives based on actual experience and comment. You'll need to put together your own phone spreadsheet with the data points that matter to you. It's been 9 months some odd since I've visited there and I don't recall if their Search is useful or not. If you find it troublesome, just use google to search their site - by including the "site:somewebsite.com" parameter as part of your search string, google returns only hits on that particular site. Since you're interested primarily in, say, the last two years, google will also let you filter those results by date; not really needed, though, since forum threads are displayed in reverse date order, most recent first.

    I can understand that wading through data doesn't do it for many people. But I can't really offer anything else  (that I have confidence in) to get close to "truth" on any particular topic. I'm the guy that reads the manuals sooner than later. Since I often make large bets on my choices I'm willing to spend time, probably a little too much (!), pouring over the available resources to give myself the best chance.  I just don't know a better way.

    Cheers
    Rufus
     
    r ranson
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    Just a heads up.

    I'm in Canada and we have some of the most expensive mobile rates in the world - if not THE most expensive. 

    It looks like an unlimited data plan would be about my total monthly pension (after housing).  No wonder my friends that earn loads of cash have problems paying their bills. Living the modern life has a lot of subscription fees.

    The 100MB would only be 1/16th my monthly income.

    This is going to be a huge influence on what I decide.  Good thing I don't need it for 6 to 10 months, which makes me have two more questions for you.

    1. Can the apps(?) use internet data when I'm not using the apps?  If so, can I stop it?
    2. Is there a new technology on the horizon for cellphones that will be amazing and available in the next year or so?

    3. Can I take print-ready photos on a phone or are they only internet-ready photos?  I don't know what the difference is, but some photos print well, and some don't.  I want to take ones that do.

    4. Is it true, you can't turn a smartphone off?

    5. What is the battery life of a smartphone?  My friend charges hers twice a day.  My flip phone, I charge once every 6 weeks. 

    Okay, maybe more than two questions.
     
    Rudy Valvano
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    1. Yes. My phone allows me to restrict/disable individual apps from internet data.

    2. There's a new micro USB cable coming that is faster and carried more power.
    Networks will get faster when 5G comes.
    Requires a compatible phone.

    3. Print ready usually means higher resolution. You can set your camera to high res and lighting setting. Note the file sizes on your microSD card.

    4. My alarm clock still works when the phone is off. But not the cellular radio. My phone also lets me remove and change the battery.

    5. I charge my phone while I sleep or drive.
    Today my battery usage of:
    32% mobile connection
    28% wifi
    32% screen light and phone idle
     
    Jan White
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    r ranson wrote:

    1. Can the apps(?) use internet data when I'm not using the apps?  If so, can I stop it?



    My phone is old, so maybe doesn't have the same capabilities as newer ones.  It's a Samsung Galaxay Ace.  I have one app that will use data even with my data turned off.  It's a minuscule amount so i'm okay with it. And remember, I'm a 100 megabyte/month plan, which some people on here seem to think is impossible ;)

    4. Is it true, you can't turn a smartphone off? 



    Mine turns off completely - no alarm, nothing.

    5. What is the battery life of a smartphone?



    If I'm using mine just for texting, which is how I communicate 99% of the time, the battery will last 3-4 days.  Check the weather a few times and sync my email and it's down to two, maaaybe three.  If I'm taking pictures, my camera will stop working once my battery gets below a certain point.  It always seems pretty quick to me - like 10 photos kinda thing.  After that, if I'm just texting a bit the battery will last another 8-12 hours or so.
     
    Ronnie Ugulano
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    1. Can the apps(?) use internet data when I'm not using the apps?   This has already been answered, but yes, you can keep apps from accessing the internet. Make sure you have someone show you how. Different phones have different routes to what you want.


    2. Is there a new technology on the horizon for cellphones that will be amazing and available in the next year or so?
    Not really, from what I think is your standpoint. New, faster phones, using 5G are coming, but you don't need 5G to do what you want to do. When those 5G phones come out, the prices for 4G phones will begin to drop. This is always a good time for people new to smartphones to buy a phone.

    3. Can I take print-ready photos on a phone or are they only internet-ready photos?  I don't know what the difference is, but some photos print well, and some don't.  I want to take ones that do. "Internet Ready" images are usually only 72dpi. Some website images have been optimized to be pretty skinny on the megabytes, and rarely print well. Current printers can print at far higher resolutions, and phones can offer printing at those high resolutions. I think my phone will capture at least 12 megapixels.

    4. Is it true, you can't turn a smartphone off? Not true. You can easily turn a smartphone off. In fact, a smartphone will charge much faster off, than if it is on. I rarely turn my phone off, but once in a while I do just to clear all the circuits. Sometimes, if my phone starts doing funky unexplainable things, I'll turn it off, and take out the sim card, and leave it out for a minute or two. This totally discharges all of the working circuits, and when the sim card goes back in and is turned on, things often right themselves.

    5. What is the battery life of a smartphone?  My friend charges hers twice a day.  My flip phone, I charge once every 6 weeks.  I charge my phone once a day, sometimes twice a day, depending on how much I use it. If I'm using Google Maps a great deal, or going online often while shopping, I'll use the battery faster and It'll need a recharge by midafternoon. One thing to remember: Always get your phone off of the charger as soon as it has been charged. So, for example, don't put it on the charger when you go to bed and unplug it in the morning. You will weaken the battery, and it won't be able to hold a charge in less than a year. I can wake up (around 6am) and charge my phone in an hour or less and it'll be ready before I leave the house at around 8:30. I also keep a USB charging wire i my car, if I need to repower while I'm on the road, but usually the morning powerup does it fine.

    And remember, I'm a 100 megabyte/month plan, which some people on here seem to think is impossible

    Yes, it can be done IF you have reliable access to wifi wherever you go, and IF your phone recognizes the Wifi access types. I have had some phones and tablets on my workbench that will only connect to my 2mhz wifi. Some places can't offer both 2 and 5mhz. Some older phones will hardly connect to wifi at all, anywhere. If you can do it, that's awesome!
     
    pollinator
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    John C Daley wrote:My advise is to change your mind.
    Mobile phones IMO are an intrusion to a peaceful life, they encourage ' immediateness' in that everything must be done now!
    I see no real advantage of them, unless you are always late and need to call and come up with another reason why you are late,
    unless you have that attitude that when an idea comes in mind, you can't write it down, think on it and do something later.



    Smart phone has been a life saver for me.  I am my dad's primary caregiver (he has Alzheimer's) and phone enables me to communicate quickly via text with my husband at home, or with secondary caregivers.  I can also set and disarm my dad's home security system with the phone, and have phone alarms set throughout the day to remind me to check various aspects of care.  Caring for my dad would be much more difficult without the phone.

    As an aside:  I hate talking on the phone, I would rather speak to someone in person, or write to them.  So the text feature of the phone is helpful to me.  I can, and do, sometimes use it as an actual phone, but not very often.  It is more like a miniature computer.  I am not a techy kind of person, so I am not optimizing the phone to the extreme, but even at the minimal level at which I use it, it is vital.

     
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    Weighing in from an iPhone (the less fancy model) - with iphones and at&t the only way to get your phone to use no background data is to call att and have them turn the data off completely. I am on a 3 person, 15 gig family plan, which is usually plenty. One month, for no obvious reason, all our phones started using 50% more. We turned off data access for every app, then turned off the global data access from our phones - and the data was still going down.
    So, some operating systems will gobble data in ways you can’t control. I have so far stuck with iphones because they work well and last long; my iphone5 lasted over 3 years, and might still be going if I hadn’t dropped it on a concrete floor. My replacement has a case, so I hope I won’t need a new one for some time. I actually bought a prepaid one, then used the sim from our family plan. It cost about US $200 that - way not bad if it lasts as long as I hope.
    As far as usage - you’ll be a amazed at how fast you find uses for it. Navigation (you can download map regions ahead of time and navigate in areas with no reception), library books and audio, music, podcasts, getting pics of your friends kids, web browsing. I download Paul’s podcasts when I have internet, and argue with him all through my commute
     
    Jan White
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    I'm not trying to push Public Mobile, but I've been checking them out and they seem to be one of the better, if not the best, deals.  I mentioned earlier they don't really have any plans that match what you need.  Well I just discovered they have add-ons you can purchase as well.  so, for you, a good plan might be 50 minutes talk and 50 outgoing texts (unlimited incoming) for $10/month.  Then you can purchase an add-on for data.  They have 100mb for $10 or 1gb for $30.  Your unused data rolls over month to month and when it's used up, you can purchase another add-on.  This might be a cheap way for you to try out a service and see what your data needs are.

    Public Mobile is very bare bones.  You bring your own phone and customer service is super limited.  There's an online forum where you can ask questions of other PM customers and a couple moderators are available if you can't get answers otherwise.  There are stickies for major topics too.  I had some issues switching my old phone over from another provider and was able to get every thing figured out from the forum.  It might not be for everyone, though.

    You also need to pay your bill with a credit card.  You get $2 off your bill every month if you sign up for automatic payments, so I did that.  Then I set up an automatic payment from my bank account to my credit card a couple days before my phone bill is scheduled to be paid.  Then I can forget about the credit card, since I barely use it.
     
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    One thing that helped lower my beginning cost was to buy a refurbished phone off ebay.  I also decided that this would replace my home land line since that shorted out when it would rain anyway. 

    I checked out the rates in Canada and they are higher than what I am used to.  There was a plan by virgin mobile that had 500 minutes of talk time and 3 GB data for $50. If you tested a lower cost no contract plan, you could get an idea if you require more data and upgrade the plan if needed.  You might be able to deduct the expense on income taxes as well. 

    You might be able to get a few dollars off if you sign up for auto billing.

    I hope you find one that works well for you.  And definately get a case. These phones are slippery little monsters!

    Also make sure to check out the coverage map for whatever company you consider. Learned that one the hard way.
     
    r ranson
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    Thanks everyone for your thoughts.

    I can't see that a phone is worth the expence at the moment.

    There are only a few uses I can see for it in my life. 

    Accepting credit card payments - Maybe next year I'll have enough stock to warrant it.  But at the moment, I'm content selling on etsy and through local shops.

    Paying for parking - If I can't pay cash for parking, then I will take my cash to shops that want it.

    renting bikes - not something I can see doing more than once or twice a year.  I could take the cash and get my bike tuned up.

    All these other things... I can't see using any of them.

    I have no friends who I could text or call.
    The internet is something I do at home.
    If I'm going somewhere new, I look it up and the alternate routs before leaving home. If things go wrong, I pull over and look at a map.

    I can't really see what else a phone would do for me so I'm going to leave it for a few more years. 
     
    I suggest huckleberry pie. But the only thing on the gluten free menu is this tiny ad:
    Binge on 17 Seasons of Permaculture Design Monkeys!
    http://permaculture-design-course.com
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