I meant to tell you that back in February, my cell phone died. It was not a smart phone. I was wary of getting a smart phone - so much to manage! to understand! And the cost of not understanding could be high because you could incur charges for going over your data plan. But my dumb phone could not handle the attachments that Ben's soccer coach was sending and other things like that.
As a thrifty person who likes to comparison shop, I find technology purchases extremely frustrating. It's so hard to figure out if I'm comparing products appropriately, or which features I would actually use in real life, or if the inexpensive option is actually a short-lived piece of crap.
When I struggle with questions, my husband's solution is to "just google it." So I did. I searched "simplest smartphones," and "best cheap smartphones," and things like that and found out I'm not the only one willing to have a slow phone with less storage for a modest price.
I found out I could buy a Samsung Galaxy 3 Express for $40 at my AT&T store (we have our plan through AT&T), and it suits me just fine because I tried to think carefully about what I wanted to use my phone for.
I mostly use it for texting, occasionally calling when I'm away from home, and then some Google Driving for navigating on trips. I snap a few photos here and there, but I mostly use my nice camera. I rarely use the internet on my phone and I never check or reply to my email on my phone; I do that on my laptop where I feel less claustrophobic with a bigger screen (am I the only one who feels claustrophobic with small screens?). I use the phone's timers and alarms and calculator. I do have it synced with my online calendar, but it's not reliable; I don't think that's unique to my phone! The only app I downloaded is a money-tracking app (Dollarbird), and although my kids have asked, I don't know if there are games on my phone because I'm not interested.
The nice AT&T guy did convince me to buy a $25 case and $89 headphones for the phone. I was so relieved to be getting a working phone that I ignored my typical rule of taking time to think through purchases and do a little research on price first. When I sheepishly showed my purchases to my husband, his face confirmed my sneaking suspicion that I needed to return the headphones and case and comparison shop. Sure enough, I got a case on ebay for $5 and still haven't purchased headphones because I just don't listen to music or podcasts on my phone (but I could be convinced!).
I made a charger envelope for the new charger. But this time, I included a pocket on the back for the USB car converter, and I keep the envelope in my purse. It's nice to grab-and-go without worrying about battery life.
So I've had my smart phone about three months now, and I do like it. I feel like I've hit my goal of phone-that-doesn't-exclude-me-from-socializing-and-networking-but-doesn't-cost-a-fortune-for-bells-and-whistles-I-am-not-using.
What other thrifty smartphone tips do you have? Or is this an area where you are willing to pay for convenience, functionality, and security? (I have those areas, too). I'd love to hear how others manage!