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!
I long had a 'pay as you go' plan for my old flip phone. When I found out I could do the same thing with a smart phone, I hopped on that. So I bought an older, pre-owned iphone and have a phone when I need one, although I rarely use it. I take advantage of the abundant availability of wi-fi in lieu of a data plan. I freely admit I primarily use my phone as a pocket camera and ipod anyway, so this plan works well for me.
I love this post---your thoughtfulness, reserve, and practicality. I don't have a smartphone, and the cell phone I do have is shared with the kids. Sometimes I think I'd like a smartphone for pictures and such, but even though it's small, the whole thing feels burdensome---one more thing to think about and consider. Anyway, I do have earbuds, and I bought a little case for them and I LOVE my little case (everything is bright red so I can find it easier in the tangle of black cords littering up the house), so I get the excitement about your little envelope thingy.
I still manage life with a pay as you go flip phone. Its camera is ok.
AS for screen size - I bought a 14inch laptop and upgraded to 16inch. I thought the screen there was too small!
Love this post and look forward to reading the comments.
SJ in Vancouver BC
I just got my first smart phone about 2 months ago, and I really like it! I went through Ting wireless, and my bill has never been more than $20 per month, plus tax, etc which brings it to about $25. I pay for what I use...and have it set so that I only connect to the internet using Wifi. If there's an emergency, I can switch to data, which of course I then pay for, but it's been very very minimal. We're thinking of getting rid of our land line, and getting a phone for my husband too. Since he will only use it for the VERY occasional call, rarely text or use data, his bill will probably be about $15 per month max! By the way, I have the exact phone case that you do! :)
We got our daughter a not very fast smart phone with a pay as you go plan when she turned 17. She bought her brother's well cared for Galaxy s5 when he upgraded and she was about 18. Kept the same plan. It has half a gig of fast data then it slows way down, but she has WiFi most places. It felt like a decent way to wade into the world of smart phones. I've been carrying one I got through my work for three years or so. I love it, and don't mind the small screen too much.
I just got my first smart phone a couple of months ago as well. I was really dragging my feet, but after getting lost while on my way to a meeting and needing to call Dan to give me directions, I figured it was time to cave. I let him do the phone shopping for me, because I find all the options way too overwhelming.
I use my phone for calls (but I don't always give out my number since we also have a home phone), texting and facebook messenger. I intentionally do not have facebook on my phone and plan to keep it that way. I will sometimes reply to e-mail if I am away from the computer, but my phone screen is small, so typos are an issue.
I have also avoided any game playing on my phone. It works out all right because my kids are used to me not having games, so my phone has never become an entertainment option for them - aside from scrolling through pictures I take.
We use Republic Wireless and bought our smart phones from them (about $150) and then have a plan that is only $12.50/month for unlimited talk and text. I use wifi for internet if I need to, but I do consider it a phone and do not play games or spend time online on it. I have found I use it for photos a lot now, it is just so convenient! Although I've been warned the photo quality on our family slide shows will most likely suffer as we catch up to the smart phone years. I don't want to be tied to my phone and I don't want my kids to be either. It is just a tool, not my life!
I appreciate your intentional choices. I echo the "pay as you go" smart phone. We use tracfone and feel our costs are much less than what we hear about regular phone plans. We anticipate doing this kind of thing for our kids too. I like the idea of keeping the smartphone as a tool for maps, phone calls when needed and texting and not seeing it as constant access to internet, social media, etc. I decided to jump into the smart phone world when I realized I was inconveniencing others with my inability to receive and respond to a group message or receive attachments, etc. Sigh. It has been really helpful for the parenting stage that we are in. I also reserve email and most other things for a larger screen which I prefer. I feel like I could go on and on here... clearly you've touched on something that I've also been doing a lot of thinking about. I appreciate knowing there are others who are weighing these decisions like I do.
I love my smartphone, but I love it even more now that we switched to Ting! You only pay for what you use, which is even more delightful for a light user like yourself. You may want to look into and see what you could save!
I used to have Ting, but I chatted too much and my phone bill was about $40 a month. I never used the internet, which would have cost even more. Now I have Republic Wireless, which works wonderfully for me. I purchased a Moto phone (about $175) from Republic Wireless, but I pay only $20.00 a month for unlimited talk and text & WIFi data, and 1GB of cell data. The beauty of this company is somehow the phone software allows all phone calls and wifi data to first go over Wifi. Although, all calls and texts are unlimited, even if you aren't connected to Wifi. Having 1GB of cell data is plenty for me, allowing me to check for important emails, directions, and best of all, checking retail or eBay prices of items I see in thrift stores. You would also be surprised at all the places which offer free internet.
I can identify with so much of this. I strongly dislike shopping for anything tech-y; I get too overwhelmed and frustrated. And the pressure I feel when I am dealing with a salesperson! I chalk it up to wanting to be a "nice" person ... the trick is to learn to say "no" while still listening with half an ear in case they really are offering something I need. I haven't really achieved that balance yet, but that's the theory.
I am still using a flip phone with prepaid minutes. $100 plus tax usually does me between six months and a year, depending on what's going on in my life (when my dad was dying, I used it a lot more than usual). So that's pretty cheap. That being said, I feel like I'd like to be able to text my grownup kids, which is expensive on my phone. But it's not a big enough issue to make me switch phones.
It sounds like you struck a good balance - good for you.
I have a Motorola smartphone. It was maybe $50ish? We don't do service plans, we use TracFone. For my husband this costs about $7/month (he just keeps his phone in his glove compartment, he never *uses* it--a long commute means a phone is handy) and for me (I use texts and data--a lot) it's about $13/month. So we pay about $20/month for our cell phone service. It's perfectly adequate for our needs! And cheap, insofar as these things go.
I generally avoid using my phone and direct people to call our landline instead!
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