Oh, the hellish work of picking a new cell phone provider! I just spent the week going over EVERYTHING I could find on each provider, and the phone they offer. I’ve made a decision, but thought I should share with you the process I went though. After all, I need a post.
I’ve been with T-Mobile for about a year or so – I bought a G1 a couple of months after its release. It was a good phone at first, but there were a lot of problems with the provider, T-Mobile. First, they stopped supporting said G1 – so the version of Android the phone uses as of the last update is the one I’m stuck with now.
Then the battery died horribly. It was fun to hear a T-Mobile employee explain to me that, “yes, your phone is still under warranty, but the battery isn’t.” Which is an interesting sort of philosophical discussion: I am Ciaoenrico, and my finger is part of me. But if I lose my finger, I’m still Ciaoenrico. So how important was that finger really?
Personally, there are a few things I would like to chop off the T-Mobile lawyer who came up with this loophole after they discovered G1 batteries fail in large numbers.
Finally, they’ve been dropping calls and service a lot – to the point I’d get e-mails from people asking me why they couldn’t call me. Then there’s the touch-and-go data service, and GPS coverage that – I swear to you – thought I was in Manitoba, Canada last week.
When I tried to upgrade my phone to a newer T-Mobile handset for the remainder of my contract, I read that doing so requires starting another two-year contract, or else I buy the phone at cost. So rather than give them more of my money, especially since they’ll be going out of business very soon, I’m going to gladly pay the $200 early contract termination fee to be rid of them.
So my first thought, like any red blooded American consumerist stooge, was to get an iPhone 4. They’re sexy, everyone has them, the whole “dropped data” problem has supposedly been solved… let’s go!
Also, my Girlfriend needs a new phone, as her dealings with Virgin Mobile are almost as bad as mine were.
The first thing I must say is, if you’re thinking about an iPhone, don’t get it from an Apple store. The millennial douchebag (sorry, I meant “genius”) working there quoted me a price of $170 per month for phones for the two of us. Since she only wants a good enough phone, not a smart phone, the plan we needed had a much lower quote – roughly $144.00
I then looked at what everyone says about AT&T as a provider, and the baleful consensus is that they suck. Data runs very slowly, though the phone call quality is good. Well, we all use data networks now, especially if you’re investing in a brand spanking new smart phone. So that was definitely a problem. I also remember AT&T stories this year where they couldn’t handle the load from before the iPad, and how things would only get worse now.
This is to say nothing of the disappointment my Girlfriend said she would have in me if I actually became one of those Apple Fanboys. I agreed, so the search continued.
Signing a contract with Verizon is not unlike signing a contract with The Devil. The possible difference being that with The Devil, you know up front a hell is in your future.
Most customers will tell you Verizon sneaks hell up on you.
I’ve heard both sides of Verizon from people who sign with them, and it breaks down something like this:
“Verizon has the BEST coverage!”
“Verizon is so EXPENSIVE I had to get a second job to pay for it!”
For all their talk of their coverage area, they do make you pay for it. Their plans for calls and data are more expensive than everyone else I looked at, and other users talk of being nickel and dimed to death on phone extras and apps.
What’s more, when I went into the Verizon store, they actually had me take a number and wait for a salesperson. Wait – I’m considering giving you my money, and you think your shit is so stink-free I’ll happily wait for you? It reflected pretty badly on them. And I had to go back three times in total for more information. Each time, even when there was no one else being helped, I had to take a number.
It was with great pleasure I decided Verizon was out of the running. Whew!
Finally, there’s Sprint, the company I bought my first cell phone from. Sprint offers the Evo, which I’d already heard from a lot of people who had them is a dream. There are a lot of things I like about the phone, but this is about carriers, not handsets.
Sprint’s big advantage over the others is that they are cheaper than AT&T and Verizon. Their coverage network for voice isn’t as good as Verizon’s or AT&T’s, though, as they roam between networks for their coverage area. This is why calls get dropped, because the phone is jumping from one carrier’s tower to another. So that’s not good. On the other hand, their data network is very strong.
Sprint also allows for free “mobile-to-mobile” calls, regardless of carrier. Wha!?! If I’m calling anyone with a cell phone it’s free minutes? When you think of how few times you call a land line, that’s a pretty good offer. I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop and for someone to tell me why I got it wrong, and that it’s not entirely as good a deal as I think it is. If you know, leave me a comment.
And what about this 4G business? For starters, Sprint’s 4G is really WiMax –
a way of juicing up a 3G network. [This was incorrect – WiMax is just another alternative to HSPA.] Real 4G will be available from Verizon late this year, and from AT&T next year. Still, with all that infrastructure to build out, it will be a while until it’s really in place and usable. Sprint’s own 4G isn’t available here in Phoenix, and no one seems to know when it will be. So as long as no one is really offering full 4G speed at the moment, I don’t care.
So my decision is made: I’ll be getting the HTC Evo on Sprint. My Girlfriend found a phone she wants from them as well – also an Android phone, with a ton of features just not available from Virgin Mobile.
The one drawback here – and believe me, all of these plans seem to have advantages and drawbacks compared to each other – is that the on line Sprint store doesn’t have any Evos in stock. It has been reported that Sprint has been trying to build up their stocks of Evos, and that they are having trouble getting the aforementioned 4G network up and running. It makes me wonder if their long-term future isn’t all that bright.
Of course, that’s what I said about T-Mobile last year, and I did manage to get a lot of mileage out of my G1 up until now. Given the fast pace of changes in any electronics product, we’ll all have to go through this roughly every other year, so even if I’m wrong about Sprint, it won’t be long until I have to change up again.
So I’ll just have to wait and see!