Personal Finance 

Help Me Pick A Cell Phone!

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As a former AT&T Wireless customer, who has yet to switch to a Cingular phone, if I don’t switch to a Cingular phone I will have to start paying a fee each month (BOO!). This morning I called up Cingular (forgetting about the fee, I haven’t been under contract in many months and figured I should be able to get a phone if I wanted to) and asked them what phones I could get for free in return for agreeing to a two year contract. I’m allowed to pick any phone on their site other than the Treo, Blackberry, or Motorola RAZR. The RAZR would cost me $380 if I signed for a one year contract and $150 for a two year contract… too expensive for either plan.

If anyone has recommendations on what phone I should consider, please let me know, thanks!

{ 15 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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15 Responses to “Help Me Pick A Cell Phone!”

  1. Rich Slick says:

    This week Target has a free Nokia 6010 phone with the purchase of a $100 pre-paid phone card. The phone is fairly cheap with very limited features but it does one thing well which is what phones are supposed to do: it allows you to talk to other people. The $100 gets you 1000 minutes with free nationwide roaming. Rather than pay a regular monthly fee for minutes you don’t use, I suggest you try out pre-paid cellular. My cost will rougly translate to about $8/month.

    My cell phone philosophy is simple.
    If you use more than 1000 minutes a month then either you are babbling too much or you are running a business. If you’re running a business then you are probably writing off your phone expense and it doesn’t really matter how much you spend as long as there is positive ROI. If you’re babbling too much then you need to start using a regular land line phone to talk with people or stop babbling so much on the cell phone.

    If you are a crackberry addict that needs to get email instantenously every five minutes then you will continue to be at the mercy of the big carriers for a good deal.

  2. Hawkmoon Nine says:

    Don’t know which phone you should get, but one to avoid is any Samsung. They just don’t get as good of reception as Motorola or Nokia.

  3. jim says:

    I have a Samsung phone now and it seems to work great for me, I would think the service coverage matters more than the manufacturer of the phone itself.

  4. Hawkmoon Nine says:

    I have Cingular, and my wife wanted a flip phone last year, so we got a pair of Samsung’s. After about 3 months of using them (and being frustrated) I bought my wife a Motorola on ebay and I went back to my old Nokia. Same service, different phones, different reception. Now this might not be a problem in bigger cities, as we live in a smaller town of 50,000.

  5. jim says:

    That’s an interesting tidbit to know… hopefully other people have similar experiences, I mean I believe you (diff. manufacturer, different antennas reception granularity, etc) but would like more than one data point to compare against. 🙂

  6. Scott says:

    I would suggest cancelling Cingular and switching to T-Mobile. I switched a couple months ago and couldn’t be happier.

  7. Flexo says:

    Watch out for Cingular’s “upgrade fee.” They may charge you without telling you about it until it shows up on your bill some time afterward and you call wondering what it is. Eith you pay the AT&T “antequated equipment fee” or the upgrade fee. Good luck. Seems like you’re screwed either way.

    As far as phones go… even the same brand, same model, can have variations in quality. Try the phone out for some time and return and swap within the allotted time if it’s not working as well as you would expect.

  8. Jonathan says:

    Are you still on TDMA? The fee is only for TDMA customers, not old AT&T GSM customers. My contract is actually up too.

  9. Ed Marcus says:

    I was with ATT up until about 14 months ago. I am in the Portland metro area in Pac NW. During the merger process in the prior 4 months, I started to pickup other folks conversations midstream while mine dropped. And of course those I was talking to picked up dead air or other conversations = midstream.

    I was, by that time on a month to month. To switch to Cingular – I had to pay a activation fee, agree to a new 1-2 year contract [depending on the phone] and pay additional for a new phone. Out of protest, I paid $.95 OVER my last bill – and cancelled. I received 9 statements showing I had a $.95 credit. I tried to negotiate with telesales, in store, private sellers and it seemed to me that Cingular did not want me as a customer.

    And during my last months my ATT service became worse and worse, yet many times I would be very close to a tower.

    At the time my business had T-mobile, so for under 10 bucks, I added another phone to it and said goodbye, never to return.

  10. andrew says:

    wow any phone? if sticking w/ cingular, i’d recommend samsung d807 b/c i like the slider format and the graphical user interface of the samsung. i haven’t actually played w/ that model yet so i’d recommend seeing one in person at a cingular store before purchase. i’d recommend against motorola as they seem to have the most software problems. i personally think their GUIs are such a displeasure to use as well.

    i’d also recommend tmobile for their lack of 2yr contracts, good customer service, and highly competitive service plans. i think between cingular, the trade off is rollover minutes which can really help that one month out of the year that you may go over your minutes.

  11. MafiaDon says:

    I have Cingular as well. I opted for the Nokia 6102 camera phone. I got it for free with a two year contract.

    Originally I used the Cingular GoPhone service. I was ok but I continually dropped calls. So I switched to T-moble and the reception was horrible. It dropped more calls than the GoPhone. Before the trial period ended, I switched back to Cingular opting for the family plan with 2 Nokia 6102’s. The service has been good and I haven’t dropped many calls.

    I think the reception is improved with a more reliable phone, no matter what brand. I lucked out with the Nokia. I suggest you go with a Nokia or Motorola. These brands are famous for their reliability and durability.

    If you choose to go prepaid, I suggest Tracfone. Its a good prepaid service that offers lots of deals to reduce costs.

  12. tlm says:

    If you want the RAZR, check out They usually have it free after rebates w/ a 2 year plan. Good luck!

  13. Soggy says:

    Getting a decent free cell phone is just like getting free stuff from comcast. When your contract’s up, your carrier will offer you some deal on a new phone that’s not nearly as good as other carriers will give you to switch, so you have to talk to a rep in their cancellations/retention dept in order to get it. I just got a free razr when I re-upped for 2 years w/ T mobile. Also, I don’t know why but Car-Toys always seems to have the best phone deals… better than Best Buy and way better than the phone service stores. I don’t know if they’re national or just a Dallas chain though.

  14. Amy says:

    Wal-Mart offers AT&T phones at a significantly lower price than AT&T stores. However, Wal-Mart the store and Wal-Mart’s online cell phone site are completely different. The pricing is different (cheaper online) however online they’re sneaky. I tried getting free phone (because I was upgrading) online, but right before I clicked process order they said that because I’m on a family plan, I was required to upgrade at least two phones on the plan. I called them and asked if they could wave this stipulation because my dad, also on this plan, upgraded his phone a month earlier. This mysterious online Wal-Mart (which has no affiliation with brick-and-mortar stores) said that this restriction was imposed on them by AT&T. Of course, I fell for the old it’s-not-up-to-us trick. I called AT&T and asked them to wave this stipulation and they said it was actually imposed by Wal-Mart. Hmm… In the end I decided to stick with my old phone and not go through the hassle.

    But if you wanted to upgrade your phone, I’d suggest Wal-Mart in the store. My dad got a krzr for $48 whereas in an actual AT&T store it would have cost him upwards of $250. Just thought you might want to know.

  15. aua868s says:

    how about an iphone?!

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