Monday, May 03, 2010

Smartphone Smarts

I just mailed all my fam and friends with info about how to get in touch with me after i upgrade my cell phone (that is, getting in touch with me without running me deeper into the poorhouse). 

I researched for almost 2 weeks on upgrading my cellphone & just now realized that I've  gathered a lot of info that others might want to put to use. So here goes my post on how to save with cellphones and services. I am looking at solutions I found to my personal issues in upgrading:

Issue #1 was "Can I afford to buy the phone I want?"... You don't have to buy from your carrier. Matter of fact, I am getting away FREE by using Walmart online. Even the shipping is free. Here are some places to shop:
  • Walmart - the service is by LetsTalk. Good array of at&t voice plans offered and free shipping. They require credit/debit card even on complete freebies (for i.d. purposes only) & I found that there is a tiny charge to my card for the "authorization" from the card company. Still... saved the $99 at&t was charging for the phone.
  • Amazon - Check them out. Verizon's $600 Droid was running $20 at last check. You can search site by carrier or phone type.
  • Best Buy - They offer free 2-day shipping in some instances
  • Radio Shack - I didn't check them out too deep
  • Wirefly - Like the "free" price, but they required more expensive base voice package. Violate this (even tho at&t has no problem with you changing to a cheaper package) & Wirefly can charge you full price for the phone. All in the smallest print just before "check out," of course.
 Issue #2 was "I can get the phone, but can I afford a plan that works for me?"...I needed to stay in the same monthly bill bracket. Problem is, I have unlimited data and text on my non-smartphone, but can't afford the same on the smartphone. Solution - get rid of my text package and I'm ok. Second problem - what to do about texting? Solution: Free texting! 

I've already mailed my fam and friends with the way to get in touch with me by sending texts to me via email. 

  • Basically, you can email to a cell phone number instead of texting. 
  • Check with your carrier to get more details, but this site gives the method for several carriers.
  • Also, there are ways to text from PC to a cell phone. I have used Yahoo Messenger for this. When chatting online, just look for the little phone icon in your Yahoo mail chat or Yahoo Messenger chat. (This would probably be a good time to update your email contacts list!)
  • Warning: for at&t customers, I know for a FACT that they charge IM messages same as text messages. Some people (me) believed using Yahoo IMs saved me text fees. NOT. Other people believed that it was free to RECEIVE message. NOT. AT&T charges me for sending or receiving texts. Check your carrier for the rules.
 Issue #3 was "What else can I do to maximize my phone use (for free or cheap)?...
  • Texting & calling services you might not already know about include Skype and iSkoot. Not sure how these work, but check them out if you want. Keep in mind, that some of these services are not limited to mobile phones... Just saying.
  • Voice over Internet Protocol (or VoIP)  is still blurry to me, but this page explains it well, with little diagrams and everything! LOL
 Bottom line is, I started out thinking that I could not afford the phone I wanted, but with a little research, I managed it. Now, can I tell you why I wanted the Motorola Backflip so badly?

First of all, it's really cute (because I am a "girl" at heart, that's important to me no matter how broke I am!)... See, look.

Second of all, it has features I need since I am living a little bit of an un-tethered and unconventional life right now. Here are some of the features:
  • Connected to my PC, it will show up as a hard drive there. I will be able to drag and drop files right onto the phone. (OK, maybe some of the files will be of the music type, but...!)
  • The camera is wonderful. I don't have a digital camera, so this is just a fancy plus for me even if it not a necessity.
  • The web browser is great. I can customize. HTML is there. Right now, my laptop is a year old & has been through the travel ringer. It's going to be nice to have a phone that I can count on almost as deeply as I do my laptop should something go wrong.
  • The GPS is supposed to be good. Not that I plan to pay for that service yet but it's there. Those who know me understand how I can get lost in Mayberry, let alone in the big Texas cities I'm hanging out in...
  • Phone quality is rated as "Excellent." That's important.
  • And, mostly, I really liked using the phone when I tested it at the at&t store. It was solid, easy to use & I didn't feel like it would crumble into pieces is I dropped it.
So, congratulate me on the phone I will be married to for at least the next two years. I spent more time checking out this phone than I did my husband! LOL (Kidding, Tim. You know I love ya, baby!)
I really hope some of this info was useful to you guys. And send me an email if I didn't not give you my phone number yet!