Cell Phones


I get asked often which cell phone to buy.  (cellular providers below) Boy is that a big discussion.  Yes some people don’t want smartphones, but most of the time I get asked about iPhone vs. Android.  My answer to that is, it doesn’t matter.  Both phones do much more than what we *need*.  From my experiences most smart phone users don’t do much more than to txt and use social media.  It kind of seems like a waste of a smartphone.

Both iPhone and Android phones have a similar interface.  You will never get a fanboy of either camp to agree to that statement, but they are similar.  Both interfaces have:

  • touchscreens
  • icons for apps
  • ringtones
  • preferences
  • maps
  • navigation
  • music
  • pandora
  • email
  • wifi
  • have amazing speed 
  • more applications than we can possibly spend a lifetime trying

The most frequent advise I give is to

  1. Touch and feel each phone.  Go to a store and spend time with an actual working phone.  Most stores will have an activated working phone for customers to poke.  Especially their latest phone.
  2. Don’t trust the sales people 100%.  They are encouraged to push older hardware.  The stores have stock in the back they need to sell. Or they push hardware that has a higher profit margin for the store.
  3. Bite the bullet and get something up to date.  Don’t get sticker shock from the initial cost of the phone.  In a two year contract, the phone cost is only a small portion of the total cost of ownership.  Free phones are good now, but then half way through your contract the phone is obsolete.

What do I have?

I live in a split household.  I have a Nexus 4 running Android.  My wife has an iPhone 4s.  We are both happy with our phones.  They do what we ask them to do.  We use many of the same apps.  Why did I choose an Android phone?  I live mainly in a Google world.  I use gMail, gCalendar, Voice, Drive…  An iPhone can utilize the Google services also, however the integration is not as tight.  Apple has services that are tailored for the iPhone and work very well.

Why get a smartphone?

If you don’t have a smart phone, it is a big leap to buy your first.  I like to try and explain how smartphones have changed us.

Smartphones can help organize our lives to an unimaginable level.  For example, the calendaring functions alone can tell us where to be.  We can tell a smartphone, “Create event, lunch with John, noon, on April 3rd at Tropo’s”.  Our phones are smart enough to put the event on our calendar.  Come April 3rd, my phone knows when to tell me I need to leave now to get to Tropo’s by noon.  It knows where I am and the current traffic conditions to factor the travel time.  Each phone can have multiple calendars, e.g. family, work, sports….. Users can see all calendars at the same time.  Ask your phone “When is my next appointment?”

An application that is used a bunch in my house is GroceryIQ.  We can put our shopping list on our phones.  It even shares between phones so we both can see the same list.  Either of us can add to the list before the other gets to the store.

Any.DO is a todo list application.  Don’t forget to pickup your dry cleaning.  Do you have something you only do quarterly?  Any.DO will remind you.


Cellular Providers

There are the obvious Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile…  There are also some newer companies that offer creative plans to entice people to switch.

I found a resource at CNet.com.  They produced a handful of videos (separated by ads) talking about the basics.

1) Coverage is key

2) Data speeds

3) Plans

4) Your phone

5) Customer service

CNet also talks about each carrier and some of their highlights.  Check out http://reviews.cnet.com/best-cell-phone-carriers/ for a list of carriers and some information about each.  It is a long page and once you go there, you will need to scroll down.

My $.02:  Verizon has the best data coverage, but is way overpriced.  Unless you *need*  the best coverage area, find something else.  And when I mean coverage, I mean data coverage.  It seems like most companies have good penetration for voice and texting, but data coverage is trailing.  We survived many thousands of years with out 100% cell phone coverage, you can too.  I see it like this, I choose to spend $20+ less per month and have less data coverage.  I can still make calls anywhere I generally go, but when I leave certain areas, I don’t have data.  That is not a big deal to me.  That extra money is $240 per year.   (More than a couple beers)

If you are an avid outdoors-man, please DO NOT depend on a cell phone to get rescued.  There are a bunch of other devices to use in an emergency that have worldwide coverage.  If you are depending on something, at minimum get your ham radio license and carry a small radio.  It is much more reliable and farther reaching than a cell phone.


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