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Ask Slashdot: Best Mobile Phone Solution With No Data Plan? 294

New submitter clorkster writes "I am looking to upgrade my mobile phone. I have always bought the cheapest possible phone with the least features since I only use it to make calls and text. Further, I am opposed to paying for internet access twice and my home access is certainly more important and necessary. I am now running into the issue that my phone is too archaic to receive text messages from newer smart phones (they somehow become picture messages). Any thoughts on a good smart phone without data plan or an almost smart phone solution?"
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Ask Slashdot: Best Mobile Phone Solution With No Data Plan?

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  • by demonlapin ( 527802 ) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @06:55PM (#39141645) Homepage Journal
    If MMS is your only issue, why not just get something like a RAZR? It's cheap, it can receive MMS, and it's not a smartphone so nobody is going to try to force a data plan on you.
  • by dougmc ( 70836 ) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Thursday February 23, 2012 @06:56PM (#39141655) Homepage

    I got one of the T-Mobile LG Optimus T android phones for about $100 (it was on sale, probably $150 now) and use pay as you go with them.

    If I buy my minutes $100 at a time, I pay $0.10/minute, $0.10/text message and $0.25/picture message.

    I don't use my phone that much, so I average around $10/month with this setup, and I have a capable phone that can use WiFi and run apps and such with it.

  • Used Android (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ranguvar ( 1924024 ) <ranguvar@archlinux.us> on Thursday February 23, 2012 @06:56PM (#39141657)

    Get a used Android, especially from a buddy, and get a plan from Cricket, PagePlus, or similar.

    A friend gave me his old Droid Incredible and now I use it with PagePlus on their prepaid cards -- they offer monthly plans too, but it comes to about $7/mo. if I go prepaid, as little as I use it.

    You don't need a data plan to enjoy a smartphone.

  • by damn_registrars ( 1103043 ) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Thursday February 23, 2012 @06:58PM (#39141675) Homepage Journal
    I'm on my second used blackberry now, and they've been great for me. I'm on a GSM network, so I was able to make it my phone just by putting my SIM card into it. Being as I made the switch without going to the carrier's store, they couldn't force me into a new contract either.

    As a bonus I bought a used blackberry with built-in wifi, so anytime I have wifi access I have internet access on my phone without having to pay the carrier for it. Granted, this may be slightly more difficult to do on a non-GSM network, and you didn't specify who your carrier is.
  • by MoonBuggy ( 611105 ) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @07:05PM (#39141761) Journal

    Came here to say just that - it's entirely possible that the OP isn't aware of the specifics of mobile message protocols, though, and thus didn't realise it was an option. The problem is that some phones send large amounts of text as MMS (multimedia messaging) rather than SMS (short message service - standard text messaging) - not a picture message per se, but a more flexible data format. That said, it does get on my nerves since it breaks back compatibility and often happens silently, although thus far I've only seen it on messages longer than three standard SMS messages; it's almost always something that can be disabled in settings, but obviously that's up to the users, so you can't rely on it.

    As you said, for cheap and basic, just get any MMS capable phone (of which there are many, from around $30 upwards) and throw a prepaid SIM in there. OTOH there are decent reasons to want a 'basic' smartphone even without data - cheap android on eBay plus a prepaid SIM is probably the best bet there. Turn off mobile data in the settings and it shouldn't be an issue.

  • Re:Tracfone (Score:4, Informative)

    by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @07:24PM (#39141943)

    Tracfone is the cheapest by far. I was with them for years until I needed a smartphone with data. Get a phone with triple minutes and buy the biggest cards and you can get 4.4 cents per minute (texts are .3 minutes to send or receive).

  • Ting (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hugh Pickens writes ( 1984118 ) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @07:37PM (#39142043) Homepage
    Buy the phone up front.

    Pay for your minutes [ting.com].

    You don't have to buy data or text messages unless you want to.

    No contract.

    You can quit any time.

    up to 20 phones per account at $6 per phone per month.

    Good selection of Android phones [ting.com].

    Uses the Sprint network.

    Check it out [ting.com].
  • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @07:45PM (#39142151)

    T-Mobile contract free plans are way less expensive that Verizon, AT&T, or Sprint. They also let you use any phone you want and won't force a data plan on you just because you have a smartphone. Of course this has tradeoffs. With the companies I have dealt with I would rate them as such:

    Coverage: Excellent
    Reliability: Excellent
    Data Speed: Excellent
    Service: Average
    Price: Expensive

    Coverage: Good
    Reliability: Poor
    Data Speed: Good
    Service: Poor
    Price: Expensive

    Coverage: Good
    Reliability: Good
    Data Speed: Poor
    Service: Poor
    Price: Cheap

    In my opinion both Verizon and T-Mobile are good values for what you get (they just target different markets), while AT&T is worst of both worlds, and should be avoided. Haven't dealt with Sprint or the other smaller carriers.

  • by stvn ( 674703 ) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @07:59PM (#39142275)
    I got myself a midrange smartphone (motorola defy 250$), went looking for the cheapest sim only plan (3$/month for 60minutes talk) and an unlimited dataplan (13$/month). Since I have unlimited data I don't use text (whatsapp, gtalk, facebook messenger, etc whatever floats your boat) and I hardly use voice as well; skype or even better tethering and video skype on my laptop (the defy doesn't have a front facing camera). In my case having internet on my phone means that I can reduce on all other phone costs (talk and text), so I don't feel it is paying internet twice. I have now (albeit a bit slower than at home) unlimited internet everywhere I go. If your country does not provide such a service upgrade your country (if debian based try: sudo apt-get update 21st-century)
  • Re:Uh... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @08:00PM (#39142295) Journal

    I'm guessing you're referring to "Kosher Salt" as if a Jew can't have non-kosher salt.

    The term "kosher salt" derives not from its being made in accordance with the guidelines for kosher foods as written in the Torah (nearly all salt is kosher, including ordinary table salt), but rather due to its use in making meats kosher by removing surface blood.

    From - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosher_salt [wikipedia.org]

  • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @08:00PM (#39142297)
    Have you used T-Mobile? Their service is far and above better than AT&T and Verizon (who I would rate as poor for service). Their data speeds are very good also. Am I out of the loop and Verizon/AT&T offering 10MBit lines? T-Mobile gives me 2 MBit on bad days and as much as 5+ on good days. Is that now considered poor?
  • One word: PREPAID (Score:5, Informative)

    by Powercntrl ( 458442 ) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @08:14PM (#39142417)

    First, forget about 2-year-contracts and subsidized phones. Contracts exist to benefit the carriers by reducing churn. Why do them any favors? Subsidized phones end up costing more in the long run, once you factor in the higher monthly plan costs.

    These are pretty much the best deals going right now:

    Boost Mobile
    + Runs on Sprint's network. Unlimited everything. $55/mo for smartphones, plan goes down in price by $5 every 6 months, finally stopping at $40/mo.
    - Must use an approved phone, Sprint's network coverage and data speeds are *meh*

    Straight Talk
    + Runs on AT&T or T-Mobile's network (you pick when ordering). Unlimited* everything. $45/mo. Use any unlocked GSM, AT&T or T-Mobile phone. You can use an iPhone.
    - Outsourced tech support can be difficult to deal with if you run into a problem. *Unlimited means 2GB/mo of data, not what you think it means.

    Page Plus
    + Runs on Verizon's network. Unlimited Talk & Text, 500MB/mo. $55. Also have several less expensive plans, including a Talk & Text only plan for $39.95 Use any clean ESN Verizon phone. Great Verizon coverage.
    - Expensive data overages.

    If you're really hell bent on no data plan, Page Plus probably fits the bill. That being said, many of these plans are so inexpensive, you may want to reconsider if it's worth going on a no-data-diet just to save a few pennies each month.

  • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zmobie ( 2478450 ) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @08:15PM (#39142431)

    They ARE different when it comes to data. AT&T and T-Mobile don't offer real 4G. Sprint doesn't cap data use or throttle you. Verizon has real 4G and the largest, fastest 3G/4G cellular data network.

    This is actually very incorrect. No one offers true 4G, period. The FCC bumped the legal definition of it down significantly because of lobbying from the cell carriers so that they could advertise like they have "4G" when in fact they have improved 3G.

    Refer to this article (it is from last year, but I believe most of it is still true): http://gcn.com/articles/2011/01/13/what-is-4g.aspx [gcn.com]
    Another article (From this year about it): http://www.rethink-wireless.com/2012/01/23/itu-confirms-official-true-4g-standards.htm [rethink-wireless.com]
    And of course, Wikipedia awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4G [wikipedia.org]

    So no, don't buy the cell phone companies' BS about them having "4G" when they are not hardly halfway to what the actual standard dictates.

  • Tracfone (Score:5, Informative)

    by yellowstone ( 62484 ) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @08:35PM (#39142601) Homepage Journal

    I have a Tracfone, and like it pretty well.

    • For US$20, I get 90 days + 120 minutes (+ usually a bonus 20 minutes). If you need more minutes, they're not that expensive.

    • You have your choice of phones. You can get a Smart Phone if you want, but you can also get a relatively primitive phone for US$20. I've got one of the cheaper ones. Supports texting (although I've only used that a little bit) and web browsing.

    • Best of all, it's pay-as-you-go, and so all it takes to "opt out" is to stop buying renewal time.

The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer. The haves get more, the have-nots die.