Help with Cell Phone Purchase

Discussion in 'Mac Help/Tips' started by AmbitiousLemon, Dec 5, 2002.

  1. AmbitiousLemon Moderator emeritus


    Nov 28, 2001
    down in Fraggle Rock
    So i think its time to cancel local phone/long distance service and just buy a cell phone. things have gotten so expensive its cheaper to just have a cell phone. thats my reasoning anyway.

    so i just started looking on the web today (mostly searching before today all i knew about cell phones was that
    1) people whho talk into them often lookj like crazy people talking to themselves
    2) my roommate never gets off his
    3) cingular has a terrible reputation and everyone i know has left after their one year contract

    so... i dont really know anything.

    well today i found out about GSM and GPRS. dont really know what it entails, but im told GSM is third generation (mostly absent from the USA) and that ATT and another provided just set up GSM networks in CA. So I was hoping to get a GSM equipped phone assuming i could get adequate coverage in the bay area and southern california.

    The other thing i want is small. i dont use the phone much (im just getting one because i need a phone and im canceling my home phone). so i want it small so it doesnt get in the way. as for all the bells and whistles, i couldnt care less. as long as it has a gui that is easy to use that is.

    So cnet seems to suggest the Sony Ericsson T68i for my needs. im wondering what are peoples impressions of their phones the Sony Ericsson T68i their services, and any good advice for a first time cell phone user.

    thanks in advance for any help you guys provide! :)
  2. bombensington macrumors regular

    Aug 24, 2002
    last time i checked, has a great rebate on the t68i - total cost $50. plus, bluetooth is pretty cool.
  3. zimv20 macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    a friend of mine just bought one from amazon, said they're down to $25 (after $250 rebate).

    i got mine last week. i like it. i got it to sync w/ iSync.

    my only beef w/ t-mobile (the provider) is they're having trouble w/ their web stuff to set up the SMS/email/WAP stuff.

    i reserve final opinion until they get that working.

    oh -- the big seller for me is that it is GSM triband, so i will be able to use it in Europe.
  4. AmbitiousLemon thread starter Moderator emeritus


    Nov 28, 2001
    down in Fraggle Rock
    if i buy from amazon the carrier is t-mobile but if i buy from you can get at&t

    whats up with that?
  5. zimv20 macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    i'll take a guess:

    amazon has a deal w/ t-mobile and letstalk has a deal w/ at&t.
  6. Monomni macrumors newbie

    Nov 26, 2002
    Houston, TX
    Careful Cell Phone Choices

    OK, here are my thoughts on this... and I'm basing this on personal experiences and that I used to work for Radio Shack for two years.

    Whatever you do, stay away from Singular. Horrible reputation - even before they became "Singular." Verizon seems to be ok, they have a pretty good coverage area, but has so-so service in terms of static, dropped calls, etc. - but that mostly depends on where you live and the simple matter of who has good coverage in YOUR area. Another note on Verizon, I generally find their phones to be, well... cheap - in quality as well as price. But for most people it can suffice I guess.

    I personally use Sprint PCS. Nice quality phones and good coverage where I live (Houston, TX). Another nice thing about Sprint - it's digital technology - no static, etc. Also, you don't need a high end phone - (like the new Sprint PCS Vision stuff) mostly bells and whistles that most people will never use. I have had mediocre experiences and customer issues with Samsung phones, but it seems they are finally making some good ones. Sanyo is very good on their phone reliability. Motorola is also a pretty good phone. LG doesn't really impress me...

    I don't know a whole lot about T-Mobile really, they're still really new in the market...
    As for the Ericsson phone, syncing, etc. - think about how much you REALLY will use that - whether it's a deal maker/breaker in your purchase decision. It could be a nice feature/compatibility if you need your contacts info.

    Maybe tell us more about where you live (major city coverage?) and what you'll use the phone for...

    Oh, and one more thing... go to stores and actually LOOK at the phones, play with them, ask questions, etc. VERY IMPORTANT to hold and try phones, because you may like the look of a phone but discover that you hate the menus, interface, whatever... Anyways, once you decide WHICH phone/provider you want... try looking on eBay for a good deal. I've seem some very good prices for NEW phones (and used)... But also, if this is your very first cell phone purchase, it might be easier to go through a store with someone walking you through the start up processes...

    Hope that helps! Good luck...
  7. AmbitiousLemon thread starter Moderator emeritus


    Nov 28, 2001
    down in Fraggle Rock
    Re: Careful Cell Phone Choices

    currently i live in berkeley, ca. i visit my parents in ornage county, 2 or 3 times a year (except for this past year when i have been a bad son). So I would like a phone that works well in the bay area as well in the LA/Orange County area. But the other concern is that when i visit i typically drive. So having some sort of reception in the central valley and in the more obscure parts of CA would be very nice (i know some phones can dynamically switch to analog mode when they get into some of these area).

    I would also like a third generation (GSM) phone so that when i am out of the country for long periods of time i will have the option of using my cell phone. also i prefer to use more advanced technology in the first place. but other than the GSM tech i really dont care for other bells and whistles (bluetooth, color screen, games, photos, text messaging). This phone is primarily a replacement for my home phone whch i do not use much as it is. I am told that AT&T and T-Mobile have GSM networks 'throughout' California, but as to how extensive that network actually is I have no idea.

    but lastly it has to be small/light. i would like to be able to drop it in my pocket and forget about it. im not the type to chat on the phone half the day, so i dont want it to get in the way.

    but i think ill go now to radio shack and check things out a bit more.
  8. hobie macrumors member

    May 27, 2002
    far, far away
    If money doesn't matter, try to get the Sony-Ericsson P800. It's due to be out in January for ~$700. But it's all in!

    Check it out here Sony-Ericsson

    Sorry, no direct link, but go to Products/Coming soon and there it is.

    That's definitely my next toy:)
  9. Chad4Mac macrumors 6502

    Apr 20, 2002
    Los Angeles

    I am speaking from experience: I own the T68i and have mixed reviews regarding its useability and reliability.

    First, the design. The joystick is a pain. The idea is good, but I have yet to get used to it. Trying to access numbers and contacts is difficult if you are in a hurry (seems like I am always); alot of the times I over/under shoot the numbers and applications and have to scroll back. In addition, the joysitck profile is so low that sometimes my thumb just doesn't agree. If the joy stick was wider/taller it would feel more natural.

    Second, processing. THIS PHONE IS SLOW. Using the joy stick to access numbers and other features on the phone is a time waster. Same with using the buttons. For instance, everytime you use the joystick to scroll down numbers, the cursors lag. It is really annoying. My other cell responses were never a problem.

    *the joystick would work better if the response time was better.

    The internet access works great. You can adjust what your favorites are and other things. It's got a big screen, which is nice browsing. Costly, however.

    The bluetooth is great. I use iSync and iCal flawlessly. Address Bookworks great, too. I back up all my numbers/contacts. OS X campatability is great!

    The other benefits are in relation to picture sending, pretty interface, color LCD, etc.

    In my opinion, this a material want (it's pretty)

  10. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Jun 25, 2002
    Gone but not forgotten.
    T-Mobile, who used to be VoiceStream, was pretty good for me. I actually got my first mobile phone from Aerial which had no contracts and great rates, but apparently that couldn't last. VoiceStream, part of Deutsche Telekom, absorbed Aerial. I left when they wanted me to take a heavy-duty plan with a contract, even with the same phone. SprintPCS has great quality like VoiceStream/T-Mobile, but the voice mail sucks. I may receive my messages the same day or next week. Still, I'd rather have SprintPCS than Cingular or Verizon or the non-PCS brands.
  11. WannabeSQ macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2002
    I might be mistaken, but dont some Verizon phones also use PCS?

    Me and my friends all have different cell phone providers, I have verizon, my friends have AT&T Sprint, and Cingular. We went on a road trip, and my verizon (even without an antenna, it broke off, whoever said they were cheap were right!) and cingular had perfect coverage all over california. PCS almost never had a decent signal, and was always borrowing our phones. I also found out from someone at Best Buy that T Mobile in california uses the same network as Cingular, and that Cingular phones work on the T Mobile network in the east coast. So coverage should be about the same.
  12. Rower_CPU Moderator emeritus


    Oct 5, 2001
    San Diego, CA
    My situation is similar to yours, 'Lemon...

    I've never had a cell-phone (to be honest I hate the things...actually, just the people who are on the damn things all the time), but I'm considering getting one soon.

    I need coverage the length of California, San Diego to Yreka, but I don't want to spend an arm and a leg on the monthly charge. I don't talk much, but I want to have the freedom to talk whenever (nights, weekends, etc).

    Really, I don't think I'm asking for that much. ;)
  13. ftaok macrumors 603


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    I'm gonna try to address a bunch of questions in one post.

    AL, you were told wrong that GSM is a 3G technology. Originally, analog was the 1st generation (1G). Digital, was/is 2G. 3G has yet to take off in the US and with the economy slumpping, many carriers are going with a 2.5G that will ease the transition to 3G.

    GSM is just one of the 3 digitial "standards" in the US. The others are TDMA and CDMA. To the end user, these things don't really matter much (assuming you get coverage in the places where you're at). Now, some of these new features (i.e. photo emails, downloaded games) are 2.5G and have yet reached "total" coverage. They will, but it'll take time.

    AL, instead of shopping for a phone first, I would suggest shopping for a service plan first. The reason is that not all phones are available for all services. For example, if you wanted a Motorola V120, your choices would limit you to a CDMA or TDMA provider. The V120 is not available for GSM. Likewise, the S/E T68i is not available as a CDMA phone (I think ...). So find a service plan that covers your needs and then choose one of the phones that they provide.

    Monomni, I've found the Cingular network to be quite good (note- this is in the Philadelphia region). Always seems to be a good signal whereever you are. In Philly, SprintPCS has got to be the worst. You only get coverage in the highly populated areas or near a major highway. In the suburbs, you're lucky if you get "one bar". Plus, on holidays and during snow emergencies, the network gets overwhelmed and you can't get a call out or in. Verizon is the best network in this area.

    Just about every plan out there now is digital. Personally, I would like to have analog included in my plan, but most carriers seem to be moving away from it. The reason that having analog is good is that if you're outside of the digital network, you can just switch over to analog and continue making calls. The analog network is much more filled out than digital. If you have analog included on your plan, then you don't get slapped with roaming.

    AL, If you go out of the country often (and I'm not talking about Canada and Mexico), your best bet would be T-Mobile. They have flat rates for each country, so you know exactly what you'll be charged. Just remember to get a phone that is "World Class". NOTE - most of the world uses the GSM network. Basically, everywhere besides the USA and Korea. NOTE 2 - GSM is not inherently more advanced than TDMA or CDMA. In fact, GSM was established before the other two, so in reality, it's less advanced.

    AL, to me, it sounds like you could benefit with a T-Mobile plan. The phone that fits your bill would be the Motorola V66 (or the V60 - a little bigger/pricier, but it has outside Call ID).

    WannabeSQ, don't get sucked into the PCS marketing hype. Basically, PCS means that the phones operate at the 1900mhz frequency. For example, Sprint's PCS network operates at 1900mhz. Verizon's digital network operates at 800mhz. Verizon also joined up with some other networks and now has some 1900mhz areas. So to utilize Verizon's whole network, you need a 800/1900mhz phone. Most phone manufacturers are putting in dual-band tech into their phones. PCS is really a non issue.
  14. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Jun 25, 2002
    Gone but not forgotten.
    Verizon absorbed PrimeCo which was a PCS-only vendor. Remember the pink alien?
  15. chrisfx811 macrumors regular

    Jul 18, 2002
    i operate a cellular related business, have used 3 major providers in 3 different networks. new england, virginia, and central florida.
    cingular: in new england is the absolute worst! they claim to have the most towers in the ct area, however unless my phone has at least 3 bars the calls sound like crap. i would rather not make a call than have to struggle to understand what someone is saying. they primarily use nokia, motorola, ericcson phones. to me nokias are lacking in terms of technology and are not always reliable. ericsson is looking to break their partnership with sony, which doesn't say much for their phones. motorolas have a couple nice model phones, and many, many junk ones.
    of note, cingular also operates on some gsm towers on the west coast, but their upgrade path is very slow to full gsm.
    sprint pcs: has excellent coverage in major metro areas and along major routes connecting these areas. their calls are either clear or no call can be made. their 3g network is not very impressive however as i don't feel it's much faster than their older 2.5g network
    nextel: offers more communication options than other carriers, operates overseas, reliable phones, customer service is far and away the absolute best in the wireless business! this cannot be emphasised enough. sprint c.s. sucks @$$. nextels upcoming plans are finally competitive for regular customers and not just focussed on business types.
    once you have used carriers such as at-t and cingular and have experienced horrid reception you will truly appreciate real digital service. t-mobile is a fairly new player in the u.s. market and their are many speculations as to them being taken over by cingular or at-t for their gsm network. they offer some incredible deals as they are trying to gain a customer base. verizon is the largest carrier, and probably has the broadest coverage, they tend to be fairly expensive, have many hidden charges in the fine-print, have many non-digital areas, cheap phones, decent customer service, and are currently upgrading to a cdma 3g network (albeit slower than sprint)
    i am currently switching to my 4th provider for my business phones and am choosing nextel. based on customer service, communication options, newest competitive rate plans, and also their direct connect network will be nationwide by Q2 2003.
    this wasn't very organized , but to sum up:
    cingular: crappy service, phones, crappy rep
    verizon: expensive, inconsistent, large network, many cheap phones... few good ones
    sprint: awesome clarity, horrid customer service, horrid text messaging/email, spotty coverage
    nextel: wide range of communication options, a+++ customer service, tough phones, all digital network (800 mhz) overseas capability
    t-mobile: spotty coverage, spotty reputation, many cheesy phones, good text messaging, gsm network is euro standard, gsm network is NOT u.s. standard, lots of deals available

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