Noob to whole cell phone thing, have a question

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by pmiles, Aug 6, 2014.

  1. pmiles macrumors newbie

    Dec 12, 2013
    Okay, I have to admit, I don't own a cell phone, never have. I'm currently at the point where I have to consider buying one due to not having a land line in the future.

    So, I noticed there are two types of iPhones, one locked to a specific carrier and one is not locked and requires a simm card. The one that is locked is usually about $200 and the on that isn't locked is about $600.

    Looking at the pricing plans for several carriers, I see that I can expect to pay a lot more for just basic service with the carrier locked phone as compared to the unlocked phone carriers (well the little guys like Cricket).

    Is there an advantage to spending more upfront for an unlocked phone and paying less later monthly for actual phone service versus paying less upfront first and paying more later for actual phone service?

    I just get this feeling I'd spend far more for a locked service phone over the same 2 year period than an unlocked phone on one of the smaller say $10 per month carrier plans.

    Comments, observations, reality checks?
  2. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    Where do you live?

    Not aware of any $10 a month smartphone plans in North America. Here in Toronto you're lucky to get a $50 a month plan with data.

    If you just want to save money on a home phone try Ooma, else a prepaid burner is the second cheapest option.
  3. eyoungren macrumors Core


    Aug 31, 2011
    ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
    All iPhones have SIM cards. Some of the unlocked iPhones Apple sells come without a SIM card, but that's because you are supposed to insert your own SIM into the slot.

    The difference between locked and unlocked is the difference between being able to take your phone from carrier to carrier or not. If your phone is locked and you want to go to a different carrier, you either can't because it's locked, or you have to get it unlocked before you can do so.

    If you buy unlocked to begin with then you can take your phone wherever it's supported. The difference in price is usually because of subsidies. Locked phones tend to cost less because the carrier is paying the balance of the phone for you. You pay them back over the term of your contract. Unfortunately, a lot of carriers don't reduce the price of your contract once you meet the terms so a subsidized price continues to be paid month to month.
  4. 1981d macrumors 6502

    Sep 24, 2013
    Also, your user experience on the smaller, cheaper carriers may be worse than on the larger ones. There is a reason that Cricket hasn't put Verizon out of business, and that is because they often can't provide the same level of service. I think that is especially true for data, less so for voice and text. But if you want an iPhone, it is most likely to use the data features.

    However, you can pay full price for an unlocked phone on the larger carriers and still get a reduced monthly bill.
  5. C DM macrumors Westmere

    Oct 17, 2011
    Perhaps you aren't really talking about locked and unlocked, but subsidized phones with a contract and full price phones without a contract on a carrier?
  6. iolinux333 macrumors 68000

    Feb 9, 2014
    Here's the real answer: you'll do best financially if you buy a second edition Moto G with LTE and then pick a T-Mobile prepaid plan that suits your usage pattern. iPhone and the big carriers are for us folks looking for some kind of nirvana phone experience and are willing to shell out way to much money in search of it.

    Moto G + T-Mobile will do 95% of what everyone else here does here with our overpriced phones and plans. After a few years you'll have a better idea of exactly what you want and can make a choice best suited to your particular needs then and then can lay out the dough knowing full well why you're doing it.
  7. thetechfixer macrumors 6502


    Apr 21, 2010
    I second the Moto G. Plus T-Mobiles plans are great.
  8. techspin macrumors 6502a

    Jul 21, 2014
    If you can afford it, an iPhone is user-friendly and reliable. IMO, it's the easiest smartphone anyone can learn to use.
  9. nostresshere macrumors 68030

    Dec 30, 2010
    Wow - somebody looking for their FIRST CELL PHONE.

    Maybe just buy some cheap phone at Wallmart and get a feel for what you want and will use. Buying a Iphone may not be the smartest way to get started.

    Anyone giving advice really should ask a few questions first. Like - what will you use the phone for?
  10. KUguardgrl13 macrumors 68020


    May 16, 2013
    Kansas, USA
    I second this. My first phone was a samsung flip phone in 2005.
  11. aPple nErd macrumors 68030

    aPple nErd

    Feb 12, 2012
    Jailbreaks/IOS Hacks
    Yeah dont start out on an iphone. If you have to have a smartphone get an android second hand. Then if you feel that you need to keep a smartphone, sell the second hand android and buy an iphone.
  12. td1439 macrumors 6502


    Sep 29, 2012
    I would agree with those cautioning you against getting a smartphone as your first ever cell phone. Something to consider is what you plan to use your phone for. If you want something solely to make phone calls, then there are a lot of very easy to use and inexpensive options out there. You might even think about a pay-as-you-go plan, at least to start. Then you can spend some time getting used to the experience without being locked into a contract.

    Smartphones are basically miniature computers that do a whole lot more than just make phone calls and send texts. If you're new to the whole experience, it can quickly get overwhelming.

    If you do get a smartphone, I would recommend not downloading any apps at first. Spend some time getting to know basic functionality and working with the stock apps included on the device. An iPhone with no added apps can do a lot on its own, and it won't be until you're familiar with those capabilities that you'll have a sense of what else you want to add.

    Also, if you do get an iPhone, spend some time learning about how to use iTunes if you plan to have the phone synced to a computer. Learning to use iTunes is like going to the dentist for a cleaning - extremely painful, but necessary. I'm sure there will be disagreement on this point, but I find iTunes to be among the worst software I've ever encountered.
  13. scaredpoet, Aug 7, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2014

    scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    Wow, we are REALLY bad at just answering people's questions and giving them they info they need.

    The main advantage to buying an unlocked phone and paying less monthly is the freedom to switch carriers at will, without a financial penalty. If you pay less up front, the cost of your phone is either subsidized by the carrier and you you will be on a contract, or you're paying off the total cost of the phone in installments over time. This means that if you decide to go to a different carrier, you will have to pay a large amount of cash in one lump sum to leave. You will either have to pay and Early Termination Fee, or whatever the balance is on the full price of your phone.

    In such a case, the phone is likely also carrier locked, meaning you might run into complications taking your phone with you to that new carrier. You will either need to convince the old carrier to unlock your phone, or you'll have to buy a new one.

    On the other hand, if you pay full price for your phone up front, the phone is yours, and you'll have no commitment. If you want to switch carriers, you just switch carriers. No financial penalty will result.

    It really depends on your situation. Buying the phone outright always has the less risk, but if you plan on sticking around for a good long time with the carrier you select, and don't switch before you've fulfilled whatever contract you signed up for, then you might come out a little ahead.
  14. Newtons Apple Suspended

    Newtons Apple

    Mar 12, 2014
    Jacksonville, Florida
    I suggest you take someone with you that knows cell phones as the rep in the stores will stick it to you if you do not know what is going on.

    You are doing you homework by coming here and asking questions, problem is that you answers and opinions will vary wildly!
  15. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007

    Yes this exactly. Cell phone salespeople are NOT your friend. They will of course try very hard to convince you that they are looking out for your best interests, but their paycheck relies on how much cash they can get you to pay, how big your plan is, and what phone you buy. More ,ay not be better for you, but it will be for them.
  16. nostresshere macrumors 68030

    Dec 30, 2010
    As is normal at sites like this, posters trip all over themselves trying to give an answer.

    Trouble is, in this situation, we really do not have enough information to give any decent opinions. The OP has not stated what they think they will even use their FIRST CELLPHONE for. And possibly, why he would not have a landline in the future.

    Without that information, any of the HUNDREDS of possible answers are only... well, guesses.
  17. Newtons Apple Suspended

    Newtons Apple

    Mar 12, 2014
    Jacksonville, Florida
    To go from never having a cell phone to a iPhone is one giant and wonderful leap!:)
  18. techspin macrumors 6502a

    Jul 21, 2014
    Absolutely. I can't even poop without my phone. Get an iPhone. They offer classes at Apple as well if needed.
  19. pure-rockstar macrumors regular

    Jul 24, 2014
    I do not buy phones on contract. Why would you?

    All the added fees?

    The inability to prevent overage charges on data usage?

    The confusing bill?

    The extra taxes?

    Late fees?

    Restoral fees?

    Being stuck on one carrier?

    Not being able to unlock your own phone without meeting certain requirements?

    I don't get why anyone would do it.
  20. nostresshere macrumors 68030

    Dec 30, 2010
    Extra taxes, late fees, restoral fees, unlocking phone, confusing bill.

    These are NOT AN ISSUE.

    I once did not like being with one carrier,but am now over it. Been with same carrier for 15 or so years. No big deal.

    I pay $160 per month for 4 iphones with 10gb of data. No idea what all those other issues are that you are talking about.
  21. pure-rockstar macrumors regular

    Jul 24, 2014
    2.5 gigs per person for 160? $40 per person that sounds like a good deal. Are you on AT&T? Because that 160 would only be half the price, wouldn't you have to add in the cost per line?

    With the 40 mobile share per line charge, that's already $320.
  22. C DM macrumors Westmere

    Oct 17, 2011
    Because until recently when carriers started providing some discounts on monthly fees for those with off-contract phones it was more expensive to buy a phone for full price and still pay the same higher monthly fees.
  23. zorinlynx macrumors 601


    May 31, 2007
    Florida, USA
    If one is experienced using computers, (OP must be, in order to post here) I don't see why an iPhone would be in any way intimidating for them. It's basically a pocket computer, even one that's easier to use than your typical desktop or laptop system.

    Even people who have never used computers before, like my mother, got used to the iPhone quickly. I wouldn't steer OP away from an iPhone just because it's their first phone. It's not like you are REQUIRED BY LAW to use all the phone's features at once as soon as you get it!
  24. pure-rockstar macrumors regular

    Jul 24, 2014
    Just think though. If you buy the phone subsidized you're still going to pay more per month. Not counting the extra taxes and any other fees like the activation fee that ATT charges. Not that that's what I intended to do in the first place.
  25. theapplefanboyj macrumors 6502a

    Mar 1, 2014
    Op, if this is your first phone, try out the Moto G, with the sd card slot and lte. You get most of the functionality of an iPhone, and when it's time to get a new phone you'll know if you want to get another android or iphone.

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