Recommend Me a Cellphone

I need a new cellphone. I’m off contract, so I was looking forward to the Apple iPhone, but I refuse to use AT&T Wireless.

I’d like a phone that allows email and web browsing at a cheap flat monthly rate with a real keyboard (not some “tap once for A, twice for B” thing). I’d also be interested in hearing your recommendations as to carrier/network.


18 Responses to “Recommend Me a Cellphone”

  1. Vince Says:

    Try the T-Mobile MDA or Sidekick.
    Some of the Blackberry phones are nice as well. What service do you have? ’cause Verizon have some good (but EXPENSIVE) phones.

    Pricewise, you probably want T-Mobile and the MDA.

  2. Rob Says:

    If you’re so inclined, with a little technical effort you can unlock an iPhone to run on T-Mobile now, gratis. Only features I know of that don’t work are the visual voicemail features. However, any Apple software updates could potentially break your unlock, but the community would probably fix that pretty quickly. I guess you’d have to chance it.

    If I was going to buy another GSM phone besides the iPhone though, I would get a T-Mobile Dash. Most stable Windows Mobile phone I’ve seen, you can run Skype on it (kinda moot with T-Mobiles new VoIP service), it has Wi-Fi, etc.

    As far as CDMA phones, I guess a Treo is always a nice choice, WM preferably. I like Sprint better than Verizon because they don’t tend to cripple phones like Verizon does. Both run EVDO rev 1a in most major metropolitan areas, and that will leave GSM 3G/EDGE in the dust as far as speed. Sprint is spotty in some areas though, and their customer service can be frustrating if you have any major issues.

    Hope this helps.

  3. Tim Leong Says:

    I just got the LG EnV phone (thru Verizon). I really dig it. It’s got a qwerty keyboard and 2MB phone. Kinda clunky though.

  4. Sarah Says:

    Each company’s customer service is appallingly horrible in its own way.

    In terms of speed of data transmission, you will do better with the CDMA2000/EVDO phones (Sprint, Verizon) than with UMTS/HSDPA (or its predecessor GSM/EDGE) phones (T-Mobile, AT&T), at least in big cities. I’ve heard Sprint has less-than-ideal coverage, but don’t have any firsthand experience on this.

  5. Hal Shipman Says:

    I am completely in love with my Treo with Palm OS and T-Mobile. T-Mobile doesn’t carry them anymore (in favor of their Sidekick), so I buy them unlocked (lost one) on eBay and drop the T-Mobile SIM card in. I very much like the fact that there is a wide variety of applications available (unlike the iPhone), including Quicken. They’re also pretty tough. I’ve dropped mine a number of time and maybe finally have to buy a replacement as I literally punched one through a wall. Long story there about my clumsiness, not anger-issues…

    If you buy a generation or two behind (I’m on a 650 now), they’re pretty affordable.

    Also, I really like having a GSM phone. If something happens to my phone (an issue pre-Treo for me), I can just take out the card and drop it into an old backup. I go to Europe once or twice a year, so I can also pick up a local SIM there and get pay-as-you-go service.

  6. Dom Says:

    You want to look at the Sprint SERO plans. If sprint coverage is acceptable in your area, the prices can’t be beaten:

    http://www.sprint.com/sero

    500 minutes, free nights (7pm) and weekends, unlimited data, unlimited text messaging for $30 a month

  7. jamesmith Says:

    I was on T-Mobile and briefly used the Dash. I really like the phone, but I don’t dig windows mobile. The keys have a good feel, but too small for my Man Hands.

    I switched to the Sprint SERO plan which is mad cheap. You need the email of an employee to join SERO, but with some minor googling, I found a non-employee email in a magazine article which worked fine. I got the Treo 755p which is great, but you can actually sit and watch the battery indicator lose power. Go back a model number or two if you can.

    I used the iphone in store. I’m not sure how anyone can comfortably type on it.

    Of the 3 services I’ve had, T-Mobile, Sprint and Cingular, T-Mobile had the best customer service, for what it’s worth.

  8. Johanna Says:

    I knew my readers would be knowledgeable! I’m already hearing about good-sounding options that I wasn’t aware of, thank you so much! Obviously I have some research to do, but I feel like I have some much better starting points now.

    Anyone have an opinion on Virgin Mobile?

  9. Roger Benningfield Says:

    * I personally use a Treo 755p on Sprint. I prefer it to the Windows Mobile Treos because the screen is higher-res and it has a threaded SMS client. I’d definitely like to have the storage space of an iPhone, but EVDO and a SlingBox at home make up for it.

    * You might also look into the Helio Ocean. I’ve read great things about it… Helio re-sells Sprint’s network, so you get EVDO and a pretty impressive phone.

  10. Johanna Says:

    Do the Treos support Wi-Fi? I much prefer the Palm OS to Windows Mobile. (I had one of the B&W stand-alone Palms many years back I liked a lot.)

    I tried checking Helio, after seeing an ad spread in a magazine a few days ago, but their promo site was so flashy and hip that I couldn’t find any of the concrete information I was seeking. :) I’ll look again.

  11. Dani Says:

    I don’t know much about phones, but I do suggest finding out what phone company has the best coverage in your area. It’s great to get a cool phone, but sucks when your phone company doesn’t let you get service in your house.

    Ask around, see what companies get good service where you are. Me and James have Verizon, but it’s really expensive. But we get the best overall service from them in our area.

    Good luck on finding a phone. And it was great seeing you in Baltimore.

  12. Stuart Moore Says:

    Tried to post this before, not sure what happened…

    I still use an unlocked Treo 650 with T-Mobile. You have to enter a proxy to get on the web with it, but only once…I think you can find the info on treocentral.com. And T-Mobile has a nice secret: a very cheap unlimited data plan for $6/month. It’s supposedly “slower” than their full plan, but no one can really explain how much or why. It’s old-fashioned GSM GPRS — not 3G or anything — but for light websurfing and email, it works great. (You have to poke around a little on their website to find the plan.)

    The Treo also works with a fold-out keyboard, which makes it a nice little writing machine when I don’t feel like carrying a laptop around.

    My wife uses a Virgin Mobile pay-as-you go phone, which I think is on the Sprint network. She’s had no problems with it, but she rarely uses it.

  13. Stuart Moore Says:

    Oh, and the various Treo models support WiFi through either an expansion card or a “sled,” both of which are a little pricey. I haven’t used either one. None of them have WiFi built in.

  14. Roger Benningfield Says:

    Johanna: If you’ve got EVDO access in your area, WiFi might not be a huge issue… but if it is, you’re better off with a Windows Mobile Treo, or waiting to see what Palm does when they release their Linux-based Treos next year.

  15. James Schee Says:

    One of my friends has one of the new blackberrys and it is REALLY freaking cool with all of the features you list plus some. Service usually depends on your area, so what might be a good one here in TX, may not be good there.

  16. Johanna Says:

    Dani, that’s a key point. I’m looking at switching from Verizon because their phones don’t work at my home.

    My lead choice right now is a Sprint Mogul through SERO. I love the slide keyboard. I tried a Treo, but the little buttons didn’t work for me. (And since the only people I’ve seen recommend it online said “but you can’t text one-handed while you’re driving with a Mogul”, I’m not thinking I need that particular Treo “feature”.)

    I’m a little concerned that the coverage maps show Good, not Best, in my neighborhood, though. And I’m not sure whether KC still needs his phone. Still some decisions to be made. Again, thank you all for the valuable sharing of your experience.

  17. Stuart Moore Says:

    Not to be a big shill for T-Mobile, but their coverage maps are the most precise in the business. Go here.

  18. Thank You for Cellphone! » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] to my helpful readers, I’ve got a new cellphone: a Sprint Mogul. I adore it! Leaving aside the phone bit, it allows [...]

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