Thursday, July 28, 2016

Getting Up to Date on Phones and Plans

As smartphones are exploding into much wider use among seniors,  it is time to  take stock and get up to date, as both phones and plans have plummeted in price, and our use of these phones has changed.

As we become aware of what smartphones can do,  become more proficient in their use, and we increase what we do with new smartphones, the old phones fall short.   

Seniors are finding that their smartphone is the ideal way to keep connected to the world via internet as they age, while also keeping their library and music within easy reacb.

Battery life becomes an issue in older phones for which battery replacement is difficult or expensive. Memory becomes a problem as we use more and more apps.    Memory is also desirable to hold all our reading matter and music away from Wi-Fi to avoid cell data cost.  

Nowadays we also need more data for traffic info and communication away from Wi-Fi.   That data is free on Wi-Fi, but can be expensive away from it, usually $10 per gigabyte.

Meanwhile, as older phones have recently dropped in price, newer phones with broader capabilities have undercut even those discounted prices. A new Blu R1 phone at $60 promises easy battery replacement, memory expansion, and unlocked status to use with inexpensive “bring your own phone” carriers.

Here are competitive carriers with plans I am aware of.  These are no contract plans and also they are not prepaid plans which still can be expensive.

Republic Wireless has been an inexpensive carrier and offers currently a Moto E phone at $100 along with a $25 plan which refunds unused data. Republic Wireless uses the Sprint service.

FreedomPop offers Moto E refurbished phone at $40 with an even cheaper plan in which unused data is applied for future use.    FreedomPop also offers a  “bring your own” plan for selected phones and carriers which use the Sprint service.

Pure Talk offers a ”bring your own phone” plan for phones using AT&T service with up to one  gig of data per month at $25.    This is the fastest data service I have experienced in this area..

Some carriers, such as Republic Wireless, also offer so-called tethering ,which enables another phone to use the  tethering phone’s plan via Wi-Fi.    That comes in handy especially if you have a plan you do not want to lose.

TPO offers a $25 “bring your own phone”  plans inclusive of more data than the others.

(Note that if you use a “bring your own phone plan”, you may need to program it in settings to recognize the service.)   

It is convenient to have more than one phone simply to have one that is always charged. If one of these is a Windows phone it can be started up and shut down more quickly than an Android phone.    That is handy if you are in a hurry or need to conserve battery life, plus they're cheap.

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