Archived Story

The highs and lows of cell phone shopping

Published 5:38pm Monday, July 28, 2014

As I’ve said in this very spot before, I hate contracts.
The very thought of being committed to a device/service for two-years is absolutely nauseating, especially given all of the defects common with new devices and the hidden fees you sometimes find with various services.
However, at a certain point, the benefits of changing a previous way of thinking far outweigh the costs. That’s exactly the crossroads I found myself at when it came time to replace my cell phone this weekend.
As of last Friday, I had a Windows Phone and my service provider was T-Mobile. As most people will tell you, those are probably the worst two possibilities in their respective fields.
My service plan was what many refer to as “pay-as-you-go” or the more commonly used phrase “pre-paid.” It did exactly what I needed it to –  unlimited talk, text and data (which slows down in speed after hitting a cap but doesn’t incur a fee) for the round fee of about $50.
And for about two years, it was perfect except I began to realize that being a pre-paid subscriber is the cell phone equivalent of being a second-class citizen. Sure, you get some of the benefits of being a subscriber, but you miss out on one of the best things about having a cell phone – getting the shiny new devices.
And with myself being an individual who has been in love with gadgets since the original Gameboy, that just wasn’t gonna cut it anymore.
Being a pre-paid subscriber limits the choices you get in terms of phones – enter the Nokia Lumia Windows Phone that called my pocket home for the past few months.
$100 smartphone from Walmart should be a great deal, right? Seemed that way, but as is the case with most things, you have to learn the hard way.
The tech debate, for as long as I can remember, has always been Microsoft (and its Windows platform) versus Apple. Computers, cell phones, multimedia devices – it always came down to Microsoft vs. Apple.
Apple has pretty much been wiping the floor with Microsoft for the better part of a decade with the iPod, Macs, and most recently the iPhone. Yet, for me personally, I’ve usually chosen Microsoft, quietly acknowledging Apple’s superiority along the way. PC has always been my preferred platform simply because its what I grew up with, but as recently as I purchased my first iPod I’ve known how much Apple does things better.
My main gripe with the Windows Phone was the clunky interface, which is the exact opposite of the iPhone, which recently was put on sale.
However, when it comes to cellphones, I ultimately think Google and its Android operating system outclass both Apple and Microsoft. With that settled, it was time to find a carrier.
I hate shopping for cellphones. In my experience, salespeople usually talk down to you, try to get you to buy something you don’t want, and the prices are usually ridiculous. On my first stop, Sprint wanted me to pay $270 to purchase my phone of choice and $112 a month for service. Naturally, I left.
AT&T? We didn’t even get far enough to talk about phones when they told me their basic data plan would bring my monthly payment around $115.
Exhausted, I was ready to give up, until I decided to give a Verizon a chance to pitch to me. It seemed like I’d still be stuck with T-Mobile as Verizon is notorious for its high prices, yet lauded for its amazing service.
And after a quick credit check, I was eligible for the phone I wanted at far less than what Sprint was asking for and a monthly bill $30 less than either of the other two were asking for. That hassle of shopping is why I hating cell phone contracts.
Good thing I won’t have to search for a new one for another two years.
Hudson is a staff writer for The Outlook.