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My Smart Phone is Not So Smart

by Ryan Guina

I‘m not one for buying the latest technology. I like nice things, and I like them to work, but I don’t need the latest and greatest toy to make me happy.

There are a lot of reasons to wait before buying the latest technology: the technology improves, prices come down, and standards emerge, reducing the risk of buying obsolete technology.

I’ll give you an example: In 2002 I bought a Sony MiniDisk player (remember those?) for around $200. Minidisks gave you the ability to record hours of music onto a small disk and were a big improvement over portable CD players. Unfortunately, the technology never went mainstream and iPod came out shortly after the MiniDisk was launched and changed the face of portable music forever.

Ever since then, I’ve been somewhat slow to adopt technology. I don’t like paying premium launch prices when I know I can wait a few months for a lower price, and often better features. And it’s always nice to avoid buying technology that will be obsolete in a few months. I guess I’m not your average consumer of electronic products.

On that note, it’s time for me to get a new cell phone. My cell phone is important to me, since it is my main means of communication. But I also don’t need to upgrade every few months. In the 11+ years I’ve had a cell phone, I’ve only had 4 different phones. I am on year 3 with my current phone, and while it has served me well, it’s time to move on. The battery is finally starting to go (honestly I’m surprised it lasted this long!), and well, it’s a smart phone, but it’s not so smart anymore. Not compared to the current generation of cell phones anyway.

I thought long and hard about going with the iPhone, but I think I’m going to take a pass on it. They are nice phones, but the cost of the plans is more expensive than many other comparable phones, and I can get something with a little more power under the hood for about the same price up front, but a lower ongoing monthly fee (and unlimited text and data). I still need to do a little research, but I like a lot of the Android phones, which is probably what I will end up getting. The good news is that I don’t need to worry about canceling my cell phone contract since it has been up for over a year now.

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Published or updated December 29, 2011.
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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Pete

I’m like you, I like to wait a while before jumping in on an electronics purchase. I waited until 1080P TVs were becoming popular, and then bought a nice 720P TV at a reduced price.

My phone does two things. Makes phone calls and does text messages. That’s about it. I’ve had it for about 3-4 years now, and while it would be nice to have a smart phone, I’ve also got an iPod touch that does a lot of the same things. Plus, like you, I don’t want to pay for an expensive calling and data plan. Hopefully the prices will come down soon and i can splurge, but i’m just fine waiting. :)

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2 Ryan

Pete, I did the same thing – I bought an iPod Touch about a year and a half ago, and that has been a substitute for a smart phone, at least while I am at home, or where there is wi-fi access. My cell phone also has internet access, but it is archaic compared to the iPod Touch or smart phones (I only use it to access webmail, and even then it is slow; forget about trying to load a website that isn’t optimized for mobile!).

I will probably buy something nice and new, and hope it will last me a couple more years. And the bonus is that I will be able to consolidate down to one item, since my phone should be able to do everything my old phone could do, plus what the iPod Touch can do (at least for my needs). So I will either sell the ipod Touch on Craigslist, or give it to a family member. :)

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3 Money Beagle

I’m with you. I have upgraded my phone after about 30 months each of the last two times, and I probably would have gone even longer except my wife has gotten the itch for a new phone and taken charge of the process!

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4 Ryan

I’ve actually wanted to upgrade my phone for awhile, but my wife and I were planning on moving, and we had service problems with my current cell phone carrier when we visited her parents and I didn’t want to commit to a 2 year contract if I was going to have problems with my service. We have since moved and the reception is good where we are, so I am comfortable upgrading my phone and renewing my service. I’m happy I waited though because the phones that are out now are light years ahead of what they were just a year ago. :)

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5 IPA

My old Blackberry finally gave up last week so I went with a Droid phone. I got the Samsung Captivate (AT&T version) and so far I really like it. In the past I had an iPhone but I have found I like the Droid phone better, at least so far.

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6 Evan

Its a waste of money but I upgrade everytime I can…I figure the phone (between emails, texting and the internet) is one of those things that I always use so it is ok to splurge a little bit.

I would recommend checking out Sprint – unlimited data and text with enough mins for most guys for next to nothing as compared to other major carriers – plus a FULL line of android phones.

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7 Ryan

I’m actually already with Sprint, lol. I’m looking at the HTC Evo. My brother has it and loves it.

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8 Jeremy

It took me a LONG time to get on board with the smart phone revolution (just got my android powered phone last summer) and I’m glad I waited. My friends were regularly dropping hundreds of dollars every year on new technology, fiddling with apps that were still new and didn’t work right, and jumping to AT&T just for the iPhone and then getting stuck with a network that hardly works around here. By the time I switched there were no hassles and things “just worked.”

But yeah, I’m not a huge phone geek and don’t need a billion apps nor do I need the phone to act as a portable music/media device. Give me a solid Gmail app, a fast web browser, and the ability to play Angry Birds and I’m set. Sure, I can take HD video or shoot decent 8 MP photos or use any of the tens of thousands of time-wasting apps, but I can count the time I’ve used that stuff on both hands.

Anyway, the HTC Incredible is an awesome phone even if I’m not using it to its fullest. But for 150 bucks and the fact I probably won’t need to upgrade for about two years, it’s a steal.

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9 HedgeHoncho

I like to wait and buy electronics but a phone is not one that I am willing to have fail me. I use my iPhone HOURS of the day at work, home, commute, etc.

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10 krantcents

I thought it was related to age! I only use my phone to call and talk to people. I personally do not want to be connected 100% of the time. I spend 8 hours a day in front of a computer at work and untold hours after work..

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11 Lucify

Its the only thing about having a prepaid cell phone company that really can suck and its the total lack of Smart Phones – at least that’s the case with my company. I have Net10 prepaid and while the coverage is great, the phone selection just keeps stagnant – their newest phone at least is app capable but really doesn’t have any other Smart Phone like functions. Anyone have expeirence with another prepaid company and their phones?

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12 Shaun

Hey Ryan,

Smart phones are addictively good at a lot of things for tech minded people and the apps these days are often quite useful. If you don’t have one, you don’t need it, but if you do you will never look back! If you are on the net, then I would recommend a smart phone of some description, it doesn’t have to be an iPhone there are plenty of other options. I’m all for the iPhone coz I have one, but I think the phones running andriod (Samsung, HTC etc) are just as good and very reasonably priced too.

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13 Ryan

Shaun, I already have an iPod Touch and a regular cell phone, so I basically have the capability split between two device. Getting a newer and more capable phone will allow me to consolidate my electronics down to one item, and give me flexibility for computing while out and about. I’m not the most tech savvy person in the world, but I am looking forward to having more capabilities than I currently have!

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14 KP

Ryan, I’m with you on this all the way. During the ‘Great Recession’ it was ironic to watch the sales of high-tech products continue to remain steady and actually go up in some cases.

Speaking of smart phones, you may get a laugh out of reading my blog post – If It’s Broken, Fix It and Save Your Money. Hint – it has to do with my Blackberry. Here’s the link.

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15 Invest It Wisely

Thanks for mentioning the carnival!

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