Cell Phone

So I’m in the market for a new cell phone. I’m no expert, but I’ve been reading up on the subject this weekend. I actually use my cell phone as my primary phone (I don’t have a land line), so I might consider going for something other than a base model… but it seems that more advanced phones are loaded with features that I don’t really need. What I really want out of the new phone is:

  • Strong Battery Life – This seems important since I’m going to be using it as my primary phone.
  • Call Quality – Again, this is important because I’m using it as my primary phone.
  • Size and Weight – I carry my phone with me wherever I go, and I usually keep it in my pocket. This seems ideally suited to a flip-phone, as they are small and the shape prevents accidental dialing. But I’ve never much cared for flip-phones (see next bullet), so what I’d really like is a small, light, candy bar style phone.
  • Usability – Stuff like navigation through the menus, button controls (including size, shape, placement, etc…), and how the phone feels in my hand and against my face are important. This is where flip-phones normally fail for me, but I’m trying to keep an open mind… If I do end up seriously considering a flip-phone, it will need to have an external screen with caller ID, so I can see who’s calling without having to answer.

Most other features are nice-to-haves, but not by any means necessary for me. A quick rundown of features and my thoughts:

  • Text messaging, instant messaging, and email – I’d definitely like Text Messaging, but IM and email aren’t a necessity.
  • Camera – Would be nice to have, but not that important to me.
  • Speakerphone – Again, nice to have, but not very important to me.
  • Wireless/Bluetooth/Infrared/Connectivity – It would be nice to backup all my data on my computer, but I don’t absolutely need wireless and I wouldn’t be upset without any sort of connectivity at all. Internet access would be nice, but isn’t really necessary.
  • Sound – I could really care less about ring-tones, and though it would be nice to knock out two birds with one stone by getting an MP3 player in the phone, I don’t think the technology is there (nor am I really willing to pay for it – still, this Sony Ericsson W800i sounds pretty darn cool).
  • Games/Downloads – Don’t really care at all. It’s nice to have a game or two on the phone, but I really don’t care much.
  • Style – Looks aren’t that important to me. I’m not a big fan of glitzy designs or anything, so simple and to-the-point is what I’m looking for. It would be nice to have a good looking phone, but it’s not essential.
  • Smart-Phones – Don’t really need this either. I suppose, in the future, this will be the way to go, but I don’t want to be that connected just yet (though if I ever do end up getting a blackberry type device, I would want it to also be a cell phone and probably an MP3 player as well).

I’m really just looking for something basic that I can carry around easily and reliably make calls with for a long period of time without needing to recharge the phone. I’ll probably want ext messaging and email as well. Most everything else is desirable, but not really needed either. I’m on a budget here, so I don’t want to pay extra for a whole buch of features I’m not going to use…

I’m not sure which provider I’m going to go with either, but I’ll have to see what my options are. My employer had a deal with AT&T Wireless, so that is what I have now, but AT&T is now Cingular, so I’m not sure if that relationship still exists (or if we switched to something else). I would prefer a CDMA based phone, but several friends have had bad experiences with Sprint and Verizon is a little too expensive for me, especially if I can get a good deal with Cingular (which uses GSM).

In looking at the phones available for Cingular, I’m not especially fond of any available options. The closest thing to what I want is the Sony Ericsson T237 or the Nokia 3120. Both are pretty low end models, but it seems like the big differences in the next steps up are the extraneous features I don’t really need (like the camera, Bluetooth, etc…) As of right now, I’m leaning towards the Sony Ericsson T237 (or the Sony Ericsson T637, which is nicer, but is also more expensive and has lots of features I don’t especially need). It’s nice and small, it apparently has a fantastic battery life, and decent call quality. Most reviews I’ve seen give it reasonable marks and recommend it as a good no-frills phone. Some user reviews give it pretty bad marks though, which is why I’m considering the T637 (despite it’s extra features).

Of course, I’ll need to look at these things in the store before I really make my decision, but any advice on cell-phone buying would be much appreciated. I haven’t really looked into Verizon phones yet, but I’m going to give it consideration…

Update: In researching and thinking about this a little more, I think some of the more feature-rich phones might be worth considering, despite my initial distaste. So for now, the front-runner is the T637. We shall see. Suggestions or advice still welcome…

4 thoughts on “Cell Phone”

  1. My cellphone is my primary phone as well (although I could use my boyfriend’s if I had to, and it used to be that way, which sucked). I am on my boyfriend’s parents’ family plan with Verizon. Because I’m on their plan, I didn’t and don’t make the decisions in reference to money, so I can’t really say how Verizon financially compares to other companies. There definitely was a time when Verizon was far better than Cingular, but from what I hear from other people, Cingular has got its act together.

    Every once in a while Verizon will send me an advertisement in the form of a text message. I don’t really consider it a hassle, and I don’t know if I could have that stopped if I had control of the plan.

    I use a Motorola 120e phone ( http://commerce.motorola.com/cgi-bin/ncommerce3/ProductDisplay?prrfnbr=249130&prmenbr=126&phone_cgrfnbr=1&zipcode= ). This phone is probably considered outdated by now. I don’t get reception in certain places, but then I doubt many phones would (such as in a laboratory basement). But I absolutely hate the setup of the menus, so unless Motorola has made some big changes in the past 4 years, then I don’t recommend them just for this reason. For instance, I can’t list several numbers under one name entry. I have to have the same person’s name listed several times with the different numbers (my sister is #5 and #6, one for home and one for work). I won’t go into all of the reasons why I don’t like it, but I’ve talked to other Motorola phone owners in the past who feel the same way. My particular phone is often uncomfortable to hold to my ear for a long period of time, but that’s because it’s not flat. It’s slight curves so that the top part sticks out more, along with the big Menu button that irritates my ear. Sometimes I accidently end phone calls when my ear presses on the End button.

    I definitely recommend Kyocera. That’s the phone my boyfriend uses (2235, http://www.kyocera-wireless.com/2200-phone/ ). The navigation is a 1,000 times better, it’s comfortable, has much better reception actually. His battery’s life is pretty standard I think. The blue backlight isn’t as bright as mine, but it’s still good (and blue is better than green I think). The 2235 at least is great and simple.

    I was thinking of getting a new phone too, but probably after I’m on my own plan. I don’t use any special features or play games on my phone. But I think I may want to get a camera phone because I always find myself in want of a camera when I see interesting things. I also am thinking about a flip-phone, but only because they’re small and flat on the front. No more of this curved-jabbing-me-in-the-ear stuff. What I really don’t like about newer phones are the colorful animated screens. I just want black text and minimal pictures/symbols. It seems like no one has simple screens though now.

    Good luck. Let us know what you choose because it sounds like we have very similar tastes in cellphones.

  2. Hmm, well it seems like Cingular doesn’t use Kyocera phones at all. I thought they did.

    Does it matter though? Can one not use any phone they want?

  3. Unfortunately, it does matter, because Verizon/Sprint and Cingular use different RF technologies (CDMA and GSM respectively). You should be able to switch between Verizon and Sprint without changing phones (though I’m not positive about that), but you can’t access Cingular or T-Mobile networks with a CDMA phone. Aren’t free markets fun? At some point, we’ll get a more universal standard (I think all the big GSM companies are switching to CDMA in the future, but I could be wrong) and then things will be much easier:P

    See this link for more on GSM & CDMA (it’s written by someone who worked on CDMA, so take it with a grain of salt.)


    I know, it’s not a tremendously interesting subject, but that entry is well written (though long)…

    Yeah, so anyway I’m not sure what I’m going to get at all now. From my research, I like the Sony Ericsson line, but I checked with a friend at work today and heard some troubling things.

    And last night, I was almost sold on a higher end model, but am now considering just the base model again. Who knows. I’ll probably get sweet-talked into something by the slimy salesman wherever I go:P

    I could theoretically get on my parents’ Verizon plan, which would be cheap, but I’m not sure I want to go that way (plus, Verizon’s phones seem to be mostly flip phones).

    And I don’t think we’ll be able to get simple monochrome screens anymore. That doesn’t especially bother me though:P

  4. You seem set on not getting a flip phone but I have one and from what I’ve seen, flip phones tend to be hardier than the, um, non-flip phones (whatever they’re called). But I also prefer flip phones to the non-flip phone variety in the first place.

    I have a Samsung SPH-A620 (or VGA 1000, it seems to go by both model numbers), which is apparently one of the heavier phones out there, but it’s never really bothered me and I carry it around in my pocket. It uses CDMA (I have Sprint and would give you details on the plan but it’s a plan I share with other family members so it’s probably irrelevent to you) and has some bells and whistles (text messaging, email, still camera, Internet access–yes, I once looked something up online while driving). I use the ring tone that sounds like a phone because the others make me kill kill KILL and once in a while play Tetris but there’s other ring tones and games that are downloadable if you want more.

    I think it has a pretty good battery life. I don’t have exact figures for you but I know it’s lasted longer than I thought it would considering how often I’ve used the camera and text messaging at times. The camera is good quality considering it’s a phone – here’s a good example: http://www.unevensurface.com/imagery/16-edge.jpg

    In my area, Sprint and Cingular both have really good coverage. Don’t know about your neck of the woods though.

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