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Old 24-02-2010, 08:44 AM
slitchfield slitchfield is offline
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Ways of buying a smartphone - clarified American thinking

There's an interesting editorial by Chris Ziegler over on Engadget today, pointing out to its USA readership that the current carrier pricing strategy really doesn't make sense anymore, with European carriers showing the way, pricing all phones at free on contract, with just the monthly amount changing. Nice insight for Americans, though it's a pity there's no mention of the even more radical way of buying smartphones - SIM-free. A few more thoughts below.

Read on in the full article.

Old 24-02-2010, 08:53 AM
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ummmm that's probably because half the cellphones in the states don't use SIM cards maybe?

Old 24-02-2010, 09:44 AM
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That has been done in the US for a while.
T-Mobile USA has something called 'Even more plus'
and 'FlexPay' that allows it.
I'm currently using an $529 Nexus One with my "Grandfathered" $5.99 unlimited data.

Old 24-02-2010, 09:45 AM
slitchfield slitchfield is offline
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>>ummmm that's probably because half the cellphones in the states don't use SIM cards maybe?

They don't? I knew they had a couple of different standards, but no SIMs at all? This is Verizon and Sprint?

Like stepping back into the stone age.... [mutter]

Still, my point stands. At&T and T-Mobile do use SIMs, I believe, along with GSM/3G? Buying SIM-free would still work for these?
Steve Litchfield, Admin, AAS

Old 24-02-2010, 10:03 AM
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I agree

But just like Steve says, American consumers should also try to take that last step and just start buying unlocked phones.

There are also some US phone manufacturers that still can't take a hint in this matter it seems:

Old 24-02-2010, 10:24 AM
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The PAYG/Sim-free approach only really works if you are a light user or want the freedom to switch networks.

I've been on a 20 per month SIM-only deal for a while, buying phones SIM-free, but I'm about to switch to a full contract - I can still pay the 20 per month I am now and get everything I need, but will also get a couple of hundred pounds knocked off the price of a new device.

There's nothing to stop me from switching to a SIM-free device mid-contract if I fancy a change, and can sell the contract phone to subsidise that.

I agree that it is worth looking at all options though. It amazes me how many people just accept whatever they are offered - I suspect most (non-business) users are probably one tariff higher than they need be.

Old 24-02-2010, 10:46 AM
twinpeaked twinpeaked is offline
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Feel free to cut me down if you think I'm totally deluded, but I would like to explain how I perceive the value of contracts in the uk

My personal situation is as follows, been on contract the last five years, essentially buying the phone in the monthly price of the contract. Gotten sick of this, feeling very locked down with my contract with the final six months of your common or garden 18 month plan, as technology progresses (the smartphone space for me it getting crazy, looking like yearly upgrades for the next couple of years), not to mention the fear of loss or damage within that contract period.

I've recently toyed with the idea of sim free + sim only contract to seperate the cost of phone and calls (PAYG not an option because I have an awesome and memorable number that I don't want to lose) . But an impending showdown with orange retentions in the next few months has made me take stock of what I would like to walk away with from that particular conversation, and how much I'm willing to pay per month purely for my package.

As someone who's phone is my primary means of communication, a package that offers flexibility and completeness is quite valuable. I may not make a lot of calls on average but require the minutes if for example one month, I'm required to make many, especially to mobiles. I also need unlimited data. I value this between 20-25

It occurred to me that if I was guaranteed to be happy to continuing spending this amount of money, that the contract length was essentially invisible, especially if I wasn't relying on the phone to be provided. A 24 month contract that the user is willing to commit to is a powerful bargaining tool in acquiring a handset that is truly free. Like I said new handset, every 12 months sim free. But if I can get the phone that I would have to for free for what I would pay for calls with the only cost being commitment... I've saved 400

Kind of psychological, i know. But it's the way I see it

Old 24-02-2010, 11:02 AM
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You can go PAYG and keep your number, it's the same PAC code system. I've done it.

My phone usage does not suit contract at all. I personally never liked a 12 month tie-in and once 18 months became normal that was the end of it for me.

I was concerned about data when I went PAYG, but as it turns out even my constant data use, notifications and push email barely scratch the surface of my unlimited capped data allowance on PAYG.

So my solution, allow the comfort zoners to pay for my phone with their contracts, then I collect it from Ebay later (iPhone 3G perfect condition, boxed with all accessories on Ebay 150) and pay a tenner a month for all the use I want.

My 5800 came brand new from Carphone warehouse via a trade-in, paid 50 cash, unlocked. I use this on an ASDA sim, 8p calls, 4p texts + all the WiFi I can eat free from most places I can use it.

I believe a majority of people who have taken a phone on contract barely touch their allowances. Most would do better on PAYG.

Old 24-02-2010, 11:14 AM
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Buying smartphones sim-free is definitely not radical. That's what my country (Malaysia) has been practicing all the while. I guess the iPhone is the first smartphone to start a full-fledge contract concept here.

Old 24-02-2010, 11:33 AM
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Car and fuel

I dont buy my car and fuel from the same dealer, either.

Old 24-02-2010, 11:44 AM
sapporobaby sapporobaby is offline
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Steve is correct. You can buy a Pay-N-Go card from AT&T and T-Mobile in the US. I do it often when I travel however, the iPhone will not allow a data connection as it is tied to a contract. AT&T purposely disables on PNG SIM cards when used in an iPhone. I simply went around them and used my N86 will JoikuSpot and my iPhone thought that it was connected to wifi all of the time. I was Skype'g, and Fring'g all the while without AT&T even knowing.

Their model is terribly screwed up.

Old 24-02-2010, 12:06 PM
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perspective from Canada

Similar model to the US in Canada. However the prepaid option can't work here. No smatphone data plans available and really expansive minutes.

To force contracts, carriers offer the best monthly plan and throw free options only for contracts. You can be on a per-month plan but you pay more than someone with a plan. Another horrible thing is that you have to take a 3-year contract to have a decent subsidy and have the plan "bonuses" . A 1 or 2 year plan only saves you around 50 to 100$ of the full phone price.

Old 24-02-2010, 12:06 PM
kedoin kedoin is offline
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Where to find SIMs in the US?

As someone living in the US and trying to buy my phones unlocked I have to say it's still quite difficult. As someone posted, we have Verizon and Sprint which use CDMA, so those phones don't use SIM's at all.

So an unlocked phone only lets you move your phone between T-Mobile and at&t. But because those carriers use different frequencies for 3G data, any device will have 3G on only one of those networks and have to be EDGE-only on the other.

I've bought a few unlocked phones and use them with my old T-Mobile SIM which was purchased on contract. However, I have no idea how to purchase just a SIM for at&t. I remember being in Canada a few years ago and seeing SIM cards on a rack for sale in a convenience store. I've never seen such a display here in the US. Here, even for pay-as-you-go services, you usually have to buy a phone with the card inside. I'd love for someone to tell me I'm wrong about this, though!

Old 24-02-2010, 12:09 PM
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I think the most revolutionary thing in phone buying recently, is what o2 Germany is doing.
You buy an unlocked phone from them, paid monthly with quite nice interest (or even no interest). And than you pick a plan, which you can cancel anytime and which is independent from the phone.
That's the most flexible and transparent carrier model I have seen to date.

Old 24-02-2010, 12:29 PM
UKJeeper UKJeeper is offline
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seem to remember hearing on recent tcpj or engadget mobile podcast that the US gsm carriers are getting wise to the unlocked route and will be charging an extra tariff for the 'privilige' of using a sim free phone.

they're also requiring data tariff's on all smart and several feature phones, whether you actually use data or not.

North American cell carriers are the oil barons of the modern US (and Canada) continent. They were god awful when i dealt with them for business 8 years ago, and they're even worse now.

I'm hoping that the newcomer to Canada, Wind, makes a go of it. But i can see the established companies like Rogers, Telus, etc trying to kill the competition.


american, buying, clarified, smartphone, thinking, ways

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