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Old 09-25-2012, 11:11 PM   #1
QueenElinor
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Yikes!? Are smart phone plans REALLY this expensive?

We are a family of five (two parents, two in college, one middle-school age) and the four adults have cell phones. I casually promised my kids and DH that I'd sign us up for some iphones when our contract with Verizon came up- but was totally shocked by the cost- $230-$240 a month!

I'm sorry, but I just can't see spending $3000 a year on cell phone service. Now I kind of feel like a heel about going back on my word, but I had no idea. None of us really need these things- my husband is a doctor (I can't even get him on the line most of the time!) and I'm newly retired. And, of course, the youngest child will need a cell phone in about a year when he starts to drive.

Are we behind the times? Are we going to stunt our children's growth and impede their social well-being if we don't jump on the smartphone bandwagon? Does everyone have one of these things?
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Old 09-25-2012, 11:32 PM   #2
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I'm looking for some feedback here, too. Since you are looking at upgrading, I was hoping you had some 'new deal'. We have Verizon, and that is the kind of bill I am looking at every month. I cringe every month as it comes out of my checking account. Have 5 phones on the plan, 3 of them iPhone or Droids. Hate paying this. But, do I wish to give up my 'smart' phone?? Nope. I thought I was seeing a new ad from Verizon with a group plan for smart phones....anyone out there get it, and how much is it costing you? And what are your limitations? TIA
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Old 09-25-2012, 11:47 PM   #3
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They are. :/

My mom and I share our service; $110 for the main line + 19.99 for the second + 10/each for premium data = $149.99 plus taxes & fees.

Pretty expensive but not too bad for 2 iPhones with unlimited data, which we do use a lot of. She uses her phone for work a lot, too, emailing patients back and such. For us they're worth it as we use them for so much more than calling and texting, but its not something everyone needs.
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Old 09-25-2012, 11:55 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by janiejake View Post
I'm looking for some feedback here, too. Since you are looking at upgrading, I was hoping you had some 'new deal'. We have Verizon, and that is the kind of bill I am looking at every month. I cringe every month as it comes out of my checking account. Have 5 phones on the plan, 3 of them iPhone or Droids. Hate paying this. But, do I wish to give up my 'smart' phone?? Nope. I thought I was seeing a new ad from Verizon with a group plan for smart phones....anyone out there get it, and how much is it costing you? And what are your limitations? TIA
That group plan (family share plan) is the one I'm looking at for $240, with below-average data usage. For most people it would be closer to $260

I've got their old plan, it's $145 for four regular phones. If I tried to get that very same plan now, it would be at least $170. I feel like staying on the old plan it until they kick me off!
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Old 09-25-2012, 11:58 PM   #5
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You might look into AT&T's new "Mobile Share Plan". It is specifically designed for people with multiple phones using data.

Just a thought...
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Old 09-26-2012, 12:01 AM   #6
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Search around ... there was another thread on this not long ago -- if I can find it, I may post the link. I have the same issue (plus I haven't decided what the benefit is to having a whole lot of info on a little tiny screen.) Right now we're paying around $80 for both our phones - and I can browse the web on my "not smart" phone, and text. Scared to change plans!

Ah here it is ... I read the whole thing and decided to put it off for longer. But there were some good ideas -- especially along the lines of ditching the whole contract-based method.

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2976179
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Old 09-26-2012, 12:06 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by papamouse1 View Post
You might look into AT&T's new "Mobile Share Plan". It is specifically designed for people with multiple phones using data.

Just a thought...
It's about the same- maybe a $10 more expensive per month.

The only real savings is Sprint, but of course, we don't get Sprint. You know how they say that they cover 98% of America? They mean 98% of PEOPLE, not 98% of the actual ACREAGE. If you are part of the 2% that live in the boonies, you're out of luck.
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Old 09-26-2012, 12:15 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wishing4PA View Post
Search around ... there was another thread on this not long ago -- if I can find it, I may post the link. I have the same issue (plus I haven't decided what the benefit is to having a whole lot of info on a little tiny screen.) Right now we're paying around $80 for both our phones - and I can browse the web on mine and text. Scared to change plans!

Ah here it is ... I read the whole thing and decided to put it off for longer. But there were some good ideas -- especially along the lines of ditching the whole contract-based method.

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2976179
Thank you!
I will definitely research the prepaid idea, I think that may be the way to go. The contract is why they practically give away iphones, of course. They've got you on the hook for thousands of dollars a year!

The problem is that we don't get any of those budget carriers up here, and no internet-based phone service at all.

Also thinking of splitting putting us all on a Sprint plan in my son's name as he and my daughter live in civilized places where you can get Sprint. However, in the tiny print they threaten to cut off your service if there is too much roaming, which is what DH and I would be doing. Has anyone ever had this happen to them?

What I really would like to know is how necessary is it for a couple of college students to have smartphones?
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Last edited by QueenElinor; 09-26-2012 at 12:22 AM.
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Old 09-26-2012, 12:59 AM   #9
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For the way these kids use their smart phones I would say it won't kill them especially if they've never had a smart phone before. If they previously had them it would be a deal breaker. We just left Verizon for tmobile (Walmart family) and I have an iPhone. We pay about $80 before taxes which is comparable to what Verizon was charging us for non smart phones at 500 minutes shared and like 250 texts each. Pretty ridiculous. We both purchased unlocked phones and get unlimited talk, text, and data. I do have to say that where we primarily use our phones reception is excellent. On the occasion that we go to the mountains we don't get very good coverage. The OH has a Verizon work phone so we use it when needed. 97% of the time we have no issues. I just couldn't fathom paying like $150 for the bare minimum. In your case it doesn't sound like what we do would work but maybe your two in the city could benefit and you could split up on two different carriers. Good luck.
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Old 09-26-2012, 01:10 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QueenElinor View Post
What I really would like to know is how necessary is it for a couple of college students to have smartphones?
My sister is a freshman and I think she could get by without her iPhone, for her it's very handy. At her school, her dorm key is a card, so it's also attached to her bank acct and her meal plan/extra bucks. She can easily view her bank balance on the go with her phone. She also FaceTimes her friends from HS who're scattered across the country now, as well as the family.

Aside from that, I'm not sure what she considers indispensable about her phone, lol. The ^above could also be accomplished from a computer, but she tends to turn her phone off when she turns on her laptop so she can focus on homework...so maybe that's it, she tries to keep her phone social and the computer for school?

So I guess you have to talk it over with your kids and assess their needs.
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Old 09-26-2012, 05:01 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QueenElinor View Post
It's about the same- maybe a $10 more expensive per month.

The only real savings is Sprint, but of course, we don't get Sprint. You know how they say that they cover 98% of America? They mean 98% of PEOPLE, not 98% of the actual ACREAGE. If you are part of the 2% that live in the boonies, you're out of luck.
I think it must be 98% of people in 98% of America because we don't live in the boonies and our Sprint service was AWFUL. We dropped them about a year early on our contract because we just couldn't justify paying each month for service we couldn't even use.
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Old 09-26-2012, 05:02 AM   #12
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I avoided the smartphone bandwagon until we moved across the globe. I just didn't need it. But being in a new place I used it constantly. It has GPS, I could work out transit schedules and routes but perhaps most important for me was that it made me feel connected to home. I text with my loved ones every day and use Skype calling and Facetime regularly. That connection alone made it worth while for me. But to answer your question, no, I don't think anyone really needs one, it's just a nice luxury.
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Old 09-26-2012, 05:05 AM   #13
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For the way these kids use their smart phones I would say it won't kill them especially if they've never had a smart phone before. If they previously had them it would be a deal breaker.
Ditto. And the same applies for adults. I couldn't live without my SmartPhone now but I sometimes wish we had kept our $25/once every 3 month Tracfones. They served the purpose of why I feel I need a phone in the first place - for emergencies. I don't NEED email, Facebook, games, etc. but now that I have gotten used to them I will admit I couldn't go back.

We will drag our kids kicking and screaming through school without SmartPhones as long as we can. As long as they make 'old fashioned' cell phones that is what they will have.
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Old 09-26-2012, 07:05 AM   #14
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I can't think of any convenience big enough and important enough to pay a car payment amount for cell phones. Sure it would be cool to be able to look something up while at the store (recently wanted to look up something for the car while in the automotive section of Walmart) but it certainly isn't worth that kind of money just for the occasional convenience.

That is why we have AT&T GoPhones. We don't use them to talk because a - the sound quality on any cell phone isn't close to a regular phone, b - the reception isn't anywhere close to a regular phone judging on the amount of people who I talk to while they are on a cell and breaking up, c - We simply just don't need to be gabbing on phones. My wife talks to her mother constantly, but that is when she is home. When driving, we are both driving and do not gab on the phone. When we are out we are doing what we are out for and not gabbing on the phone. When we are eating dinner, we are eating dinner and not gabbing on the phone, etc.

We got cheap cell phones so we can keep in touch with each other when at work. We work different times and rarely even see each other. We first had Tracfones and upgraded last Christmas to the GoPhone with Android phones. We only communicate with texts as there is nothing we need to be gabbing on the phone for except for emergencies.

We pay $5/month for each phone for texts. On the rare occasion we talk, which is maybe 3 times a year, we pay $0.10 per minute. We don't have data, as I said, it isn't worth $200+ per month for the occasional "what kind of filter does the car need" data search while at the parts store. We use the phones at home on WIFI for general time wasting surfing that we normally would use the computer for. The phone wouldn't come close to replacing the computer though, I'm a photographer and play around with photos, I play the guitar and play around with guitar stuff on the computer, I play around with various simulation "games" and can only do that on the computer. I fly RC and use a simulator in the winter when I can't fly outside. I work our budget in Excel and pay the bills which would be a PITA on a tiny phone screen. So, the internet usage on the phones is just time waste while watching TV in the evenings.

My daughter wants a phone for her 12th birthday. For $15/month, we will have 3 Android phones being used for texting. I looked up Verizon and AT&T (only 2 that gets decent service, though still not perfect) and it would be over $200 for 3 phones. That's a pretty large difference at $185 just to be able to get quick communication while apart from each other. Our yearly cost for 3 cell phones is just a hair more than what everyone else pays per month.

Every time smart phone discussions come up, people jump in to justify with the "I need it for work". That has no bearing in any of these discussions as that is a business expense and not a personal household budget expense. Aside from those trying to justify it through the "I need it for work" excuse, I just can't see how everyone justifies the need to be on the internet while out and about. Why do people have to be banking constantly? That is one excuse I see a lot of for justification of expensive cell phone service. What other things do you folks do that is a "necessity" that you all justify the expense?

Don't get me wrong here, folks want smart phones and if you can afford the want, that's great. I just see so many people justifying it as more than a want and I can't figure out why you need to do all that stuff while you are away from home.
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Old 09-26-2012, 08:04 AM   #15
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Yup smart phones aren't cheap. My DH and I both have iPhones with Verizon and our monthly bill is $145 per month - BUT my DH's work reimburses him for the data plan, so technically our plan is $115 a month. It is most definitely a want and not a need - BUT it has certainly come in handy in more than one occasion. Could I go back to a "dumb" phone if I needed to, sure, but for now I love my iPhone.

With that said, when the time comes for DD11 to get a phone (which she desperately wants but isn't getting just yet) we'll just add a "dumb" phone to our plan for $10 a month.
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