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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,854

    Smartphones -- locked or unlocked?

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    I'm about to replace my old smartphone with a new one. I know which one I want to get. It's available from my carrier (Verizon) and also available unlocked. Which is the better option? Does anyone have an unlocked phone?

    If I get it from Verizon I will pay $17 per month for 24 months, total cost $408. Unlocked would cost $41 more, and I'd pay it all upfront. For the higher cost I'd get a phone that's free of all the useless apps that Verizon installs with no option to uninstall them. And I'd have the option to switch carriers.

    I don't plan to switch carriers now, but I tend to keep electronics for as long as possible. My current phone is 4.5 years old. The laptop I use for work is so old it runs on Vista. And as the cost of living goes up while at the same time I don't get any salary increases at work, it's quite possible I will consider shopping around for a less expensive plan at some point.

    So is it worth the extra up front cost for the unlocked phone? And are there downsides to an unlocked phone?

    Thanks very much for any advice!

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    4,556
    I don't have specific Android advice, but we did just purchase unlocked iPhones. It's worth researching which antennas are included with the phone you want to buy. For example, with the iPhone 7, if you buy an AT&T phone, you won't have the antennas in your phone to switch to Verizon. The unlocked phone (and the Verizon phone) happen to have all antennas. Don't know if that is true for all phone models. We also managed to avoid an activation fee that Verizon wanted to charge us, and I'm not sure what else (I think there was another fee - but DH did the research). Other than the antenna issue, it depends on how much the apps annoy you. Thankfully, that doesn't really happen on iOS. I can't think of a downside to an unlocked phone (other than the cost). Does Verizon automatically *stop* charging you after 2 years, or do you have to remember to tell them? DH got different answers on that.
    Most days in life don't stand out, But life's about those days that will...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,854
    Excellent question about the monthly charge. I went to their website to look for the fine print. Lo and behold they appear to be offering holiday deals right now and it says the phone I want is free. Okay then. I logged in and started to check out but the "free" part disappeared, it said the cost was $17 per month. I started to poke around looking for more information, like when the deal expires, so I can call during business hours to ask if it's free or not. Can't find any details. Somehow manage to put a second phone in the shopping cart. This one is free AND has another deal of 50% off accessories. So if I replace an old phone there's no deal but if I "add a device" it's free? Poke around more, still can't find any details.

    So now I'm angry. I used to work in direct marketing before e-commerce existed. These idiots are violating rule #1: give the potential customer all the information needed to make a decision. And they are wasting my time making me try to figure out how much the damn phone will cost.

    It's now highly likely that I will be getting an unlocked phone.

    Re: the antennas, I think the situation with the iphones make sense. If you buy from a carrier, they would figure you wouldn't need a phone that's capable if working on other networks. But if I get the unlocked phone I will ask before I buy (I'd be getting it at Micro-Center, most likely, and they have good tech support.)

    Thanks!

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Utah
    Posts
    548
    I don't know if you ever travel abroad, but it's really nice to have an unlocked phone so you can buy a local SIM card, which is generally much cheaper than buying an international rate plan for your trip.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Posts
    2
    If you want an unlocked phone buy direct from Apple no carrier -


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,854
    Just to follow up -- I know that when the phone I wanted came out on the market last fall, I read that the unlocked version worked on all major carriers including Verizon. However when I looked again last month, that was no longer the case. So either something changed with the unlocked version or the reviews I read last fall were not accurate. I did prefer the unlocked phone, mostly so I wouldn't have to deal with the apps that Verizon pre-installs and that you can't uninstall. When the phone is new they don't make a difference, but when it gets old and starts to slow down -- and I do keep phones until they're old and slow -- those apps add to the slowness by running cached processes for no reason. I also liked the idea of being able to switch carriers if that becomes financially desirable down the road.

    As for the afore-mentioned holiday promotions and the actual purchase and setup of the phone, it can best be summed up as all's well that end's well. I dealt with numerous Verizon employees, through the website chat, by phone and in a corporate-owned store. They were all excellent, very helpful, way more helpful than I have grown to expect from a utility. I also visited two "authorized retail" stores which were the opposite of helpful. I understand that people have to make a living, and maybe they're all not all bad, but the ones I dealt with overcharged, plain and simple, and did not have good service. At one of them, they expected me to sign the purchase agreement without knowing how much they were going to (over)charge me.

    Ultimately Verizon gave me a sizeable promotional discount when I told them I was unhappy that I've been their customer for nearly 20 years yet I didn't qualify for any of the many discounts they were offering. They also waived the activation fee when I told them about about the frustrating experience trying to buy from one of the authorized retailers. I did have trouble trying to follow the instructions on their website for transferring information from the old phone to the new one. I ended up going to a corporate store for help with that.

    The whole experience makes me more likely to stay with Verizon. And overall I like the new phone quite a bit. It's a Motorola, as was the last one. It's not the most popular or best-reviewed phone on the market, but it's very good and the battery life is fantastic.

    p.s. I knew I'd have to buy a new case for the new phone, but ended up also needing a new car charger with a usb-c plug. And now I need a new purse! Even though my phone is nowhere near the largest one available, it is too big for the phone pocket inside all my old purses. I didn't even try to fit it in the top tube bag on my bike -- it will live in the handlebar bag instead. I will have to find a larger zip-top bag to protect it when rain is in the forecast.
    Last edited by ny biker; 01-08-2017 at 08:59 AM.

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

 

 

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