plonkee money

April 29, 2010

Buying a smartphone

Filed under: shopping — plonkee @ 10:03 pm

I’ve just agreed to acquire a new mobile phone.

I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a smartphone for a while, and tossing up whether to get an iPhone, or an android-based phone. I’m currently with T-Mobile, but I would prefer to be with Orange (I’ve irrationally loved Orange since before I owned a mobile phone, and even bought shares in them at one point).

The phone must also be a light saber

My needs for the phone:

  • makes calls
  • sends and receives text messages
  • stores contact details
  • alarm clock
  • operates as mp3 player / ipod replacement (lost the last one)
  • access to internet including gmail, twitter, facebook
  • decent mapping and ‘where’s nearest’
  • works in the USA
  • light saber app
  • shake app
  • prettiness

I don’t currently have an account with iTunes and have never owned an Apple product.

The phone must be free and the calls cheap

My needs for the deal are:

  • 50+ texts (I’m not a big texter)
  • 150+ minutes (the more the better)
  • unlimited internet use
  • £30 or less per month
  • free phone

Basically, I know what I want and how much I’m prepared to pay for it, and I just want the best-est, shiniest phone for the price. I’m also likely to be comfortable spending this amount per month for the next few years. I think I’ve been paying around £25-£30 a month for about the last 7 years already.

shopping around

I had a scout round the deals at Carphone Warehouse and Orange online. I also read as many reviews as I could. I found it difficult at first to work out which was likely to be the best Android phone, but the iPhone was easy to narrow down.

Basically, to get an iPhone 3GS, I need to either spend £45 a month, or spend £125 on the phone. Neither is acceptable, so I’m only looking at the iPhone 3G 8Mb. The best deal with a free phone happened to be Orange. It has:

  • 250 texts Anytime Any network
  • Unlimited Internet Anytime Any network
  • 150 minutes Anytime Same network

This is barely acceptable. And the reviews of the 3G phone seem to say that it’s slow because its an older version. But still, it’s pretty and shiny. In fact, it’s the prettiest and shiniest phone on the market.

For an Android phone, I considered:

  • HTC Hero
  • HTC Tattoo
  • Motorola Milestone
  • HTC Desire

This list was based on the reviews I found on the internet, and the phones that were available on Orange. All are available free, with unlimited text messages, unlimited internet and 400+ minutes for £30 a month. But I wanted to see what the phones are like in real life. And I was open to seeing any other phones.

When I hit the shops, I saw a couple of actual iPhones and decided that they are beautiful and the interface is straightforward. I also dismissed all the sliding keyboard models. Too clunky, too ugly and the keyboards were difficult to type on. I also decided that of the 3 HTC models, the Desire was the best. But none of the Android phones had actual demo models to play on.

I was collared by a sales assistant in one of the shops, which was a mixed blessing. I was subject to a hard sell. He tried to sell me a ‘deal’ of £35 or £45 a month, even though I explained that I don’t use that many minutes or texts a month. But he was friendly and I watched him demonstrate the HTC Desire. I didn’t get to play with it myself, but it looked nearly as intuitive to use as the iPhone.

In the end, I decided that the package on offer with the iPhone 3G wasn’t nearly as good as with the Desire. The Desire is second best to the iPhone in looks, but I could see myself running out of minutes with the iPhone sometimes. And I’d need to keep the older slower 3G phone for 2 years at least.

So, I went home to phone T-Mobile to get my PAC and switch to the HTC Desire on Orange. But, I was sweet-talked into staying with T-Mobile. With a 900 minute, 500 text messages, unlimited internet and 60 minutes of international calls package for £30 a month. I felt a bit uncomfortable about having been talked into staying. But thinking about it rationally, I’m getting exactly what I want, a better package. It’s a win-win for T-Mobile and me. Maybe I’ll switch to Orange next time.

I’m picking up my new phone tomorrow. Can’t wait.

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