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View Full Version : Time to replace my flip phone



Thomas L Carpenter
11-13-2017, 8:32 AM
I've never had a smart phone! I must be a neander at heart but it's time to keep up with technology. I noticed that amazon had an "unlocked" version of an LG smart phone for about $150. What does unlocked refer to and is that a decent deal for someone to start smart phoning?

Malcolm McLeod
11-13-2017, 9:23 AM
... it's time to keep up with technology.

You don't indicate your level of familiarity with smart phones, but you can conduct 95% of your life thru a phone now - calls, text, email, web-browsing, shopping, banking, POS payments, etc. I booked an entire weeks biz travel in less than 5 minutes - flight/hotel/rental car - all thru my phone. It can be VERY handy. Or, very confusing. My suggestion would be to start at your current provider's local retail outlet and try several.

First , look at the display. Its it big enough (i.e. matches your visual capability)? Can the screen be customized to suit you? Is making and receiving a call intuitive? Dialing? Answering? Put the call on speaker? It it loud enough? Video call? (if that's what you want)

And then come the apps. And apps! And more apps!! Decide what you want to do with the phone. Will it handle your choices?

And GET A BULLET-PROOF CASE!! Its cheap insurance (just ask my sons.) If you drop a bundle on a new phone, and then drop the phone, you'll spend the next 24 months guessing what the $#@@ you're looking at.

My dad (90y.o.) struggles with his smart phone. Hearing is an issue to some extent, but biggest hurdle he has is with the touch screen. 'Tap' vs. 'Touch/Hold' vs. 'Swipe' has him frustrated at times. If you test drive them, you'll at least know what you're in for. Then start shopping for a bargain.

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Adder: If immediate family or nearby close friends have a particular make/model of phone, you might give serious consideration to matching it...??? They can be the best source of 'tech support' available. My father had Android OS for his first, but everybody else close to him has Apple - so we struggled trying to help him navigate to various settings (that he invariably turned off accidentally). We got him to switch to Apple and now it is a simple matter to remotely talk him thru a 'reset' when needed.

Hope this helps!

Jim Becker
11-13-2017, 9:35 AM
"Unlocked" means that it can work on most carriers' networks by just using their SIM card (The SIM card is a tiny thing that provides your phone with it's identity to the wireless networks) Buying an unlocked phone is a good idea because it give you great flexibility to move between carriers for cost control and even use pre-paid services if your usage is low.

Please don't buy a smartphone purely on price...you may regret that as it may mean slower performance or getting a unit with an older, slower, more security vulnerable version of the phone's operating system. For this, I'm speaking about Android which is the predominate operating system for smartphones that are not Apple's iPhone with iOS. You need to consider durability, too. I absolutely agree with Malcolm about going out to various places that sell phones and trying them out in your hand, even if you ultimately buy online. Also consider that in the Android world, pretty much every manufacturer customizes the user interface so each one may actually look different than the next one, unlike in the Apple iOS world. Only Google, for the most part, offers a "pure" Android distribution with their new Pixel 2 device.

Personally, I use Apple's system and prefer it over Android. But that's me and it's a "religious" thing for most folks. LOL :D

Matt Day
11-13-2017, 9:48 AM
Malcolm gives some very good advice. Especially the part about getting the type of phone your family and friends use. My parents who are in their 70ís started out with Androids about 5 years ago and it was a disaster. They arenít tech savvy but they tried hard at it and still had repeated issues with simple things. And I couldnít help them since I wasnít familiar with how Androids are laid out. Once they switched to iPhones it was much smoother and if they had a question it was a simple text or phone call to walk them through it. Also, itís easy to Facetime with them and they can see their grandkids a lot more - much better than dealing with Skype or another service.


That all being said, and iPhone will cost more.

Robert Engel
11-13-2017, 9:56 AM
I wish someone would make a phone for calling, texting and gps and that's all.....

Julie Moriarty
11-13-2017, 10:18 AM
I've never had a good relationship with phones. Back in the late 80's (pre-cellphone days) the phone switching station was gutted by fire and we were without phone service for 5 weeks. I loved it. But now that land lines are a thing of the past...

If you can surf the Internet for hours, smartphones can steal your life and turn you into a zombie. They are mini computers with 24/7 Internet connection. And everything you do through your smartphone is unsecure unless you use encryption. We're in the Big Brother era now.

Also, when you sign up with a carrier, check what happens when you go over allotted texts or data usage. You can be in for a big shock if you go over your limits.

Good luck entering the smartphone world, Thomas. Just don't let it insert itself in between all your human contacts. :rolleyes:

Lee DeRaud
11-13-2017, 11:45 AM
Random data point: I finally got a smart phone last year. The "killer app" that drove me to it (no pun intended) was that my new Honda has no nav system, but it has a touchscreen and Android Auto built-in. So the phone handles the GPS side of the nav equation (with some assist from cell-tower triangulation) and displays Google Maps on the car's display.

I went with Consumer Cellular (AKA "BoomerCom") at their lowest talk/data tier, currently $21/month all in with AARP discount...they transferred my old number from Sprint painlessly. Hardware was a Samsung J3 for $125, cheapest phone they had with the version of Android required to talk to the car.

Lee DeRaud
11-13-2017, 12:01 PM
You don't indicate your level of familiarity with smart phones, but you can conduct 95% of your life thru a phone now - calls, text, email, web-browsing, shopping, banking, POS payments, etc. ..It can be VERY handy. Or, very confusing.One key thing to remember is that, while you can treat the phone as a "computerized life partner", you don't have to.

Stan Calow
11-13-2017, 1:23 PM
make sure the carrier you use will support the phone model before you buy.

Jerome Stanek
11-13-2017, 1:59 PM
I've never had a smart phone! I must be a neander at heart but it's time to keep up with technology. I noticed that amazon had an "unlocked" version of an LG smart phone for about $150. What does unlocked refer to and is that a decent deal for someone to start smart phoning?

What carrier do you use. How many minutes do you need. I have a Tracfone that I use and really like but I don't use it as a primary phone and it works well for me. I ended up getting it from one of the shopping channels as it was way cheaper then going through Tracfone. I got the phone and 1200 minutes of talk 1200 text and 1200 data for less then Tracfone wanted just for the phone. The minutes last for a year and I get a new phone every year and transfer the remaining minutes to the new phone. Have been doing this for about 4 years now and always have a new phone.

Malcolm McLeod
11-13-2017, 2:18 PM
One key thing to remember is that, while you can treat the phone as a "computerized life partner", you don't have to.

I assumed most SMC readers would be suitably mature and astute enough to differentiate between a phone (however much computerized) and a life partner. Silly me.

Lee DeRaud
11-13-2017, 2:22 PM
I assumed most SMC readers would be suitably mature and astute enough to differentiate between a phone (however much computerized) and a life partner. Silly me.I've seen too many otherwise intelligent people get one of the things and promptly lobotomize themselves...reminds me of woodworkers falling into the "Turning Vortex".

Joe Bradshaw
11-13-2017, 2:51 PM
Hey, Lee, I resemble that remark.
Joe

Thomas L Carpenter
11-13-2017, 6:19 PM
Thanks all. I've been computer literate since the 70's and have been an Android (tablet) user for around 5 years and prior to that used an IPOD. I don't worry too much about about making this a life changing event but simply as i said earlier, keeping up with technology. I plan on buying an inexpensive phone initially as a learning tool and to determine how much I will use it. I'm pretty aware of all the capabilities of smart phones even if I don't know the mechanics yet. I haven't bought one previously because in my opinion, its nerdy to have one of those things fastened to your hip. Not sure how I''m going to handle not being able to keep my phone in my britches pocket but I'll give it a shot. Thanks again all. What brand, monthly costs, and how many minutes do you use a month?

Lee DeRaud
11-13-2017, 6:37 PM
I haven't bought one previously because in my opinion, its nerdy to have one of those things fastened to your hip. Not sure how I'm going to handle not being able to keep my phone in my britches pocket but I'll give it a shot.Unless you buy one of the huge top-of-the-line mega-phones (AKA "phablets"), you may be pleasantly surprised. My Samsung (5.5" screen) is much less obvious/intrusive/annoying than its foldable predecessor, which was much smaller but at least 2.5X thicker. The new one slips into a front jeans pocket like it was made for it, even with the case...the old one felt like a tennis ball.

Mike Chance in Iowa
11-13-2017, 6:37 PM
My M-I-L upgraded her flip phone 2 weeks ago through her Verizon account. She was able to get an LG smartphone flip phone that works really well whether she has her hearing aids in or not. She's not intending on using any of the smartphone features, but with the upgrade and $5 more a month, she went from 700 monthly minutes to unlimited minutes & texting and 2 GB of data (if she chooses to use the smartphone features while doing errands). She doesn't talk to many people but she was limiting her conversations with family so she didn't go over her 700 minutes. At least now she has unlimited minutes to talk as long as she wants and is no longer charged for each text message she sent or received. She is still paying around $40 month including her discounts.

Lee DeRaud
11-13-2017, 6:53 PM
I wish someone would make a phone for calling, texting and gps and that's all.....What you describe is trivially easy to emulate by uninstalling or disabling the apps it will let you*, and hiding the icons for the ones it won't on one of the "back" screens...just pretend they aren't there.

They probably don't make them that way because it wouldn't make the phone much smaller or cheaper. GPS without a display and GUI is kind of useless to the average consumer, and once you have enough smarts and display to run Google Maps or equivalent, you've got something about the same size/price as the current generic smartphones.

*A bunch of the pre-installed apps are more-or-less built into Android and can't be uninstalled. I don't know if IOS does the same thing.

Myk Rian
11-13-2017, 7:33 PM
You won't be happy with a $150 phone. Old OS, slow, just plain outdated.

The Android OS can be put in "Easy mode" for those less familiar with how they work. Still does the same things, just an easier to understand interface/desktop.

Dave Lehnert
11-13-2017, 7:38 PM
What carrier do you use. How many minutes do you need. I have a Tracfone that I use and really like but I don't use it as a primary phone and it works well for me. I ended up getting it from one of the shopping channels as it was way cheaper then going through Tracfone. I got the phone and 1200 minutes of talk 1200 text and 1200 data for less then Tracfone wanted just for the phone. The minutes last for a year and I get a new phone every year and transfer the remaining minutes to the new phone. Have been doing this for about 4 years now and always have a new phone.



I'm too a tracfone user. I purchased my phone at Kroger for $10. Very happy with it. I does everything I want.

Stan Calow
11-13-2017, 8:15 PM
I have an iPhone 6 SE, which is still the size the can fit in a shirt pocket, for that very reason.

Curt Harms
11-14-2017, 7:02 AM
the U.S. has two incompatible cell phone standards. CDMA which Verizon and Sprint (I think) use, GSM which AT&T, TMobile and the rest of the world use. GSM uses SIMs which as Jim says gives the phone its 'personality'. Other smaller carriers may use one of the big carriers' infrastructure. For instance, I use Airvoice Wireless which uses AT&T's GoPhone (or whatever it's called now) network. WalMart's straight talk uses AT&Ts network also believe. An unlocked phone can use any GSM network. There are phones that can work on either CDMA or GSM, I don't know if any are sold in the U.S.

As I stated above I use Airvoice Wireless ($20/month unlimited talk & text) and it works fine with AT&T phones and an Airvoice SIM. Right now I have an LG phone that AT&T was selling as a GoPhone. It does talk and text just fine which is all I need. I don't see using a phone for financial transactions, there are too many security implications unless I were to limit the phone to an isolated low balance account.

Jim Becker
11-14-2017, 10:00 AM
While VZ and Sprint historically have used CDMA (and still have it running for legacy support), it's been de-emphasized in favor of LTE and will eventually go away. 'GSM' is somewhat of a legacy protocol in effect, too...LTE and it's current and coming improvements have taken over nearly universally. In most cases, the same exact phones are sold and used by all of the major carriers. Carrier-specific devices are largely dying out.

Roger Feeley
11-14-2017, 10:21 AM
Julie, are you sure about the encryption issue? I used to work for Frontline Test Equipment, a maker of protocol analyzers (check out www.fte.com) . My job was to write the 'decoders' which was the part of the software the disassembled the packets into human readable fields. I did some work years ago for one of the mobile phone companies. It involved transitioning your phone call seamlessly between the cell system and a picocell in your basement or some other place around your house where the service was bad. So I saw the way the calls were set up, torn down and everything that happened in between.

I can't speak to what happened in the cell network but I definately saw what happened over wifi (802.11).

In the internet (ip) world there is something called IP Security, or IPSec. This is a procedure for exchanging lengthy encryption keys, verifying their receipt and then coordinating when you start and stop encryption. I was able to watch the key exchange and then track what happened because we were provided with special 'NULL Encrypted' phones where the keys were all 0s so even when they went into encryption, the data was sent unencrypted (we aren't the NSA). What was interesting is that when they initiated IPSEC encryption, the first thing they did was set up another IPSEC session within encrypted IPSEC.

These guys took encryption very seriously.

I would think that what happens between your phone and the cell towers is very secure against casual hackers. Of course the NSA is another matter but I don't worry about them. I'm just not very interesting.

Prashun Patel
11-14-2017, 10:22 AM
If the majority of people in your life use an iPhone I would get an iPhone. If they use android, get android. You will get the best support for how to use it.

If you want to buy on price, ask around to see if any of your friends want to upgrade. Buy their phone from them.

I wouldn't monkey with an unlocked phone unless you have a good friend who can evaluate its quality and usability.

Roger Feeley
11-14-2017, 10:22 AM
There are phones for the elderly that are made intentionally simple.

Myk Rian
11-15-2017, 10:40 AM
Jitterbug.

Jerome Stanek
11-15-2017, 10:55 AM
Sister had Jitterbug and hated it no service and bad CS

Travis Porter
11-15-2017, 11:07 AM
I could write a book on this subject. $150 is not a bad price for a smartphone, but it also depends on the specific model. As with tools, cheaper is not necessarily better. Another low cost smart phone is the Samsung J3. It gets good reviews and is pretty popular.

Having an unlocked phone is nice in some ways, but moving it from one carrier to another is not always as easy as it should be due to getting the device registered and activated on the carriers network. If i had a high end phone (Samsung S8, iPhone X, etc) I would be more concerned about having it unlocked so I could move around if desired as high end phones are not cheap.

Once you have the phone, you also have to consider what type of service plan will you subscribe? Postpaid or prepaid. The cheapest route is Prepaid. These include Boost, Cricket, etc. You have to pay every month up front, and you have limited services. The biggest piece of limited is no roaming. Postpaid is the big carriers (Verizon, TMO, Sprint, ATT). Most of them want you to sign a contract for a device that commits you to service through a lease or a loan for purchasing the phones.

If it were me in your specific situation I would start with a moderate to good quality phone on a prepaid plan. I would get the phone from that Carrier. I would get the best quality processor and battery life up to the price I am willing to spend, and I would buy my service from prepaid carrier that has the best coverage for my area. That way, you can decide if this smartphone thing is something you like, you are not under a contract, and there is no commitment. A lot of the prepaid brands even offer free phones.

My .02 worth

Rich Engelhardt
11-15-2017, 11:37 AM
I could write a book on this subjectWrite a blog - make money :D !

Lee DeRaud
11-15-2017, 11:50 AM
I could write a book on this subject. $150 is not a bad price for a smartphone, but it also depends on the specific model. As with tools, cheaper is not necessarily better.Depending on the user's needs, it's not necessarily worse either. As with most things electronic, the value-to-price relationship is wildly nonlinear: if someone really needs (or just wants) the incremental benefits of the topline phones, they are going to pay for it dearly. That 5X jump from $150 to $900 is not going to net a 5X increase in functionality.

Jim Becker
11-15-2017, 8:00 PM
I
Having an unlocked phone is nice in some ways, but moving it from one carrier to another is not always as easy as it should be due to getting the device registered and activated on the carriers network.

With an unlocked phone, you merely change the SIM to the new or alternative (if traveling) carrier and it pretty much works...