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Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Death of a Cellphone

I've only owned four cellphones in my life, up until Saturday. The first one I bought (a Philips) I bought I passed onto my parents. The second that replaced it I lost (but found some years later packed in a boardgame box, but sadly now useless). The third I still have, but as it's tied to a UK net I had to replace it when I arrived in the USA. Those first three phones were all on the Orange network.

On Beth's advice I got a 1-year prepaid plan with T-Mobile, and a cheap (<$20) phone. The plan got me 1,000 minutes for $100 a 1 year's airtime, which may seem expensive per minute, but as I used only 300 minutes in 2010 and 600 in 2011, I'm still using that original $100 today, after adding a few more dollars once every year to keep the plan active for another 12 months.

As a comparison, there are several unlimited plans for prepaid phones around the $45-55 a month mark, a 2-year contract with any of the main companies typically runs at $60-80 a month, and the cheapest prepaid offering we have at Walmart is a Tracphone for $10, for which you'd need to buy a $20 card every 3 months to have 120 minutes airtime to use in those 3 months. As I average less than 40 minutes a month, even that is more than I currently need. 

Old phone left, new phone right

The phone served me well for a couple of years, with the occasional misbehaviour when the alarm would sound at the wrong time. I use my phone more as a watch and alarm clock than an actual phone, so that alarm malfunction was always a niggle.

On Saturday beth and I went shopping, and the phone failed to ring when she called me. It had been acting up a bit for a few weeks, and I think the circuits fried themselves inadvertantly. The profiles would reset without prompting, and the speaker got very quiet.

Time for a new phone then. Luckily we were already headed near a T-mobile outlet in the Valley River Mall, so I popped in, chose a similar Nokia phone from a selection of four cheap phones (under $50), and the staff were able to port all my details from the old sim card to the new one, so I was able to walk out of the store within ten minutes with a new working phone for under $25.

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