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Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

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Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by jztemple2 »

As the title says. After years (decades) of refusing to get onboard the smart phone hype train we are finally breaking down and getting one for our trips. I'm already familiar with Android, having had a couple of tablets over the years, and iOS as well, having had an iPod Touch for a decade. I've decided on Android because I'm looking for something inexpensive but with access to the full Google Play store.

I'm not going to use it for watching videos or storing family photos or anything else I'd need a lot of storage for. I'd like it to have a decent camera, but no need for anything exotic, I've been living with my iPod Touch camera for years.

I'm taking this step because our flip phones are 3G and we're losing that next February, and our pre-paid plans expire in August, so I'm looking to pick out a phone before then and decide on a carrier. We've had AT&T since we've had flip phones but I'm leaning towards Spectrum since we have our cable and internet through them and I might be able to get a bundle deal.

So I think that's everything I think. Any help would be appreciated.

UPDATE: Oops, I just realized that this post might be better over in "Everything but Gaming", but since a smart phone is just a portable computer I'll stick with it here unless folks think it would be better to move.
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by Daehawk »

Good luck. I was forced to switch to a smart phone after my wife passed away in 2019. Didn't want to. Safelink sent me a free one..a ZTE I think it is. I dont care or pay attention. It takes pics and works as a phone and thats all I want a phone to do.
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by Kraken »

Wife and I have stuck with Samsung Galaxies since our first smartphones. They're smarter than we are and we only tap a fraction of their potential. But based on long experience I can vouch for Samsung quality, and so you might consider lower-end lines than the Galaxy.
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by Kraken »

jztemple2 wrote: Thu May 13, 2021 10:53 pm UPDATE: Oops, I just realized that this post might be better over in "Everything but Gaming", but since a smart phone is just a portable computer I'll stick with it here unless folks think it would be better to move.
If you want to move to EBG for some reason this is a good place to start.
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by stessier »

My parents, who are in their early 70s, just did this for exactly the same reason. They went with the Samsung A52. My uncle, who is 2 years older, had recommended it to them and they seem happy with it. I was not consulted and would have pushed them toward iOS as they are not computer savy, but that isn't a concern for you. They also went with Spectrum as their carrier as they already get their internet through them. They pay $14/GB for the phone and that's it - no other fees or taxes or connection charges. Given their extremely infrequent usage (except on trips), this seems like a very good deal. Before trips, I recommended they do a month at the higher plan rate so they can use it more. Not sure if they'll do that though.

If you don't go that way, check out Google Fi. They charge $10/GB put you only pay for what you use. If you only use 50MB, you pay $0.50 vs Spectrum where you pay $14. But there are per phone connection charges for Fi.
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by gilraen »

I've been sticking with Samsung Galaxy, since I got used to their ecosystem since my first Galaxy tablet back in 2013. We've been buying our phones used/refurbished, so we get something that's 3 model numbers behind, but works just fine and costs a fraction of the original price. Our current phones are both Samsung Galaxy s8 Active, that we got on Woot last April for $170 each.
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by ImLawBoy »

I'm a long time Samsung Galaxy user. I've found them to be well made, reliable, and long lasting. I finally updated my old S8+ after nearly 5 years, and I only felt I had to do that because I was stubborn and didn't get a case and the cumulative effects of dropping it and living in a household of wild children meant it was cracking. I'd think one of the cheaper Samsung Android phones would fit your needs.

And I'll be personally offended if you switch from AT&T! :P
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by LawBeefaroni »

stessier wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 4:48 am
If you don't go that way, check out Google Fi. They charge $10/GB put you only pay for what you use. If you only use 50MB, you pay $0.50 vs Spectrum where you pay $14. But there are per phone connection charges for Fi.
I'm on Fi. Phone-wise I get a new Motorola cheapie every few years for under $100, does all I need it to do. Currently using a 2020 G Stylus. $99 right now. The G power is $49.

Average monthly bill for 3 users is around $85 at around 1GB data. $30 of that is taxes and regulatory.
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by stessier »

LawBeefaroni wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 2:21 pm
stessier wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 4:48 am
If you don't go that way, check out Google Fi. They charge $10/GB put you only pay for what you use. If you only use 50MB, you pay $0.50 vs Spectrum where you pay $14. But there are per phone connection charges for Fi.
I'm on Fi. Phone-wise I get a new Motorola cheapie every few years for under $100, does all I need it to do. Currently using a 2020 G Stylus. $99 right now. The G power is $49.

Average monthly bill for 3 users is around $85 at around 1GB data. $30 of that is taxes and regulatory.
I'm on Fi as well with 3 phones. We use about 1.5GB of data and are at around $90, so that tracks well. Still can't touch Spectrum's no charge per line, though, until you use a ton of data.
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by hitbyambulance »

i too am a very infrequent phone user and leave it at home most of the time. there are advantages like battery life, since at my usage level, the charge on my current seven-and-a-half-year-old iPhone still lasts several days, so it doesn't really matter what the battery life on a new device is like. i also disable all background updates on mobile data (to conserve my very small allotment) and put the device in permanent power-saving mode. i'm considering even carrying a separate camera around so i don't have to deal with storage space concerns.

also i do not want to be reliant on this device for _anything_ - i especially refuse to use it for any work-related purposes. (i'm likely the only person at my organization who has their 2FA application on the work laptop and not on their personal phone. and no way am i going to have my work email and chat app on this)
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by TheMix »

hitbyambulance wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 3:06 pm also i do not want to be reliant on this device for _anything_ - i especially refuse to use it for any work-related purposes. (i'm likely the only person at my organization who has their 2FA application on the work laptop and not on their personal phone. and no way am i going to have my work email and chat app on this)
I hear ya! Though I don't go quite as far as you do. I do use my phone for 2FA. I get a push notification when I access the VPN that I acknowledge. But that's the only work related thing I have. I won't use my phone for emails or Teams. When I leave the company, I am not giving them any reason to demand my phone. The paperwork I signed gives them the right to essentially brick my phone if it has any company stuff on it. So I do my best to keep anything from work off it.

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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by JCC »

Pixel 4a for $349. Or wait for the 5a which will be announced... soonish...?

I have a pixel 3a and it's by far my favorite phone I have ever owned.
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by coopasonic »

TheMix wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 4:01 pm
hitbyambulance wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 3:06 pm also i do not want to be reliant on this device for _anything_ - i especially refuse to use it for any work-related purposes. (i'm likely the only person at my organization who has their 2FA application on the work laptop and not on their personal phone. and no way am i going to have my work email and chat app on this)
I hear ya! Though I don't go quite as far as you do. I do use my phone for 2FA. I get a push notification when I access the VPN that I acknowledge. But that's the only work related thing I have. I won't use my phone for emails or Teams. When I leave the company, I am not giving them any reason to demand my phone. The paperwork I signed gives them the right to essentially brick my phone if it has any company stuff on it. So I do my best to keep anything from work off it.
I am basically 100% the opposite. I could basically do my job from my phone but I prefer the form factor of the Macbook keyboard so I generally use that instead. Of course it's their phone and they pay the bill so it makes a little more sense in my case.
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by Anonymous Bosch »

hitbyambulance wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 3:06 pm also i do not want to be reliant on this device for _anything_ - i especially refuse to use it for any work-related purposes. (i'm likely the only person at my organization who has their 2FA application on the work laptop and not on their personal phone. and no way am i going to have my work email and chat app on this)
If you can afford to do so, I highly recommend switching to a FIDO security key for 2FA, as well as for the reasons clarified in the video below:

"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." -- Daniel Webster
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by gilraen »

Anonymous Bosch wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 8:21 pm If you can afford to do so, I highly recommend switching to a FIDO security key for 2FA, as well as for the reasons clarified in the video below:
When you use 2FA for work, you don't get to pick and choose your service.
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by hitbyambulance »

yeah. if they were paying for my phone/service - or paying for my hardware key - that is indeed a different story. my previous job did both - before i was a full-time employee, they provided a key and after i was hired on, they paid me $75/month for a phone stipend, so only then did i get an old Android and use that as a company device. my current job does neither, so they don't get to use any of my personal equipment.
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by hitbyambulance »

JCC wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 4:29 pm Pixel 4a for $349. Or wait for the 5a which will be announced... soonish...?

I have a pixel 3a and it's by far my favorite phone I have ever owned.
i would advise that moving from a flip phone to a Pixel 5a is probably overkill. my dad went from a $15 ZTE flipphone to a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 when they came out and he uses maybe 5% of its feature set.
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by JCC »

Inexepnsive but not cheap screams Pixel a series to me.
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by hitbyambulance »

i meant, going to a 4a is probably good enough
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by Lassr »

JCC wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 4:29 pm Pixel 4a for $349. Or wait for the 5a which will be announced... soonish...?

I have a pixel 3a and it's by far my favorite phone I have ever owned.
Pixel 3 with me, going on 3 years old and not a single problem with it, I'll probably stick with Pixel for my next phone also.

My favorite phone was back when Windows made phones, I loved the tiled interface.
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by JCC »

hitbyambulance wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 10:43 pm i meant, going to a 4a is probably good enough
That is likely true, but with the annoucement so soon it might make sense to wait for its price to be announced. But if the phone needs to be acquired soon by all means get the Pixel 4a!
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by stessier »

JCC wrote: Sat May 15, 2021 7:24 am
hitbyambulance wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 10:43 pm i meant, going to a 4a is probably good enough
That is likely true, but with the annoucement so soon it might make sense to wait for its price to be announced. But if the phone needs to be acquired soon by all means get the Pixel 4a!
My wife got the 4a5G when it was on sale, so only $25 more than the 4a, and it is a really nice phone.
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by JCC »

Until google announces things nothing is sure, but it sure sounds like the 5a may ONLY be 5G. That was a bummer to me since I don't care about 5G but apparently my plan already has 5G so unless it's priced too high I will probably get the 5a.
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by Montag »

Moto G < $250. Only missing feature is NFC. Has headphone jack and microSD card support.
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by JCC »

Montag wrote: Sun May 16, 2021 7:47 pm Moto G < $250. Only missing feature is NFC. Has headphone jack and microSD card support.
I have owned two Moto G phones and I was mostly very happy with them. Most annoying was how slow they are at doing updates. I don't get worked up over Android version updates (since they really don't make much difference IMO) but, Motorola is AWFUL at getting security updates out. And that IS annoying. The lack of Android Pay irks me as well but you can work around that if you have an Android Wear watch. Moto still providing the headphone jack and Micro SD slot is strong, I agree.
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Post by gbasden »

I'll be a contrarian and recommend OnePlus. I've been extremely happy with the OnePlus 8 I got last year, and they tend to be cheaper than Samsung for similar feature sets.
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by hepcat »

When selecting a smart phone, you want to make sure it feels right in your hands when using it the way most people do. So head over to your choice of cellular phone company or big box store and ask them to let you take one of them into the bathroom with you.
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by jztemple2 »

What do they mean when they say "GSM Only, Not CDMA"?
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Post by hitbyambulance »

jztemple2 wrote: Thu May 20, 2021 7:57 pm What do they mean when they say "GSM Only, Not CDMA"?
those are the two main carrier technologies, but CDMA was really only used in the US (and only by Sprint and Verizon at that). state of the nation ca. 2021 is that CDMA is basically 'going away' next year and it's GSM only from now on. (note with the new frequency ranges, '3G' GSM is also being phased out. '1G' and '2G' GSM are already gone.)
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by Rumpy »

Different network type. Some companies will support both, some also only support one of them. You'll have to check with the provider. think GSM is the older type. I think GSM was more dominant during the pre-smartphone fliphone era.

The carrier in Canada I used to use supported both at one time, but phased one of them out.
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by jztemple2 »

stessier wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 4:48 am If you don't go that way, check out Google Fi. They charge $10/GB put you only pay for what you use. If you only use 50MB, you pay $0.50 vs Spectrum where you pay $14. But there are per phone connection charges for Fi.
I'm checking out Google Fi. I'll be getting only one phone and only be using it on the road for Google Map look-ups and maybe some GPS-like navigation if I get really confused :roll:. I have an iPod Touch which is my go-to gadget where I have Wifi right now, but if the phone can be switched to WiFi if available that would be great. Reading up on their site right now.
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by jztemple2 »

OK, perhaps a stupid question that was already answered above. I'm just checking out the offered phones and I see (as an example) a Pixel 4a and then a Pixel 4a with 5G for a whole lot more. From what I've seeing, since I don't need a phone where I can watch videos and stuff like that, there's no reason not to just go with the 4G version, right? Is there anything that I might need 5G for, seeing as I'm not going to be watching videos, playing games, mashing through lots of data, etc? And 4G is going to be around for awhile, right?

By the way, I haven't said it yet, but I really, really appreciate the time and effort folks have made to post in this thread :D. I can't believe how out of my depth I feel about smart phones and you folks have been just awesome!
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by jztemple2 »

OK, maybe an even stupider question :roll:. I went through some of the steps on the Google Fi site, picked out a phone and a plan so I could see the price per month, but I stopped before I committed myself. Now, once I make the purchase, am I to assume that they just mail the phone to me and it is ready to go? No visiting a store or activating online or stuff?

Told you it might have been an even stupider question, but for some reason that just seems... too easy :?
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by Isgrimnur »

jztemple2 wrote: Thu May 20, 2021 9:39 pm there's no reason not to just go with the 4G version
This.
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by jztemple2 »

Looking at the Samsung Galaxy A12 from Spectrum as an option. Decent one time price and only $14/month after that. Anything come to mind that I should look out for?
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

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jztemple2 wrote: Thu May 20, 2021 9:55 pm OK, maybe an even stupider question :roll:. I went through some of the steps on the Google Fi site, picked out a phone and a plan so I could see the price per month, but I stopped before I committed myself. Now, once I make the purchase, am I to assume that they just mail the phone to me and it is ready to go? No visiting a store or activating online or stuff?

Told you it might have been an even stupider question, but for some reason that just seems... too easy :?
Yes, it's that simple. (Well - when you get the phone, if you are porting the number, they walk you through the process. It could take up to 48 hours to port, although mine never took more than 10 minutes. If you are setting up fresh, it's all online to get the number, but it's really easy.) But looking at the Charter deal, I don't think Fi will ever be the better choice.
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by The Meal »

[edit:] Hey, I wrong-threaded!
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by jztemple2 »

I took the leap and got a Samsung Galaxy A12 from Charter/Spectrum with a by-the-gig plan. As stessier noted, it really was "that" simple, filled out a few forms online (since I'm a Spectrum internet subscriber already) and since I'm not porting over an old number I didn't have to get info off the old phone. Put in the order Friday afternoon and the phone arrived Tuesday afternoon. I activated it online through my PC in just a few minutes. Since it's Android and I've been using Android for years on tablets, a lot of the heavy lifting of getting apps and putting in data was easy. It's an inexpensive phone, second from the bottom of the price range but still feels and looks pretty nice to me. I'm been using an iPod Touch as my wireless device in restaurants and on the road where I could get wifi, so this new phone gives me that functionality even if I can't get wifi.

Damn thing does weigh a ton though :wink:
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by Rumpy »

I just picked up a new phone, which is quite an upgrade from my old one, which was from 2013 (Yeah, I know right). My new one is a TCL 10 Pro and it's pretty sweet. Very slick and fast, and nice bang for the buck. I'm only paying $10 a month on top of my regular $45-a-month plan. It's got one of the largest display areas on the market, an AMOLED screen with a curved bezel on each side.

TCL is a TV manufacturer, and they've made TVs and screens for Samsung among others, but recently decided to venture into their own line of phones. They've taken everything they've learned from those experiences to make these.

https://www.tcl.com/ca/en/products/mobile/tcl-10-pro
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Re: Getting my first smart phone, looking for inexpensive (not cheap) Android one

Post by Kasey Chang »

I am thinking about upgrading my Moto X4 myself. Bought it couple years ago when I was working food delivery. It still runs fine, but it's out of date, being a 2017 phone. There's a refurb Samsung S21 on Woot that's looking pretty good for about $520. Not plus, not Ultra, but I don't use my phone THAT much, at least at home. But I guess I can hang on a bit longer.
My game FAQs | Playing: She Will Punish Them, Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius, The Outer Worlds
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