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Old 02-10-12, 11:39 AM   #1
Tende
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How to buy smartphone/Iphone & choose service provider for 3 month tour - no contract

I'm planning a cross country tour for this summer. Thinking about using an Iphone or other smartphone for: cellphone, email, internet browsing, maps, & maybe music. I would probably bring a small camera.
Because I won't be following any established route, I feel the need for some kind of ongoing connection to map my route and discover points of interests, camping, lodging, or hazards.
I do not and would not want to submit to a contract. I only need it for, maybe 4-5 months.
Im wondering about buying a used phone off Craigslist and I need advise on what kind of phone and what service provider to use. I'm seeing used Iphone's for sale cheap, but they're for at&t - which I understand has spotty coverage.
Advice? Thanks.
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Old 02-10-12, 01:18 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Tende View Post
I'm planning a cross country tour for this summer. Thinking about using an Iphone or other smartphone for: cellphone, email, internet browsing, maps, & maybe music. I would probably bring a small camera.
Because I won't be following any established route, I feel the need for some kind of ongoing connection to map my route and discover points of interests, camping, lodging, or hazards.
I do not and would not want to submit to a contract. I only need it for, maybe 4-5 months.
Im wondering about buying a used phone off Craigslist and I need advise on what kind of phone and what service provider to use. I'm seeing used Iphone's for sale cheap, but they're for at&t - which I understand has spotty coverage.
Advice? Thanks.
Check out the pay as you go phones from somewhere like Walmart. Determine who uses which carrier, and which carrier has the best coverage on the route you are planning. I don't know of any carrier that has I-phones available month to month.

Aaron
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Old 02-10-12, 11:46 PM   #3
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First thing I'd do is go to my local ATT or Verizon office and inquire about connecting with their system on a monthly basis. If they agreed that it could be done, then I'd shop for a bargain smartphone.

If you can sort thru these options, might be something you could use.

Lots of 'gotcha's' where smartphone service is concerned. One way or the other, the piper will be paid.

Good luck.
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Old 02-11-12, 11:33 AM   #4
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You might also try mobile 3G hotspot like the mifi. It's a tiny, battery-operated wifi router in which you put a SIM card.

Then you can use something like an iPod touch instead of a phone. The downside is that you won't have gps, and the mifi's battery lasts for less time than a smartphone. Advantages: no contracts and you can use it with your computer when you get back home.

Note: the Verizon mifi doesn't use a SIM, which limits use outside the US.

Last edited by mistercharlie; 02-11-12 at 11:34 AM. Reason: Added info
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Old 02-11-12, 01:01 PM   #5
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Verizon wants a $100/month for no contract service with txt msg and net access. Full price for a phone. $$$$. They do have 'refurbished' phones.

With a contract, 3G service runs about $60/month with big discount for phone.

A simple flip phone, a $100 gps, and a $180 Kindle Fire will get the job done, with redundancy, and no contracts. Take a battery pack recharging device along.

Darn, those expensive smartphones do offer a lot in a small package.
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Old 02-11-12, 01:52 PM   #6
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I will have to get exact details, however I was in WM the other day picking up something and noticed that they have "smart" phones for ~$90usd and you can get unlimited use, text, email, minutes for ~$60usd pay as you go a month. I don't recall the type of phone or the carrier. There are lower cost plans. FWIW I have used the Virgin Mobile in the past for work, when I got stuck at a job site where Alltel did not have any coverage. Virgin Mobile leverages the Sprint Network, there are brands that use other networks. Check the network maps carefully, especially for fringe areas. FWIW in my travels I have discovered that AT&T has a tendency to over state where their phone coverage is compared to other companies, and that include Verizon, Sprint and US Cellular.

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ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

"Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
_Nicodemus

"Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred
Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
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Old 02-11-12, 02:19 PM   #7
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For data and prepaid. . . Virgin or Boost (both Sprint, which is what I have) is really your only option, yeah, unlimited data starting at $35 base /month (+300 mins talk). You'll pay more for the handset (because it's not subsidized as heavily as normal contract service devices are).

iphone: avoid.

T-Mobile also has a no-contract option through itself AND Walmart, but data. . . eh. . is meh.
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Old 02-11-12, 07:57 PM   #8
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I have Virgin Mobile, they have some good android phones to choose from. $35/month unlimited data, text, and 300 minutes. Just make sure you look into a coverage map on where you will be riding to see if you will have service with whichever company you go with.
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Old 02-13-12, 01:00 PM   #9
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+1 on the Verizon mobile hotspot. I had a 3G one for a year or two and really liked it. Lots of coverage, even in remote places like the Adirondacks of NY. I recently switched to a T-Mobile 4G hotspot (work pays for it). While it's a lot faster, I worry about coverage as I've had a T-Mo Blackberry for 3+ years and often lack coverage in rural areas.

We've had Virgin Mobile for many years and have always been pleased with it. Coverage seems to be about the same as T-Mo. Can't speak to their data coverage, though, as we have a "dumb" phone.
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