Jitterbug or Blackberry?

No Telling

Let’s just say it’s time for a new cell phone. The groovy little phone I’m carrying around right now is older than The Perfect Grandson, woefully unattractive, and holds a charge for about half an hour. It still takes pictures (very important) but it doesn’t tend to take them well. I’d blabber on about the keypad, but I don’t text so it doesn’t matter.

Call me a geezer if you want. It’s a phone. You make calls on it. Isn’t that supposed to be the point?

This fine ride was free when I signed my life away on a contract with Alltel. Apparently Alltel doesn’t exist anymore. Was anyone else aware of this? Last month my bill was from Verizon, so I guess my waning contract is in someone else’s file cabinet now.

So now I have to shop around. Normally, shopping is a challenge I’m willing to take on, but we’re talking electronics and contracts here. It’s not like buying a new pair of pumps and a bag. So I went online to do a little comparison shopping and realized about five minutes in that I was in completely over my head.

Em jokes often about buying me a Jitterbug. If they took pictures I’d have one right now and Coolness Be Damned. Generation Y can keep their fascination with the intricate dance of electronics purchasing. The whole thing just makes me tired. My first phone was a rental rotary from Southwestern Bell. It came in two colors – black or tan – and my bill was under $8 a month. I didn’t have one of those groovy push-button wall phones until I was a married woman. And I made all my long distance calls in three feet of snow. Or something. The point is that a telephone shouldn’t be this much trouble.

Regardless, I’m past the point of no return with this sad little flip phone. It’s dented and scratched and breathing irregularly, so I feel confident it plans to give up the ghost before my contract runs out next month. Isn’t that always the way?

Help me out, folks. Simplify this process for me by giving me the skinny on good two-fer deals and cheap contract carriers. I’m going to put something on these frown lines right now before they become permanent.

snazzy image via My Confined Space

The snazzy drop-cap is a layout secret I’ll share with anyone who gives me shopping advice. Dangle that carrot, I say.

UPDATE: Here it is (but only for Blogger users):


1. Copy this code into a new blog post using the HTML mode. Change the “L” to whatever letter it should be. If you want to see exactly what it looks like beforehand, click Preview, not Compose. It will be perfect in Preview. Voila!

2. Want to do this with every single post? Copy the code, click on Settings, then Formatting. At the bottom there’s a Post Template box. Paste the code in there and it will automatically begin every post. All you need to do is change the letter in HTML mode. Double voila!

I thank you.

43 thoughts on “Jitterbug or Blackberry?

  1. Unfortunately I am in Canada so I can't offer you much advice in the way of cell phone service and deals. There are only a few main carriers up here and everyone seems to hate all of them for one reason or another. Personally, I am with Telus and have a Blackberry Pearl and am relatively happy with it. I am guessing since you don't text you also aren't going to want to access facebook and email through your phone.

    Hopefully someone else out in the blogging world can give you a hand. Happy phone hunting!

  2. Um. Yes. Cellphones. Here in Kiwiland, we have two main carriers, with a third small one trying to keep them honest. Fat chance. I was given (by a demented employer) a Samsung phone that I figured out nhow nto work in five minutes, and I'm the sort of chap who needs a serious manual to successfully operate a lightswitch. I now have a new employer, along with the best job in the world (librarian to housebound folk. How cool is that??) and i've been given a Nokia. i had to find a Russian to show me how it works, and new Zealand isn't a place where one finds a large number of Russians. Check out Samsung: they're pretty intuitive.

  3. Here in Belgium it's not legal to tie a phone purchase to a contract, so we end up paying full price for a phone and a reasonable price for the contract. I have an iPhone, for which I paid way more than I wanted to, but the monthly charge is reasonable. Well,relatively.

    I confess that I love technology–anything that will let me play scrabble on the train is ok with me. The iPhone also has dictionaries in all the languages I speak, and I can use the downloaded video podcasts in class as listening exercises for my ESL students.

    Put the camera is reallyreally bad.

    Good luck.

  4. I opted for pay-as-you-go with Virgin Mobile. Whether this is a good idea for you depends on how much you use your phone. It's nice to have unlimited airtime, but I never would use enough airtime to make it worth the monthly fee. You can get a Kyocera TNT! for $15. Mine works great!

    I am a lurker flushed out to comment by my urge to be helpful. I've enjoyed reading your blog quite a lot. Thanks!

  5. I started out with a pay-as-you-go Virgin Mobile phone that was super simple. Then I moved up to the world of contracts. Right now I'm with AT&T and pretty happy with it. My company offers a discount from them so I'm a little biased. As far as phones go I have an iPhone and love it. However, I like all the bells and whistles of keeping up with my library of books and movies, checkbook, and 4 emails accounts. For something simple stick with a Samsung or possibly a Motorola.

  6. My husband and I are strictly Cingular users because we travel all over the US, and they have the best coverage. That is, according to my husband, and he's done some research on the topic. I have a NOKIA phone, and it works pretty well. The camera is good in it. It has other bells and whistles which I have no idea how to use. 🙂

  7. I switched over to the Propel phone (with AT&T) and am quite pleased with it. It took a little getting used to a “joystick” for moving around, but I'm online, getting e-mail, texting, phone calls and messages. I feel connected with work and my clients think I'm stuck in the office. Worked great when we were on a two-week road trip from Oregon to Michigan. 🙂 M

  8. I have a Samsung Impression; you've seen it. It is one step down from a smart phone. It has a lovely data package that is also a bit pricey, but I can have internet with me always.

    My brother, who works tech support for Verizon nee Alltel, is my adviser on all things phone related. If you have questions, I can probably find out answers…

  9. I have a 3 or 4 year old scratched and dented flip phone. It used to be red, but is now a mix of pinkish grey. I'm also a customer lost in the shuffle with Alltel/Verizon, and they don't have a tower in the community where my husband and I just purchased our house. I'm thinking that Cellular South offers the best deal for our money, but we are on different plans at the moment and don't want to lose our numbers. So we're hanging with old phones and Verizon a few more months. Good luck, and be sure to tell us if you find any good deals. I read a blog where a woman was IRATE with AT&T over shipping costs and a customer service issue with their iphones. It's gotten some pretty bad reviews, too.

  10. I have Cricket service, which is a smaller company, but much, much cheaper than all of the big names. There are a few drawbacks – the coverage isn't quite as good as the big names and you pay a whole lot more for your initial phone purchase. The upside – no contracts and an all-inclusive plan for $45/mo. I have myself and my two sons on my plan and pay less per month than I did for just myself on Verizon with only 1800 minutes and half a dozen texts.

    And…I had to laugh because I remember renting our phone from “Ma Bell” (Mountain Bell) when we were growing up – only the rich people BOUGHT their phones.

  11. Stick with Verizon– I recently shopped around and they were way cheaper than ATT and I have yet to hear horror stories about them, unlike ATT. Sprint is also supposed to be good. If you don't need the internet, etc, then you should be able to get a fine little flip phone with a camera for free when you sign a new contract. Personally, my husband and I got buy one get one free Blackberries with Verizon, and we've been very happy with them.

  12. I'm a Virgin Mobile loser. I use it so infrequently that I usually carry a balance greater than what I paid for the phone years ago. It uses Sprint's backbone and is good for about 10 miles either side of the Interstate.

  13. Can't help you with any new phone technology but can dream of a time when I got my first phone. It was a Princess model (rotary dial) in baby blue from Southwestern Bell. Good luck w/ your search.

  14. Monda, I was of the same thought as you up until last year. I wanted my cell phone to just be a simple cell phone. I had so many flip phones most with no cameras.
    Strange though becasue I am really a tech head so you would think i would want gadgets to stuff in my pockets. . .
    I recently upgraded to a Blackberry Storm several months ago on Verizon. I have been with Verizon now for, hmmm at least 15 years. Excellent service, I doubt I will ever leave.
    The Storm, while most likely not as good as the iphone is amazing and I imagine i will always keep one with me from now on.
    Camera is good, video ok, I get my email from both orf my accounts quickly and efficiently, I moderate my blog from where ever I am, tend to my online Etsy shop, have Garmin GPS app, google maps, lots of other free and inexpensive apps available. . .its just the perfect “Swiss army knife” everything in my pocket, and amazing service from Verizon.
    My GF loved it too when i got it so she upgraded from her Verizon PDA to the Storm. were both happy with it.
    Go for it, you'll wonder why you waited so long.

  15. I'm another Virgin user.

    Er, that should be “Virgin Wireless USA customer.” Both the wife and I have used them for a few years now, me insisting on getting the Cheapest Phone Possible ($19, last time I bought one.) Neither of us has a contract, we just do the pay-as-you-go plans. Like Olivander, we call so infrequently for it to hardly matter. The wife's phone just died, and she got one with a camera, it was maybe $60, and it's gone down since then.

    Aside from the youth-youth-youth marketing and web site, it's perfect for what we needed, and is only costing about $15/month, instead of the $80/month we used to pay for our old plans. Neither of us will buy new phones until the old ones have been literally talked to death. (The flip screen finally died on my first phone after four years, necessitating the replacement.)

    If Sprint can covers your area, it's worth looking into.

  16. I'm with AT&T. My phone is a Motorola Razr because I don't want to be than darn connected/accessible, so I don't foresee ever getting an iPhone or its competitor equivalent. I don't care if there's an app for riding a bike while reading a paper and getting GPS coordinates all at the same time. Ugh. And I don't want to MyTwitFace from my phone.

    I seldom have a dropped call with AT&T or get a failed call because all circuits are busy. One of the things I like best about the AT&T plan I have now is that mobile to mobile calling to anyone with AT&T doesn't count against my minutes usage, plus I get rollover minutes. Not that that helps me a whole lot since I succumbed to the texting temptation (flirting with Darling Husband by text is great fun!), but it may be just the ticket for you. The camera takes pretty good pics, although, again, I don't take a lot of pics with my phone. I actually use a camera for that. (I'm really analog, I guess …)

    The Razr is not a great phone for texting because it doesn't have a 'qwerty' i.e. full keyboard, but again, in your case, that's a plus, not a minus. I prefer flip phones to open-face phones because I can never remember to lock my keyboard to keep it from dialing Kenya every time I sit down, and frequently end up locking it by accident and then can't get it unlocked because I never lock it on purpose to begin with. You see the problem! I'm just not cut out for anything but flip phones.

    AT&T usually has a couple different phones that are free when you sign a two-year contract. Hope this helps!

  17. I personally am with Verizon (got shuffled over from Alltel) and am very happy. I know that when you sign a two year contract there are several basic phones that cost basically nothing after the rebate. Nearly every phone out there now takes pictures if that's all you truly need. They have pretty competitively priced plans, especially if you don't need internet connection on your phone.
    A friend of mine just signed up with Sprint and got her phone for free (after rebate) and her plan runs about $50/month. This includes free nights and weekends and unlimited text and picture messages.
    Both carriers have good coverage.

  18. I must have the drop cap instructions! Of course, that's not my ONLY motivation for leaving a comment. Uh…my phone advice is not get a flip. Yes, that saves the screen from scratches, but you can't decline a call until you flip it open. Get a nice big screen cause video on phones is coming, a standard soon I would reckon. You need a screen big enough to see the precious smile on the perfect grandson.


  19. I sent Em out to do some in-store recon at both AT&T and Verizon. I'm not sure this was wise. At this point, the only thing that's certain is we will not be using AT&T – the plans are too expensive and the nicer phones don't have insurance.

    There's a two year-old in the house. Enough said.

    Why can't I just have a baby blue princess phone like Zen Mama's?

  20. I never thought I'd ever want or need an iPhone until my husband got me one for Christmas. It was love at first call. I don't text, but I do use the camera and the e-mail, and the Google application. It's very easy to use. because pretty much all functions have dedicated buttons. Also, I've had no problems with AT&T. Hope you find your soul phone.

  21. As much as I love my iPhone and can't live without it, Nokia's are very basic, and extremely user-friendly phones. I highly recommend them if you're not looking for anything fancy and don't want a lot of bells and whistles!

  22. Oh, and they're ruff n' tuff – you can drop them tons and they'll still do what they need to do!

    Not sure about carriers in your area, but I know in the South, Cricket Wireless has become very prevalent and reliable.

    Good luck!

  23. After wrestling around with html, I've put the code and instructions for using drop caps in Blogger on this post. It's a picture, though. Couldn't figure out how to do it otherwise. Now, go drop those caps!

  24. Neat way of doing a drop cap. I simply do them on my blog simply as a photo image and I can get creative with different fonts that way. I have to adjust the margins in the image HTML. I'll try your method and see how it works.

  25. With AT&T, you can buy a phone without committing to a contract but typically you pay more for the phone itself that way.
    I'm with AT&T and most days I am happy with that. (My sister works for them and so I can't switch without family drama anyway) My roommate has Verizon and has excellent service but I don't know how the contracts and purchasing works with them.

  26. I will tell you what carriers NOT to go with:

    Sprint or T-Mobile.

    I've had them both. I'm stuck with T-Mobile for now but I will switch as soon as I have the money. I honestly looked into switching to Verizon and they were WAY cheaper than T-Mobile for basic plans.

    Good luck phone hunting! I always loved my Samsung phones! They had camera phones but they were simple.

  27. I'm a Nokia person. They are user friendly. Mine is primarily a phone for calling & texting(of critical importance) but I love the camera in it and the radio too so the hands free device functions as the antenna/headphones when I'm listening to FM radio …. how cool is that.
    I wonder if Nokia sells models like that in the USA?
    We have service providers falling over each other so the choice is immense.
    Thanks for the HTML code.It is so cool.
    I love your posts and your wicked sense of humour.

  28. Ummm… what's a drop cap?

    I have a simple LG phone, which is a pretty good phone. It had a cheap rate from a Canadian company, so I took it. I bought it primarily as a phone, but use it mostly as a clock 'cause I don't get a lot of phone calls 😦

  29. I've been with Verizon for five years now and am very happy. I had the same enV for two years and it was my best phone to date… until now. Verizon is currently doing a promotion where if you buy one Blackberry you get a second one (of equal or lesser value) for free, so my husband and I decided to take advantage of it last weekend. He got a Blackberry Storm – a completely touch screen phone which I do not recommend as the typing (evening dialing a number) can be very aggravating – and I got a Blackberry Tour. It's excellent for me because I don't have access to my personal email when I'm at work, and there's a copy and paste function that gives me a thrill every time I use it. I'm sure none of that matters to you as you stated earlier that you mainly use your phone for calls and taking photos. This phone has an excellent camera and you can zoom easily with a little scrolling ball on the keypad. Also, Blackberry phones give you the option of downloading and using applications – many of which are free. I found a free application for my bank which allows me to view my accounts, see if transactions are pending or cleared, and even make transfers. I believe these require mobile web, but don't quote me.

    Actually, my advice is to go into a Verizon store and speak with a representative. They have a wealth of knowledge about their products and are really good at helping you narrow down your choices. Tell them what you want in a phone, and they will show you exactly which phones will best fill your needs.

  30. Thanks to everyone who mentioned or recommended Virgin Mobile! We appreciate you all being customers and saying nice things about us!

    Hello, Monda.

    One thing you can do before considering Virgin Mobile is to check our coverage in the areas you most frequently use your phone. Our website provides the ability to check coverage right down to a street address. The option to “Check Coverage” is right at the top of the main page. If our coverage looks good in the areas you mostly use your phone, then feel free to check out our plans and phones.

    In regards to plans, we offer both monthly plans and pay by the minute service without any annual contracts. Paying by the minute works well if you don't use a lot minutes, but without knowing how much you use your phone, it's hard to make any specific recommendations. This being said, you can switch between plans as often as you need, at any time, with no penalties. We do not charge roaming fees and activation is also free. You can also check out our plans at virginmobileusa.com.

    Our website also provides details and pictures of all the phones we offer. I noticed that having a camera phone is important to you, so if you like to keep things simple, take a look at either the Mantra or the Arc. Both have cameras and both support Bluetooth for safe, hands-free talking if that of any interest to you.

    Anyway, I hope this was helpful and good luck with your research!

    SA @ Virgin Mobile

  31. Jeff, I've done it your way, too. It doesn't work as well without a white background, though. This way works with any background. It's fun!

    AT&T seemed like such a good idea at first, Renee, especially since everything else I have is with them. If they offer a package deal, I may change my mind.

    Girl Meets Gun, the closest T-Mobile store is in Memphis. Can you believe it? Not one in the whole state of Arkansas. Sprint's out for sure because of tower problems up in the Ozark hills. Although, there ARE places up there where NO phone works.

    FM radio! Embellisher, that's a for sure selling point. I'll check out the Nokia phones. You enjoy the drop caps!

    Anon in Edmonton, a drop cap is the large first letter in the post that drops down into the text. And I use my phone as a clock as well, ugly as it is.

    MunkyBt, even the sweet salesgirl behind the counter at Verizon told us not to look at the Blackberry Storms. What I thought would be a quick trip overwhelmed me with choices. I need to go in with a clear head and a purse full of money.

    SA@Virgin Mobile, how lovely of you to give me all this advice! It feels almost like a housecall! I'm a little nervous about coverage in Arkansas, but I'll check out Virgin Mobile just to be sure. Thanks again for taking the time to help a luddite out!

  32. Be a rebel. Be different. Be sane. Don't get a cell phone. Are the calls made on your cell phone really all that important? Are they even important at all or just convenient? Take the money you save and tuck it away for when you really have an emergency.

    Here's another plus. Phone books only list Boomers or older. We're the only ones that still use plug in phones. Some whipper snappers don't even know how to operate a rotary phone.

    Try it for a month and see how you do. I bet you'll enjoy the drop in blood pressure.

    Good luck.

  33. your phone sounds like my phone – old, low-tech, out-of-date. and out of contract. mine too died at a most inopportune time and i was forced to visit a distant verizon store to purchase a new one. so many choices. so much confusion. so little patience. i bought the bottom of the line LG one, the modern day version of what i had had. it was good enough then, and it'll be good enough now. good luck in your quest. not sure there are any winners in a scenario like this – oh, except verizon, of course.

  34. Maybelline, you don't know how long I fought the whole cell-phone thing. If I hadn't had a teenaged daughter at the time, I might not have one today. I'm stuck now, and need it for email when I'm out and about giving workshops in the boonies of Arkansas. Towers are tricky in the Ozarks, but online access is even worse.

    Ah, Chris. It's nice to know someone else hates this process as much as I do. And yes, the only winner here is the one who get our money.

  35. I bookmarked you ages ago and then forgot…this post really hit home and made me laugh…so hello and I have the simplest Verizon phone…said give me one just like my old one except that it takes photos. I rarely text, don't get facebook either but love blogging…

  36. I'm so glad you found your way back, Teri! We may have the same phone right now and that says a lot about both of us. Pictures are SO much more important than texting.

  37. I recently got an iPhone and I love it! I can read your blogs right on my phone. =)

    I love the iPhone, and its camera is excellent. There are apps for all needs, and the texting and Internet is available at your fingertips whenever, wherever (if you need it).

    Obviously, my contract is with AT&T. I love them- great service. My monthly plan is the basic package, which is only $39.99 a month. It's more expensive now because of the data package for the Internet and unlimited texting (because I am a member of the texting generation), but I have never once gone over on minutes or anything. Plus they have rollover- any minutes you don't use, you get to keep for an extra year in case you feel extra-talkative one month.

    Just my opinion, but I do love AT&T. I spend the time between renewing my contract just waiting for my new upgrade phone- although I am so in love with my iPhone, I don't think I'll ever switch again!

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