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Cheap cellphone recommendations

January 1, 2007

in All Articles,Cellphone reviews

The cameras begin clicking furiously as your chauffer opens the door. You stand up and smile confidently, wading through a sea of photo flashes. You strike a cool pose, flip open your phone, and take a self-portrait of yourself backed by clamoring fans, security staff, and TV and newspaper reporters. You email the photo to a special address, and it appears on websites within a minute. Fans halfway across the world cheer in unison.

Back to reality. This egocentric, techno-riffic example is terribly unrealistic. And enough already with high-priced, do-everything cellphones. Not everyone needs one. Maybe you don’t want a cellphone for photos, email, web browsing, or instant messaging. Remember when cellphones were used to (gasp) make phone calls?

You want a cheap cellphone. No perks. All you care about is pushing buttons and hearing Aunt Petunia’s voice on the other end.

Prepaid and “pay-as-you-go” cellphone plans

A prepaid or “pay as you go” cellphone is when you purchase a phone, then purchase talk time as you need it. When you’re out of minutes, buy more. This is great if you won’t use your cellphone very often (as for emergency or infrequent calls). You won’t be stuck in a contract commitment, there are no age limits, additional fees, or hidden costs. You’ll also get free standard features including caller ID, voicemail, and call waiting.

The downside with prepaid cellphones are that you don’t have control over the phone number you’re assigned, and the cost per minute is often higher when compared to a cellphone service plan. Also remember to “reactivate” the phone by purchasing minutes for it, or the phone will be deactivated. If this happens, no problem – just purchase more minutes, but be aware you’ll be given a different phone number than you had before.

Most major carriers like Verizon, T-Mobile and Cingular offer prepaid cellphone plans. Another popular one is Net10 Wireless. You’ll pay 10 cents per minute for calls within the United States (out-of-country calls are also available for additional cost). An excellent perk is there are no roaming charges – Use your Net10 phone anywhere, and the cost is the same.

TracFone is another good, cheap prepaid cellphone provider. Prices can range from 20 to 33 cents per minute. Service is easy to set up, and based on my own experience, they have excellent customer service.

A specific pay-as-you-go cellphone example is the $20 Motorola c139 from TracFone. A twenty-spot will get you started, then just purchase minutes as you use them. Or get a free refurbished Motorola v170 cellphone (a $50 value) by purchasing 450 minutes of TracFone service for $100.

Remember when purchasing a phone, it’s a good idea to see it in person: Make sure the service works in your area (cellphone coverage maps, while handy, are not a guarantee). Make sure it’s comfortable, is loud enough, and fits (like in my case) the oddly-shaped face.

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