Saturday, November 26, 2011

New phone, Black Friday musings, and more - November 26, 2011

It's time for another rambly post that isn't an endorsement or a contest or anything of that sort. (Note - while I never intended for this blog to be a review/contest blog, I do enjoy doing those things and some more are in the pipeline. I still think it's funny which pages on my blog are the most popular....)

So here's a story.

I got my first cell phone in about 2000, which is later than a lot of people. I hemmed and hawed and picked a plain black phone, and it did what it needed to do for years. I then upgraded to a camera phone (I think it was either free or ridiculously cheap) and paid the extra fee to be able to send pictures - mostly to another friend with a similar phone, occasionally to various online forums/blogs.

I jumped ship from that provider (no, I won't name names - ahem, the synonym for running quickly for a short distance - after it pissed me off royally, but in doing so I gave up on the data plan and the camera phone. For six years I've had a phone that did little more than make calls - I even paid per text (did I only text on rare occasion because I had to pay or because I genuinely didn't care about texting? we shall see.) It sounds funny to even lament that by the way. The provider was fine, but service was spotty and I was sick of dropped calls - ahem, a letter and a word that means something can move.

I bought myself an iPod Touch a few years ago (using Swagbucks-earned Amazon credit and birthday money) and that mostly scratched the want-a-smartphone itch. Mostly. I still use my Touch daily but it doesn't have a camera and, of course, it requires WiFi to do most things. But it can make calls, I've been using it for free texting for almost as long as I have had it, and it has LOTS of music on it.

But my phone was crapping out after all these years (it was the freebie, after all). And my husband's had already died a painful death in the ocean, and his replacement phone was also crappy. When a fancy smartphone was on sale at Target a few weeks ago, we got all excited and went to see it. Yeah, except that the monthly plans for the phone were exorbitant. I checked other providers - same thing. I asked around - same thing. $150-ish on average for two people to have smart phones. I couldn't swing that. I couldn't justify that. Nope. When I looked into pay-as-you-go plans, I saw that I could either get a REALLY crappy cheap phone or have to pay for a decent phone so that the monthly plan + the cost of the phone averaged out was...pretty much the same thing. It was a kick in the gut. I wasn't sure what would happen, since our phones really were about to die and our provider was having merger drama with an uncertain future.

Then I saw a leaked Black Friday deal for a smartphone that was $70-ish less than it usually sold for - I couldn't find a price close to the BF price anywhere - with a pay-as-you-go service. I couldn't stop thinking about it. The phone had the basic features I wanted (Droid, camera, ability to run apps, not a crappy flip phone) and the plan included unlimited texting and data (and an option for unlimited talk but a slightly less expensive option for a reasonable amount of minutes). If we canceled our landline, we could totally swing this deal.

And so on Friday we ventured a nearly empty store (we went at around 11am). The shelves were stocked with the phone, the phone was exactly as promised, and we bought. HOORAY. The switch from the old provider (we were off contract already) to the new one was seamless. And now I have a phone that I can use to take stupid pictures and cute videos and that I can text with.

One thing that was eerie and sad was that as I transferred over the numbers (not done yet), I didn't transfer over my grandmother's number. She passed away two years ago. I kept her number on my old phone. This phone doesn't have it on there. I had to let that go. I also let go a few numbers for people I no longer speak with for various reasons. New phone, new life. Some choices hurt my heart, some just made it lighter.

The phone is definitely on the lower end of the smartphone spectrum, but I figure that for the small investment we made in these phones plus a month-to-month plan with no contract, there is plenty of room to, at any time, jump ship again, buy the high-end deliciously wonderful phones and pay that high monthly premium. I don't really see that happening any time soon, but it's nice to know we didn't lock into anything right now. This is a good stopgap, I think. Do I want the phone fairy to grant me an iPhone or a high-end Droid with many long years of paid monthly fees? I sure do. Feel free to leap in at any time and offer to do that for me, by the way...

I would normally end a post like this with "what's your favorite app?" but...the phone seriously has a VERY limited amount of internal memory. Micro SD cards happened to also be on sale, so I have 8 gigs of expanded memory, but if you have a Droid you may know that you can't put just anything on the card, appwise. space is limited and I have to make some choices. Happily I still have my darling iPod, so most of my apps and all of my music will live on it. Sure, it's a bit clumsy dragging around TWO tabletty tiny things, but I still see it as the best of both worlds.

The apps I have so far are mostly practical - Google Docs, Google Voice, Scoutmob, Groupon - with a few fun ones thrown in like FxCamera (love it!). I don't even have a Facebook app at the moment (accessing it via browser seems just as fine and doesn't eat space) and the Twitter app the phone came with is...well, it's fine. (Frustratingly, the phone came with several social-based apps that are both redundant to one another and not useful to me - and that can't be deleted. I hate that bit.) I had to remove the Weight Watchers app because it was just SO HUGE (no jokes, please!) - I'll continue to use the Touch for that one.

[I've lost about 17 pounds now since starting WW by the way. My jeans no longer fit. I have cheekbones. I can wear cute shirts again. My goal is on the horizon. I still was able to eat things I liked on Thanksgiving. I *LOVE* WEIGHT WATCHERS!]

This concludes my rambly post. *curtsey*

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