Cell Phone Saga: Part 1

With so many cell phones out there, you’d think that there would be a ton of options to choose from. Seriously.

An Overview Rant

I’ve been searching for a replacement for my LG Tribute 5 for a couple months now. Back in October, it caused me a lot of frustration after refusing to sound the alarm on time – which in turn caused me to be late for an appointment. I checked everything – the alarm was set, the sound was turned on and all the way up (including the alarm volume), and I know for sure it hadn’t went off. Since that day, it has gradually started to act up more often. Now, it will not even ring when someone calls, despite the master volume and ringer volume being turned to the max.

Truth be told, though, the reliability isn’t the only problem with this phone. It has 8GB of internal storage, which is filled nearly instantly with the operating system. I can’t install any apps (not even a small one) because it is constantly out of memory. I even installed a 16GB microSD card. While helpful for storing my pictures (which there is a lot of),  it doesn’t help the app situation at all. I even had to uninstall some apps for it to continue to work “properly.” Furthermore, the call volume is so quiet (even with the volume turned all of the way up) that it’s nearly useless.

The best part of it all is this: the phone is just over one year old. I purchased it sometime last Fall. My LG Optimus Elite – my first cell phone and the one that persuaded me to get another LG after it held up for over three years with no major problems – never had any of these problems and withstood three years of continuous use.

The time has came to get serious about finding a replacement. I can’t call anyone without having to ask them to “speak louder” to hear them – that’s if I can answer their call thanks to the “broken” ringer.

Virgin Mobile and The Search for a New Carrier

Before discussing the issues I’ve found with looking for a replacement phone, I must not forget about mentioning one of the reasons I’m going to have to switch carriers in addition to just buying a new phone.

Virgin Mobile has been a wonderful carrier, at least to me. I’ve only found one or two places where reception is limited, and the network is usually pretty quick. It’s an overall great value.

The only problem is: Virgin Mobile is only selling iPhones. Apparently you can still purchase an Android-based phone for use with VM, but the signs don’t look too good for us Android users.

I’ve been stuck between two other prepaid carriers. Boost Mobile is another prepaid service owned by Sprint. While Sprint and VM has served me well, the VM decision (and, therefore, a Sprint decision) to quit selling iPhones has me weary of going to Boost. Boost has 3GB data and unlimited talk/text for $35 per month, while VM had unlimited data/text and 300 talk minutes for the same price. Most of my data usage is in the form of pictures (by uploading them into the cloud), and I usually use WiFi. (In other words, my data usage is minimal.)

Cricket is the other carrier I’m looking at. Cricket, unlike VM and Boost, is owned by AT&T. AT&T has their problems, but I’ve heard that Cricket is actually a fairly good prepaid carrier in many areas where coverage is adequate – although their internet speeds can be lacking at times. Cricket has multiple plans – the cheapest of which is for 2GB data, unlimited talk/text for $30 per month. The next tier, which is the same but has 5GB data, costs only $10 more per month.

Phone Selection

Coming back from my tangent on carriers and my current phone, I will turn my attention towards the bread and butter of this post: the phone selection.

My current phone has 8GB of internal storage. My goal was originally to get a phone with at least 32GB of internal storage, so I can put those “low storage” and “no storage – delete items” messages to rest.

There’s only one problem with that plan, though. Between both carriers, I couldn’t find a single phone minus Samsung Galaxy and iPhone models (top-tier/expensive phones) that had 32GB of internal storage. The cap for both was 16GB, which was looking at mainly sub-$250 phones.

However, I’ve learned that 16GB is “enough storage” – while other people argue that it isn’t enough and 32GB is their minimum recommendation.

Currently I’m looking for a phone – and deciding on which carrier to use – for a while. Stay tuned as I make a decision.