School Me On Smart Phones

My son asked for a new phone for his birthday. When I went to T-Mobile to look at upgrading his phone I was told there was no such thing anymore as there were no longer any contracts. I also found out that we can get a new plan that adds data (something we have never had and I don’t really care about but he would love) for the same thing we are currently paying without data. I was told that we can buy a phone from T-Mobile or an unlocked phone from anyone else and T-Mobile will activate it.

My dilemma? I know nothing about smart phones. What OS, Android, Windows, iOS, etc…?

Any help or guidance would be appreciated.


the Casio Commando is a good, ruggedized phone if he spends a lot of time outside and is rough on phones…CaptFritz is still using his…it is Android based…

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I have the Casio Commando as well, its taken a bath in hydraulic oil, survived multiple drops of over 10’ and is still like new. I had to buy a new battery because I wore the old one out. The only drawback for you is its a Verizon phone and I don’t think you can get it unlocked.

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DFreedom, you really only have to OS options. Android or IOS.
For IOS you get the IPHONE
For Android you get an option of MANY phone.

The problem is that a phone is mostly a person decision. I do not like the IPHONE. I like android. And I like the Galaxy SIII that I have. But it is a big phone and not for everyone.

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I had a Commando for three years. Tough as nail and rugged. Other than that it was a POS. Hard to use, crappy camera, and started to act up and crash all the time. But if you want a used one, I’ll sell you my old one cheap. Just got and iPhone 5 with a Lifeproof case and its very own lifejacket and love it. Much easier to use and navigate, more features, better camera plus the synch with itunes and my other gadgets is pretty cool.

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I’ve had all three. I don’t like the iPhone. I like Android a lot.

I just got a Nokia Lumia 928, and I love it. I wouldn’t call it tough or rugged, but it is really cool and takes the best pictures of any phone I’ve ever seen. I really like the fact that it’s Windows based, and all of the videos I take are easy to move to my Windows computer and edit without conversions or confusion. The 928 is exclusive to Verizon, but there are comparable models for all other service providers. Windows is offering lots of rebates to try to push into the market, so you can get a really powerful phone for a better price than other platforms.

Android is really easy to use, and I think it has the best navigation.

I would ask him which one all of his friends have and get something on that platform. If he wants to run apps for playing games or keeping up with friends’ locations (i.e. Google latitude), some stuff works with Android but not on Windows.

I’m pretty sure congress recently made it illegal to unlock a phone for use with a different provider. I’m glad they are looking out for us. That will benefit everybody, right? :angry:

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T-Mobile has eliminated contracts and phone subsidies. This means that their monthly plans are far cheaper since you aren’t paying back the cost of the original device subsidy over the life of a contract. It also means that you have to pay retail for phones.

The Casio Commando (aside from being CDMA and incompatible with T-Mobile … no such thing as an “unlocked” CDMA phone) is also running an extraordinarily old version of Android at this point and won’t see any updates. If you go Android, be sure to get something that’s running at least version 4.1+ / Jelly Bean.

You can buy a phone outright from T-Mobile, or they will offer you no interest financing with a down payment and monthly installments for 18 months.

You can buy a T-Mobile compatible phone anywhere as long as it’s either unlocked or was intended for T-Mobile in the first place. eBay and Craigslist are a gamble for used GSM phones. Unfortunately, there is currently no way to check to see if a phone is lost/stolen or still not paid in full. Certain people would grab handfuls of phones on a payment plan from T-Mobile and resell them for full price before they stopped making payments. T-Mobile would block the phones from their network. No recourse for the buyer, and I guess the sellers either didn’t care about their credit score or were scamming someone else. Lost/stolen phones that are reported as such to the insurance companies are similarly blocked. These phones may work for a month or two before they become useless.

As for OS of choice, that’s really something only he can decide. I would stick with either Android or iOS if apps are a concern. Windows Phone 8 is great to use, but no one is really developing for it. My sister went with a Windows Phone about a year ago, and while she loves the way the OS itself works, she can’t stand the lack of available apps. To make matters worse, they burned her when they announced that no Windows Phone 7 devices would be upgraded to Windows Phone 8. It was obsolete less than a year after she began using

Iphone is easy to use and has all the applications you need, but its getting a bit dated. The screen is smaller, the sound isnt as good and the software is lagging behind the droids…

But if you need a simple to use, plenty capable phone - you may be able to find a deal on an older Iphone 4 16 or 32 gig.

I am not a gadget kind of guy. I don’t need the latest and greatest stuff and my Iphone has been just fine. GPS, weather, directions, internet - its great for all of that.

Originally posted by HoofArded

The 928 is exclusive to Verizon, but there are comparable models for all other service providers. Windows is offering lots of rebates to try to push into the market, so you can get a really powerful phone for a better price than other platforms.

I’m pretty sure congress recently made it illegal to unlock a phone for use with a different provider. I’m glad they are looking out for us. That will benefit everybody, right? :angry:

The Lumia 928 is a Verizon exclusive. T-Mobile currently only offers the Lumia 521. It’s not nearly as high-end as the 9xx series, but it is only $130 retail at Walmart and Best Buy (when they have it in stock).

As for unlocking, the intent was supposedly to prevent folks from unlocking phones that were purchased under contract/subsidy. People have mistakenly believed for years that they actually owned these phones. If the carrier subsidizes your phone (gives you an “upgrade discount”), you don’t actually own the phone until your contract is fulfilled and you’ve paid back the subsidy. This is why they charge an ETF if you break your contract. Phones can still be unlocked legally, but it has to be done through the carrier. If you pay full retail for a phone, they shouldn’t have any problem unlocking a phone - this isn’t always the case.

While I agree that the carrier probably should have some say in whether or not you can unlock a subsidized device (after all, they own it until you finish paying them for it), I do think that all phones bought outright for full retail should come unlocked or be immediately eligible for unlocking.

Smartphones are only as smart as their user… get one your comfortable with. If you so choose a “smartphone” make sure you put a locator on it and secure that thing with its lock devices.

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I’ve had an android since the first Droid came out. I’m pretty good with computer stuff and use it to death, crazy what it’ll do if you ask it.

I have also broken 2/year. Mostly water related, but one cracked due to dropping. The latest was a defect with the power button. Id get the insurance if t mobile has the option. Verizon has a $100 deductible each time and a limit per contract. They also are taking access away slowly. I have unlimited data and use more than the standard 2Gb but if I upgrade ever again, they will nix my data. Kind of sux.

Good luck.


Here is what you need to consider and prevent,etc…My wife and I made mistakes that took awhile to fix. Finding a good smart phone is no big deal. If you just hand a kid one you are in effect handing him a hustler magazine, with unlimited content. You are also giving him a reason to stay up all night. I’m not saying your son will do any of this, but the temptation is there. We put controls on our kids phone, albeit late (best our non tech selves knew how), and he figured ways around them. My wife has found a carrier that filters, and cuts off data late night. I can provide details if you want. Your son may not need this. Mine darn sure does.

Honestly I’d get an iPhone, because it can do all the data and such, bit the lifeproof is what makes it great, he can get any otterbox case for looks(plenty of camo ones) and a lifeproof for underwater use, super cool!

Here is my high level take on it…

  1. Windows 8 phone
  2. Android

    X) iPhone

I have an Android now because my company gave me the choice between an Android and iPhone. I had a Windows 8 phone before and my wife has an iPhone… So, I have experience with all 3 systems…

Because I consider Apple to be a cult, I am an Android fan, personally.

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