Cell phones & plans (v. consolidation and old people)

Stereodude

Not really a
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Jan 22, 2002
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10,252
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Michigan
#1
So I'm back looking at cell phone plans again. I'm currently paying Verizon about $96 a month (after taxes and fees) for 4 lines. It's a really old family plan with no data or text messaging and only 700 minutes. Since I got divorced only 3 of the lines are used. My parents have 2 lines and I have the 3rd. I basically don't use that phone, but it's sort of like my home phone number. FWIW, all the phones are flip phones. I have another phone and "plan" with T-mobile, their Simple plan, for 2GB a month that costs about $56 a month after taxes and fees. My employer currently pays for this bill.

With T-mobile's latest promotion of getting a 3rd line free (after billing credit) if you have two lines, my understanding is that I can get 3 lines of unlimited on their One plan all in for $100 a month. The plan doesn't seem to have any downside from the Simple plan I have now.

So my thinking is that I can dump my ex's number, port my Verizon number to Google voice, keep my T-mobile number, port my parents numbers to T-mobile, and be all set. That only leaves me with a phone problem.

The bigger question / problem is what phone do I get for two 70 year olds? My mom is not tech savvy. My Dad is reasonably tech savvy for his age group, but still not all that savvy in the grand scheme of things. Given the plan, smart phones should be the obvious choice. As far as I know the flip phones don't have band 12 support which is how T-mobile has greatly improved their service in the Detroit metro area, so that's another strike against non-smart phones. I know lots of old people have smart phones and use them just fine. As much as it pains me, an iPhone might be a good fit for my Mom, but I think my Dad would probably prefer Android given that he has an Android tablet. However, I think there is a lot of benefit to giving them the same phone so my Dad can help my Mom with her phone by already being familiar with it.

Are there more old people friendly launchers for Android that hide some of the capability and make the phone relatively unintimidating to use, especially for my Mom?

I don't really want to buy two $700 phones, though I would if necessary. Are the low cost Android phones actually bad phones as the user reviews/ratings suggest or do they have bad reviews mostly from people who think they're getting a flagship phone $99 and are upset when it doesn't perform like one?

Right now my thought is to get two more LG G4's (assuming I can get them reasonably inexpensively, like $200 or so) since I've been happy enough with mine unless there is a more compelling model I should be looking at. Maybe a G5 since they're not too much more money than the G4 and a generation newer hardware which should help longevity. I would expect my parents to have the phones for a long time so a user replaceable battery is probably a must. I'd be inclined to stay away from an AMOLED screen due to the potential for burn-in given that I expect they'll have these phones for much longer than the typical 1-2 year upgrade cycle.

Thoughts?
 
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Stereodude

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Michigan
#3
With T-mobile's latest promotion of getting a 3rd line free (after billing credit) if you have two lines, my understanding is that I can get 3 lines of unlimited on their One plan all in for $100 a month. The plan doesn't seem to have any downside from the Simple plan I have now.
I've gotten e-mails and texts from T-mobile about this plan in the past two days stressing I should act now as it's limited time (but no expiration date stated). I won't be back from China until Monday. With my luck they will probably pull the plug before I get back. :frusty:

If it's still going on I should be able to stop by a store, change my plan & get two SIM card kits, and be on that plan / promotion. Then I can get two handsets and once I have them port the numbers from Verizon. I don't want to buy any phones until I'm on the plan since I could be left with phones I can't use, or would have to get a plan at a higher price to use.
 

fb

Storage is cool
Joined
Jan 31, 2003
Messages
573
Location
Östersund, Sweden
#4
The bigger question / problem is what phone do I get for two 70 year olds?

I'd be inclined to stay away from an AMOLED screen due to the potential for burn-in given that I expect they'll have these phones for much longer than the typical 1-2 year upgrade cycle.

Thoughts?
First: I don't know snything avout the phone networks in the USA.

But the Nokiia 3310 seems to be pretty hot these days. 20+ days battery life sounds pretty compelling to me.

I got a Moto Z Play that I enjoy very much, so how about a Moto G5? I couldn't find any info on the screen technology, but I almost expect AMOLED. On the other hand, I don't expect my mother/father to use the phone all day, so it may take a while longer than normal for the screen to get a burn in.
 

Stereodude

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Jan 22, 2002
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Michigan
#5
The Moto G5 won't be sold in the US. The G5 Plus will be. It has an IPS type LCD screen. Not sure when it will be released though.

The T-Mobile promotion is supposed to end at midnight on 3/5/2017 from what I saw on Slickdeals. I won't be home by then, but reportedly I can do it over the phone. I'll have to use my calling over WiFi feature and try to set it up over the phone later tonight when it's morning in the states.
 

Stereodude

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Jan 22, 2002
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Michigan
#6
I'll have to use my calling over WiFi feature and try to set it up over the phone later tonight when it's morning in the states.
I called customer service over WiFi just now and changed my plan to T-Mobile One and added the two lines. They're sending two SIM card kits to my house. Sim cards were $25 each. Some people online reported a promotion for $3.99 for the kits. I didn't get that, but I'm not going to stress over that. The lady I spoke to was in the Philippines.

I bought two New in the Box LG G5's on eBay from the auction link I posted earlier for a net price of $254.695 each after the 10% off eBay coupon CGAMETECH10. One dark gray and one silver so my parents can tell them apart. I should get KickBack credits of $10 for the two paid lines (since their data usage will be under 2GB per line). That will give me the 3 lines for $80 a month after signing up for Autopay. Less than I'm paying just Verizon now and my parents will be able to text and have unlimited calling. I'm sure they'll be thrilled. :bomb:
 

timwhit

Hairy Aussie
Joined
Jan 23, 2002
Messages
5,278
Location
Chicago, IL
#7
I have an LG G5 and I like it. That price is amazing. My Mom is 76 and my Dad is almost 80 and both are passably able to operate Android phones.

Just spend a little bit of time explaining notifications and organize their home screens to have the things they need on the first screen. The default LG G5 launcher is pretty simple already. It's similar to an iPhone with no app drawer.
 

Stereodude

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Jan 22, 2002
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Michigan
#8
That price is amazing.
Price on the phone or the service? Best Buy had (has?) a deal where you could get the G5 for $120 on AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint but you had to finance it for 24 or 30 months (reportedly it could be paid off early). No T-Mobile option though.

Supposedly the AT&T model has all the right bands to fully work on T-Mobile, but I would have had to also open a line, pay off the phone early, cancel the line, deal with unlocking it, etc. More of a headache than I wanted to deal with.
 

Stereodude

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Jan 22, 2002
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Michigan
#12
The SIM cards arrived over the weekend. Still waiting on the phones. The eBay seller said 12-14 business days and apparently meant it. I've had a USPS tracking number for a few days, but no package has been placed into their hands yet.
 

Stereodude

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Jan 22, 2002
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Michigan
#13
From the if it seems to good to be true department... I got both phones today. One of them is blocked on T-Mobile's network because they show the IMEI matches a phone that was not returned to them in October of 2016 as part of a Jump! upgrade. It was sealed in a box. The IMEI on the box doesn't match the phone. The 5th from the last digit is different. The other seems okay (so far). I don't think they're really new phones. Physically they basically appear new with no scratches or wear. The only appearance thing that leads me to think they're not new is a small amount of dust / debris in a crevice/corner of the detachable lower piece. I'm not sure if they're rebuilt phones using used mainboards from broken or damaged phones and new shells / screen or what exactly they are. One has software current through 03-2016, the other from 08-2016.

I sent the seller a message through eBay complaining about the blocked one. I also mentioned I wasn't going to wait another 12 business days for a replacement.

Who knows what the seller is going to do, but eBay and PayPal will have my back if necessary, but it's still a hassle I didn't need.
 

LunarMist

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Joined
Feb 1, 2003
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14,939
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USA
#17
Now there is strange problem with one of my lines. For no good reason it will occasionally show a large spike in data consumption. For example, 1.2GB appeared the 3rd or 4th day into the cycle. The user does not watch video or stream the audio and typical usage is 500MB/month. The t-mobile app is useless with details. Are the t-mobilons scamming us with a calculation bug, is someone hacking the phone, or what?
 
Joined
Feb 4, 2002
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19,303
Location
Monterey, CA
#18
That sounds like an OS update. There may be a way to restrict these downloads to when the phone is on WiFi. I believe my phone package on Google Fi does not count OS updates towards my data cap.
 

Clocker

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Messages
3,535
Location
USA
#22
Just got my Mom on a great deal with Xfinity Mobile. My Mom got a new LG Charge for $7.50 per month for two years. Comes with 100MB free per month. After the initial 100MB, the cost is $12 per gigabyte of data. No other fees. She is a super light user but wants to have a smart phone. First month is only costing her $7.50 out the door because she is on wifi all the time.

$45 per month per line for unlimited data is also available.
 
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