Looking for advice choosing a mobile phone & plan

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by John S, Apr 11, 2012.

  1. John S

    John S Guest

    I have a cheap CDMA phone on the 027 Telecom network which will stop
    working in mid July, so have been trying to figure out what I should do for
    a replacement.

    I've had a look on the 2 degrees site and the Telecom site and I've been to
    the local Telecom shop, but there are some things I find confusing.

    At first I thought I should just get the cheapest phone from Telecom as
    I've only used the mobile in the past for occasional calls and texts when
    away from home, but with the new smart phones I thought it might be worth
    paying more for a phone with some useful features. Some of the things I
    haven't been able to get answers that I can understand:-

    * Transfer between networks. The Telecom guy said their phones are not
    locked but couldn't tell me which (if any) of them would work with a
    competitor's network.

    In the Telecom leaflet, all their phones will work with GSM
    850/900/1800/1900, plus WCDMA 850/2100. Some additionally do WCDMA1900.
    However I haven't so far been able to determine if, or how these figures
    relate to working on the 2 degrees or Vodafone networks.

    * I find the explanation of the various plans a bit confusing, and am wary
    of any kind of deal which might put me at risk of inadvertently using more
    data than I can afford. eg the Telecom casual rate for connecting to the
    internet is $1.00 per day with 10 MB included, but if you go over the 10
    MB, you pay $1.00 per MB (WOW - $1000 per GB - you wouldn't want to
    accidentally click on something that would send you broke).

    * I thought that, when away from home, it might be useful to have a phone
    with gps capability. The Telecom man showed me the HTC Wildfire S, and I
    noted on the screen that it had a setting to use satellite gps.

    However, when I asked about the data download consequences of using gps, he
    indicated that he thought there would be a data charge. I'm missing
    something here I think, as I understood there was no charge for using
    satellite signals for gps. Maybe the charge would have something to do
    with getting maps to go with the gps signals? If so, I would have liked to
    know typically how much data would be used, say, per hour when using gps.

    * From looking at the web sites of Telecom and 2 degrees, one thing that
    seems to me to be a rip-off is the fact that when you buy a package of
    data, you don't necessarily get to use it, as the data expires after
    (usually) one month.

    I wouldn't like to sign up to a monthly contract - not at the start anyway,
    until I find out how useful the extra features might be in practice.
    So, my thinking was to use a prepay system, and pay the higher unit charges
    to start with, then switch to a monthly package if I get to the stage where
    I'm spending enough to make it worthwhile.

    At the moment my CDMA phone calls and texts get charged to my Telecom bill,
    but I think this arrangement would be dangerous with a smart phone and its
    capability to gobble up large amounts of data. The Telecom guy said they
    don't offer a facility for the customer to put a cap on monthly spending,
    so I guess my only solution would be to use prepay and top up manually when
    the money runs out.

    The arrangements on the 2 degrees site seem generally similar, though there
    are variations in detail. I've heard that their comverage isn't as good as
    Telecom's, but haven't seen anything yet that confirms this.

    Sorry for rambling a bit, but I'm hoping some folk who have been through
    this exercise might have some answers that may be useful to me. One thing I
    though I might do is buy two phones so that my missus can carry one with
    her for emergencies. She hates anything complicated, so would need
    something simple and easy to use, capable of calls and texts.

    Any ideas or hints?


    John S
    John S, Apr 11, 2012
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  2. Yes dead simple dont use one, you lived in the past so why not do the
    same again..

    plus do you realy need 3G..

    Plus a WiFi phone is far cheaper to run
    Frank Williams, Apr 11, 2012
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  3. John S

    Squiggle Guest

    Basically none will work properly and consistently, unless some of the
    higher end XT phones also support WCDMA 900.
    voda & 2 degrees use 900/2100 WCDMA (3G) predominately. GSM = 2G which
    is painfully slow for web browsing and other smartphone goodness.
    Also Correct. You can get some apps that download the maps and don't
    need a data connection. The amount of data used using gps for navigation
    is pretty small.
    Depends how fast you are moving, once it has data for an area it won't
    need to fetch more data till you move into a new area.
    Yep, they want to make money, not give it away.
    Telecom and 2 degrees both have $19-20/month prepay options that give
    some txts, calls and data. Try those for a month or two and see what
    you need.
    Squiggle, Apr 11, 2012
  4. John S

    Enkidu Guest

    Don't get *too* cheap a phone for her. I got a really cheap one and it
    was horrible to use. The keys were imprecise and the sound pretty terrible.


    Enkidu, Apr 11, 2012
  5. John S

    grum Guest

    Right-o, real world example here. I was in the same situation, and
    tempted by shiny new phones, but went for Samsung 3210 on XT network
    OneBill plan, $49 including SIM. I think the deal has changed now, but
    anyway, it's cheap and cheerful.

    I'm a geek with a collection of i-Things/Kindle/GPS etc, but in the end
    made a conscious decision to stay with a simple phone. And so far it's
    great, does everything I need and more. It has a reasonably sensible UI,
    nice keyboard, and is responsive. And lasts for about a week on standby
    (BIG plus). Guy beside me at work is always charging his "smart" phone,
    and cursing it. I like that it's small, small enough to take on holiday
    AS WELL as the iPad. The only thing I can think of it doesn't have that
    would be nice is WiFi, but no big deal. With a bit of fiddling (using
    horrible Samsung software) I even got 250 contacts loaded onto it from
    my addressbook.

    10MB of data is enough to check your email and the weather forecast,
    anything more than that I don't want to do on a phone anyway (even if I
    had one with a 4" screen).

    Good luck,
    grum, Apr 11, 2012
  6. John S

    ~misfit~ Guest

    Somewhere on teh intarwebs grum wrote:
    You can say that again! I bought a Samsung (non-smart) phone and thank the
    gods it crapped out after a few months because by then I was thoroughly sick
    of it's interface. So non-intuative it appears it's designed by and for
    schizophrenics. Not that there's anything wrong with that, just that I found
    it bloody horrible to use.

    I was credited the cost price back and used it to buy a Nokia, which is what
    I should have done in the first place.

    "Humans will have advanced a long, long, way when religious belief has a
    cozy little classification in the DSM."
    David Melville (in r.a.s.f1)
    ~misfit~, Apr 12, 2012
  7. John S

    John S Guest


    Just following up my own post to say thanks for the comments so far.

    Think I will get a simple phone for now, and leave the idea of a "smart"
    phone for later.
    Will check out the cheapo Telecom U3100N to see how easy it is to use. I
    would like something that's intuitive enough to not need to dive into the
    instruction book every time you need to use it.

    The guy in the Telecom shop did a bit of demonstrating when I was there,
    but his fingers went faster than my comprehension.


    John S
    John S, Apr 13, 2012
  8. First thing to do is to look at the coverage maps on the companies'
    websites. I found that in my area Vodaphone has MUCH better coverage
    than Telecom. I also find that more of our friends have Vodaphone
    phones, so they'll be cheaper to call (I hope).

    Second thing I did was read a passel of phone reviews. I ended up buying
    2nd hand on tardeme a phone that was reported as having good
    connectivity and nice loud sound. Looking at the reviews not all phones
    are equally able to hold a connection to the network, and some are not
    loud enough to understand in a noisy environment. Personally I don't
    give a stuff about cameras and such, I have a dslr, I don't need a phone
    to take pictures, and I'm not going to use my phone as an mp3 player or
    such like.

    Peter Huebner, Apr 13, 2012
  9. John S

    John S Guest


    Hadn't thought of buying second hand as I assumed it might be risky.

    Just for curiosity, which model did you end up choosing?

    Any tips for where to get reviews of phones relevant to NZ?
    Whenever I venture into Google I seem to get swamped with results that
    aren't relevant to what I want (ie I'm apparently not all that good at
    asking the questions in the right way).


    John S
    John S, Apr 14, 2012
  10. John S

    John S Guest


    I thought I would look at that one anyway, although misfit reported earlier
    that he found the interface on a cheap Samsung was horrible.

    But Grum said nice things about the Samsung E3210, so I must have a look at
    it. If my wife is going to use it, then "easy to use" is high on the list.


    John S
    John S, Apr 14, 2012
  11. I got an LG Optimus 500. So far I'm happy with it. To me it seemed to
    have the best price to performance ratio of all the models I checked
    out; Sure, the Samsung Galaxy 9001 is better, but it also costs more
    than twice as much.
    The irony is I haven't made a call on it yet, but I've used it to check
    email while in town a couple of times. Works a treat. In the same boat
    as you, our old telecom phone is about to expire. We don't even live in
    the coverage area, but vodaphone's is closer, so I changed over.

    As far as 'phones relevant to nz' goes: the thing to look for in
    smartphones is the 3G network spec: Telecom runs 3G on 850, Vodaphone
    and 2degrees run on 900 (mostly this applies for rural areas as far as I
    know), so you have to decide what provider you want to go with before
    you look at models. All the smartphones I looked at in reviews seem to
    have the necessary specs to work with all the 2G (that's voice calling)

    If you find a model you want to know about and you type "review samsung
    galaxy 9100" into google, you'll get a host of review sites. Sometimes
    you even get links to pages that compare similar models. It pays to
    check out several reviews in my opinion, seems some of the reviewers are
    more concerned with the toy and accessory aspect of the damn things than
    with the performance as a telephone. But I always managed to get the
    info I wanted in the end.

    www.gsmarena.com is helpful, so are
    www.expertreviews.co.uk have a few as well --- there are a handful of
    other sites with less content, cnet's Aussie site for instance - but if
    you search for a specific review then typing the model in to google is
    the best bet.

    Incidentally - unless you want to go with telecom, I'd beware of trademe
    offers of refurbished smartphones with US teleco brand names and models
    made specifically for those -- they almost all only work on telecom
    frequencies and they all get middling to bad reviews from the experts
    for functionality (broken connections, slow, not loud enough). There's
    one or two trademe pros who seem to bring those in by the crate.

    h.t.h., -Peter
    Peter Huebner, Apr 14, 2012
  12. John S

    ~misfit~ Guest

    My experience *was* two years ago as well so I can't speak for contemporary

    "Humans will have advanced a long, long, way when religious belief has a
    cozy little classification in the DSM."
    David Melville (in r.a.s.f1)
    ~misfit~, Apr 14, 2012
  13. John S

    grum Guest

    Yep. You only have to spend a moment with a U3100 in one hand and a 3210
    in the other to make the right decision here.
    grum, Apr 16, 2012
  14. John S

    John S Guest


    Just following up my own post to say thanks again to everyone for the

    In case anyone is interested, I bought the Samsung E3210B from Telecom for
    the discounted price of $49.00 as an existing CDMA customer.

    I quite like the phone after playing with it for a while, but am
    disappointed at the supplied instructions.

    The user manual is printed in tiny print on one piece of paper folded into
    5 x 3 sections. It mainly deals with the basics OK, but says nothing on
    several settings I've looked at so far while playing with the phone.

    For example, it doesn't explain how predictive texting works, and doesn't
    even explain how to enter text - presumes that everyone understands how to
    do this I guess.

    I emailed Samsung, asking if a more detailed manual is available.
    At least, they answered my email, but the answer in NO.

    Their email suggested I phone their customer help centre if I need advice.


    John S
    John S, Apr 21, 2012
  15. John S

    Dave Doe Guest

    Perhaps you can find a manual on their website - and so make the text
    nice 'n large! :)
    Dave Doe, Apr 21, 2012
  16. John S

    ~misfit~ Guest

    Yeah but there's a downladable manual for it. That was an issue I had with
    my Samsung a few years back. Thin manual in box so assumed I'd need to d/l a
    pdf.... Yet there wasn't one available. :(

    "Humans will have advanced a long, long, way when religious belief has a
    cozy little classification in the DSM."
    David Melville (in r.a.s.f1)
    ~misfit~, Apr 22, 2012
  17. John S

    John S Guest

    OK, but when I downloaded the user manual on the Samsung site, it was
    exactly the same as the manual supplied with the phone - in fact it looked
    like a photo of the supplied manual, saved as a .pdf, with not great


    John S
    John S, Apr 23, 2012
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