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Help deciding on first smart phones

killxswitch

Member
Aug 23, 2012
61
3
I will try to be brief. I am about to buy smartphones for the first time, for myself and my wife. Android-based, obviously. The plan is to use Straight Talk, T-Mobile prepaid, Virgin Mobile, or some other monthly anonymous carrier.

Based on price range and features, I've narrowed my search to the following phones:

HTC Evo V 4G (Virgin Mobile) - $240
Samsung Galaxy S 4G (T-Mobile) - $220
HTC myTouch 4G (Unlocked, eBay) - $200
Samsung Exhibit II 4G (T-Mobile) - $180

However, the vast number of phones available is hard to take in. I am sure I've missed some in this $175 - $250ish price range that would be good. For myself I plan to get the Evo V 4G, my man hands can handle a 4.3" screen and the features at that price are hard to beat. For my wife, a smaller screen would be preferable.

Criteria I've used (other than price and screen size)

- CyanogenMod availability
- processor speed
- camera quality
- front camera (required)
- LED flash for camera

Each of the other phones has a drawback or two. The Exhibit has an inferior camera, is slower, and with CM9 the camera doesn't work (I think). The Galaxy S has no LED flash and w/CM9 the camera might not work. The myTouch... well I guess I just feel weird potentially using an unlocked T-Mobile phone on a non T-Mobile network. Though I don't know if GSM vs CDMA will play into that decision, I should probably look that up.

Could anyone suggest some other phones I should also consider w/similar specs and price range? Any suggestions on carrier quality? Thank you in advance.
 
I would actually start off with which carrier's network you prefer to use. For me, I first tried Sprint's network (picked a Boost Mobile phone) because of the unlimited data on an Android phone at a very reasonable cost. With Boost's Shrinkage Plan, it gets cheaper every 6 months. -- But lately I've been forced to travel out in the countryside. Sprint towers are not to be found out there, so I needed to get on Verizon's network. So I went and bought a Straight Talk Samsung Galaxy Proclaim. I now get the coverage I need.

If the areas you travel about in allow you to use AT&T/T-Mobile coverage, then you have some additional flexibility. You can use a phone one of the discount providers sell, or choose a "bring your own phone" plan than many discount MVNO's offer... you just buy their SIM... pop it in your unlocked phone... and voila!

Please note, that you need to look CAREFULLY at coverage maps. You need to look at the PREPAID maps for AT&T/T-Mobile/Verizon/Sprint. And then, you typically will NOT get coverage in any area they mark as PREPAID ROAM. Those areas work on the big-4's own prepaid phones, but at a per-minute surcharge. The fixed price discount companies don't support that feature.

Now, once you pick your carrier, you can pick your phone.
 
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Thanks DarkJedi. I will probably go with TMobile and/or Virgin. Both scored well on carriercoverage.com. I am now thinking about the Galaxy Blaze 4G for my wife (TMobile) and the Evo V 4G for myself (Virgin). I don't care about resale value and VM has a return policy in case the coverage is somehow not actually very good in my area.
 
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I'm not sold on CarrierCoverage's data. If more people in your area have T-Mobile phones, then by default it will appear to have better coverage (more sampling points). Same with Virgin Mobile (Sprint).

I think you are on the right path with picking phones from sellers offering good return policies.

I would also carefully read over the T-Mobile agreement. They are one of the Big-4 carriers. You may find the same service cheaper without contracts by getting the phone yourself (used or new - up to you) and the SIM from a different place reselling T-Mobile connectivity (such as StraightTalk).
 
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Samsung Galaxy S 4G (T-Mobile) - $220

Criteria I've used (other than price and screen size)

- CyanogenMod availability

The Galaxy S has no LED flash and w/CM9 the camera might not work.

Pretty sure the T-Mobile Galaxy S 4G (SGH-T959V) variant doesn't support CM9. T-Mobile released 2 versions of the Galaxy S. It's the Samsung Vibrant (SGH-T959) that has CM9 support.
 
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I'm not sold on CarrierCoverage's data. If more people in your area have T-Mobile phones, then by default it will appear to have better coverage (more sampling points). Same with Virgin Mobile (Sprint).

I think you are on the right path with picking phones from sellers offering good return policies.

I would also carefully read over the T-Mobile agreement. They are one of the Big-4 carriers. You may find the same service cheaper without contracts by getting the phone yourself (used or new - up to you) and the SIM from a different place reselling T-Mobile connectivity (such as StraightTalk).

Do you have a suggestion for a better coverage review site? I've spoken with a few people that have VM in my area and they've been reasonably satisfied w/it. I haven't talked to any T-Mobile users.

Pretty sure the T-Mobile Galaxy S 4G (SGH-T959V) variant doesn't support CM9. T-Mobile released 2 versions of the Galaxy S. It's the Samsung Vibrant (SGH-T959) that has CM9 support.

Thanks. I wish they'd make that a little more clear. Though I've decided to try for a phone w/a 3.7" screen, I think 4" and up will be too big for my wife, she wants to be able to slip the phone into her pocket easily.
 
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OpenSignalMaps is another site that has been doing the same thing for a long time.

They too have the same problem. So few people have AT&T based smart phones that have run their software in my area, that AT&T is shown to have little to no coverage in my area. Yet my mother-in-law's phone is an AT&T phone and she gets great reception around here.

I guess what I'm saying is that no one will be able to objectively tell you which cell tower network is best for you. Same with the phones. Yes, please use those sites to help suggest what to try... but don't lock yourself into a carrier contract or a non-refundable phone in case you find it isn't as great as you thought it'd be.
 
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