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Starting from scratch. Which carrier/phone ?

Discussion in 'Android Lounge' started by dougrb, Oct 28, 2010.

  1. dougrb

    dougrb Member
    Thread Starter

    Hey everyone, I've got several itches which need scratching so I'll just get right in to it ! My wife and I have recently returned from Hungary after a year, and we need to decide which carrier to go with. My wife is a LOT less finicky than I am when it comes to phones (heck, she's perfectly fine with her nasty Palm Centro.. she actually likes it !) and I was using an jail broken iPhone 3G which I was actually ok with over there using Vodafone. Excellent service, really.

    Unfortunately, ATT wasn't very nice to us and even though they said they'd wave the ETF if we sent in documents proving that we were moving over seas (which we did ASAP), they didn't. And on top of that, we didn't find out until just now, and the ETF went into collection. So I paid $500 to restore my wife's credit, which was almost perfect before that! Needless to say, I don't want to give ATT any more of our money.

    It's either Sprint or Verizon. Both seem to offer decent phones, but I've heard that the EVO (which is the primary reason to go with Sprint, not sure about the Epic?) is hit and miss and that the battery life is less than stellar. Sprint seems to be slightly more expensive if you go with a 4G phone (and why wouldn't you go with one?) because they charge you $10 per phone for a service which doesn't yet exist in most places, realistically speaking.

    Verizon on the other hand, while perhaps being slightly cheaper ($160 a month for the family plan with talk/text and 2 data plans) doesn't offer unlimited talk between any mobile phone. Only 5 friends per line and other Verizon subs. And unlimited nights/weekends start at 9 pm opposed to Sprint's 7 pm.

    All that being said, it kind of boils down to which carrier currently has the best phone(s) for a person who is most concerned with:

    1. Call quality and reception. (after all, we do still make PHONE calls, right?)

    2. Speed and consistency of data throughput.

    3. Intuitive GUI across the board. The iPhone seems to actually excel in this department. Maybe because there are less options to fiddle with than on other phones in its class.

    4. Accurate, intuitive and comfortable keyboard whether it be touch or otherwise.

    5. Speed. There's nothing worse than a sluggish OS on a phone. I was using my friends Verizon version of the Samsung GalaxyS the other day (Fascinate?), and everything on it seemed to be very zippy, except for when I tried getting a gps satellite to fix on our location. I handed it back to her because I got utterly frustrated waiting for something to happen. Heck, my several year old HTC Tilt was able to get a GPS fix in seconds.. what's up with that ?

    For the time being, I'm using an el' cheapo, no frills Boos Mobile phone (which is fine if all you care about is text and calls. The UI is just, well... not even worth getting into a discussion about. My wife on the other hand, has nothing, and I was going to just give her the T-Mobile SIM I was using in my iPhone when I first got back here (I came back before her) and let her top it up, but that's not exactly cheap either, and there's no data unless you pay a silly amount more. And for that, you may as well just sign up for another plan at that point.

    So here I (we) am/are. I guess it's silly to ask (yet again) about whether or not it's worth it to wait for a dual core processor or for Gingerbread. But I'd love to see some continuity between the Android handsets, and overall more stability within the OS, but I guess that's what 3.0 will be bringing to the table. But is it silly to ask whether or not any of the current offerings will be able to handle the 3.0 update ? After all, the Samsung phones I'm looking at on Verizon and Sprint aren't even on 2.2. Are they going to be ? And why the delay if yes ?

    Not sure of what else to ask, really. I guess my questions sound standard, redundant and loaded ? I really want to know what people's experiences are between carriers, and phones, from a standpoint that lots of domestic traveling will be going on. We love to hike up in the mountains upstate and such, drive to different states for the occasional trip etc..

    And though I haven't really mentioned anything which would indicate that I want my phone to be ridiculously slick looking and feeling from an visual and functional (and audible too, though that has nothing to do with looks) point of view... I totally do. :D

    Thanks for reading!


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  2. toomuchgame441

    toomuchgame441 Android Expert

    I currently have Sprint and hope to never have to consider Verizon. I've been a customer with Sprint for 2 years and have been very satisfied. You mentioned good signal/call quality and I think I've always had great service with Sprint. I get 1-3 bars at home with my service and I can count on one hand how many calls I actually dropped at home in 2 years. I can still browse comfortably while on the network but i prefer my WiFi of course. At work it only gets better. I get excellent 3G service that I rarely have an issue with and the speeds are good. I work in Atlanta where we do have 4G, though its still not very reliable I have to walk to a certain part of my dept to access 4g in the building... if outside it connects right away and the speeds are mind blowing (pulled 7.1 mbps down the other day)

    The phone just works for me its speedy and snappy. When I'm at home I do my general YouTubing and browsing generally on my phone and really only do HW on my desktop. Oh and the keyboard is great, typing this all on my Evo as well.
  3. dougrb

    dougrb Member
    Thread Starter

    A follow up question regarding something I didn't think existed anymore. Guess I got spoiled with ATT in this regard: Roaming ? I've been reading bits and pieces of reviews here and there and always see people bring up roaming on Verizon and Sprint. To quote someone responding to a review somewhere:
  4. dougrb

    dougrb Member
    Thread Starter

    Thanks for chiming in. Curious to know why you hope never to consider Verizon ? Any particular reason like a previous poor experience etc ? I almost hate to have to pay an extra $10 for 4G when it doesn't exist here in NYC. I might go and have a look at the Epic, seems like a nice bit of kit with its front facing camera, though I'm not sure I'd use it in its lifespan. Seems it should be used for video chat, but there's no app as such, yet.

    And as I've said, It seems as though the Evo is hit and miss with people. Sounds like you got a good one, though with my luck I'd end up with 3 bad ones. Realistically speaking, what's your battery life like with it ?

  5. ashykat

    ashykat Android Expert

    Have you looked at coverage maps for your area?

    In my opinion, Verizon definitely has the best network, and I've used all four. Sprint (where I live) is somewhat spotty and I found myself roaming on Verizon a fair amount. I'm wondering why you also haven't considered T-Mobile? Their HSPA+ network is great. Anywho, if you're between Sprint and Verizon, Sprint will be the cheaper of the two and offer more. Their plans include unlimited mobile to mobile (not just in their network, to any mobile phone), and they're the only network to do so. Verizon does, for some reason, charge for visual voicemail. They're the only network on the big four to do so, and I'm not really sure how they get away with it. It's not $10 a month though, it's $2.99. The cool thing about it though, is that you can "Create 10 different caller-ID based greetings.", which I don't think other carriers offer. You could get around paying for this feature though if you use Google Voice or Youmail.

    If you're comparing say, the Droid X to the Evo, the Droid X wins hands down in my opinion. It lacks the 4G capability and front facing camera, but I don't think that fring/qik are really up to par yet on video chat anyway. I prefer the build quality of the Droid X, as well as the physical buttons instead of the capacitive ones. Also, right out of the box, I think the DX has a better UI than HTC's sense. It seems to bog down a lot less, plus the resizable widgets are very nice.

    Sprint has a great program right now though which they call their "30 day guarantee". It's more than just the usual 14/30 day grace period you get with other providers, because if you cancel within the first 30 days and return your phone, they waive everything. Activation fees, taxes, usage, etc. So, if you try sprint and hate it, you don't owe a dime.

    Hopefully I didn't ramble too much, I tend to do that when I'm tired. :)
  6. Palmetto Fellow

    Palmetto Fellow Android Expert

    ALWAYS shop your carrier first...then decide on the best phones offered by that carrier.

    Do not get suckered into going with your dream phone if it's on a carrier who doesn't have good monthly plans opr bad reception in the places you frequent.

    You'll have to do your own homework on the reception thing...and as for the plans...you can do that research yourself.

    However, let me tell you that Sprint ended up being the best carrier for me. Their plans all include unlimited data, and they are the only ones with mobile to any-moble...where calls made to mobile phones on other networks are all free.

    They have the best price for the plan I need, and their coverage map completely covers everywhere I go...I even get 3G everywhere I go...and since I work in Charlotte NC (but don't live there) I also get to use their 4G network for most spots in town.
  7. toomuchgame441

    toomuchgame441 Android Expert

    I just don't want to consider Verizon because of the prices... thats pretty much it. Sprint coverage for me is moderate to great. Like I said at home, its less than stellar but I don't drop calls. Every where else, Sprint works terrific for me even when I do a little travelling out of state. Like the others have mentioned, choose your carrier than your phone.

    Epic can very well be a good choice if it's features are what you are looking for. I like the bigger screen, HTC sense, and better support community (IMO) as opposed to the Epic. I played with both and Evo just fit my needs better.

    The battery life on my Evo is ok, but its a big imporvement over what it was when I first got the device (wouldn't last me more than 8 hrs of moderate use). Now, I can pull off 14 hrs of moderate use and on some days 18 hrs. I think that may be on days when I'm at home running off WiFi perhaps.
  8. TMAG-FM

    TMAG-FM Lurker

    With Sprint, you get 1500 mins to share....however ANY call to ANY cellphone is free!! incoming or outgoing.....so the 129.00 is basically unlimited calling,text and data!!! That is unless you call alot of land lines....

    Tmobile has really solid coverage and new rate plans...give them a look too.
  9. dan330

    dan330 Extreme Android User

    sprint vs verizons..
    i can not see how verizon is cheaper! You might want to redo your math. apples to apples: sprint should be cheaper.

    now... you have to ask around.. with people in your area.. which has the better service. that would be your best bet.

    if you did not like your friends Fascinate because of the GPS issue.. EPIC is the same phone with a keyboard!

    Yes.. roaming on sprint is free.. and in areas that might be bad sprint coverage.. it roams on Verizon and other carriers too.
  10. clutchy

    clutchy Well-Known Member

    if i had a choice i'd pick a droid x on t-mobile, but i currently run a nexus on on att...
  11. TMAG-FM

    TMAG-FM Lurker

    droid is verizon only......unless you speak of an unlocked version
  12. clutchy

    clutchy Well-Known Member

    i'm aware of that, and i'm extending my wish that all carriers offered an unlocked version of their phones...

    i only buy unlocked equipment.

    except for the iphone 4 which i immediately sold unopened...
  13. dougrb

    dougrb Member
    Thread Starter

    I think I already covered most of what you guys have told me in my initial post. I was already aware of each carrier's features in terms of what you get for your money (such as sprint's mobile to mobile etc.. ) and I'm not interested in the types of plans each offer. I was really hoping for help from people who live in NYC and travel about. Sorry, I thought I mentioned that.

    My wife had service with Sprint several years ago and was very happy with them, so I'd gather things have only gotten better with their network?

    @Dan: Verizon seems to wind up cheaper (not by much though, or perhaps now not at all because of the visual voice mail charge) because of Sprint charging $10 per handset for 4G.

    @ashykat: As for roaming on Verizon's network, do Sprint customers pay for this ? I haven't and won't consider T-Mobile because their reception here in NYC stinks on ice in my personal experience. I'd MUCH rather go with ATT than them.

    I've always heard people saying that Verizon's network is better overall, but if I have to pay for roaming with Verizon vs not on Sprint, and the only difference between the two is whether or not I AM roaming, I'd of course choose the one I'm not paying to do that with.

    Reception wise, this also depends on the phone its self. Going back to my friends Samsung Fascinate with Verizon, I could barely hear her talking when she called me, and it was always breaking up. So whether or not VZN is the better network, what does it matter if the phone you get isn't up to the task of pulling in a clear signal? Seems a tough call IMO, but the wife is really going out of her mind without a phone, and I can't blame her. She needs to interview for jobs and has to use my phone as a contact number ! :(

    So now it kind of boils down to hoping to pick a carrier with good coverage in our area PLUS one which has smart phones capable of actually utilizing said coverage. I was hoping to get a decent second phone for free with Verizon's get one buy one free deal, but it seems as though the phones they offer as the free deal, are not the same phones you buy, but rather their choice of a lesser value phone, like say... the Ally. Does anyone here have any experience with that phone in NYC ?

    So I guess my closing question, which I've been hinting at and leading up to is whom here lives in NYC (any of the 5 boroughs) and has thoughts on this situation ? I'm doing as much homework as possible of course, btw. Would like to get this done today/tomorrow

    Thanks !

  14. CriticalCritic

    CriticalCritic Android Expert

    Comparing Evo vs DroidX
    1- Either. Sprint will roam onto Verizon's network with no problem... and maybe visa-versa?
    2- Same as #1, except you have to consider that Sprint has spotty 4G, and I think there may be a restriction on data speed/bandwidth when roaming (on either network, but you obvious do much less data roaming on verizon).
    3- HTC Sense (Evo) takes this. If you want to compare the UI effects on system, move on to #5. But just as it relates to the UI of each, Sense blows away Moto UI experience. Though if you wanted to go to Verizon, you could pick up an HTC Droid Incredible. It is lacking several of the features of the Evo, but it has Sense UI.
    4- Either. All keyboards for both phones are available on either. Though I have heard from one person that the DX stock keyboard is better, but you can still get it on Evo.
    5- Technically the DX will be faster. But after both have gone to 2.2 and HTC lifted the FPS limit on the Evo, actual user experience is nearly identical.

    There are a few other key things to consider.
    Evo has a kickstand, shorter height, front facing camera (going to be HUGE when gingerbread hits), and 24hrs+ battery life if you root (14+ without root).
    DroidX is faster, has a few hardware keys, has better build quality, and I dunno about its battery life...

    Keep in mind that Samsung phones should not be considered unless you want to go to Sprint and MUST use a hardware keyboard. If you need a hardware keyboard in general, go to a Droid.
    The GPS issue that you experienced with your friend's Epic is nothing new. Samsung has a history of using bad radios in their phones (GPS, 3G, AGPS, etc.).

    But as stated earlier, shop your carrier first for true price and coverage. Then figure out the phone... and if you can, make sure it's a flagship.
    Bitterman, TMAG-FM and dougrb like this.
  15. dougrb

    dougrb Member
    Thread Starter

    Thanks Critic, for hitting upon some of my key points from my op. Now, you say that the DX will be the faster of the two phones, but I gather it's likely one wouldn't notice this unless they were comparing the two side by side all the time, and that in the minutia of daily life, the speed of either phone would be "good enough", eg; not sluggish, right?

    The "true price" for either carrier is not that much different in the end with family plans, but Sprint wins out for having unlimited mobile to mobile with any carrier and an earlier unlimited start time. There's also the chance of getting 4G somewhere in the the country.. lol ...

    You also assert that HTC sense UI is cleaner and better put together, which I can only take with a grain of salt since that's an subjective statement, and I've seen just the opposite reaction from folks, in that Moto's UI is infinitely better. Another thing that has put me off a bit from going with the Moto is how they locked the bootloader. I remember when I first read about Google and Android, and how much zeal they spoke with about being entirely open for the end user! What happened with all that ? Meh.

    But now, won't Gingerbread put an end to all of these third party UI's ? Isn't one of its main purposes to consolidate the UI and form a new standard for base (re; not rooted) UI across all Android handsets ? If so, and the Evo is definitely getting Gingerbread, then I'm leaning more that way at this point.

    Also, I'd really love it if someone could confirm or deny for me whether or not a Sprint user pays for roaming on Verizon's network?

  16. CriticalCritic

    CriticalCritic Android Expert

    1) Right. The DX has a faster processor. But these phones have reached the point where the hardware now exceeds the software, so unless you are really hitting them both hard with something very processor intensive, and you have them side by side, you are not going to see a big difference (if any).

    2) I dunno if I made it clear previously... but the data coverage is going to be the biggest difference between the two carriers (aside from the prices if applicable).

    3) Is Sense Cleaner? No, I wouldn't use that word. Better put together? Maybe.

    Moto's UI is like a sharp knife. It's fast, clean, and rigid. It gets the job done, but as far as graphical experience goes, it's vanilla and nothing special, and that's what makes it special.

    Sense UI is like an oiled spoon. It's not as rigid so it doesn't seem as fast (like how screen transitions bounce in Sense rather than snap with Droid), but it flows better like it has more rounded edges. It's slightly more graphics intensive, and comes stocked with more integrated widgets that you can't use on another OS (though you can shop the market to get 3rd party versions for almost all of them on the Droid, that are right around the same quality). But if you want to get rid of Sense, it's a pain.

    When you were talking about GUI, I was thinking the actual graphics of the user interface... which Sense wins. Though they both have their benefits.

    4) No. HTC Will be putting out "New Sense UI" which will hopefully *crosses fingers* be coming to the Evo. New Sense UI is a further attempt to make HTC stand out even after gingerbread hits. It has a few better integrated features, such as a screen-splitting capability when receiving a phone call while using Google Navigation, and syncing with Sense.com HTC - HTC Sense - HTC Sense Overview for more.

    5) I am really never roaming, though I was roaming onto Verizon's network alot a few weeks ago when the local Sprint tower was down... I didn't get anything extra on my bill... but I guess that's not a definite answer...?
  17. dan330

    dan330 Extreme Android User

    roaming on sprint is free...

    data is unlimited on sprint...

    other than 2 charges.. all are free on sprint.
    1. $10 for premium device
    2. $29.99 mobile hotspot (there are free versions with rooted phone)
  18. CriticalCritic

    CriticalCritic Android Expert

    My wife tethers her ipad via wifi to my rooted Evo on road trips... free.

    Though the DX also has wifi hotspot... I dunno the cost though.
  19. Palmetto Fellow

    Palmetto Fellow Android Expert

    I don't think data roaming is free with Sprint, but someone else will have to confirm. Call roaming is free.
  20. dan330

    dan330 Extreme Android User

    as I understand it.. roaming in the US.. data and calls are free...

    sprint can choose to terminate the contract (no eft) if you roam too much. what is too much?? I dont know... it has to be a lot!
  21. ashykat

    ashykat Android Expert

    Roaming is free on both Sprint and Verizon. However everywhere I've been on Verizon I haven't been roaming. When on Sprint there has been a fair amount of roaming. You really don't have to worry about roaming charges anymore unless you're going international. If you roam too much (it would need to be a lot) they may send you a letter telling you to lay off the roaming, and if you don't, they may terminate your contract.
  22. takeshi

    takeshi Android Expert

    ^ This. Do not rely on coverage maps. I've lived in several places where coverage maps indicated good or better coverage and there was no usable signal outdoors. You can start with maps but you need to assess real world coverage where you need it during the return period with the new carrier.

    General comments about "carrier X having better coverage" or a "better network" (and yes, I do use Verizon) are meaningless. Every carrier has coverage holes even in major cities.

    Have you compared other Verizon devices in the same locations to determine that it is the phone and not a coverage issue or are you assuming that it's the device?

    The iPhone has a more consistent interface. I wouldn't use the word intuitive since what is and what isn't intuitive depends on what one is familiar with.

    This is a highly subjective point that you need to assess for yourself. Even if the majority people prefer a given keyboard that doesn't mean that you will.

    Interface lag and GPS fix speeds are 2 completely different things. There are entirely different factors at play with each.

    IIRC the Samsungs have had GPS issues out the gate. Not sure what the current status is.
  23. dougrb

    dougrb Member
    Thread Starter

    Honestly, anywhere she called me from was the same story. It wasn't one specific location. I only got to try her GPS from one location though, and it was in the heart of downtown NYC. My other friend has a DX and when she calls me, it's a slightly different story. I don't hear her breaking up, though I'll admit that the mic quality doesn't sound the best to me, unless it's because the mic isn't reaching her mouth. She's really small! :D

    Ok, great. Thanks very much guys. Sorry to have bombarded you all with this stuff, it must get tedious. I've decided to go and give Sprint a try, since they offer an 30 day total money back guarantee (activation, no termination fee, cost of the plan and money back for the phone) so I don't see how it can hurt to at least give them a fair shot.

    I'll report back I'm sure with progress. Last question for now: If I decide to root the phone, I'm assuming there is a reverse method to get back to the stock OS without leaving a trace of what I had done, in case rooting voids the terms etc?

  24. Palmetto Fellow

    Palmetto Fellow Android Expert

    This gives me a great idea if you need to terminate the contract early. I assume Sprint doesn't charge an early termination fee if they initiate the termination...or did I sign away that right when I get their service?
  25. dougrb

    dougrb Member
    Thread Starter

    OK, LAST question.. I promise !

    We're about to head out to get our phones etc... I'm going to get the EVO, obviously. And she let me decide which phone she should get initially unless she hates it when she tests it. I was thinking either the HTC Hero or the Samsung Transform.

    Does the Transform suffer the same GPS issues as the Galaxy S line does ? The Transform is newer than the Hero, so it's likely to get 2.2 at some point (hopefully), but is there anything else other than the front facing camera and keyboard which would be make or break about the Transform ? Any opinions on which is the better overall phone ? Which might be better after rooting etc etc ?

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