After holding out all this time, I finally feel like I found a good reason to justify letting a smart device into our household. It finally makes more sense financially for Amanda to own a smart phone rather than a feature phone (aka basic phone, dumb phone, etc.). I started really considering it after an unfortunate miscommunication last year via said dumb phone which caused me to show up to a girls’ night out. (For new readers, I am not a girl.)
The Dumb Phone Incident
Almost exactly one year ago, Amanda and I went out on the town (a very small town) for her birthday. We got some dinner and then went to watch the sun set over Lake Michigan (we keep it simple in the Midwest). All throughout our date, she kept receiving text messages. The problem was, most of the messages looked like this: □□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□.
She had become accustomed to receiving unreadable strings of group texts. One text finally came through that was decipherable. It said “Hey, do you want to come have dessert with us when you’re done?” It was from the wife of a good friend of mine. We thought “Sure, why not? We’re pretty much done with our date anyway.” So we drove on over to Chili’s thinking we were going to enjoy the rest of the evening with my friend and his wife. We walk into Chili’s, and I stopped and said “Ohhhhhhhh crap.” There was a group of about 10 women we knew (including my friend’s wife) just having the time of their lives. We realized we didn’t get the memo that it was girls’ night.
I told Amanda to go ahead, but they told me not to be such a party pooper. I tried to sit as inconspicuously as possible at the far end of the table hoping that we could get out of there as soon as possible. Luckily, the evening passed quickly and only a few co-workers noticed my awkward presence at the girls’ night out (smalltownproblems). This is when I really started wondering if paying more money was worth smarter and clearer communication methods.
Why We Switched to Republic Wireless
At that time, we had been paying just over $30 each month for Amanda’s cell phone through Straight Talk. If you’re able to avoid having to talk to customer service (which we weren’t), it was a pretty good deal. Before that, we were paying over $50 for her phone through Verizon.
But why pay $30 when you can pay $10!? For at almost a year, I had been eyeing Republic Wireless, which has monthly plans for as low as $5. But I just didn’t want to spend $300+ on a phone. When they recently added an option to buy a phone for $99, that was that. The choice was to keep paying $30 for all the minutes she wanted and unlimited undecipherable texts, or to buy a $99 phone with a $10 per month plan. The $20 savings each month from switching to Republic Wireless would quickly cover the cost of the phone.
So a few weeks ago for her birthday, I gave her a smart phone. The Moto E to be precise. For only $99, we’ve been very pleased with its capabilities. With everything Amanda has to do between hauling the kids to their different activities, scheduling violin lessons with her students, grocery shopping, etc., it’s making a big difference in her efficiency. And all it costs is $10 per month.
Why is Republic Wireless so Cheap?
The service was created based on the idea that you can use a high speed internet connection to lower the usage of cellular data, which lowers the cost to users. When Wi-Fi is not available, it automatically switches to a cellular wireless network. Republic leases extra capacity from Sprint, so wherever Sprint offers cellular service is where you can access their network when Wi-Fi is not available.
This is not an in depth review of their service. You can check out their website yourself and see if it’s right for you. For someone with not many preferences or loyalties to either the iPhone or Android, it’s been fantastic.
Do Smart People still use Dumb Phones?
Yes, although there are fewer of us these days. Even though you can get a smart phone plan for as little as $5 per month, if you’re going to waste your time on mindless apps, it may not be worth it. That’s part of the reason I haven’t made the switch yet. Though my smart phone future is likely inevitable, I am content for now with my basic feature phone.
When I started my job post-MBA, I went to the local Verizon store to have them set me up on my employer discount. The lady was trying to convince me to switch to a smart phone. I explained that I was on my computer almost all day everyday, which offers me little incentive to want a smart phone. She said “Well what about your drive home?” I said “I think I can handle 9 minutes of not being connected to the internet.”
Honestly the main reason I’d have right now for switching is because sometimes I just feel silly. I shouldn’t care what other people think, but on one hand it’s part of your image. I’m not going to lie, I usually look around to see if the coast is clear before I slide open my phone and type a text message on the qwerty keyboard.
But it’s just not that big of a deal right now. It’s kind of like socks with holes in them. Those holes have to get really big before you finally decide it’s worth the effort to throw them away and get new ones. For now, I’m just hoping those “holes” in my cell phone don’t get any bigger.
Do you still use or would you ever go back to a basic feature phone?