So I mentioned a new phone yesterday…..

We’d been considering upgrading to smartphones for a little while.  Our current phones (both dumbphones – mine didn’t even have a keyboard) were over two years old, and while we didn’t have any pressing need for smartphones it is also true that the ordinary phones on the market are looking less and less appealing, as their makers put more resources into the smartphones.

So we decided that, come December (the month of Christmas bonuses, possible raises, and markdowns on personal electronics as newer versions come out) we would look at things when we got new phones and either both of us would upgrade or neither of us would.  I was doing just fine without a data plan, but it would be handy to have reading material and games available when Beauty decided she wanted to spend longer than expected at the park, and it’d be nice to have a Bible on there, and after watching my mom try to keep her schedule straight using a wall calendar, a day planner, and numerous lists, I knew I would want a smartphone when Beauty hit school-age, though that’s still a couple years away.  So while I could happily survive without a smartphone, I knew I’d get use out of one.  And Hero having a smartphone when I did not would be just unfair.

The trouble was the money – an additional $30 a month from Verizon.  Each.  The other major carriers were the same.  We’d have been fine with a smaller plan or even pay-as-you-go, downloading things via wi-fi at home and using little or no internet otherwise, but those options have been discontinued.

Then something reminded me to look at smaller carriers, like MetroPCS and Virgin Mobile.  (Hero hadn’t heard of Virgin Mobile, and I was amused to discover that I could remember and describe their original ad campaign.  We watched very little TV back then, but apparently that one got through.)

And Virgin Mobile charges $35 a month.  Total.  For unlimited web, unlimited text, and 300 minutes of phone call.

Off to our Verizon records, where we discovered that we average 150-200 minutes per month.  We’re not phone call people.  I used to be terrified of phone calls, actually, and while I’m mostly over that I still am not a huge fan.  Anyway, in the last eight months I only went over 300 minutes once, and Hero not at all.

Now.  We were paying Verizon around $50 a month, for (I think) unlimited phone calls and unlimited texts.  No data plan.  Our phones were over two years old, so if we went to Verizon to replace our current phones we’d probably get free replacements and a two-year contract:

(free phone) + ($50/month for two years) = $1200

At Virgin Mobile, we’d have to pay for the phones, but then we’d only pay $35 a month:

($300 phone) + ($35/month for two years) = $1140

That’s less money for more services.

Now, nothing is perfect – Virgin Mobile could change their prices, and actually we added the $5/month phone insurance since we do have a toddler running about, but that’s still very little money for a very big upgrade.

So we went out and bought the phones and signed up.  We’re not sure how the signal will be in our area, though as we’re in a major metropolitan area it should be pretty good.  If it’s terrible, Best Buy has a great 30-day return policy.

Anyway, I’m having fun.

Beauty spent over an hour yesterday wandering around and around the playground.  Instead of being bored while I watched her, I read The Scarlet Pimpernel, which is much better than I remember.  And I chatted with Hero via gchat, something normally reserved for home.  And when I nursed her before bed and she decided to wiggle and thrash about, I browsed on the phone instead of on the netbook, which cannot be held in one hand far away from waving limbs.  And when I did my homework for CBS, I could sit in bed and not have to juggle the huge notebook they give you with an equally huge Bible.  Or the netbook.  Or both, sometimes.

I’ve done some browsing on it, which went fine.  I haven’t streamed video because I don’t see the point in most situations.  I refuse to use my phone as a music-playing device: my father does that and it drives me nuts to hear awesome music rendered through such tiny speakers.

So far the signal has been pretty solid.  It’s not great in my parents’ house, but nothing ever is.  I’m fine all around the neighborhood, and Hero is fine all the way too and from work.  Which is actually an improvement over Verizon, which had a couple dead spots.

And there’s a camera, which I may or may not use very much, and I got a Bejewled clone (my gaming life is simplified by the fact that games are mostly for relaxing my mind so I can daydream, so I’m not usually that interested in anything complex), and the battery life is great so far (also, it charges really fast) and I’ve got all my old ringtones properly set up, and generally life is good.

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