By Frank Ling
As odd as it may sound to some tech-hounds, not everyone wants or needs a quad-core, Super-AMOLED, 4G LTE lightning-fast, fire-breathing mobile phone. Why? Because some people just want a dependable no-frills phone. Perhaps it’s contrary to logic, but low-tech can actually outperform high-tech when it comes to mobile phone value. For example, simple mobile phones start at prices as low as $29.99 (and even free sometimes) from wireless carriers with a two-year contract.
If you don’t need Internet access, low-tech phones don’t require a mandatory subscription to monthly data plans that can cost an additional $360 or more per year for Internet connectivity.
Because low-tech mobile phones are simpler to operate, they are perfect for those who are “tech-challenged” or just don't want to be bothered with a million features. Basic mobile phones appeal to cost-conscious consumers who don’t need the latest tech and features.
Bottom line: Low-tech mobile phones save you lots of money on a per-year basis over smartphones.
Here are two recommendations in getting you started on this route:
LG Revere: This is a flip phone (think of Captain Kirk’s communicator on Star Trek) comes with everything you need to make phone calls, text messages and connect with Bluetooth units. For a basic phone, it sports quite a lot of features. The LG Revere is free with a two-year contract from Verizon.
Pantech Link: For those who want a full QWERTY-styled keyboard the Pantech Link is the answer. It features easy key access for typing messages or entering data, 1.3 megapixel camera, and a 2.4-inch color screen. This phone is free with a two-year contract from AT&T.
Those come with contracts, but many want the convenience of a cell phone without being chained to a lengthy two-year contract with a wireless carrier. If you’re looking for the ultimate in a no-commitment relationship for your mobile phone needs, you need not look any further than a pay-as-you-go cell phone plan.
Wireless carriers offer these phones starting at around $19.99 and up. Along with the deal, a certain amount of talk time or minutes are added to the phone. When the minutes are used up or if the customer wants additional talk time, they can purchase more minutes.
Prepaid plans offer several advantages for the budget-minded:
- They do not require a standard two-year contract commitment with the wireless carrier.
- Some prepaid plans already have regulatory fees and taxes incorporated into the monthly charges. (Check wireless carriers for details.)
- Prepaid phone plans are ideal for anyone who wants to use a cell phone as an emergency backup device to contact friends or family.
- There are options to buy a smartphone without a two-year contract (you are still required to pay for a monthly data plan).
- Some prepaid plans don’t require monthly service charges.
- No expensive cancellation fees or penalties if you decide to quit the wireless service.
- Some prepaid monthly plans offer package deals which include talk, text, and Internet access at very reasonable prices.
Each wireless carrier has its own particular line of prepaid phones that differs in complexity and features, so the best plan and phone for you will take some comparison shopping to see which one suits you the best.
Some independent companies such as Tracfone have very low monthly subscription costs and have a good deal of plan choices to meet most people’s budgets and needs. Be sure to check them out. Prepaid mobile phone plans aren’t for everyone and depending on your typical usage, can even cost more in monthly charges than wireless two-year contracts. But if you know what your needs are and take care in monitoring your phone usage closely, you can save a bundle by going with prepaid plans.
Mobile phone ownership doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to get on board. There are alternatives out there, and for anyone who is on a budget or wants to save money, doing your homework on wireless carrier deals can go a long way.
Frank Ling is the SF Gadgets Examiner and has been a writer, professional photographer, video producer, video game QA trainer and video editor.