Archive for the ‘ Carriers ’ Category

Most popular smart phones still fail when it comes to battery life

Two reports on wireless use by J.D. Power and Associates rate the top satisfying brands to smart phone customers. According to the 2012 “U.S Wireless Smartphone Customer Satisfaction Study” and “U.S. Wireless Traditional Mobile Phone Satisfaction Study,” Apple tops that category as the brand most satisfying to consumers, with HTC, Samsung, and Motorola coming next.

“Apple, with a rating of 840 out of 1,000 points, was followed by HTC, with four circles and a rating of 793,” according to the Eweek story. “Samsung and Motorola took third and fourth places, each with three circles and ratings of 789 and 758, respectively.” Other brands that got top billing in another category – feature phones – included LG Electronics and Sanyo, with scores of 716, followed by Sony Ericsson with a 712 out of 1,000.

Battery life was a big factor in customer satisfaction, the surveys found, with 4G users saying theirs was poorer (likely due to the fact that 4G users tend to constantly be talking, Web surfing, emailing and texting, often keeping many apps open at once). Only a quarter of 4G smart phone owners said they were highly satisfied with the device’s battery life and said they would purchase another device from the same manufacturer.

Until manufacturers find ways to greatly increase battery life, one way to minimize costs is to buy replacement batteries from non-carrier shops that sell refurbished cell phones and a variety of parts. They’re often much cheaper — $6 compared to $30, in some cases. The average battery at a store like CellularTrendz is around $12, while often if you buy a battery from the Sprint of T-Mobile store it could cost you $40.

Used cell phones help soldiers, the elderly and victims of domestic violence

Used cell phones can be extremely useful to people who might not otherwise be able to afford a device, and a number of programs deliver barely-used phones that are still in good condition to veterans, elderly and victims of domestic violence.

Alabama first lady Dianne Bentley recently donated 2,500 used cell phones collected from the governor’s staff and employees to HopeLine, a Verizon Wireless program that recycles the devices and donates proceeds to domestic violence victims.

Meanwhile, Cell Phones for Soldiers, an innovative non-profit started by two teenagers in 2004, provides deployed and returning troops with free phone service. They collect used cell phones from around the country and mail some 12,000 calling cards each week for soldiers to use to connect with loved ones. Started by Brittany and Robbie Bergquist of Norwell, Mass. when they were just 13 and 12 respectively, the group has raised $7 million in donations and recycled more than 8.3 million used cell phones.

“Cell Phones for Soldiers started as a small way to show our family’s appreciation for the men and women who have sacrificed the day-to-day contact with their own families to serve in the U.S. armed forces,” says the teens’ father, Bob Bergquist in a quote on their Web site. “Over the past few years, we have been overwhelmed by the generosity of others. But, we have also seen the need to support our troops continue to grow as more troops are sent overseas for longer assignments.”

Unlocked cell phones for international travel

Of the some 300 million wireless subscribers in the U.S., around 40 million travel internationally each year, according to the CTIA Wireless Association. So, what does that mean for wireless use? Prior to leaving the country and traveling abroad, it’s important to check with your service provider to see if you need to make changes to your device or your plan (and make sure you take your carrier’s international customer service number with you when you leave).

Most often, your phone won’t work in a different country unless you have your provider install a different SIM card. Your device may not even be compatible with the country’s network. But if you use unlocked cell phones, you’re SIM card is more likely to work out of the U.S. Not only that, unlocked cell phones enable you to use your phone with various carriers, not just one.

This is useful even for people who don’t travel internationally. U.S. carriers’ practice of locking the phones they issue to customers – this means that they tweak the software so that the devices won’t work with competitors — makes sense for them, but it doesn’t necessarily make sense for consumers. For some people, it’s worth not straying to another carrier or being unable to use their phone abroad without swapping SIM cards, but for others, it simply is not. For example, what if you find another carrier with a monthly plan so well-suited to you in service and price that it’s worth breaking your contract and using an unlocked cell phone? In that case, you can find a third party such as Cellular Trendz and get a phone that not only uses cutting edge technology but is also much more versatile.  And, if you want a device that doesn’t tie you indefinitely to a specific carrier and is also inexpensive considering the features it makes available, try used cell phones. With the major manufacturers engaged in an ever-intensifying competition over the burgeoning cell phone market, the high-paced rate at which new gadgets are being made means consumers have access to a wide selection of lightly used devices.


Chile Forces Unlocked Cell Phones

Unlocked cell phones are now mandatory in Chile. As 2012 rolled in, so did a requirement that service providers could no longer but software on phones inhibiting their use on other carrier networks.

The new unlocked cell phone law is also retroactive: all current cell phones have to be given their unlock code by the service provider so that users can have the choice of true mobility.

Locked cell phones are a way for carriers to subsidize cell phones—your phone isn’t really free, you’re signing a contract. Most carriers prefer this method, although Europe has unlocked cell phones (the customer paying full price for the cell phone instead), and some other countries have mandated unlocked cell phones in an effort to improve customer rights.

In the US, there are only a few carriers that sell unlocked cell phones. It’s actually to the customer’s advantage, since it broadens the options in the market. Carriers still want you on a contract—but if you come to them with an unlocked cell phone, you can stay off a contract, and they’ll often offer you a secret, better price to keep you with them.

Of course, there are US movements to give customers similar rights, but the carriers would likely not respond favorably.

Unlocked Cell Phones May Get…More Unlocked?

Despite Apple’s reputation for being a control freak—keeping their app store behind an ivory gate, limiting what computer languages can be used on their devices—but they may some day through the American cell phone industry into a dynamic beyond unlocked cell phones.

There are many reasons to love unlocked cell phones: having no contract so you can get the best deal, being able to mod the software and delete the carrier junk apps (and then scratching off the corresponding branding), and just being able to say f-you to the companies.

Well, Apple may do all that for you. They’ve already told the carriers a big NO to branding and preloaded add-apps—but they were also recently awarded a patent that would extend those unlocked cell phone like services, AND do the work for you.

Basically, Apple would become a middle-man between the user and the phone companies, leveraging their iPhone popularity for the lowest rates, switching between or mixing and matching different companies without a user ever seeing a dip or change in service. They could even take payments, making the branding, contracts, and other junk associated with all the carriers obsolete.

Of course, unlocked cell phones would still have a place, since not everyone would want an iPhone, so you have to assume that a dual system of some sort would have to emerge, but it’s an interesting future to think about. You’d never have to risk bricking your phone to unlock it again!

Simplify With Unlocked Cell Phones

You may have heard of the iPPeel, a new device the puts a cell phone on the back of your iPhone. It’s designed to hold 2 extra SIM cards for people who travel a lot and want to avoid roaming charges by easily switching from one carrier to the next.

The thing is, there’s an easier (cheaper!) way. Unlocked cell phones work in a very similar way, you just have to change the SIM card yourself.

Unlocked cell phones are phones whose software has been unlocked so that you can use the SIM card of any network with the phone (Sprint is the only major American cell phone company that does not rely on SIM cards, although an unlocked cell phone originally sold by Sprint works on everything).

So, the upside to unlocked cell phones is that you don’t have to pay $70, and you can make calls with your own phone and phonebook without having a silly looking extra phone strapped to the back that elicits silly jokes.

The downside is that you have to keep track of SIM cards and physically switch them in and out of your unlocked cell phone, rather than having them ready to go, as the iPPeel lets you have two extra at all times. Of course, if you’re travelling so much you actually need such a device, there may be a better chance that two isn’t enough.

In any case, unlocked cell phones may be a better option for many people.

Looking For A Worldly Unlocked Cell Phone?

In the US, Apple reigns supreme, but for worldwide smartphones… look to Samsung.

Samsung is the leading retailer for smartphones worldwide (Nokia leads phones in general). If you’re looking to be cool when you travel with an unlocked cell phone, look into Samsung.

Unlocked cell phones allow you to switch SIM cards so you can get the rates of the local cell phone service provider.

When travelling, you can go on roaming…which gets even worse internationally! Prepaying for minutes and texts on a reginonal sim card (or getting a tempoary plan if you need to use data) is a much smarter option, but only if you have an unlocked cell phone!

Make sure that you pick an unlocked cell phone that is manufactured to work globally. Depending on your needs, you might pick a Samsung smartphone like the Galaxy S or go with something simpler like a Nokia.

Even if you’re not travelling this winter, think ahead to summer with your next cell phone purchase. Dream of Asia, of Europe, and of all the exciting restaurants your phone can guide you to (as well as the help it can call in an emergency).

Of course, some people may prefer to travel tech free. Even then, it might be wise to bring at least one unlocked cell phone per group.

AT&T, T-Mobile Customers Should Stick With Unlocked Cell Phones

Beginning with the proposal from AT&T to buy T-Mobile, both companies have eperienced many ups and downs, and not without affect on the customers. To avoid the confusion, and the uncertain future, rather than renew contracts, get the freedom of unlocked cell phones.

When the merger was first proposed, T-Mobile halted many of its practices, some of which benefitted T-Mobile customers, like getting rid of their collections department. Of course, they’ve also stopped practices that would better service (for example, unless you have an unlocked cell phone, iPhone 4S isn’t on T-Mobile).

For AT&Ts part, the governments no vote on the merger has made them act a little crazy. The largest network, trying to shrink to a permissable size meant selling off spectrum, i.e., your phones service & roaming quality.

Furthermore, if the deal doesn’t go through, AT&T, per the deal, has to give even more spectrum to T-Mobile, as well as billions of dollars in penalties.

If you’re a customer of either company, it would be well worth while to switch to an unlocked cell phone that you can take with you if service tanks, the company sells into unfavorable terms, or something new and (probably) worse happens.

Unlocked cell phones also give you the ability to exist without a contract, meaning you can walk away easily. With the current ups and down the leading and third leading mobile companies are going through, the freedom of unlocked cell phones is doubtless worthwhile!

Could Unlocked Cell Phones Give You More Control Over Your Kids?

Palm Pre, an unlocked cell phone with a great OS for kids.

Many parents are giving their children cell phones at ever younger ages, and it’s not uncommon to see a young child learning to use the device (as well as colors, numbers, and words) while playing with the many child-geared apps available.

But kids need to meet certain expectations for responsibility, as well as have a viable punishment when entrusted with cell phones. Unlocked cell phones can give parents that boost.

Unlocked cell phones work on any GSM provider, and more importantly, are super easy to use with prepaid plans from any company.

Pre-paid plans can be usd as allowance, as punishment if you want to take away kids data plans (or as a way to limit the functionality of the phones, permitting more uses as they age).

Because unlocked cell phones can be bought cheaper than carrier provided phones and without the contracts and fees, they also allow parents the ease of switching plans if necessary. As more kids use cell phones, carriers can be expected to add bonus features to plans (some already exist): being able to use the phone to keep track of your kid at all times, monitoring use, and with unlocked cell phones it’s easy to install thrid party apps for emergency situations (911 to mom with the bush of a button, for instance).

When every family member has an unlocked cell phone, it can help you to save money by finding the cheapest rates, and switching as need be (be sure to ask about the price of non-contract plans-they’re often cheaper).


More Reason For The Flexibility Of Unlocked Cell Phones

Now Google's Turning Your Phone Into A Credit Card

Most people already appreciate that unlocked cell phones help you switch carriers more easily. You can buy unlocked cell phones cheaply online (no fees or contracts), and then you can switch carriers, if, say, they change policies and limit data to 2GB/month!

But a new assortment of data shows that there may be other concerns when choosing a carrier, or deciding when to leave one using your unlocked cell phone.

It turns out, carriers store different amounts of information about you for different periods of time. Verizon seems to be the worst offender, actually storing the content of text messages, and keep IP data the longest.

T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint all keep data for differing lengths of time. If you’re concerned, make sure you have unlocked cell phones so that you can change to the best carrier for your needs/preferences, and since unlocked cell phones = jail broken cell phones usually, if there’s ever an app (like Tor for phones or something) that can help ensure privacy, it probably won’t be available in official app stores so best have unlocked cell phones!

What tips do you have for ensuring privacy when using cell phones? How do you adapt unlocked cell phones to enhance your privacy? Share your cell phone tips in the comments!

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