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Smartphone envy

Cell phone of the Mayans

You’d expect the photo above to be in black and white with tattered edges, because that phone is ANCIENT. The Mayans had cell phones like that. Sadly, I also have a cell phone like that. Oh, my poor little cell phone! Once it was the shiniest, coolest gadget on the block. Then two minutes later it was complaining about arthritis and napping in the early afternoon.

I may work in information technology, but I am not a gadget person. My philosophy towards electronics is to keep it until it breaks. The Kindle and the iPad look nifty and all, but I feel no need to buy either one. However, iPads and Kindles are still rather rare, whereas smartphones have recently hit a saturation point. It seems like everyone has one. My friends are always whipping out their phones to check Twitter or Facebook or send messages on their QWERTY keyboards or to run the latest app or Google the answer to a question that has come up over dinner or to show me video of them drinking on a party bus on St. Patrick’s Day. They’re everywhere! Everyone has one but me! I’m feeling less like a less-than-gadgety girl and more like a citizen of the 18th century gawking at the future.

So why haven’t I bought an iPhone or a Droid phone or any phone made this century? The phones are nifty, but the plans are so damn expensive when you ad data transfer and texting. It seems superfluous too when you consider that I spend almost $50 a month on my home Internet service. I don’t use the phone that much. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a quiet person. I don’t chat. I email and Twitter and IM, but I don’t have many phone conversations. Right now, I use a pay-as-you-go plan which I determined was the cheapest plan for me.

But…I feel like I need to get a better phone, one that can access the Internet and lets me text faster. It would also be good to have for when I’m traveling and don’t have access to wifi. I don’t think my pay-as-you-go plan can handle that. I’m going to have to look at my budget and see if I can figure something out. I’m particularly watchful of my expenses now that I work for myself and my income varies from month to month. It just doesn’t make sense to spend a shitload of money on a phone I wouldn’t use that much, yet I know I’m going to have to upgrade soon or be caught in the past.

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Hunter • April 26, 2010 at 8:32 am

Hey J.

I’m right there with you. I hang onto electronics until they die. When I went in to upgrade my last cell phone, it didn’t even communicate with their current system (analog versus digital). The whole ordeal brought lots of snickering from the cell phone employees and some of them had never seen a phone that old. I too, tend to watch my budget (just had a root canal) and I doubly make sure that what I get is what I will use. I recently got an IPOD and am so amazed at how wonderful it is. I was like…who knew? So, good luck in finding your perfect usable gadget. =^..^=


Grace • April 26, 2010 at 8:58 am

I’m not a chatty one, so I have a basic cell phone as well. I don’t feel the need to constantly be in touch with a load of people every day. So you’re not the only one who is sticking to what works.


Jo • April 26, 2010 at 9:05 am

I don’t do texting or web surfing from my phone either.. i think a phone is for a phone.. to talk.. But to your last part.. my sister has a pay as you go phone and she has unlimited web and texting. So i know they are out there!


Larkspur • April 26, 2010 at 9:53 am

Blackberry. Tried to live without it. Not possible. God’s gift to the attention disordered.


Ashley • April 26, 2010 at 10:13 am

I too was hanging on to a dinosaur of a phone (it was a Pantech C300; google it to see just how incredibly old school I was) and I recently upgraded myself all the way to an iPhone. It’s difficult for me to talk about just how much I love my iPhone without sounding like an Apple commercial, so I’ll try to keep it short and practical. I really like having my e-mail always accessible, and having my phone calendar sync with my iCalendar is great too. However, the thing I really like the best is probably the constant entertainment value. Anytime you are waiting for anything, in any location, you can entertain yourself playing on your phone. Check your e-mail, check your facebook, whatever. It makes waiting for appointments or late friends infinitely better.


Alison • April 26, 2010 at 10:47 am

I have a Nokia E71. It’s a smartphone, but I found it WAY too expensive to have the data package and all. I just have a plan with 2000 minutes + 200 texts per month. I seldom hit 200 minutes +50 texts per month! As much as I loved surfing the internet on the train to work each day, it was NOT worth the price of the data plan. I do appreciate the QWERTY for texting, and it has a nice little calendar feature that I use. It also has a GPS function, which I also refuse to pay for and don’t use. So it’s a really nice phone, but I just don’t think it’s worth the money to pay for the access to all of its features. I also have internet access and phone service at home, so it seems like a waste of money to also pay a ton for that same service through my phone. I’d much rather use a landline and a laptop than a cell phone. Good luck in your search though.


Karen • April 26, 2010 at 11:02 am

I’m with you. My phone is ancient. It has internet access, but I don’t use it. I have a small simple plan that is of minimal cost. I’m afraid of having to get a new phone because the plan would probably change – be more expensive – for all the texting and all that I don’t do.


Shelley • April 26, 2010 at 11:06 am

I’m like that too. I still have my Motorola Razr pink flip phone that I’ve had for years. The teenagers, on the other hand, like to have the qwerty keyboards. My oldest (17) got an HTC Tilt (I think that’s the name of it) for Christmas. I didn’t even know that was considered a smart phone, and I told her not to use the internet since I don’t have an internet plan, so she didn’t. Then AT&T decided to tack that $30 data plan on her phone without even telling me. I called them and they said it’s “required” with smart phones. So I told my daughter to live it up and use the internet on the phone. She might as well, we’re paying for it. Damn phones.


tessler • April 26, 2010 at 11:22 am

Just so you know, I’m suffering from major Nokia jealously right now! ::pout:: Nokia makes the Best. Phones. EVER. Every Nokia phone I’ve had, I’ve loved. Every other phone I’ve had, I’ve hated. (I’m hating my crappy Samsung real hard right now. Just so you know.)

Of course, this is coming from someone who has never used a Crackberry or i-anything.



Lisa • April 26, 2010 at 11:34 am

I’m with you…I HATE talking on the phone. I’d rather email or text. Which is antisocial, I know. But I just hate phones. :)


Shady • April 26, 2010 at 11:48 am

I’ve had so many issues with my last two cell phones, from two different service providers that once my current contract expires in September 2012, I’m leaving the cell phone world completely and going back to using a good old fashioned land line and I CAN”T WAIT!


schmei • April 26, 2010 at 12:05 pm

I’m with you. I spend roughly $100 a YEAR on my prepaid phone. It’s a tiny Nokia. I have dropped it 30 times and it still works fine. Using it to text is slow and painful, but not nearly as painful as paying like $80 a month would be for something swanky. I don’t know how anyone affords that kind of money…


Danielle • April 26, 2010 at 12:19 pm

I truly love my iPhone. My only complaint with it is battery life. Mine is two years old now, the latest one is much better (husband has it). But it’s totally awesome to have Internet and e-mail everywhere. I don’t know how I ever got along without it. LOVE.

I don’t talk on the phone very much, and so I got the most basic phone plan, plus the data plan. I just use calling cards for the occasional long distance call.

However if you’re thinking iPhone – wait until the new one comes out. (Rumours say June/July) It looks fantastic, and would be worth the wait.

I’m sure your plans are quite different in the States, but I have the very basic data plan, as we have WiFi at home and at work, so I don’t come anywhere close to my limit. Don’t let them up-sell you.


Hunter • April 26, 2010 at 12:50 pm

@Hunter – I just realized I didn’t finish typing your entire name or use PastaQueen. How rude of me!! It won’t let me edit my comment so, I’d like to apologize: So sorry, Jennette. =^..^=


Ruby Leigh • April 26, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Hi Pasta Queen… I too was a late adopter in the world of smart phones as well as a non-talker (I have the lowest minute plan)… so I feel it neccesary here to bid you to come to the dark side. I have an iPhone, which has a lot of features that don’t involve “talking” or “texting” – it allows me to update twitter (without paying SMS fees) and check my e-mail anytime, and many of the apps are very useful. I reccommend the iPhone, not just because I’m an apple sell-out… (I use a PC), but becasue it is really easy to use… and the availible apps (many are free) is unsurpassed.


Curvy Jones • April 26, 2010 at 1:28 pm

I cut my phone service down to bare minimum and pay for the data plan on my Blackberry. When my contract is up, I may go back to the pay as you go kind of plans. FYI, places like MetroPCS, etc offer blackberries, now.

As well, I was at Target and they also offer nifty pay as you go phones that get email and internet.


Kari • April 26, 2010 at 1:50 pm

You’re not alone — we don’t have them either. I’d love to have an iPhone but just cannot justify the high cost of the plan. So I have a GoPhone, it was $20, and it makes phone calls when I need to make phone calls, and sends rudimentary text messages with its non-QWERTY number pad. :P


Rob • April 26, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Until last week I had an old Motorola flip phone… then my 2 year old ate it. Had to get a new phone and went ahead and bit the bullet and got the iphone.

Best thing that has happened to me in a while. LOVE it… best thing is that I can check e-mail from anywhere.



Denise • April 26, 2010 at 1:58 pm

We just got our 19 year old a pay-as-you go with Cricket wireless at BestBuy and it’s got unlimited everything: calls, text, photo/video, and internet for, I think, $50 a month. And it came with a Samsung phone of some sort (I’m so not familiar with the technology)


Debbi S. • April 26, 2010 at 2:36 pm

We have the ancient phone and the pay as you go plan as well. My husband so wants a cool phone that he doesn’t have to be embarrassed about but I’m right with you on the money, it just doesn’t make sense. The phone is basically used for casual calls and for me to let him know to get milk on his way home or something dumb like that. I can’t see spending a ton of $$ on a “toy”. And that is what it would be for him. So I totally get it.


Deb M • April 26, 2010 at 2:45 pm

I broke down and got a Blackberry when our “new every two” plan came up and my poor old Samsung was about to fall apart. I also found myself texting and facebooking on it like a fiend even though I thought I never would, so I signed up for the unlimited data plan for an extra 30 bucks a month. Believe it or not, I actually save money with it since I was able to dump my $50 a month internet cable by tethering the Blackberry to my laptop and using it like a modem. The internet use through the laptop falls under the unlimited data plan for the BB which I’m paying for anyway. Runs at about DSL speed, but is actually saving me some cash. The Tether program runs about $49.95, but you can hook the BB up to as many Pcs as you want after you buy it. It’s also nice when you need to get online and there’s no wifi available. I tether my shiny new netbook with it too. Guess I’m becoming a gadget-whore in my old age…


Tanya • April 26, 2010 at 3:29 pm

I always had the latest phones but now, I’m back down to a simple phone – with internet capabilities. I LOVE checking my email, twitter etc. from my phone, but I don’t HAVE to and the price of the plans was not worth it. Now that I don’t have it anymore, sure I miss it sometimes – but not that much. If I’m going to be travelling and going to need to check my email from my phone, then I activate the plan for a few days and then turn it off again later – way cheaper to do it this way, and I get prorated at something like $1/ day.


The Merry • April 26, 2010 at 3:50 pm

I’m already addicted to checking my email every 3.457 seconds. (No, sorry, make that 2.078 seconds.) If I had a fancy phone, I’d be even worse!

(Though Deb’s comment does have me thinking deeply envious thoughts about the BB.)


Helen • April 26, 2010 at 3:53 pm

My spousal unit and I are polar opposites on this: I have an iPhone with unlimited everything and he has a pre-paid Tracphone. He can text and take photos with it so he’s happy. I got my iPhone after they started clamping down hard on internet usage at my job. Just wasn’t worth getting in trouble to check my personal email.


Debbie • April 26, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Well, if modern technology is not for you, then you must think of Officer Krupke and Java Bean! Take a look at how readily Iggie assimilates to the new technology at: http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/iggy-the-cat-takes-on-an-ipad/2029egog

It was so nice of apple to make the world’s best cat toy!


Michelle • April 26, 2010 at 4:12 pm

I have an HTC Magic (myTouch through T-Mobile), and I love it. I pay an extra $25 a month for internet on top of my talk minutes with T-Mobile. They also have a pay-as-you-go data plan for $1 per day unlimited web, texting, and email access for only the days you use. Talk time is extra, and I think you pay retail for the phone unless you have a contract.


Zak • April 26, 2010 at 5:15 pm

This is my first time commenting but I’ve been following your blog for awhile. I was sitting down with my budget recently and realized just how insane it is to upgrade to one of those phones. I only recently bought a cell phone *gasp from the crowd* and I am just now 26. I like my little pre-paid virgin mobile phone. It texts, sorta, and it is useful if I need to call someone. Outside of that, I have no use to get on my facebook on the phone or anything else.

I’m just old and set in my ways. I actually find cell phones annoying. Just my two cents haha.



The Homebody • April 26, 2010 at 6:30 pm

I’m the same way. Some of my friends make me feel bad because I still use a flip phone. I just keep telling myself no matter how cool these phones get, as long as I can reach and be reached, my phone is still relevant.


cindy • April 26, 2010 at 7:08 pm

My phone doesn’t even have a camera… I had to ask for it special and they had to go to the basement to find it. And I love it ~ easy to use, simple and few functions. If I want to compute, I’ll do it at home…


Zak • April 26, 2010 at 7:16 pm

@The Homebody – Yeh I have a flip phone and it works fine for my purposes. Those fancy phones are just confusing.


christen • April 26, 2010 at 7:44 pm

hey PQ!

um, since you are self-employed and all, shouldn’t your business pick up the cost of the phone? seems like that’s how the rest of the corporate world rolls….my favorite ‘oh THAT’S how they do it’ moment came when my husband found out his boss owns the property on which the business is located, and charges his own company exorbitant rent!

that being said, one of my favorite things about you is how you seem to live within your means. we bought a smaller house than the bank said we could afford, and thank goodness our mortgage isn’t underwater. that plus minimal credit card debt makes sleeping slightly easier at night….even here in massively underemployed michigan!


PastaQueen • April 26, 2010 at 9:37 pm

@christen – Um, that doesn’t make money appear out of nowhere. All it does it let me write off the phone on my taxes.


Tina • April 26, 2010 at 10:54 pm

Hey, don’t feel bad! I think I’m one of the few people left in the world that has never even had a cell phone. I hate putting out money for one when I have a perfectly good phone at home. ;-)


Kyle • April 26, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Seba and I share a cell phone. It’s not a smart phone, but it’s not old. The only reason it’s not Mayan technology though, is because someone gave it to us for free.

But still, you should see the looks on people’s faces when we tell them we share a phone. But HOW?!? What do you DO when you’re not together?


Quix • April 28, 2010 at 10:16 am

We save money by not having a home phone. Years and years ago we realized it was an unneccesary 20 bucks a month expense when we have perfectly good cell phones. Most of my friends don’t have home phones either. If I need to fax something, I do it at work (or failing that, kinkos), but that’s like a few-times-a-year max thing.

I’m in the middle. I have a 2007 sidekick which is a handme down from the hubbs who is a gadget fiend. So I have the smartphone capabilities (kinda), but people think my phone is so novel and “quaint” since it’s so old. We pay about 120 per month for the smallest family plan minutes and unlimited data and text (for 2 phones). You can do an iphone for about 70 a month at the cheapest, but it doesn’t include text messages. It kills me, but I’m just about there needing to upgrade to something not 3 years ago. More money though! Argh! I remember when my cell was just for talking, sending texts, and playing snake. Aaaah…


Mom Taxi Julie • April 28, 2010 at 12:57 pm

I love my iphone.


MamaTwana • April 28, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Nothing like the iPhone. Really. Amazing.


Megan • April 29, 2010 at 10:51 am

If you want to have a phone with unlimited texting and Internet access without breaking the bank, all I have to say is: straighttalk.com My mom and stepdad have it, my boyfriend has it, and as soon as my forever-lasting Verizon contract is up, I am switching to it.


Geosomin • April 30, 2010 at 2:04 pm

This is funny to read as I’m finally giving in and getting a cell phone and all I want is a barebones phone…not a simple thing to find.
If I had internet access on a cell phone I’d get nothign done at all…I just need emergency reachability. :)


Marti • May 3, 2010 at 4:50 am

Isn’t there some commercial about all the web, texting and talking you want, no contract for $50 a month. I know the commercial its these two Indian guys with a talk show and someone calls in complaining about their service and the price … what is it … BOOST MOBILE… that’s what it is. Check it out in your area. I couldn’t live without my blackberry. It is like crack.


Cari • May 7, 2010 at 10:56 pm

I just got a Droid, but I didn’t really need it. I do Facebook and am attached to my GDocs, but I don’t need to be plugged into my phone 24/7. My husband really wanted them, and since he got a raise and gets a data plan discount through his company, I said it would be okay. My biggest issue is that I can’t access my GDocs on the Droid, even though the Droid is a Google phone. I feel like there should be native support for that. Other than that, I’m using it mostly now for music (Pandora is banned at my work due to bandwidth issues, so I use the phone) and GPS, which I did need. And I guess it’s handy to be able to check your phone in the parking lot of Wal-Mart.


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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