Life with a smartphone

So I’ve had the smart phone for a little over two months at this point.   Has it changed my life for the better?  Um, yes.  Has it taken over my life?  Well, not yet, but it probably will eventually.

Our first two bills have been less than our dumbphone sprint bills.  The most recent was just under $50.

I still need to get google maps because the map program that came pre-installed both sucks and doesn’t seem to work on my phone.  DH has googlemaps on his and it’s a dream.  Maybe I should do that now.  I always think of it when I’m lost in a city and am having to use the cell for data (which is why our bill was higher this past month), which is not a good time to download it.

I’m *mostly* good about just using the wireless for data stuff, though when I’m traveling I’m not as good, and worse than that I have forgotten to turn the cell data off twice so it eats money in the background.

It is wonderful having yelp on hand, even if I don’t like the smartphone yelp app.  It’s still more wonderful than nothing.  (We knew this was going to happen– so many times I had wanted yelp when out and about and did not have it!)

I’ve used it to take a few pictures.  I now understand why my students are always using theirs to take pictures of the board or their homework or whatever.  Sometimes it is easier to just take a picture than to try to explain something.  My sister sent me a bunch of pictures she took with the kids, which was pretty awesome.

One thing I didn’t anticipate– I LOVE facetime.  I had always thought of video chat like Skype… which is just not fun to use.  Facetime is so much better.  So clean and fast, even when we’re both using wireless.  It’s like DH is in the room with me except I can’t touch him (which sucks).  And we’ve been using it for family rather than for work stuff– I still prefer just the phone for work stuff.  I don’t like having to worry about how I look or moderating my facial expressions and so on if I don’t have to (wearing pants is a big part of this).  The kids love facetiming with my sister and with DH or me when one of us is traveling for work.  And it’s so much easier to understand what they’re saying than when they’re using the phone as a phone.

DH has used his for a lot more stuff.  I’m trying to keep it slow because I easily get addicted to things.  But I do see there’s a lot of potential for life improvements.  (DH has also started using Uber for the airport, which my bleeding socialist heart isn’t crazy about, at least until Uber has more safety/worker regulations attached to it, but I do also really appreciate not having to get the kids bundled into the car late at night or in the wee hours of the morning.)

Google hangout is also pretty awesome since that’s how I keep contact with my RAs while I’m out of state.  Now I don’t have to be chained to the computer if they have a question.  (Also:  when chatting with DH, I only need to make 3 clicks to say “I love you”– it just knows!)

I do think, though, that I’m getting a bit more ADHD about checking the internet now that I have the phone and *can* check it.  Like Scalzi, I’ve been feeling pretty distracted recently and wonder if I should, like him, make some sort of productivity goal before I’m allowed to check the internet.  I don’t know.

One nice thing about paradise is that our internet cable company has this deal that if you use their internet, then when you’re out and about you can steal other people’s internet if they have the same company.  It doesn’t work when a lot of people are trying to steal the same internet, but it has been really nice when we’re out and about when there aren’t too many other people around, especially in residential neighborhoods.  When we get back home, we’re no longer going to have that option so either we’ll stop using the phones so much when we’re away from home (which might be good for say, conversation etc.) or we’ll have higher Ting bills from data usage (and me then forgetting to turn off cell).

So, do I recommend it*?  Well, if you can afford the hardware, having a smart phone is pretty awesome.  Given the hardware purchase, our break even point is a long time from now.  I do kind of wish we’d bought one earlier, but sunk cost, yo.  Ting is working out pretty well for us (though it does not process the friends discount unless you badger them about it, which I find to be kind of obnoxious).  I’m not sure it will work as well when we don’t have as much access to free wireless when we’re out.

Do you have any technological improvements you’ve been enjoying?  How has owning a smart phone changed your life, if at all?  Is there anyone left without a smart phone?

*not that anybody in the world is still sans smartphone (other than #2).

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We got iphones, now what?

[Scroll down to the bottom for ask the readers question in bold and italics]

DH finally got DC1 signed up for piano, so the next thing on his list was  smart phones.  He presented me with a bunch of choices and after some discussion and a lot more waiting I chose the following somewhat randomly:

Carrier:  Ting* using the Sprint network.

Phone:  Iphone 6.  (Not 6s, not 6 plus, not 6s plus).   Purchased, not rented.

Memory:  64 mb.

Protection:  iPhone 6 Case, Spigen [HEAVY DUTY] Tough Armor Case for iPhone 6 (4.7-Inch) – Gunmetal (SGP11022)

iPhone 6s Screen Protector, JETech® 2-Pack Premium Tempered Glass Screen Protector Film for Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s Newest Model 4.7

24 month applecare plan

If you want more deets on the decision-process, here’s what DH presented me with:

Summary: Ting could be $53/month on the 3rd/4th-best network. Or Verizon could be $70-$85/month for the best network.  Plus taxes on each.  Each iPhone 6s (not the Plus-size) will cost $650 (+ $100 for 64Gb) .  Still to consider: cases and insurance.

Current network performance: http://www.rootmetrics.com/us/rsr/united-states/2015/1H

In general, Verizon is best, followed by AT&T.  Sprint and T-Mobile are 3rd/4th, with Sprint having more coverage and with better calls, and T-Mobile being faster.

I’m only looking at carriers that take the iPhone, so Republic Wireless is out.

These prices do not include taxes and fees.  Ordered by http://cell-phone-providers-review.toptenreviews.com/
Verizon is $70/month for 2 lines with 1GB shared, $85/month with 3GB shared, or $100/month with 6GB shared. http://www.verizonwireless.com/landingpages/verizon-plan/

T-Mobile: 2 lines are $80/month with 1GB each, $100/month with 3GB each, $120/month 5GB each, or $140/month for “unlimited” data each. http://www.t-mobile.com/cell-phone-plans/family.html

Sprint: $105/month for 2 lines with 2GB shared, $120/month with 4GB shared.  https://www.sprint.com/shop/plan-wall/#!/

AT&T: $80/month for 2 lines with 2GB shared, $100/month with 5GB shared. https://www.att.com/shop/wireless/data-plans.html

Cricket Wireless: $70/month (taxes and fees included) for 2 lines with 2.5GB each.  Uses AT&T’s network.  https://www.cricketwireless.com/cell-phone-planshttps://www.cricketwireless.com/5for100

Ting: $53/month for 2 lines with 2GB shared, $83 for 2 lines with 4GB shared.  Ting uses either of the T-Mobile or Sprint networks, depending on the phone.

Consumer Cellular: $70/month for 2 lines with 4GB shared, up to 750 minutes of talk. Uses AT&T’s network.

Boost Mobile: $60/month for 2 lines with 2GB each.  I can’t figure out if this also has a per-line charge.  Uses Sprint’s network.

MetroPCS does not support iPhones.

Average data usage is 1.8GB per month, mostly video, according to http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/01/24/the-average-american-uses-this-much-wireless-data.aspx

Looking at IPhone models, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_iOS_devices#iPhone
We have to get at least a 4S for iOS 9, and a 5+ will be significantly faster. The more recent the model, the more data bands it can use, so the better data signal it will get. More recent models also get better wifi connectability. Also, the more recent the base model (4/5/6), the larger the phone.
The 6 has a better camera, and the 6S is better yet again.le’s 24-month plan because it includes accidental damage insurance. http://www.theverge.com/2015/9/9/9277775/new-apple-iphone-6s-price-cost-carriers
We can get (assuming minimum Gb): a refurbished 5 or 5c from Ting for $277;
5S from Apple for $500, or refurbished from Ting for $383;
6 from Apple for $550;
6 Plus (almost 1″ longer diagonal) from Apple for $650;
6s from Apple for $650;
6s Plus (almost 1″ longer diagonal) from Apple for $750.

*This link is a referral code.  I can’t actually recommend Ting yet because I haven’t really used it, but, “Refer a friend to Ting by offering $25 off a device or $25 in Ting credit. You get $50 for your first successful referral and $25 for each one after that,” means that if you were going to get Ting anyway, here’s $25 off for you (and money for us too).  I will say their customer service has been good so far.

Now what? What apps should I get (if any?)? What should I avoid? What’s been life-saving? What’s been horrific?