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First smartphone... need a lot of advice.

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#1 vetFourjays

Fourjays

    Neowinian Senior

  • Joined: 09-September 05
  • Location: Staffordshire, UK

Posted 17 December 2012 - 11:56

Up until now I've managed just fine with a little feature phone on pay as you go, with me doing little more than texting a couple of overseas friends once in a while and phoning family. I just haven't seen the point in getting a smartphone. However, as a self-employed web developer I am now finding the need for a smartphone. After a period of illness that saw my work take second place this year, I am now looking to "relaunch" it with a more aggressive approach towards keeping client websites up with the latest trends and technology. Although I personally haven't seen the need for a smartphone I think it is time for me to get with the times. Who knows, maybe I'll find some apps that will be incredibly useful in the day-to-day running of my business - I'd actually prefer that to be the case as it is a significant investment for me.

I have two main things I've got questions about so I'll split this up accordingly. I'll also bold the questions in case you don't want to read my rambling. I am ideally looking to get this sorted before Christmas so quick responses would be much appreciated. :)

The Contract
First things first, I have never had a phone on contract, but I know I am going to have to now. Above anything else I couldn't afford any of these things outright. Basically, I want to get the best device and contract deal I can within my budget, which is anything under £30/month. Lower the better.

1) I am currently on Vodafone PAYG. Looking at their contract phones compared to others, they seem to be quite expensive? I am actually not too bothered about staying with them... I've spent the last two years trying to get them to fix a problem that stops me registering my number for an online account to absolutely no avail (I just gave up in the end). Which leads me to my main question. Who is the best provider these days (reliability/coverage/customer service)? Do different mobile operators still have varying levels of coverage in the UK or is it much the same?

2) You get inclusive minutes and texts within the UK. As I said, I have friends in other countries who I text occasionally which on PAYG costs more than a UK text. How are international calls/texts handled on contracts? Do I have to top-up like PAYG or do I get a bill at the end of the month?

3) I noticed on Three's website that some UK numbers aren't included (I've not checked others yet so don't know if this is normal). All of my family have mobile numbers that begin 077 yet their site seems to indicate that "07" numbers aren't included in the allowance. I am sure that I am misunderstanding something so can someone please explain?

4) I'm not sure, but data might not be that important for my situation. Living in rural Shropshire/Staffordshire, 3G coverage seems to be indicated as "low" or "moderate" on various coverage checkers. Aside from that, when I go out I will at most make/take a call or send/receive a text, but most of the time I am at home (more so now). Any advice?

5) Are deals that include extras such as a "free" Kindle Fire too good to be true? It is tempting as this would provide an Android device for testing.

6) Any terms/providers/rules I should be wary of or particularly look for? Anything else I may not realise coming from PAYG?

The Phone
6) As someone who is very much "invested" in Google's services and that most mobile browsers use webkit, I should probably go for an Android. My only problem here is that on the face of it, Androids seem to fall into the bracket of "last gen" or "horrendously expensive". Are there some decent Androids within my budget that I am just not seeing?

7) But I can't help being drawn towards Windows Phone 8. Apart from the devices looking to be of a pretty high quality, they seem to fall within my budget most of the time. Particularly the HTC 8S but in some cases even Nokia Lumia 820's do too. However, that is meaningless if it isn't useful. For my use case (business, web development), what advantages may Windows Phone have over Android?

8) Given point 7, what are the main differences between the HTC 8S and the Lumia 820?

9) I currently have a calendar on (formerly free) Google Apps and a todo list on Wunderlist, both of which I'd quite happily move to a phone. Emails are something I would have to try, but my business email is hosted on my own server and could be changed from Google Apps to POP/IMAP. My personal email is on Gmail. Given this, what "apps" (how I hate this term) could be helpful here or replace my current services? Are there any other apps that could be particularly useful? How much do these apps typically cost?

10) For me this is quite a significant step and investment. I don't want it to be something I'll regret a few months down the line and I want it to be something that will "pay its way". Given this, any other advice?

What I've Found So Far
Here are some of the phones/contracts I've looked at so far. Any input is appreciated.

The only Galaxy SIII within my budget I've found so far... although it is supposedly very good I am not a fan of its looks.
Nokia Lumia 820 seems to have some pretty good deals, including one with 1GB of data on O2.
The HTC 8X has few contracts available (most I've seen are quite expensive), but the HTC 8S seems to have loads, including the only unlimited data contract I've found within my budget and one with a Kindle Fire included.
(I'm not particularly tied to buying from Phones4U, it is just that it has some of the lowest prices I've seen.)

Many thanks for any/all advice in advance. (Y)
And hope you didn't do too much of this :argh: from reading my dafter questions.


#2 BGM

BGM

    Wibble Wobble™

  • Joined: 30-March 03
  • Location: Farnborough, UK

Posted 17 December 2012 - 12:23

haha, that post is going to test the concentration span of most neowin members.. one thing i would just point out though, this is only a phone, and you can always change what's going on with it if it does not suit you.

In a nutshell:

1. If you live in the city, or go into them regularly don't worry about coverage... just get the right contract. If you live in the sticks, then it probably makes more sense to check this out. For me, vodafone.. bing one of the oldest networks.. does have very good coverage. The merger between Orange and T-Mobile recently though has expanded that considerably.

2. You get a bill at the end, you could just use skype, or some manner of VoIP application though to circumvent any billing woes. You don't top anything up on a contract.

3. Interesting point on the three T&Cs, i would give them a ring to check. Usually numbers included in your 'minutes' are other mobiles, landlines, but NOT free phone numbers of 'commercial' numbers like 0845 etc.. i don't really pay attention to that as much as i should though as i only have a company mobile ;)

4. Get data. You WILL regret it otherwise. I don't even know if you can not get data tbh...

5. Free gifts are not to good to be true, typically. The phone market is SO saturated now in the UK, providers will do anything to get you to switch.. you are very unlikely to get put on a special contract due to getting a free gift but just make sure you compare apples with apples before committing to the one with the free gift :)

6. Not really.. other than you will rip through your data allowance the second you get your phone and then your usage will drop off a cliff after 2 or 3 months.

6b. Sorry don't know about specific handsets.. just get a Nexus 4 tbh, it's very cheap.

7. I don't know what development you plan to do on your phone, but they all basically support the same level of integration with other services such as email, calendar, contacts, etc.. like you say if you are already using a lot of the google stuff it would make sense to go that route as it's just all neat and tidy. but the windows devices are very very nice, i really think it's just personal preference here.

8. I can't tell you anything more here than if you went to gsmarena and just compared the phones. Windows Phones are built to the same specification standard, and some just have extra things thrown in like beats audio, better camera etc.. one handset will not typically be 'worse' than another in terms of performance, but it's just what extra nice stuff you fancy.. and are willing to pay for :)

9. Well, say applications then.. like a normal man ;) Just use the built in email, calendar, to do lists etc to manage this stuff.. ok, you might have to switch to perhaps storing your to do list inside one of googles services, but you won't need to change your email set-up, and changing it to POP err.. no, IMAP absolute minimum but it's still quite unfashionable.. get your stuff hosted on the net, google apps is perfectly good and then just connect up to that :D

10. again, it's just a phone... it's only gonna be like ~£35 a month and if you are gainfully employed i don't think this is typically that big of a burden. If you don't think you are going to use it, why not hit up eBay and just get an old Android handset such as Wildfire etc and add some data to your PAYG package for a few months? I'm sure you'll soon wonder how you did without it :)

Ok.. maybe not quite a nutshell :p

#3 SteveMackinnon

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    Neowinian

  • Joined: 24-April 12

Posted 17 December 2012 - 12:40

I agree with the above in regards to the Handset choice,
Based on your OP (and yes I had the concerntration span to read the whole thing, much to my own surprise!) I recommend you look into the Galaxy Nexus 4.
this link appears to list a variety of contract offers all within your budget accross the carriers.
http://www.dialaphon...xus/?cid=ppcmsn

Hope this helps.
S

#4 Fahim S.

Fahim S.

    Neowinian Senior

  • Tech Issues Solved: 2
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  • OS: Windows 8 - OG
  • Phone: Google Nexus 4 16GB by LG

Posted 18 December 2012 - 22:33

I agree with the above in regards to the Handset choice,
Based on your OP (and yes I had the concerntration span to read the whole thing, much to my own surprise!) I recommend you look into the Galaxy Nexus 4.
this link appears to list a variety of contract offers all within your budget accross the carriers.
http://www.dialaphon...xus/?cid=ppcmsn

Hope this helps.
S


There's no such thing as a Galaxy Nexus 4, there is the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4 (made by LG) - both very nice handsets, although the Nexus 4 is the newer of the two by about a year. Advantage of 'Nexus' devices is the prompt update experience, meaning you get the latest version of Android quicker (through an official channel).

#5 SteveMackinnon

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    Neowinian

  • Joined: 24-April 12

Posted 19 December 2012 - 09:43

There's no such thing as a Galaxy Nexus 4, there is the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4 (made by LG) - both very nice handsets, although the Nexus 4 is the newer of the two by about a year. Advantage of 'Nexus' devices is the prompt update experience, meaning you get the latest version of Android quicker (through an official channel).


My Bad. I meant the Nexus 4... which was the phone detailed in the link

#6 ashpowell

ashpowell

    Neowinian

  • Joined: 13-November 06
  • Location: UK
  • OS: Windows 8
  • Phone: Nexus 5

Posted 19 December 2012 - 09:48

I agree with the above in regards to the Handset choice,
Based on your OP (and yes I had the concerntration span to read the whole thing, much to my own surprise!) I recommend you look into the Galaxy Nexus 4.
this link appears to list a variety of contract offers all within your budget accross the carriers.
http://www.dialaphon...xus/?cid=ppcmsn

Hope this helps.
S


That's the Galaxy Nexus, not the Nexus 4

#7 +Aheer.R.S.

Aheer.R.S.

    I cannot Teach Him, the Boy has no Patience!

  • Tech Issues Solved: 9
  • Joined: 15-October 10
  • Location: Wolverhampton, United Kingdom
  • OS: Windows 7 X64 Ultimate Edition
  • Phone: Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

Posted 19 December 2012 - 10:11

As you're looking into smartphones, I would recommend going to CEX and seeing if there's a device you like, the manufacturer isn't all that inportant as all smartphones handle psuedo tablet computer type applications, (personal organiser, messaging, email, facebook etc..)

CEX has a decent variety of preowned or used phones, (I know this can deter some people but they come with a 1 year guarantee) and out of most of them, some come with removable batteries, so in essence you could get a replacement or spare battery.

3UK has great P.A.Y.G. sims available and they come with all-you-can-eat data allowances, tho I'm not sure how that would work if you tethered your device.

My son has an orange payg and I noticed even when the radio would switch to tmobile, my O2 Phone had better reception, UK and Both Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland, not to mention, my old payg that I gave to my wife was slightly cheaper than his orange (Now known as EE. or Everything Everywhere)

So I would think that 3 might be a good bet, (not the best bet mind you) for your provider, it might work out cheaper than a current model flagship device that you might not even like and be tied down to an 18 or 24 month contract, and if don't like your phone, you could always take it back to CEX and trade it in for a different one that you do like.

If for arguement sake you already had an O2 contrat that has or is about to end, I would have recommended you go onto their 1 month rolling contract, that way you can buy any phone you like (so long as it's unlocked) offline new, this although costs more upfront, I worked out that had I bought my phone as a handset only (Samsung Galaxy S3) I would save almost £200-£300 over the term of any contract renewal O2 had to offer.

CarPhone Warehouse do a lot of freebies, like the Kindle Fire, Xbox360, PS3, or TV's but most of them are 'while stock lasts' so although it's a good possibility you'll get the freebie you're looking for, there's no guarantee you'll get it. From what I've seen, I didn't see any catch other than that, and they will tell you up front and costs if asked.
Hope that helps :)

#8 +bman

bman

    Neowinian Senior

  • Tech Issues Solved: 1
  • Joined: 03-January 03
  • Location: Ottawa, Ontario
  • OS: Windows 8.1 & Android

Posted 20 December 2012 - 05:37

With so many questions, I would just have to say that going Android is your best bet over any Windows phone. More apps, more customizations, more stock abilities.

If there is something you want to do with your android phone, there is probably an app for it. And most of them tend to be free.

#9 KevinN206

KevinN206

    Neowinian

  • Joined: 10-July 05
  • Location: Seattle, WA, USA

Posted 20 December 2012 - 06:21

I bought the Nexus 4 (16GB) for a gift, and I think it rocks. It was bought unlocked for about $400 (including tax and shipping).

It's very fast and smooth, although I have had a few force-close on third party apps (such as Dolphin Browser).

I use the Lumia 920 however. IMO, the notification on WP8 is still not as robust and reliable as Android and iOS. For example, certain live tiles on 920 like Kik Messenger will not update after a toast notification. The success rate is like <1%. Facebook also had some of those issues as well. Let's just say it's random and erratic on my phone. The one EXCELLENT thing about WP8, at least on my phone, is rock solid stability in first-party app and also third-party app. I had more force-close on the Nexus 4 in a few hours of use than my WP7.5 and WP8 combined for one year.



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