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My 1.6-year-old featurephone, a Samsung Messager II, has recently begun showing signs of age. It's a QWERTY slider with an LCD that takes up about 50% of the front side, decent compared to dumbphones but not stupendous next to current smartphones.

Among its signs of age are funky text rendering on occasion, plummeting battery life, sporadic key bouncing and debouncing, and all kinds of other vagarities (crash and reboot on certain text messages, anyone?). I currently pay $40 per month plus tax on MetroPCS for unlimited talk, text, and web, which is huge savings compared to many of my peers, from what I can tell. One thing I'm considering if whether I should upgrade to another featurephone, or take the leap to an Android phone (which MetroPCS has, and which would bump my per-month fee to $50). Among the things I'm interested in are web browsing, rooting, and especially relatively painless tethering. One of the arguments I've always made against a smartphone is that I'm never that far from a computer, so it almost seems a waste to me. What do you guys think? Any opinions on the MetroPCS Android phones and the topic in general? Also, I want a QWERTY keyboard. Am I wrong to want that? Is it going to be too limiting, slash useless?

Well, first off let me say that you are correct in getting an Android phone, I just have an android internet tablet and I must say that the Android Operating System is awesome Very Happy

anywho, I did some quick google searching, and this seems to be what you want. http://www.gizmag.com/motorola-droid-3-qwerty/19152/
or something similar.

edit: would this help too? http://www.thegeeksclub.com/list-top-5-android-qwerty-phones-market
The only issue is that I'm limited by what MetroPCS offers. Smile Those do indeed help, though; I can cross-reference them. I'm trying to decide if I really need that much phone, though; I'm not entirely convinced. Indeed, I see I could even get a 500-minute plan for $20/month with 50MB web and unlimited texts, which is only available for featurephones, and is probably all I need for now. I'm seriously considering stepping backwards rather than forwards with my mobile technology. Very Happy
The LG Esteem seems to be the best phone available in the random new york zip code I googled so I would go with that or just go with a feature phone. The Android Phones there don't really look to be the top of the bunch, the Samsungs seem to be the lower rung ones and the LG is not terrible but the snapdragon proc is already kinda old but better than those 800Mhz things from the look of it.

They would be better than a feature phone, but it depends on your use. With how often you are at a computer the only thing I see you really using Android for is Connectbot(ssh) when on the go to check on the simms servers and such. Everything else will be pretty much just an upgraded version of what you'd do with the feature phone anyway so I don't see a huge incentive.
I can't get any other zip code to work other than the zip code the site says I'm in. When I type that in it says there's no MetroPCS coverage. So, bleh.

But, to contribute. It's a real gamble. I hate slider phones but love flip and candybar phones. I also really love tactile keyboards. But, most of that changed. I made no mistake with getting a full-touch screen phone, and rarely miss the omni present keyboard. I found that I rarely use the keyboard anyways. I have the contacts I need and I just scroll to them (arrow keys) and tap to call/message (enter, ok). Texting, e-mail, notes and web browsing is where the keyboard comes into play.

Walk in to a MetroPCS store and ask about their return policy. Or, walk in to a retail store like Wal*Mart, Target, Radio Shack, Best Buy that sell Pay-as-You-Go phones and inquire about the stores return policy. If it's a satisfactory period, buy a candy bar full touch screen phone. Try it for a week and decide if you'll keep it. I bet you will keep it.

It'll be thinner than a slider phone, and your pockets will like that!
If I were you, I probably wouldn't upgrade. My phone that I've had for... 3 years, I think, is a flip phone that just does texting, calling, and picture taking and I've never had a problem with it. I think the service costs about $100 for the four members of my family (so, maybe just $25 dollars for my phone). I'd only say that you should upgrade if you happen to find a smart phone and all you'd have to do is add service (which, incidentally, is what may happen to me, soon).
If you're on a contract you should be able to get the phone upgraded or replaced (at least, that's how it works in Blighty) so I'd suggest calling your operator and seeing what new handsets they have to offer you first. My current phone is a refurbished smartphone (S60) to replace a lost feature phone (S40) courtesy of the network operator.

That said, for your needs it sounds like a feature phone should be more than sufficient. "Tethering" is not usually a technological limitation (every Internet-capable phone I've had has supported it, and they've mostly been low-end Nokia affairs) but a network operator one. A bad integrated web browser can often be worked around by replacing it with Opera Mobile or Opera Mini if need be.

If you really miss the physical keyboard then you could get small Bluetooth keyboard, though that's more to carry around in your pocket.
I appreciate the feedback, everyone, and I'm glad to hear you all providing some good pushes towards the no-smartphone route. I'll try to response to the responses in reverse order:

Benryves, I do not have a contract; I am on a pay-as-you-go plan, which I like a lot better than being on a contract, and since many of my peers pay far closer to $100 per month for their phones, I'm happy with the relative lack of expense (and ability to escape any time I want) from my phone and plan. I agree that lack of tethering is an artificial limitation, but one that's painful to try to get around, if even possible. My current phone can be forced to tether, but only with great effort, via a process too convoluted to use with any regularity.

_player: I see several possible featurephones that MetroPCS is offering that are even cheaper than my phone was when I originally purchased it ($60 compared with $90 marked down from $130), and which would allow me to stick with my $40/month plan. I wouldn't mind replacing my phone soonish since I believe it may be getting towards a point of failure.

ComicIDIOT, that's a very good point; I think perhaps I should at least go to the store and play with the phones a bit, see how I feel about trying to type on a touchscreen. I currently assume it would be painful and awkward, but I could easily be far off-base.

Jonimus: And of course that's the most expensive one, at a flabbergasting $400. Wink I definitely don't need that much phone when I could, with a decent WiFi connection, just whip out my Ubuntu-running netbook.
I currently have a droid x and love it. As far as rooting goes, it was extremely easy. And the whole tether issue comes down to whether or not you want to do it legally or not.
KermMartian wrote:
Benryves, I do not have a contract; I am on a pay-as-you-go plan, which I like a lot better than being on a contract, and since many of my peers pay far closer to $100 per month for their phones, I'm happy with the relative lack of expense (and ability to escape any time I want) from my phone and plan.

KermMartian wrote:
I currently pay $40 per month plus tax on MetroPCS for unlimited talk, text, and web, which is huge savings compared to many of my peers, from what I can tell.

These two statements seem to directly contradict each other. As far as I'm aware pay as you go means you pay for what you use, whereas a contact involves paying a certain amount per month for a certain amount of phone call minutes, text messages and data transfer. For all I know the terms are reversed in the USA, though, if contracts are more expensive than PAYG... $40 per month seems pretty high, too, but I guess it depends how much you use it.
Being on a contract means you /have/ to keep using the product for a period of time or you'll be forced to pay an exuberant fine(Thank you, glorious free-market American capitalism). "Pay as you go" means you have no such obligation and can cancel your account and switch carriers whenever you want.
As DShiznit says, the particular Pay-As-You-Go plan means I have to pay $40 per month to get unlimited talk minutes, text messages, and data usage/web, but I can stop any month I want. If I was under a contract, I would be forced to stick for two years with a particular carrier, plan, and phone. Before MetroPCS, I was with Virgin Mobile, where I would top up every once in a while in order to get a certain number of minutes and texts at N cents per minute and text, just as you said. Smile
Whose network does MetroPCS use? Is it GSM or CDMA?

A quick glance at MetroPCS's phone selection reveals why the monthly price is less - the phone selection sucks, lol.
Move to Canada and use WIND Mobile Just Joking ( $29/mo for unlimited text+talk+data no contract. It will switch to a $45/mo plan after 12 months though, but then I can get rid of the extras I don't want, such as caller ID+voicemail or if the $29/mo plan is still open I can go for it again). Razz

If you want good battery life, don't go for a smart phone, they tend to use up more battery power, and since all you will probably need your phone for is texting/calling I don't think you really need mobile internet. You said yourself that you are hardly ever away from a computer. If you think you will be away from an internet connection and would want it ( tethering etc ) then I would say for sure go for an android, just pick carefully. ( I don't have that much knowledge of which one would be better for which situation etc, since I only really have experience with a Nexus S ).

QWERTY keyboards are nice for texting, but with haptic feedback on android devices it's not really needed, you can text without looking and usually you wont have issues with auto-correct giving you a completely horrible replacement for a mistyped word. If you double check before posting/sending you wont have any issues with that anyways Razz

The bottom line is, if you really think you need all those extra features ( ie: tethering ) then definitely go for an android, otherwise don't. I would say something about the phone selection, but I can't get to the actual phones when I follow the link :/
So now that it's out, this is definitely the phone to get: http://www.google.com/nexus/

And review: http://www.theverge.com/2011/11/17/2568348/galaxy-nexus-review

It's an awesome device.
A quick google shows they are CDMA and many CDMA providers don't use sims so unlocked phones are more of a hassle, if they even support them. I'm also not sure if the Nexus is available for CDMA, but kllrnohj would know there.
Indeed, the lack of SIM cards makes the whole idea of unlocked MetroPCS phones a lot harder. Kllrnohj, what's with calling that just the "Nexus"; did they retcon the fact that there was a Nexus One? Razz
KermMartian wrote:
Indeed, the lack of SIM cards makes the whole idea of unlocked MetroPCS phones a lot harder. Kllrnohj, what's with calling that just the "Nexus"; did they retcon the fact that there was a Nexus One? Razz

The name is actually "Galaxy Nexus", and the version currently being sold is GSM - pentaband, actually, so you get 3G/4G on both AT&T and T-Mobile's network. I don't know when, if ever, it will be sold in the US, but it's unlocked so you can always import one if you're impatient.

It's cool enough even Steve Wozniak has one (he stopped by today to pick one up) Smile
*bump* Soooo, I put this off for a long time. I'm basically debating between two phones, and I need to do this ASAP. The options:

:: Huawei M735 Blue
> $60 plus tax
> 2.8" Touchscreen (with stylus??), "full HTML" web browsing, 3MP camera

:: LG Beacon
> $70 plus tax
> 2.8" Touchscreen, 1.3MP camera
> Slide-out qwerty keyboard

The keyboard on the Beacon appeals to me, but the Huawei seems more confident about its internet-browsing abilities. My $40/month plan gives me unlimited data, so I'm very interested in decent web browsing. Also, I can't find any information on semi-legitimately (Wink) tethering with either of these, but it would certainly be nifty. I found a set of annoying and complicated but working steps to tether my current phone, for instance.
The stylus is probably for some apps, and likely not required. I'd get the M735; You won't need the physical keyboard.
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