When choosing a smartphone one of the most if not the most important thing to consider is which wireless carrier your phone is going to use for its wireless service. After all there is no point in owning a cell phone if it doesn’t get good service.
Here are some tips and suggestions to keep in mind when trying to choose which wireless service provider will be best for your location and for your particular circumstances.
Believe it or not you can use a smartphone for some of its features without a wireless provider. If you have a wireless internet connection (aka Wi-Fi) at home you can use that for your data connection and download apps, stream videos, download games etc. but if you want to use your device as a mobile phone and want to be able to make and receive calls and access the internet etc. while on the go then you’re going to need a wireless provider.
Which Wireless Carrier Do You Want?
Deciding what wireless carrier you want to use can be a very time consuming process and really depends on your personal situation. Wireless providers spend BILLIONS of dollars on advertising every year just trying to convince consumers such as yourself that their company is the best option available to you. Think about it, the next time you’re watching television how many ads do you see which involve mobile phones and or phone service? Despite the constant presence of advertising in the end choosing a wireless service provider is going to be up to you and is something that you should put a lot of thought into. If you’re signing a contract you’re going to be paying this company a monthly bill for the next couple of years.
- Top Wireless Providers
- Location Matters
- Know your Upgrade
- Cancelation Fees
- International Roaming
- Roaming Charges
- Not all data plans are created equal
Here is a list of the top wireless communications service providers in the US.
- AT&T Mobility
- Verizon Wireless
- Sprint Nextel
- TracFone Wireless
- Cricket Wireless
- U.S. Cellular
Your location matters when choosing a wireless provider. What’s the point of having a cell phone if all your calls get dropped or you can’t even make or receive calls because of the poor signal strength in your area? Click HERE if you would like to see which wireless providers offer coverage in your specific area.
If you have a mobile phone already, and have an existing account with a wireless provider, and you are thinking about switching to another wireless carrier then you may want to try contacting your current service provider to see if your upgrade eligible. Usually after your contract has expired, typically after 2 years, your wireless provider can and will often offer you some really good incentives to stay with them. These enticements might include a deal on a new smartphone or perhaps even a better deal on your service if you agree to sign a new 2 year contract and stay with them. You might even be able to negotiate a better deal on your current service and not even have to sign a new contract.
Just be wary of contracts, once you’re locked into a contract it can be VERY expensive if you wish to get out of it, but we’ll get to that later. When choosing a wireless provider or checking on good deals that you might be able to get on a cell phone don’t forget to check if and when you will be upgrade eligible and if you do end up signing a contract then make sure to read your contract to know what you’re actually getting into.
Early Termination Fees are painful. Consider your ETF (Early Termination Fee) carefully before thinking about switching wireless providers. When you sign a contract your service provider plans to be able to count on your monthly payments for however long your contract is, usually up to 2 years. They often even pay for most of the cost of your phone, that’s why you get such a great deal when you upgrade, they do this as an investment strategy knowing they will make their money back, and then some, over time as you’re now locked into a contract.
So the longer you have been with your wireless provider the lower your ETF usually is. You might also like to Compare ETFs of popular Wireless Service Providers or at the least ask a store representative what the ETF is for every month of your contract before even buying a phone. Just to have all your bases covered, should anything happen to your device or if you become unpleased with your wireless provider.
If this is your first mobile phone and you live near the border of your respective country then you might want to try a cheap prepaid phone with the carrier you plan on choosing first, before getting a smartphone worth hundreds of dollars. Roaming can be very expensive and you don’t necessarily have to cross the border to be accused of roaming. This won’t apply to everyone of course but if it applies to you it’s something that you might want to consider.
We talked about international roaming already but "roaming" can include any time your wireless device uses a transmission site or tower outside of your Coverage Area or when your phone uses another company's transmission site. Sometimes roaming can even happen when you're within your Coverage Area, which sucks because this can be entirely outside your control. Chances are your wireless provider will charge you a higher rate and extra charges depending on your plan.
Wireless service providers share towers with other wireless providers that use the same wireless technology that they do, and when someone on their network connects to another company’s tower then they got to pay a sort of rent for it, which costs them money. If you’re costing your wireless provider money then you can be sure that they are going to charge you more for the service, I have heard that sometimes they’ll even cut you lose if your costing them too much money. Heck they are a business after all. This is something that is usually outside of your control but you might want to inquire as to where your Coverage Area actually is and what it includes and take this into consideration when choosing a wireless carrier.
This has to do with the wireless provider that you use, if you are shopping for a particular carrier then research, research, research when it comes to the data plan that you’re going to need for the smartphone you are looking to buy. Fewer and fewer wireless providers allow unlimited data these days and some even throttle you after using a certain amount of your data plan so that your internet or data connection becomes increasingly slow. Always read the fine print when it comes to data plans.
In conclusion when trying to decide on which wireless carrier you wish to choose to use for your wireless service, location is going to be the main thing that you should consider. Make sure to speak with other people in your neighborhood to see what wireless provider they use and get their opinions on its quality. Talk to your colleagues at work to see which wireless service provider they use and see if their phone receives good service in town or if they have noticed any problem locations. Gather as much information as you can about your local providers so that you can make an informed decision that you won’t regret later.
There are few situations more frustrating than poor or no service in areas where you constantly need to have a good connection in order to properly use your cell phone.