Updated 2/1/13: After actually using Ting for a while it turns out that my estimate of my monthly bill was a bit off. By using wifi when possible and making creative use of Google Voice and SipGate, my monthly Ting bill is going to be $15-25. Which means I’ll recoup the cost of my handset much faster than I originally thought.
I finally broke down and joined the smartphone club. Believe it or not I’ve been more than happy with simple feature phones for the last ten years and probably would have been content to continue with them for quite a while longer. In my case the monthly cost of sticking with a feature phone was roughly half that of a smartphone. Why then did I make the switch? Mostly because I wanted a new tech toy to fiddle with, but also because I found a way to do it without increasing the cost. And I may even save money in the long term.
While switching to a smartphone, I also changed providers, but not networks. I moved to Ting, an alternative provider that operates on the Sprint network. The nice thing about Ting is that you only pay for what you use. Voice, text, and data usage are each tiered independently and there are no overage charges or other penalties. I don’t talk on the phone too much, but I do a fair amount of texting and I use a decent bit of data. So instead of the $80+ I’d pay Sprint each month, I’m expecting my Ting bill to be in the $50 neighborhood, and in many if not most months significantly less.
I know what some of you are thinking, I’m not accounting for the fact that you have to pay full price for your handset on Ting. Yes, the initial hit associated with most smartphones is several hundred dollars. But if you’re the type of person who can proactively monitor and manage your usage, you can recoup that cost fairly quickly. In my case, compared to an average smartphone plan, I will recoup the cost of my handset in less than a year. Compared to what I was paying for my feature phone it will be closer to two years. Two years is the term of most traditional carrier contracts and the average length of time I have owned each of my cell phones thus far is between 3 and 4 years. So the worst case scenario is that it will take me two years to break even and it will probably take less than that.
And I get a shiny new Samsung Galaxy Nexus to play with. More on that next time.