Fun in Phoneland

My current cellphone contract with Nextel is up on the 20th, so I decided it was time to decide whether I wanted to stay with Nextel or get a new phone with another provider. My phone usage has changed in the past few months, and I've really been taking a hit with text messages. I decided that I wanted a phone that had something better than the small numeric keypad so typing in text messages wouldn't be such a pain, and I also wanted a plan that would accomidate text messages in bulk.

A few coworkers have some pretty neat PDA/SmartPhones, so I asked around for their experiences with the phones and carriers. After a few 'interviews', I decided that I wanted to grab a PPC6700/XV6700 (same phone, but different model number depending on the provider). It's a Windows Mobile Smartphone, which kinda goes against my anti-Microsoft/Windows mentality, but my coworker that has this phone is quite happy with it, and recommended it highly. It has both WiFi and cellular internet capability, bluetooth, and a slideout QWERTY keyboard. A cool piece of gear all in all.

Both Sprint/Nextel and Verizon carry this phone. I was initally planning on just upgrading my Nextel service to Sprint with this phone, but the Sprint/Nextel website wouldn't seem to allow it. It was like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. However, unlike the real books that give you paths through the story that are both “good” and “bad”, I never found one path through the upgrade process that let me out alive. I gave their customer service a call, and was told that they could upgrade me, but that they didn't have that phone in stock currently, and that I should check around at local Sprint stores. Honestly, I don't know if the sales rep completely understood what I wanted to do. It's my guess that he was a Spanish-language representative, because his english was pretty bad, and had a thick Spanish accent.

After that failure, I considered looking around a bit more. Verizon had the same phone for $100 less on the website, so I decided giving them a shot. I was sure that I was going to go into a Verizon store and buy the phone, but I didn't know how Nextel would interpret me taking my current number and allocating it to another plan with another carrier. I gave them a call to get the firm date on when my plan ended and to see how that action would be taken, and whether it would be considered a breach of my contract. The sales rep seemed attentive to the situation and asked wether there was some reason I was inquiring about those details. I explained the situation, and how I found the same phone with another carrier for $100 less, and was planning on switching for that reason. She put me in contact with another rep in a different department. She offered to match the Verizon price, and apply $100 in manufacturers rebates at the same time. The price instantly dropped from $399 to $199 – $100 better than Verizon's price.

That was plenty enough to get me to stay. It also turns out that the Sprint plans are a bit less expensive as well. The base-rate Verizon plan that includes the unlimited data service is $79/month, which also counts the phone service. My base phone plan with Nextel was $49/month, and Sprint will match that with the new phone. The data plan is only an additional $15/month, and I added a text messaging plan for $5/month. So, my plan will weigh in at around $70/month.

Did I need a new phone? No, not really. But anyone that knows me knows how much I like cool gadgets. This certainly is one. I've already done some checking around, and there are a few good instant messenger clients for this phone which support all the large chat networks (AIM/MSN/Yahoo) along with Jabber. There's also a stripped down version of PuTTY available, which will allow me to use SSH on the phone as well. The fun will never end.

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