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The Hell With Nexus Phones on Carriers, It’s Time to Leave Subsidies and Contracts Behind [Opinion]

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If you asked me back in late 2011, how I felt about a Nexus coming to Verizon, I’d probably have thrown out phrases like “greatest day in smartphone history” or “Verizon finally woke up!” Boy, how things have changed in just over a year. After over a month of delays before the launch of that phone, a lack of support on a software front from the get-go, and what seems to be a constant neglect of what one would assume to be one of the easiest phones on the planet to update, I no longer feel the same way. It’s been a painful ride since, one that has led me into hoping that Verizon never sees another one. Actually, I could probably take that a step further and say definitively that Nexus phones should no longer be tied to any carrier and that you should all think about your future beyond subsidies and 2-year contracts. 

Carrier Death

Google and Verizon gave this Nexus-to-carrier thing a shot with the LTE Galaxy Nexus, and we all know now that it was a complete failure on most accounts. Carriers are middle men, a cut-off throw that Google doesn’t want to make when they are looking home. Sure you can allow companies like T-Mobile to sell them, but that’s all you allow them to do. You don’t make separate Nexus phones for them, allow them to install bloatware, use different chipsets than your unlocked version, or even test any of the software that you plan to push over time. To remain in proper Nexus form, there can’t be someone outside of Google that needs to approve the latest software update or dictate when the phone launches. With the Nexus 4, Google has done this.

I hate to bring this up again, but the Galaxy Nexus on Verizon is still three full updates behind every unlocked Nexus device, and is about to be behind skinned devices if Big Red doesn’t kick their update approval process into gear. We all know that Verizon has the strictest update approval policy in the business, but for them to take as long as they have with a 100% purely stock Android device, is beyond being unacceptable. It shows a complete lack of care towards a product that should have been their easiest to manage. Give them another Nexus under the same set of rules that you played with in game one and you will likely be left with a similar outcome.

End of Subsidies

Another reason I’d love for Nexus phones to remain independent of carriers going forward has to do with a desire to see a change in the mindset of U.S. consumers when it comes to smartphones. I’ve talked about this in the past, but we need to get off the crutch that is carrier subsidies. You shouldn’t expect to buy a phone at a subsidized price of $199 every two years, because you know what that does? It locks you into two years of your life with that carrier and that phone, something no one should have to suffer through.

If you consider a phone to be the most important piece of technology in your life, which it typically is, then why not place a higher value on it? Sure, some phones cost $650 off contract, but if you look at how often you really need to buy a phone – every 1-2 years – then that price isn’t actually all that unreasonable. If you were to put $25-30 away each month for a couple of years, you’ll have enough to buy your next phone – the most important piece of technology in your life – without signing a new contract.

Let’s also not forget that Google and their Nexus line is attempting to set a new standard for unlocked phones by introducing them at insanely low prices. The Nexus 4 is currently selling on Google Play for $299 and $349. This is a long shot, but if this country realizes the power of buying unlocked phones coupled with the prepaid smartphone plan universe, what’s to keep those $650 unsubsidized prices from dropping?

Prepaid Plans = Freedom

But why is contract-less smartphone life important? Because it gives you freedom. Over the last couple of years, I’ve maintained a month-to-month AT&T plan for work purposes, but within the last month, decided I’d try out T-Mobile for a bit to see if my experience was any better. While both have their downfalls (lack of LTE at the moment), with the unlocked phones I use, like the Nexus 4 currently, I didn’t even need to buy a new phone to jump between them. All I had to do was swap out a SIM card.

But beyond the carrier aspect, you can’t forget that you have multiple choices on month-to-month prepaid plans that will give you better value than you are probably getting now. Companies like Solavei and Straight Talk offer up plans for $50 and $45 with unlimited talk, text, and data (with T-Mo’s HSPA+42 service to boot). It may not be LTE, but some of the download speeds you will see are just as impressive.

Most importantly, though, you can leave these month-to-month plans as you please until you find something that’s optimal.

Phone Unlocking Illegal

As has well been documented over the last week, unlocking of phones for use on other networks is now illegal in the U.S. If you buy a phone on contract with a subsidy (discount), you need the permission of that carrier in order to unlock your phone and take it elsewhere. If you buy a phone off-contract (hopefully it’s already unlocked) or an unlocked device that’s not tied to a carrier, this new unlocking rule does not affect you.

Final Thoughts

So while I’m running off on a bit of a tangent here (and could probably keep going), I’m really trying to make a couple of points: 1) You should do everything in your power to rid yourself of a 2-year contract. 2) Once you have done that, you are free to find the best possible smartphone and plan that fits your needs, which in many cases, is a Nexus, though the options are pretty endless these days.

Every day in our comments, when bringing up the Nexus 4, we see the complaints about the device having a lack of LTE or the fact that it’s not on Verizon. While the LTE argument may be a tough one to battle, unlocked and carrier independent Nexus phones are likely where the future stands. I’ve personally been using the Nexus 4 since the day it came out, and haven’t necessarily missed 4G LTE one bit. HSPA+ is plenty fast in most cases, plus the network coverage of AT&T and T-Mobile has really grown over the years.

I know the prepaid and unlocked smartphone worlds will never fit everyone’s needs, but as carriers push towards raising prices and locking you out of your own smartphones, it’s time to start looking at your options. Plus, life without a carrier deciding what your phone can and can’t do is quite refreshing.

  • WanderingSteve

    Question: Does anyone know of any upper-management Verizon employees that I could send an actual snail mail to (and a snail mail address?) in regards to how they handled our beloved Nexus?

    Trust me, I don’t expect anything to change, but I would love to voice my disappointment and let them know why I will likely not renew my contract.

    Thanks.

    • anonn432

      Upper management will have your email deleted by their secretary before it is even read, you may be better off filing a complaint with a consumer protection agency.

      • WanderingSteve

        Thanks for your response, but it would be more helpful if you actually read what I wrote; “snail mail” = physical mail that is stamped and delivered to a physical location. I understand you want to post as much as possible because you’re obviously cooler than everyone else, but at least let it be an intelligent response! ^_^

        • arturo_bandini

          You’ll receive a nice form letter back thanking your for your input and for being a loyal Verizon customer.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wallcouldtalk Fernando Landaverde

    You know? I’m really okay with giving them money for 2 years. Reason? My phones start crapping out on me about a year and a half in. So, I save money on the initial purchase and I have this thing called patience, so after 2 years, I can get another phone for a reasonable price. $200 vs $700? $200 wins, hands down. For the extra $500, I might as well just cancel my contract, which Sprint is currently allowing me to do for $100 or probably less at this point.

    • delesh

      Yes, $200 is less than $700. But if you are paying $80 per month on contract for 2 years that’s $1920. If you paid $30 per month for 2 years it would be $720. That’s a difference of $1200. $720 wins.

      • http://profiles.google.com/wallcouldtalk Fernando Landaverde

        Uhhhhh, $700 + ($30×24) = $1420. For coverage that generally sucks. Worth the extra $500 at that point.

        • delesh

          Uhhhh, If you notice I wasn’t adding in the cost of the phone in either calculation. I was just comparing plans. If you want me to do it that way, it comes out like this: $200+$1920=$2120 for subsidized. $700+$720=$1420 for prepaid. Difference of $700. With a Nexus 4 the savings are another $350-$400. It’s fine if you feel the service is warranted. I get the same service in my area as before and I’m saving thousands over what I used to pay.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=607740466 Anthony D Palumbo

    food for thought would phones really be 5 or 600 dollars if they were under carrier subsidies… they would have to actually compete to sell them unlike the current model of sales…..

  • delesh

    Of course a prepaid plan is not ideal for every single person on earth. However, the most important point of the non-subsidized prepaid model has to do with who holds the power in the system. If more people start switching from a system that puts the emphasis on luring people into contracts and thereby ruling with an iron fist, to a system where people are free to seek out carriers that provide good service and value, the power switches away from the carriers to the customers. Prices and service becomes cheaper and better. So, although each individual case may not benefit from the prepaid model directly, they should still be supporting the rise of this model because it would bring benefits for all wireless customers in the future.

  • DC_Guy

    This is complete BS. If Apple can force carriers to NOT install any bloat ware on iPhones and to be completely removed from the software update process, then Google can do the same thing! You can get a carrier subsidized iPhone with no carrier bloat and it gets updates immediately when Apple releases them. Why can’t I have this with Nexus phones?

    • Captain_Doug

      Hopefully we will have that soon. This is one of the first steps.

  • JUSTANANGRYJoe22

    As far as the Galaxy nexus on Verizon it got screwed from the jump as far as both hardware and software support. Never mind the fact that it was forever behind in sw updates(before they let me go they really didn’t care in the first place) Hell the poor Bluetooth for those that use it was always glitchy and lets not forget our favorite dropped outgoing audio and that always faithful poor tower hand off weather you were 3g/4g , from what i learned from a few of the Big Wigs that were running their mouths about it, it was more or less for those of us that liked to hack our devices but even though that was mostly true for the most part software hacking is one thing but wtf is up with being ok with crappy hw heck i went through like 15 of them in a year period and none of them worked 100% it was awful. But anyway subsidized pricing is a relic of the past thats actually become a huge annoyance though luckily ive been outta contract loving this relic of unlimited data for going on 2 years now, never mind the fact that folks are essentially paying half the full cost of the phone for resigning im still trying to get the understanding of wtf is up with the upgrade fees crap still blows my mind, i mean gee i already dropped some hefty cash for the device what sense does it make to hit me for another fee for resigning with you i mean crap never mind tax lol

  • Liderc

    Sorry, you lost me here: “Sure, some phones cost $650 off contract, but if you look at how often you really need to buy a phone – every 1-2 years – then that price isn’t actually all that unreasonable.”

    Yes, $650 every 1-2 years IS unreasonable. A computer I built for 1.5k will last me 7-8 years and if I didn’t need a high performing computer for work I could buy/build a normal one for 4-500 bucks and last me 5-7 years.

    You saying it’s okay to buy a $650 phone every 1-2 years is just your bias to the phone industry, it’s simply not the case with the average buyer or even someone like myself who loves phones and could spend the money if I wished. A $650 phone should last 4-5 years at least if we’re comparing it to computers in terms of importance/price.

    • Captain_Doug

      You’re looking at it the wrong way. Sure the phone may be $650 but the 2 year contract costs so much more. When you add a $200 subsidized phone with $100 a month for having a smartphone on Verizon, that’s $2600 over the length of the contract. Now just buying a $650 phone outright and pay $50 a month, that adds up to $1850. You have saved $325 a year. Not a small amount of money. Plus, when you take into account that the Nexus 4 is one of the best phones out there for $350(not $650), that takes you down to $1550 over a 2 year period. A saving of $475 a year. It’s not about the cost of the phone, it’s about the cost that having a smartphone incurs. A $1500 may last you 7 years, but it also doesn’t get carried around and dropped or spilled on. Not to mention the rate at which smartphone technology is increasing is much faster than Desktop technology is. Think about it.

      • Liderc

        No, you’re missing the point. You’re paying less and getting slower speeds and MUCH less coverage.

        I pay higher prices because I want the speed and I need the coverage that Verizon offers. Verizon’s coverage is so beyond other company’s that the higher prices are worth it. As I said, the money is not my problem with Verizon, it’s the fact that they refuse to evolve with the times.

        • Captain_Doug

          Speeds above 15mbps are pretty common with HSPA+ and anything above that isn’t super noticeable in real world use. So you’re left with coverage which while Verizon does have the best coverage, do you really put that to the test? Unless you commute like crazy you probably aren’t. I guess I can’t tell you what to do with you money, I’m just some dude on the internet. However, Verizon won’t evolve with the times unless they actually feel pressure to which is accomplished by losing customers. I was merely pointing out that while you may be losing some coverage and speed, you are gaining much more money making the switch much more palatable. Or, you can sit around and wait for Verizon to change on their own. Good luck.

          • Liderc

            You still don’t see the point, I don’t have a choice. Verizon’s coverage is so much better than the other services in my area that they aren’t even a choice. Even if it was free to be on other services I would still pay Verizon due to their speed and coverage, it’s as simple as that.

          • Captain_Doug

            Well not having a choice does change the matter. Where I live, I’m completely covered by each of the big 4. Not bragging, just explaining where my argument is based. I guess I should start each of my posts with “Ideally…”

  • superdry

    I’m ditching Verizon once my contract is up. It’s nice to be able to buy an international version of a phone or a Nexus and pair it up with a prepaid service.

    Now, while subsidies and contracts aren’t great, I think if US carriers moved to more of a Europe based contract model that would be nice. Sign a 18 or 24 month contract and depending on the cost of your monthly bill, the subsidy is either less or more. That gives more options than a one/two size(s) fits all model.

  • Michael Quinlan

    Excellent article. I too hope that Verizon never again allowed a Nexus device. While I did enjoy reading the article, I think the typical Droid Life reader is not the one who needs to read it. Joe Consumer is the one who’s eyes need to be opened with regard to unlocked phones and prepaid service – and Joe doesn’t read Droid Life.

    I, my wife, and my 3 kids are all on prepaid service – me on Straight Talk (AT&T), and the others on Page Plus (Verizon). Over the past 4 years I’ve saved thousands of dollars without sacrificing service at all. I’ve done what I can to make my mother and siblings aware of the benefits of prepaid, but don’t shove it down their throats for fear of being their “go to guy” when something’s not right.

    Prepaid isn’t for everyone, and in some ways I hope the masses stay on postpaid contract service; they’re the bread and butter for carriers, and without them, prepaid prices would be higher than they are. As long as there are people willing to pay through the nose for postpaid contract service, and their doing so allows me to pay less for prepaid, I’m not going to beat them over the head to get them to switch to prepaid.

  • bananatroll

    these are all quite solid points, but the one thing unsaid here is coverage. What if that is literally the most important thing to you’re being a smartphone user? I travel a lot, and I REQUIRE the best coverage available. In my area, Verizon has such good coverage that one must wonder if they obtained a roaming agreement with God! Seriously, ATT, Tmo, and other infantile networks, simply do not have the spectrum that Big Red does here. CDMA is better at penetrating buildings, LTE is generally faster in the States, and again, if you go with Verizon, coverage is literally unequaled. Sure, go ahead, get that N4 on tmo, or sprint, or ATT… But when you just so happen to be out in bumphuck nowhere, the SHTF, and you’re without reception… Well you might start to question going for the economy carrier.

    I love android and I love Verizon… and I hate to keep kicking this dead dog, but Google has got to put their foot down with the carrier mentioned above. With the release of the X phone, there are many of us hoping that the DROID brand will finally get a proverbial 9mm to the head and put it outta its misery for good. I hate the stupid commercials, the bloatware, the intrusiveness of Verizon’s meddling on a phone I spent 650 on, and most of all, the complete ignorance of people that refer to all android devices as DROIDS. Droid DOESNT. DROID is effing stupid and its damn time Motorola and Google gave Verizon a giant “***k off!”. Not that they will, and thats probably wishful thinking…

    I’m stuck with Verizon, and for now I’m stuck with idiots around me saying DROID this and DROID that. Ever since I switched from ATT, I have wanted a Nexus/stock Android device – that could actually get reception.

    All this talk about one South Korean Plasti-Nexus after another is all fine and good, but it really has no relevance to us Verizon customers.

    rant over.

  • Pat

    Just bought the Nexus 4 and I can’t wait to ditch my Verizon contract for $30/month on T-Mobile!

  • John

    I switched to an iPhone 5 on Monday from the Nexus. I enjoyed ICS, and the customization over Apple’s very closed system but the constant data problems and bugginess impeded with work. Waiting to see what this X phone will bring, I have another upgrade available in August

  • droidftw

    Contracts aren’t a big deal for me. I’m sticking with Verizon. I have an 8GB monthly share plan with 4 smart phone and 2 tablets on it. I’m the only one in my family that uses more than a GB a month so it ends up being cheaper than having unlimited data.

  • http://twitter.com/Jason13L Jason Lassourreille

    My biggest problem is that Verizon has me in a situation. I can’t afford a couple hundred for a new phone to switch to another carrier. I can’t take my VZW GNex to a month-by-month company so I would need for fork over more money. I still have an unlimited plan but the wife and I are both looking to get new phones still. What is the least painful way of going from Verizon to a pre-paid while maintaining the level of phone I am used to using?

    • Richard Jackson

      You can sell the unlimited plan on ebay. The last time I look the going price is $120. You will lose your number going that route but you can make some money that way. That and you have to figure the long term cost savings. Not counting if you want to upgrade on the cheap with Verizon your going to part with you unlimited data plan.

  • Chris

    I love my Nexus 4. I can get 20+ Mbps down and 2+ up on T-Mobile’s HSPA+, which is slightly faster than my $60/month cable connection at home. And it costs me $30/month, which is what I was paying for just my data plan on Verizon. And compared to their current plans, it’s a steal. Not only that, but I spent plenty of time on Verizon’s 3G, which is terribly slow. They need to build out LTE as fast as they can because Ev-DO Rev. A is an awful fallback.

    Plus, paying so little for the plan, I can easily justify buying myself the latest Nexus every year. Considering what I get out of selling last year’s, it’s an even better deal.

  • FreedomCostsPlenty

    “We all know that Verizon has the strictest update approval policy in the business”

    Do we really know this? Or are we giving Verizon credit where none is due? Are we sure they aren’t simply obstructionist in the name of short-term gain?

    Considering how many of their phones launch with show-stopping bugs how strict can it be?

  • Thom

    I work in a Walmart wireless sales department and I truly believe that ending subsidies is the way to go. People don’t realize they end up paying for the phone over that two years. They end up paying way too much for that phone actually. I don’t have a large income, but i would have no issue dropping $600 on a phone if my contract would be $25-30 less per month. People need to understand you are not going to get the best phone for a cheap price. Also, if I pay full price for my phone, there should be no reason why I shouldn’t be allowed to do with it as I please. If I want my GSIII to have vanilla android on it, I should be allowed to do so without the hassle of unlocking the bootloader, then if I want to bring it elsewhere after two years, I should be allowed to do a SIM unlock.

  • Bill Ratliff

    I have been researching prepaid plans. I can’t find any that will accept my 7-10 gigs of usage every month except T-Mobile and their coverage sucks where I live. So Verizon may not be the best for phone support but their coverage is second to none.

  • JackJoe

    Anytime you subsidize something you make it more expensive. I’m of the belief the Carrier Subsidized Contract game has inflated the cost of phones from what they would be if it had there not been subsidized phones.

    You can buy a Nexus 7 for $200 yet a Galaxy S3 is $600? The radios and modem do not cost $400 wholesale.

    • jp11

      and the Nexus 7 is bigger. More expensive screen, more materials, bigger packaging, more expensive shipping than phones….

      • tomn1ce

        and the Nexus 7 is not a cell phone…. :-)

      • MKader17

        Bigger also means much easier to fit components, which lowers costs.

    • moelsen8

      in all fairness, google is believed to be subsidizing or at least selling the nexus 7 at cost. and it probably does cost a little extra to miniaturize everything for cell phones. i’m sure it’s not hundreds of dollars more, though…

      • http://twitter.com/Belatukadro Justtyn Hutcheson

        http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-57512904-37/iphone-5-may-cost-apple-$167.50-to-build-says-one-estimate/

        Another estimate went as high as $205, but I can tell you for a fact that it is less than $250 for parts. Adding in $200/device for overhead, that makes $450 tops of cost per device. With MSRP profit margins being in the realm of 25-35% of device cost, that’s where you get the $550-$650 price tags from.

        Google is either partially subsidizing the N4, or they are selling near-cost, as with the N7, and perhaps less so the N10.

    • http://twitter.com/iron_wilhelm Mike Duren

      No, but they have to actually make money on the device or what is the point? You also have to factor in the cost of putting it all together (assembly), advertizing, packaging, ect. Total cost for a product can be misleading if you only look at the components.

  • forpar

    This whole process has been so eye opening. I have been with Verizon for at least the last ten years and have been a huge fan boy. When the nexus 4 came out I figured I should at least take a look at other options expecting to stuck with my current phone. Wow was I surprised! How is anyone that does not operate in remote areas frequently, still on Verizon??? I bought 6 4’s for everyone in my family. I started out sending my kids to T-mobile thinking I did not care about service for them and moved me to straighttalk using ATT thinking that would get me good service. Straigttalk was a complete piece of crap and should be run out of business but T-mobile was a dream come true. I have all six smart phones on T-mobile for $100 dollars less then two smartphones and 3 dumb phones on Verizon! How can that be – that is a lot of money? I realize that T-mobile is not Verizon and that their service is a tier below but $100 a month????? Are you kidding me? I can add 9 more smart phones for $15 a month with 500 min talk, unlimited text, and 2g data. Why is anyone still at verizon? Thank you Google for opening my eyes! Yes I will suffer that week or so that I travel to small towns or up in the mountains but for the 99% of my other use I will be more than fine. Oh and by the way my galaxy nexus would run at 6 kbs on speed net at home while on tmobile my nexus 4 is running 10!

    • bananatroll

      go camping, then check your reception.. thank me later.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Pronchick/679790407 Michael Pronchick

        If you can get reception with any carrier you are not camping >.> You just pitched a tent in the front yard.

    • moelsen8

      i agree with you on everything except straight talk. i think straight talk is awesome. for how ubiquitous at&t’s network is, i can deal with ST’s hiccups once in a while. if you live urban and barely travel to the sticks, t-mobile’s service is phenomenal. just not an option for me because i lose service when i visit basically any of my family members.

      • tomn1ce

        That’s the reason why I’m still on vzw….Most of my family are on t-mobile and when we go to to the middle of nowhere in NJ or upstate NY they barely have a signal or no signal at all and I still have service…vzw may be more expensive then every other wireless provider but the service is good…at least those are my 2 cents…

        • moelsen8

          hey i’m dealing with jersey/PA too. in my experience, at&t is everywhere that vzw was for me (maybe more in PA), so the switch to ST with at&t sim was a no-brainer and has been working great.

      • forpar

        My problem with straightalk was that they will not allow data when roaming. So as soon as I traveled to a smaller town I got no data and data is a killer for me. My whole family was cruising along with tmobile and I had nothing zilch!

        • moelsen8

          does t-mobile do roaming data? when i tried t-mobile prepaid for a month, i had no data (or edge–pretty much like no data) whenever i went back home to family and basically anywhere out of the city. some places i didn’t even have a signal for voice. ST AT&T crushes t-mo in terms of coverage, for me at least.

          • forpar

            Yes they do. You just need to have that option checked in your settings. But I specifically called them when were in a roaming area and they explained how to change the settings and everything worked fine albeit somewhat slower than city life….

  • http://twitter.com/kdkinc kdkinc

    The day I became contract free lifted a load off my shoulders.
    I bought the Note 2 for about $650.00 and plan to sell it after my first year. For most likely $300.00+.

    That money will be rolled into the new Note 3 or what ever is hot at that time.
    It feels great not to be anchored to a phone after development has slowed and updates have become nonexistent.

    I think the Thunderbolt is a good example after one year it was a Thunder-dud.Imagine being stuck for one more year with that rock of a phone.

    Seeing that I also went GSM I can shop every month for the best phone data package that comes along. I’ve already gone through 3 companies.

    Verizon does give the best coverage in my area but the cost saving with other companies is huge.

    • Stew560

      I don’t have to imagine…it’s still sitting right next to me! (POS!) I was eligible for an upgrade in November, but waiting to see what the S4 and X bring… Also considering leaving after my contract is up in March…

  • Brian Barcus

    This article stated exactly what I have been thinking for the past few months. That is why I ordered my N4 today. I have done my market research and learned that T-Mobile coverage is more than good enough in my area and their prices are so much cheaper than Verizon that I can hardly wait for the rest of the phones in my family to come off contract.

    And, yes, I am going to give up unlimited data. I use my phone heavily and occasionally run through 8GB of data in a single month. However, those months are the exception. My typical usage is 3GB and that can be reduced by changing some background updates to WiFi-only. After looking at two years worth of usage the 5GB of “4G” data T-Mobile offers before throttling is plenty. And the 16GB storage on the N4 will also be plenty since I will not need space for ROM backups to keep up with current Android versions (like I do with my GNex).

  • nightscout13

    USA needs a dual-SIM Nexus. LTE and GSM. Then we can stick it to Verizon

  • Bionic

    Good article. But this only means something to perhaps 10% of the total customers out there. Most people don’t care about unlocking. People want to strong, fast signal. In most cases, the that means a contract with Verizon.

    If google wireless does indeed happen and there network rivals Verizon, this article makes alt more sense. Until then, the masses will still mostly care about signal and speed.

  • Dave Maillet

    Though I fully agree with the idea of this article, there’s a major limiting factor for a lot of us in the US….the Carriers. Verizon and AT&T pretty much have great coverage in the majority of the country, Sprint and T-Mobile, not so much. As you said, a smartphone is one of the most important pieces of technology in my life…..and it NEEDS to work.

    I just looked at T-Mobile’s coverage map on their site….for the majority of my area their coverage is listed as Satisfactory, which they describe as “You can usually connect outdoors, sometimes in cars, and maybe in buildings”. That just doesn’t cut it for me.

    Until the smaller providers can keep up with Verizon and AT&T…..I just can’t switch, which is why Verizon and AT&T continue to take advantage of their customers….because they can.

    • Dain Laguna

      you could always buy a Nexus 4 out of contract and use it on AT&T. Your price every month may not be as cheap as Sprint or T Mobile but you will at least avoid a subsidy and contract.

  • trophynuts

    this was way too much reading.

  • Zach Armstrong

    Would love to have no two year contract and leave Verizon. The only problem with this is T-Mobile has edge in my area and ATT has lots of dead zones had them before Verizon. So until they fix this I will have to stay with Verizon.

  • Christopher Chin

    If it wasn’t for VZW’s deathgrip on connectivity and speed, I’d have ditched them a long time ago. There’s something to be said about the comfort you have in picking up your phone and not worrying if you’ll get a signal.

  • TimXer

    how long before carriers make you sign a contract to use their service…regardless of how you get your phone :(

    • RufusX

      Exactly. Carriers WILL find another way to lock you in. Example: “Sign up with Verizon for 24 months, bring your own phone, and receive a 15% monthly discount on your bill!” However they will never lower the cost of the 24-month contract from what it is now. This is a pipe dream. So now (under this hypothetical) Verizon doesn’t have to take a bite from offering you a discounted phone but charges the same monthly fee minus a measly 15% off. Fifteen percent off is not enough to actually lower their revenue. This scenario would probably actually increase it. They win! Cha-ching!

  • RoninX

    I agree that subsidies and two-year contracts are evil. As far as I’m concerned, the question is when are we going to see LTE phones that can work on multiple carriers in the US? Until that happens, there isn’t that much incentive to buy an unsubsidized phone.

  • Azn_Android

    I’ll probably get a lot of crap for this…

    I was a first adopter of the Galaxy Nexus on Verizon. Coming from an iPhone 4 and its tiny screen, it was great and the fresh OS felt amazing. However, over the course of a year, I started resenting the phone more and more. I rooted and ROMed my phone (AOKP) but I could not get past the fact that the battery life on my phone was atrocious. I also found things to be buggy, especially the document viewer (I started using Google Drive to view documents). To make matters worse, I had a terrible keyboard burn in on my screen. Add in the fact that Verizon was adding random taxes to my bill and it drove me up the wall. I was starting to get sick of having to update my phone everytime a new AOKP came out and I just wanted a phone that would fit my needs without me having to force it to work.

    This month after one year of using Android and the Nexus, I switched away from Verizon and got Sprint (which is surprisingly good since I’m using a friend’s employee discount and the service is not giving me any trouble) and bought the iPhone 5. Yes, I know, the dreaded iPhone. I switched away because for now, Android just was not for me. Yeah iOS is still the same as it was when I had an iPhone 4 but it works great for me and I could not be happier with my iPhone 5 right now.

    I’ll still keep my eyes open and see what progress Google makes on Android because I’m open to anything that works and works better than what I have now. But yes, the Galaxy Nexus on Verizon pushed me away from the Android world, for now.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1304767408 Steven Lam

      So it was OK to have one iOS update per year, but you felt forced to constantly reflash everytime a new AOKP release hit.

      this reminds me of the same type of mentality that complains their Android phone is old and outdated just because another released 3 months, but since Apple releases once a yr, they always feel like they have the latest and greatest tech even if the iphone is already behind at launch.

      I buy a smartphone that I think will keep me happy for at least 20months, since that use to be about my upgrade cycle. I pick a “STABLE” ROM I like and stick to it until there’s a significant change in the next Stable one. & while I drool over new device releases, I know what I bought into. If you’re crackflashing, you’re in no position to complain about stability issues.

      Android can feel old quickly because the mobile space is developing fast and everything is getting more resouce hungry, something that aging devices feel tugged down on.

      Apple devices dont keep up with the rest of the mobile space, they like to define their own rate of development (which in many ways is much slower than the rest of the world) so a previous generation can handle the next generation’s software fairly the same.

      • Azn_Android

        I appreciate you sharing your opinion but I still believe that for me, I made the right choice.

        I spent half of my time with my nexus on stock and half the time rooted and ROMed. I only used stable builds of AOKP and got frustrated with how often (even once a month gets annoying for me) I had to update. And of course id update everytime a new AOKP hit isn’t that the point of an update? It’s supposed to add more features and make your phone better. I see your point about the whole complaining about having to update often but being happy with few updates on iOS but if there is an update to make my phone better, the logical thing is to update, correct?

        Updates and ROM issues aside, the nexus still had a screen burn in issue, a severe screen calibration issue, and abysmal battery life. I was lucky to ever get 3 hours of screen on time on a very low brightness setting. I’m not the hardcore type of user that does absolutely everything on my phone. I have a laptop. My phone is used for texting, light web surfing, checking social media, watching some youtube videos, listening to music, and playing the occasional game. And checking emails of course. iOS can do all of that for me faster than Android could (I wasn’t too impressed with the stock browser, it crashed quite a bit for me) and my phone lasts me the whole day with 7-8 hours of screen on time.

  • Radgatt

    This column makes valid points but every time I think about making the switch from Verizon unlimited data to one of these prepaid unlimited plans I tend to look at the coverage of where I live and constantly see 2G speeds vs the 4G LTE that I’m currently getting. So until a prepaid carrier wants to use Verizon’s towers and offer the same unlimited plans for a cheap price I will continue to pay full price off contract to keep unlimited Verizon data. That’s my viewpoint.

  • http://facebook.com/nyvz9lyvz Jamison Harvey

    “to hell” not “the hell”
    <— totally not a grammar nazi but the phrasing of this hurt my brain

  • http://twitter.com/tommycallahanjr Tommy Callahan

    This is why I left Verizon… got on the $30 100 min 5gb 4g data and unlim text t mob plan….plus my speeds are plenty good! For $30!!!

    • DC_Guy

      I ordered my Nexus 4 and my T-Mo SIM Activation Kit yesterday! I, too am going with the $30 plan (down from $101/mo on VZW), can’t wait!

  • chris125

    If straight talk had a more concrete TOS when it comes to how much data you can use( how can they advertise it as unlimited?) and TMO was better in my area I would be all over it. Hopefully these networks can become better and offer a viable alternative to carriers and contracts.

  • mini-me

    After I pre ordered my s3 from Verizon, I said this would be my last contract. And I’m sticking to that. Not losing my unlimited. Nexus for life. Sick of waiting on updates due to carrier limitations. I’m already on 4.2 with my nexus 7. I’m done with carriers

  • William Ku

    don’t you mean “To Hell…”? ^_^

  • cantcurecancer

    Fantastic post, I loved every bit of it. Why anyone would willing go for a two-year contract is beyond me…especially when you compare the T-mobile $30 5GB plan with Verizon’s $80 minimum 2GB plan. T-Mobile’s network is about 90% as good as Verizon’s, but they charge almost 66% less.

    It’s pretty rare that you can find a combination like the Nexus 4 + T-mo’s $30 prepaid plan, you get all the benefits of what you’re talking about. Getting a Verizon/AT&T/Sprint-anything results in lower quality phones that are updated slower, at a higher price per month, locked in for 2 years. You don’t have to be a Android fanboy to love the Nexus 4, you just have to be a fanboy of not flushing money down the toilet by going with the big carriers.

  • Tony Byatt

    Yeah, I’m looking to get Verizon’s boot off my throat myself. Not worried about a future with no subsidized phones. There may be an initial price shock but when the sale numbers go down so will the prices. Hopefully the quality won’t suffer too much…

  • ticker47

    Here’s an issue with the ‘lose the subsidies/contracts on phones’ argument. GSM was for the most part universal from carrier to carrier while LTE and CDMA are not. While they may come out with a chip that supports all the forms of LTE that will be available, right now there isn’t anything. Aside from being on T-Mobile, having a phone off contract makes no difference to the cost of your service and as of right now you still have to buy a new phone if you want to switch carriers unless you’re moving from AT&T to T-Mobile (depending on the phone and at a possible loss of data speed). So knowing that you’re going to need service for the next two years anyway, why wouldn’t I sign a contract to get a lower cost phone? If I have Verizon, I’ll have to buy a new phone to switch to any other carrier anyway. I’ll also have to buy a new phone to move from AT&T to Verizon or Sprint. Until phone prices off contract drop to where the Nexus 4 is or I can move phones from one carrier to another without issues or lose of services, I just don’t see the point.

    • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (ニール・ゴンパ)

      Well, GSM (and later UMTS, which most refer to as HSPA+) started out the same way LTE did. Now both are pretty much universally supported. CDMA is the only aberration, because carriers exercised extreme control from the very beginning with CDMA networks. This isn’t the case with GSM+UMTS networks.

      As for LTE network compatibility: all of Canada’s LTE networks are compatible with T-Mobile’s, and all AT&T, Canadian, and T-Mobile LTE devices will work on T-Mobile. Verizon Wireless has started launching AWS LTE devices as well (Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 was the first), and those devices will work on T-Mobile and on Canadian LTE networks. Ultimately, if you want the most-compatible LTE network with the widest range of device support, you’ll want to be on T-Mobile’s network.

      T-Mobile has managed to craft an m:1 relationship in its favor. If you get any LTE device from any carrier (except for Sprint) going forward, it’ll work perfectly on T-Mobile. T-Mobile even has VoLTE installed on the network (though they don’t advertise this), so CDMA/LTE devices with VoLTE support (Hi, MetroPCS phones, future Cricket and U.S. Cellular phones) will work on T-Mobile as well.

  • DroidBricker

    So how can Apple pull this off? They have an unlocked “world phone” on Verizon. Google needs to gain control of their what carriers can and can’t do with Android. They need to squash that little piss ant Verizon who basically has stolen their OS and cut out all that is great about it.
    One of the best articles I’ve read on DL btw!

    • chris125

      If it wasn’t for verizon, android would have never taken off how it did. Their original Droid does ads are what put android on the map and made it mainstream. Yes they suck but google knows how VZW accelerated android to the top. And no I don’t agree with what verizon is doing. IMO they are becoming as bad as ATT but what are you going to do? They have the best coverage hands down and for me coverage>>> phone because if you dont have coverage the phone is useless

      • Michael Quinlan

        I think most people don’t need LTE. They may want it, or think it’s cool, but would probably see little benefit. Pickup a used/refurbed Droid X2 and go to Page Plus – same coverage as Verizon at 1/2 the price.

        • chris125

          I agree but if you want a phone that is going to get updates you pretty much need an lte device unless you get an iPhone since it seems non lte devices at least on Verizon aren’t getting updated

          • Dain Laguna

            well that hasn’t worked out has it? The Galaxy Nexus is an LTE device and it still hasn’t gotten proper updates.

          • chris125

            The updates are far from perfect but how many non lte devices are on jb on Verizon? Heck most of their lte devices other than Samsung and moto are on jb. My point still stands, name a non lte device on Verizon other than iPhone that gets updates…..

          • Michael Quinlan

            Custom ROMs are available for many non-LTE devices, and often extend the life of devices far beyond what Verizon would like, but this isn’t really an option for the average user. Unfortunately for some people, Verizon is the only carrier with decent coverage in their area, and there are some trade-offs involved if they don’t want to play Verizon’s game.

    • rockstar323

      Manufacturers get paid by the carriers and others to add bloatware. Ever heard of the Fascinate? Samsung made money from Microsoft to force users to use Bing instead of Google.

      • moelsen8

        that was an abomination.

      • JetBlue

        LG Revolution has bing also instead of Google.

      • DroidBricker

        Yup, I remember de-binging my fassy!

  • brkshr

    Completely agree on everything here!

  • Brian

    Verizon is the only carrier worth a damn in my area. They aren’t going to lower their prices if I buy a phone unsubsidized, so why wouldn’t I take the discount on the phone and lock myself into a 2 year contract?

    • Aj

      Because it’s not actually a discount. You still pay the full price, except now you are doing it while being forced into a two year arrangement with a company.

      • Brian

        But if I’m staying with Verizon regardless (for coverage reasons), the monthly bill will be the exact same if I take a subsidy or I buy a device full retail. This argument only makes sense if you’re willing to bounce around carriers.

        • RobV

          The argument also makes sense if you want a new phone more than once during 2 years, which I definitely do.

          • Brian

            That too. I think I’m in the minority there though. I can survive 20 months on a phone.

          • RobV

            I suppose I could as well. I just usually break mine at work or get bummed when I realize I’m missing out on new technology. Haha

          • Brian Walker

            Not necessarily true. If he is definitely going to be with Verizon for the next 20 months, it makes sense to buy a phone on contract. Even if he wants to jump around to different phones, 1 of them will be cheaper. For his scenario, he doesn’t lose at all.

          • JoshGroff

            In which case, you can sell the device you bought with a subsidy, typically at a profit, and buy a new one unsubsidized.

        • Eyebolt

          I am on Verizon for the same reason…coverage…and likely won’t be leaving anytime soon. However, I just started weening us off of the carrier subsidized phones with getting my wife a mint S3 off of Craigslist yesterday to replace her old lemon of a droid 3. Why? If either of our lines get a subsidized phone from them again, they will be having us change into the “Share Anything” plan which will basically up our bill $50/mth due to the amount of data I use on my grandfathered unlimited data plan.

          So until they stop grandfathering that unlimited plan (I’ve already been running the grandfathered family share voice plan for years)…no subsidized phones for me.

          Honestly, it is a bit freeing…if I want a new phone…either used or brand new…I can just do it without feeling like I’m tied to when Verizon will give me a “deal”. Make a few bucks on selling off the old one…and be done with it.

          • Jason Dingle

            I’m with Verizon for the amazing coverage and the LTE but I’ve stopped with the renewing of contracts when that meant losing my unlimited data so now I usually just grab a great 200.00 to 300.00 that is a generation old from eBay There will most likely be an easy root option and a solid choice of Roms. I tend to upgrade a little more often than once every two years. I would have sprung for the Nexus 4 but I can’t go back to life without LTE.

        • Dale Griggs

          I am single and still have Verizon’s old unlimited plan. if I get a subsidized phone, I lose my unlimited. It would cost me more per month if I go to a shared plan, can you believe that?
          I think one day Verizon will take my unlimited plan away from us so the choice will then be a simple one and that is to change carriers. Verizon has screwed me for the last time.

        • dsass600

          No actually.
          ——————
          Individual plan on Verizon = $110
          Subsidized Smartphone = $230 ($30 Verizon tax)
          Total after 24 months = $2870

          Smart Talk = $45
          Unlocked Smartphone = $600
          Total after 24 months and buying one unlocked smartphone = $1680
          ——————-
          About $1190 in savings. You could buy about 2 more unlocked smartphones. So if you went to Straight Talk and planned on spending equal amounts as you were on Verizon, you could buy 3 unlocked smartphones every 24 months and pay the same.

      • avinyc

        I disagree Aj. If a person is getting a subsidized phone and plans on staying on for the 2 years, there is no cost saving to buying the phone off-contract. Verizon doesn’t offer plan discounts if you bring your own phone or are no longer in contract. I know other carriers may do this, but if you are already sticking to the same carrier for the contract period, a subsidized phone makes sense.

        • http://twitter.com/jcola JCola

          One thing to remember is that if you have an unlimited data plan on Verizon, I think the only way to keep it is to buy your next phone unsubsidized. Taking a subsidized phone qualifies as an upgrade, which loses unlimited data.

          • avinyc

            Agreed which is why I’ll be stuck getting unsubsidized phones moving forward. On top of that, if you get a discount on data plans, it won’t apply on tiered plans. But then you have to ask yourself, are you in need of unlimited data or can you be comfortable and save money with the new plan options?

          • steve0617

            I get a 25% (I think that’s the amount) discount from VZW because of my employer. It applies to the Shared Plan data that I have, but not on the unlimited minutes/texts.

          • avinyc

            Right, and on the older plans, those discounts apply to the voice and data plans. On the tiered data plans, you forfeit that discount unless you are paying for a data plan over $50 I believe. On shared data, it’s applied the way you have it, so the discount becomes less enticing.

          • steve0617

            Except the discount didn’t apply to the unlimited minutes/text before either. It only did if you has a denominated minute plan.

          • avinyc

            Sure it does. Many people who have grandfathered unlimited data and have corporate discounts get a discount on the $30 data plan. If your text plan was also costing more than $30, I believe it was also discounted.

          • steve0617

            What I’m saying is, in the old plans, the corporate discount didn’t apply to the minute/text portion of your bill if you had unlimited minutes. If you had the 450 or 900 minute plan, it applied to them. They always discounted the data portion, then and now.

          • avinyc

            Right, I was confused a little when you said they didn’t apply. Unless you are using your phone more for voice minutes than data, you would save money on the older plans.

          • Gadgetskopf

            With my current plan, moving to a family shared data plan costs me an extra $40-$70/mo depending on options. Over the course of 2 years, that’s a decent unsubsidized smartphone. I just wish the Droid 4 had a removable battery…sigh…

          • KleenDroid

            I have 5 lines and pay $10 each for unlimited data. No shared plan can beat this.

          • MKader17

            Well in my family’s case we could go from 2 unlimted plan to a 4gb shared and save $4/month. With the times that I’ve had to use my phone as the only source of internet I would have huge overages. I don’t think the $4/month savings gives me a good buffer for overages savings.

          • Big_EZ

            Not exactly, I just got a subsidized Note 2 and still have unlimited data with my new 2 year contract. There are several ways around losing your unlimited data while getting a subsidized upgrade.

          • MrClark

            How did you get the subsidized price and still keep unlimited data on Verizon? I just went to one of my local Verizon stores and they informed me that the only way I can keep unlimited data is to pay full price for the phone. Thanks for any info.

          • Big_EZ

            I used the dumb phone method, but there are other ways. I switched the upgrade from my line to the dumb phone, then after it was activated I added the dumb phone back to that line and put my sim in the Note 2. Since it was my upgrade my line gets the 2 year contract even if I left the Note 2 on the old dumb phone line. I can get an upgrade about every 6-8 months between the 3 lines (my wife’s, mine, and my mother’s) and keep unlimited data for my wife and I.

        • Aj

          Yes you’re right. I was thinking in more of the mindset of Nexus devices and carriers in general, not just Verizon. Nexus devices are $500 on networks and $300 on google, so you would end up paying more over all. Also contracts don’t go down once you have finished your two years so you are basically overpaying for the phone if you keep it. Also I was unaware that Verizon didn’t have cheaper plans for unlocked phones, but I probably should have guessed that…

          • avinyc

            Trust me, when another nexus is available for verizon customers, I will happily pay for it off-contract. Before getting the gnex, I was off contract for a long time. But yes, I’m stuck with no incentive now that I’ll lose unlimited data if I sign another contract with them…

          • WickedToby741

            Don’t hold your breath for another Verizon Nexus in the short term. Don’t expect one until Google can offer an LTE Nexus that works across the major carriers, and that won’t happen until Verizon weans itself completely off of their CDMA network. Until then, every phone on Verizon has to receive Verizon’s stamp of approval for updates, and Google won’t offer a Nexus under those terms again. The X Phone will likely be as close as you’ll ever get, which coincidentally may be close enough for you.

          • avinyc

            Had it not been for the galaxy nexus, there might be some truth to that. Everyone that likes to claim they know inside details of Verizon or Google is more or less amusing. Sprint had the closest relationship of all carriers with Google up until recently and they also lost out on the latest nexus. The gnex will continue to get updates despite the delays and despite everyone hoping it won’t. I don’t need to hold my breath, but I am certain there will be additional google devices for verizon down the road.

      • Whoop

        I work for Big Red, can tell you, Verizon does not make a penny off phones, they actually take a hit on each phone they sell. Yes, the plans are a bit higher, but find me a network as good as their 4g lte, and their unbelieveably good voice network, and let’s not forget the best 3g network in the country, and you get the idea of why the data plans are higher. Takes a bit to run a network this good, and trust me, at Verizon, it’s all about the network. Everything is geared towards it.

        • ChrisI

          You’re right, it’s all about the network. Clearly not about customer service. Your network doesn’t mean a damn to me if you treat me like a piece of disposable candy wrapper. Plus, tiered data royally sucks. ROYALLY. Total bull$hit. I shouldn’t be hit with some huge fees just because a certain page is more data intensive or an email contains a few larger attachments. Have yet to see Verizon do this to their FiOS service.

          • SexciiP

            Verizon may be money hungry, and unfair with their pricing, but you can’t deny the fact that they’re the GREATEST wireless service provider in the US as far as reliability goes. SideNote: They’re Fios Internet is pretty darn speedy, but I wouldn’t even want to have them as my ISP because they monitor everything you do. It’s a downloaders worst nightmare.

        • gm

          Here in NYC Verizon has the best voice service, but the slowest to connect data. LTE is fast but only if you have it and can hold onto it. If your on the subway and come above ground (Manhattan & Williamsburg Bridges, Elevated tracks, or exiting) and need to access data there is none with LTE off or on. AT&T, T-Mobile & Sprint riders all have data instantaneously! This has been tested with a DNA, Nexus & the wifes Razor Maxx. I’m lucky if I can get 1 search in before reentering the tunnel. No problems with my brothers T-Mobile S2. This isn’t good considering NYkers spend a great deal of time in & out of the subway. It can take 5-10 minutes sometimes to get connection.

        • arturo_bandini

          You may work for Verizon, but you’re wrong about them taking a loss on each phone sale. They may account for it that way on paper, but given their margins, I doubt they would ever make that argument in public.

        • Spider210

          I also work for big red, 4g lte cost 1/3 the price of 3g. You tell me its not all about profit :)

      • itznfb

        That’s only true assuming as Brian said, that they would lower their prices if you didn’t buy a subsidy. Verizon is going to charge you $100/mo for 2GB of data no matter what. Whether you sign a contract or not it’s $100/mo. If you don’t sign a contract your phone is $650 + 100/mo. If you do sign a contract it’s $200 + 100/mo or less. The majority of people in the US have to use Verizon if they want decent coverage. So why wouldn’t you sign a contract and save a couple hundred bucks? Doesn’t make sense not to. If you want to break the contract then sell the phone to pay the ETF or sell off your contract.

        • KleenDroid

          Because instead of spending that $100 per month for 2 gig of data, you could have had unlimited data.

          I pay $200 per month for 5 lines all with unlimited data. And that is with full insurance coverage on all but one of them.

          For this reason alone I will not get another subsidized phone again.

          • itznfb

            Well that just comes back to the fact that most people don’t have usable coverage from anyone other than Verizon. Making it the only option. If T-Mobile had 1/2 the coverage of Verizon in SW PA, I would dump VZW in a heartbeat. But currently it just isn’t a reality.

    • http://twitter.com/Geovanni_Hiero Geo

      The price doesn’t go down after you finish paying the phone into the 2 year contract, at least that’s what I’ve been told

      • C-Law

        It doesn’t! Lol

    • KleenDroid

      Because you lost your unlimited data.

  • http://www.thinkgeeks4u.com Hiral Patel

    Only if Google just bought out Verizon now that would be magical.

    • Michael webb

      I would drop dead from happiness.

      • New_Guy

        Googerolarizon?….YES =D!!!

    • bananatroll

      DOJ and FCC would shoot that proposition down so fast it would make our head spin

      • David Harris

        Kill joy!

  • Booyah

    I did the calcs, and I’d be saving about $30 a month if my wife and I switched to a $50 prepaid plan for each of us. We currently have unlimited data on Verizon. That’s why I’m still with Verizon. Last I heard, Straight talk wouldn’t be fond of the 10GB i use a month. I’m hoping for a legitimate unlocked LTE phone to hit the market for a decent price (Nexus 4 range) but I know that’s wishful thinking.

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      This is true, the prepaid plans will throttle you after anywhere from 2-4GB each month. One of the downsides.

      • http://twitter.com/romiust Romius T.

        unless you go with tmobile, they offer a true unlimited for 70 dollars, though that isnt much cheaper than big red…

      • http://twitter.com/Siphyn Adam Newman

        Unless you go with the $70 unlimited plan from T-Mobile. That plan is now truly unlimited and not throttled :)

        • Booyah

          Which is a great option if not grandfathered into unlimited, no doubt!

      • Booyah

        All that being said, I do see your point. It’s valid, and always good to create discussions like this so folks know their options. That’s why I always come back to this site.

  • http://twitter.com/NovembersDirge The Observer

    I ditched Verizon in November after i bought my Nexus 4, switched to T-Mobile pre-paid, and haven’t looked back. I will never buy another subsidized phone or sign a contract with a carrier. Too expensive, and too much of a hassle

    • http://twitter.com/twitwhileblack Zarani Barrow

      I did the exact same thing at the exact same time. I’m on one of their special pre-paid plans and have never been happier with my phone and service. Never go back!!!

  • Evan T

    This rhetoric is getting old. Most people in the US are on family plans. Family plans are cheaper than prepaid plans in the short and long term for families. If we get pushed into individual contracts the carriers will make more money. To my knowledge AT&T and Verizon’s networks aren’t interchangeable ( including LTE).

    • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (ニール・ゴンパ)

      Well, there’s no reason there couldn’t be prepaid family plans. It just hasn’t been done yet. Perhaps we’ll see that soon from T-Mobile and MetroPCS. MetroPCS has already started experimenting with discounted multi-line service, so it isn’t a stretch.

      • brkshr

        Net10 has prepaid family plans. They are the exact same thing as Straight Talk. Both companies are owned by TracFone.

    • Geran Smith

      You could use something like the T-Mobile Value Plans, which are month to month with no subsidies.

      • UncleFan

        The Value plans actually require a 2 year contract, even without a subsidy. You may be thinking of T-Mobile’s “Monthly4G” plans, which truly are month-to-month.

        • Geran Smith

          Really? I didn’t see that…

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      The only thing I would say, is that even Verizon’s family plans are no longer an affordable option if you look at prepaid. 4 smartphones and 4GB of shared data on Verizon would run a family $230 while 4 prepaid unlimited smartphones on say Solavei would be $200 flat, with unlimited data.

      I fully understand that prepaid and unlocked phones do not work for everyone, and some every rely on subsidies to get new phones. I just want to make sure everyone understands that there are options out there.

  • Tim Buchanan

    Is it currently possible to use a carrier-free phone on VZW?

    • http://AndroidTaskForce.com Timmy

      That was a good one man. :)

    • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (ニール・ゴンパ)

      Technically, yes. Pragmatically, no. Provided that the phone is LTE-only or GSM/LTE only, then it is possible. But you’d be blocked off from the CDMA network. Since the Verizon Wireless IMS core is active and supports voice calls and texts, it could be done. But no one has yet made such a beast that is compatible with Verizon’s Band 13 LTE network.

  • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

    Careful what you wish for: subsidies actually make mobile devices more affordable for more people. If they went away, most people would be forced to use either much cheaper phones or replace said phones less often, which would stunt the growth of the mobile ecosystem. Wrote about exactly that 2 weeks ago https://jdrch.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/how-verizon-and-att-could-kill-mobile-overnight/

    • j__h

      Price is rolled into plan. I think people want the phone separate with proper plan pricing.

      • Captain_Doug

        Exactly. If you’re not buying a subsidized phone, then why pay the subsidized monthly fee?

        • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

          That’s true, but bear in mind that most people find it easier to come up with $299 up front and $17 extra on their bill every month than $699 up front.

          • Captain_Doug

            Except it’s not $17 a month. Maybe with T-mobile but with Verizon, I’m paying $160 for 2 lines. Going to prepaid plans makes that $90. That’s $35 a line per month. Also, $699 is quite a hefty price. Especially when there are phones for $300-500 which are considered high end phones. I understand that you probably see the sense in it but are just doubtful of the American consumer. As I said in my other comment to you, hopefully people think about it before do some math and figure out how much money they can save and how great the benefits are for being off contract.

          • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

            with Verizon, I’m paying $160 for 2 lines. Going to prepaid plans makes that $90. That’s $35 a line per month.

            Where are you getting $90 for 2 lines from? VZW’s own site shows prepaid smartphone plans starting at $80/month http://www.verizonwireless.com/wcms/consumer/shop/prepaid.html . Also, the fine print says the plans aren’t available for all phones, i.e. you can’t just BYOD for prepaid.

            there are phones for $300-500 which are considered high end phones

            LOL which current gen high end phone with 4G runs for $300 full retail? I’d like to know. Even the 16GB GS3 retails for $600.

            hopefully people think about it before do some math

            Math ability and bank account balance are 2 different things. Ironically, you have to have money to save money in the long term. That’s why most people take out car loans/leases, and mortgages, and have a running credit card balance: it’s not that they don’t know those options cost more, they just literally can’t afford any other option.

          • Captain_Doug

            I’m talking about prepaid accounts NOT on Verizon. T-mobile, straight talk, simple mobile, all have much cheaper options. Prepaid on verizon is quite silly.
            I explained the under $500 argument in the last comment.
            As someone else said, if you have a credit card, it is much more worth it to buy a phone full price with a credit card then to pay the huge premium for being on contract. Meaning even if it takes you 6 months to pay off a smartphone on your credit card, you’re still saving money compared to the monthly charges Verizon tacks on(they’re not upfront about it) to make up for selling the phone on subsidy.
            Moral of the story is, if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. For a house or car sure, but that’s where people should draw the line.

          • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

            if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it

            Thanks for making my original point for me.

          • Captain_Doug

            Your original point is that people will be buy cheaper devices because they are use to subsidies but you never took into account the savings of not being in a contract. You can’t separate the cost of a phone from the cost of phone service when discussing the overall cost.

          • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

            Yes, you can, because most people buy on a cash upfront basis as opposed to TCO.

          • Captain_Doug

            That’s liking buying a car but forgetting about the gas, insurance, and wear and tear. Not people I would take advice from.

          • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

            … which is what a lot of people do.

          • Captain_Doug

            Let me get this straight, you’re not arguing that buying a phone off contract and going prepaid is stupid and not worth it, your argument is people are stupid and don’t think about saving money if the initial cost is less. Or is that wrong?

          • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

            Precisely.

          • Captain_Doug

            smh… I think we’re good here. I think people are stupid too. I thought I had cleared this up in the 2nd comment of this comment thread but you didn’t acknowledge it so i assumed I was wrong.

            However I do think that once this idea has sunk in, people will get it. T-mobile may not do very well right off the bat, but it will catch on.

          • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

            Sorry for the misunderstanding, all good man

    • Captain_Doug

      Subsidies tie you into contracts which cost you more money in the long run. If I didn’t have a contract I would buy a new phone each year. If subsidies went away there would be people buying year old used phones to use instead of buying brand new phones. It wouldn’t stunt growth, it would accelerate it. Many people would buy the latest and greatest but those who didn’t put it as that high of a priority would have an ocean of year old phones to buy. Wouldn’t it make sense to buy a brand new phone for $600 and then sell it a year later for $400? That $200 loss is very comparable to subsidy prices and the monthly fee is probably half the 2 year contract pricing.

      • UncleFan

        “Subsidies tie you into contracts which cost you more money in the long run.” The problem with your argument is that most smartphone customers don’t care about the long run, they care about the upfront cost for the phone and the monthly cost for the service. T-Mobile is about learn this the hard way, mark my words.

        • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

          @UncleFan:disqus My point exactly.

        • Captain_Doug

          That’s not a problem with my argument, that’s a problem with consumers.

          • UncleFan

            Not really. Many people simply will not be able or willing to pay upfront for a $600 phone. Eventually, OEMs would have to channel resources into making more midrange and budget phones to serve these people. At some point, the lack of scale could even cause the high-end/flagship market to dwindle away. Remember when Pioneer quit making their best-in-class Kuro TVs because the bottom fell out of the plasma market? Same thing could happen to smartphones. Nice going Captain, you just doomed us to a future of crappy Vizio phones!

          • Captain_Doug

            $600 is somewhat arbitrary. Especially when other high end smartphones can be had for $300-500. Many people not willing to pay $600 upfront are also people who can’t do simple math to see how much it would save them. Nice Going UncleFan, you’ve doomed us to a future of paying more over the course of a longer time. Oh wait, NVM, that’s credit card companies… It’s the same idea, just with phones. Paying more over a longer time is for those on a fixed income. If you can avoid it, you should.

          • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

            other high end smartphones can be had for $300-500.

            The only current generation high end 4G phone that comes within that price range is the LG Spectrum 2 http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/store/controller?item=phoneFirst&action=viewPhoneDetail&selectedPhoneId=5954, and it costs $500. No other phones in its class are available for less.

          • Captain_Doug

            …for Verizon. Outside of that there are many available for under $500.

          • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

            I’m still looking for a $300 unsubsidized high end current gen 4G LTE phone. When you find one link me to it

          • Captain_Doug

            LTE argument again. There are many HSPA+ enabled current gen phones for under $500 and as more time goes by there will be LTE devices as well for the same price. I’m sure the next nexus will be LTE enabled as the Nexus 4 has the hardware but as T-mobile and At&t continues expanding and building there LTE, it will be more available and therefore in higher demand.

          • arturo_bandini

            Most people would be better off putting the full price of a new phone on a credit card and using a prepaid plan. The effective interest rate being charged by the carriers on post paid plans blows even higher credit card rates out of the water. Hopefully personal finance experts will start making this point soon.

          • Captain_Doug

            Amen.

          • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

            That’s one way to do it, but that still locks out people who use debit cards only (a lot of low end retail customers do). Even then, I think the number of people willing to drop $600+ on a new device every 2 years would fall. The advantage of the current subsidized pricing structure is it makes powerful, low cost devices available to *everyone* with a mobile account and $200 – $300 of cash on hand.

          • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

            @UncleFan:disqus Thank God you’re one of the few people who visit this site and can separate platform adoration from reality.

      • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

        Bro, you have to understand that it’s a LOT easier for the average person to come up with $200 or $300 up front than it is for them to come up with $600. Traditionally, anything that’s below $200 has been an impulse buy (see the 360 vs. PS3 launch war for how badly the PS3’s $500 price hurt it), anything above requires planning for most folks or they can’t get the item.

        • Captain_Doug

          There are still Nexus devices. There are also people with common sense who understand the investment they’re making. Maybe I just have too much faith that people will think before they write off unsubsidized phones.

          • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

            The Galaxy Nexus has been EOLed and the N4 doesn’t support 4G, which makes calling it a high end phone (in the US market) difficult. In case you forgot, lack of 4G is the same thing we pilloried the iPhone 4S for before the 5 came out. You can’t have double standards.

          • Captain_Doug

            Nexus 4 supports HSPA+ which is almost as good as LTE. That’s not a double standard, that’s you ignoring specs. LTE is not the only 4G.

          • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

            Did you miss the whole iPhone 4S “fake 4G” thing a while back? http://www.mindofthegeek.com/2012/03/07/dear-apple-you-dont-have-a-4g-iphone-dear-att-hspa-isnt-real-4g/ almost as good as != the real deal.

          • Captain_Doug

            Speeds are the end of that argument. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPzJx1HxwcQ

            Regardless, T-mobile is putting up LTE this year. At&t and Sprint have LTE as well. Obviously coverage is a different story but that’s just a waiting game.

    • Trevor

      Maybe in communist Illinois it’s important because 1/3 of people live below the poverty level. Those of us with good jobs can afford it no problem. I want to be exclusive when it comes to my phone. Don’t want to be like everyone else. A person living off welfare shouldn’t have a top tier phone and hopefully this will push those leaches back to the flip phone age.

    • brkshr

      It’s thinking like this that has given the carriers in the U.S. all the power & allowed them to charge outrageous prices. Europe seems to be doing just fine without subsidies.

    • delesh

      Have you considered that the prices may come down as companies compete for sales?

      • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

        Even if they do, unsubsidized prices would still be higher for a long time to come. A $600 phone isn’t going to drop to $199 overnight.

        • delesh

          That may be true, but high end Verizon phones are now selling for $300 subsidized. Google and Nokia have released very good unlocked hardware for $300-450. Now, they may still be somewhat subsidized by the respective companies, but it’s still a price they reached. I also have a feeling the high unlocked prices may be severely influenced by the carriers in order to make their subsidized/contract plans more attractive, but I have no evidence. I agree that if you suddenly switch to an non-subsidized model you would have a lot of issues with suddenly convincing people to buy $600 phones. I think there will/should always be an option to get a subsidized phone with plan. What is missing and what needs to be offered is an option to buy an non-subsidized phone and pay less for service.

  • Anon

    If Google comes out with a “worldphone” (that is, an Android smartphone that can do GSM and LTE so I can switch carriers at will by switching SIM cards), and sells it off-contract through Google Play, I will scream at them to shut up and take my money.

    It really is that simple. I want a good smartphone that will allow me at any time to switch between the major carriers in the U.S. –and I want the carriers to have to do things to earn my money, not win by default because they’ve locked me into a contract. Google, I hope you’re listening, because then the new X-Phone would be my next purchase.

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      Hopefully the X Phone is it. :)

      • Butters619

        The X Phone will (hopefully) finally be the AT&T Moto phone I have been waiting for. The Atrix 2 and HD just kind of sucked compared to the competition.

      • http://twitter.com/Xeneize480 Xeneize480

        The problem is not the carries. The problems are idiot customer that always want FREE PHONES typical for Americans… cheap ass! lol

        • New_Guy

          Idiot Americans??? You mean the same Americans that are keeping the unlocked Nexus 4 in a “sold out”/”temporarily out of stock” status on a continual basis?…Are those the idiots you’re referring too?…

        • Aaron

          For some of us the problem is the carriers. Not because of subsidized phones but because we only have service available by a few. Where I live T-Mo and Sprint are almost nonexistent and AT&T is nearly as bad. So we get to choose between regional carrier US Cellular and Verizon.

        • JoshGroff

          Some of us also buy high end $200-300 subsidized devices, which is why the N4 is tempting me to switch, paying around the same price for an unlocked device is so much more worth it.

          Also, for the average user, even a “free” phone is good, especially with stuff like the RAZR M, which is actually pretty good.

          • Big_EZ

            And the fact that if I buy a phone off contract I pay more for the phone without the savings on the bill, Verizon is the only carrier with decent service and they charge the same price on contract or not..

      • Aaron

        If the X Phone has LTE, will it work on networks like Verizon and US Cellular? That is to say will it work with existing CDMA networks? There is zero GSM coverage where I live, and I need my phone to work for voice as well as data.

        • http://twitter.com/Belatukadro Justtyn Hutcheson

          Verizon’s voice networks require devices to be approved by Verizon to run on their network since CDMA, which they still use for voice, is proprietary. So unlocked devices are unlikely until they have VoLTE running flawlessly and shut down their 3G network, which is likely still many years down the road.

          • Aaron

            I’m actually with US Cellular, not that it probably makes much difference. But I am not complaining too much. They let me upgrade phones at a subsidized price off-contract, though I am still limited by an 18 month time limit. That may not be the case for everyone, but I am grandfathered in to an older plan. It’s expensive but I get 5 GB of data per line.

          • Mike Jones

            Actually a frequency they are taking live soon will make them have to accept unlocked devices via FCC regs.

          • http://twitter.com/macewank macewank

            link? I don’t see why Verizon would be adding CDMA spectrum at this stage of the game. anything they do to the LTE network is irrelevant to this particular argument.

          • http://twitter.com/LisaFelix4 Lisa Felix

            It may not be LTE, but some of the download speeds you will see are just as impressive. http://www.Makecash83dollareveryhouronthelabtop.qr.net/j6Yk/sAqlknrt4=AhtC3?f4W3k

          • Big_EZ

            I believe it only effects that frequency, so they could give you LTE coverage but not CDMA

          • http://twitter.com/Belatukadro Justtyn Hutcheson

            They have used the 700MHz Block C frequencies for all of their LTE networking thus far. The issue is their “backup” CDMA 1x voice/3G data network, which is required for the device to actually make regular phone calls and send/receive SMS/MMS. Even if you want to use Google Voice to handle those over IP, no device manufacturer in their right mind would introduce a device that can’t make phone calls natively.

          • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (ニール・ゴンパ)

            Well, if you have LTE coverage, then the X Phone could bypass the CDMA requirement with VoLTE. Verizon Wireless and U.S. Cellular have a working IMS core deployed. I see no reason that VoLTE can’t work if it’s installed into the phone (it’s entirely software-based).

          • http://twitter.com/Belatukadro Justtyn Hutcheson

            Although you are correct that the VoLTE service is entirely software based (as an evolution of IP voice capabilities), Verizon must activate their end of the VoLTE system at each switch and their servers for it to work properly. Until that occurs, each device on their network must have at least a 1x CDMA radio for voice and sms/mms transmission. I have the odd feeling that they are working on some sort of proprietary authentication protocol that will continue to allow them to restrict device access as a “security measure”, which is allowed for under the Block C provisions.

      • WickedToby741

        The X Phone sounds like a Verizon Galaxy Nexus style device; stock Android, but with some bloatware and still chained to the carrier’s update cycle. Motorola will carry the torch of high-end stock Android devices on the major carriers, but it definitely won’t be a Nexus in terms of openness, lack of bloatware, and timely updates.

    • Butters619

      The only problem is there are so many LTE bands in the world. I’m not saying that Qualcomm and other chip manufacturers aren’t working their butts off to put out a world LTE chip, but it’s not something I would expect to see anytime soon.

      • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (ニール・ゴンパ)

        World LTE chips exist already. Qualcomm modems support all fifty-odd bands. The problem is that there isn’t enough room in the phone to include all the antenna parts for all the bands. Most can only fit up to five different ones, some can fit seven. But you need at least ten frequency bands to get reasonable global coverage.

        • michael arazan

          It would have to be regional, like americas band, europe band, SE asia band and africa band it sounds like for the phone to handle such large areas and cover different carriers. Have to divide them up in the areas you live in might work better.

          • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (ニール・ゴンパ)

            For the US, the following bands are required for full support: LTE band classes 2/25, 4, 5/26, 17/12, 13.

            Adding in LTE band class 3 and 7 would give full support for Canada (which uses band class 4 and 7, and soon 12+13) and limited Asian/European LTE network support.

            Asia primarily uses band classes 1, 3, and 5.

            Europe uses only band classes 7, 3, and 20.

            Africa uses a mix of Asian and European bands.

            Global support won’t be difficult anymore, but manufacturers need to include it. Since band classes 25, 26, and 12 are supersets of band classes 2, 5, and 17 respectively, it becomes very easy to support Sprint (who uses band classes 25 and 26) and other networks cheaply.

            Right now, AT&T requests phones to include LTE band classes 2, 4, 5, and 17. Sprint requests that they only include band class 25. Verizon Wireless used to request that they only have band class 13, but they added the requirement for band class 4 at the end of last year. T-Mobile will take any phones that support at least band class 4.

            It’s up to consumers to tell manufacturers and customer-focused carriers (mainly T-Mobile, but also Sprint as well) that they want phones with support for all networks. I imagine that T-Mobile would have an easier time, given the support of Deutsche Telekom, but Sprint isn’t that much of a pushover either.

            AT&T and Verizon will just ignore you unless you are an enterprise customer.

          • http://infotainmentempire.blogspot.com Rob

            Wow, you know a TON about LTE chipsets. Is this your occupation or just a diehard hobby enthusiast? Impressed either way!

        • arthuruscg

          Why not have swappable antennas?

          • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (ニール・ゴンパ)

            Integration issues. Since duplexers/filters and power amplifiers connected to the antenna have to be chained directly into the transceiver port, it’s pretty much impossible to do that. Swappable antennas are only possible on devices that let you swap the cellular modem entirely. As far as I know, only Archos has made devices with swappable cellular modems, and that’s only on their Android tablets. It’s impossible to implement such a thing on phones because there isn’t enough room to make a solid swappable antenna chain, whereas there is plenty of room on a tablet to do just that.

      • Felix

        And not to mention, I bet that world LTE chip will be power hungry and wil only last a phone couple of hours.

        • Alex Farra

          It wouldn’t be any different because it would only be operating on only one of those frequencies at a time.

        • michael arazan

          Not if you choose to set it to a certain band that you already know you will be using, I can switch bands on my nexus from cdma and back to lte

      • ceejw

        We’re already pretty close. The Verizon iPhone 5 supports 5 LTE bands and can roam on LTE in Japan, Puerto Rico, Australia, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, South Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, The Philippines, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, UAE and the UK.

    • chris125

      sadly with all the different lte bands being used that may make it difficult to have every band in one phone. Even apple had to make 2 different versions of the iphone to make this work

      • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (ニール・ゴンパ)

        When Apple revises the hardware again, it can fit all seven major U.S. LTE bands onto one phone. Qualcomm and other companies have worked to make this possible throughout 2012. It began mass production just after the iPhone 5 released.

        For the US, the following bands are required for full support: LTE band classes 2/25, 4, 5/26, 17/12, 13. Adding in LTE band class 3 and 7 would give full support for Canada (which uses band class 4 and 7, and soon 12+13) and limited Asian/European LTE network support. Asia primarily uses band classes 1, 3, and 5. Europe uses only band classes 7, 3, and 20.

        • chris125

          I wonder if when that happens if the carriers will unlock the devices since it is now illegal to unlock your device without carrier approval.

    • http://www.facebook.com/smartguy0101 Anthony James

      Thats all I want, a good phone that has a radio for all GSM, CDMA & LTE bands. Might be a little pricier because of it, but I have freedom with it and that’s what I want.