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Too Cheap for iPhone or Blackberry, But I Got My Mobile Web Access

This article was written by in Consumer, Shopping. 16 comments.


My day-to-day existence includes nearly 4 hours of commuting, 8-12 hours of work where I’m without access to my personal e-mail, and very little time left over in which to live life to the fullest.

In my endless struggle to balance work, friends and family, I find that mobile web access is a must.

For years, I’ve been a faithful Verizon Wireless customer, enjoying my 17% employee discount and spending an extra $6-7 a month for bare-bones mobile web access on my teeny little flip phone.

I’ve often stared with envy at the iPhone and web-enabled PDAs like the Blackberry, but the more I look into these options, the more I realize I’m simply not interested in paying that much for mobile web access. My company’s not about to pony up the cash, and I’m hesitant to pay $30 or more per month just to be constantly accessible. And since my contract’s not yet up, I need to stay with my current provider to avoid termination fees.

Since I was recently eligible to upgrade my mobile phone at a reduced rate, I went to my local Verizon Wireless shop to search for more affordable solutions. There were, of course, fewer cheap options than I’d hoped. I’ll outline them here to help save you time in your own search:

XV6800Option 1: The Smartphone
Service Charge: $45/month
Phone Cost: $200-$600
This option offers really cool smartphones like the Palm Treo and XV6800. E-mail is pushed right to the phone instantly, plus there’s a QWERTY keyboard and nice screen size.

BlackberryOption 2: The Blackberry
Service Charge: $30 (personal e-mail) or $45 (corporate e-mail) per month
Phone Cost: $200-$400
A nice little integrated trackball is a plus, and the QWERTY keyboard is functional if small. Browsing is primarily text-based, and e-mail is pushed to the device. I’d have full integration with my corporate network for the $45 monthly charge, but must choose between having corporate or personal e-mail.

LG VoyagerOption 3: The iPhone Wannabe
Service Charge: $15 per month for V CAST V Pak
Phone Cost: $200-$400
Phones available include the LG Voyager with a frontal touch screen and LG enV with a typical mobile phone exterior. Both phones open to reveal a secondary screen for web surfing and QWERTY keyboard. Mobile web access is unlimited with the plan, but you must log in for access. Full graphical web browsing is available.

LG VenusOption 4: The Traditional Mobile Phone
Service Charge: $6 per month (plus additional airtime/megabyte charges depending on plan)
Phone Cost: Free-$300
This is my old way of mobile web browsing, peering at a small screen whilst tapping out responses on the numerical keypad. There are new phones like the VX9400 which offer better screen sizes and optional mobile TV, but otherwise these are normal cell phones. Depending on level of usage, this can be the cheapest option.

I also looked at the possibility of getting a wireless modem and laptop, but the service charge ranged from $40-60 a month before I ever got around to pricing out ultraportable laptops. Too much for my blood, plus I’m opposed to lugging around even more gadgets.

Stymied by the options, I logged a few more store visits and calls to customer service before I figured out the cheapest way to get what I wanted: Option 3, with the LG Voyager, which has been dubbed the “iPhone Killer”. It’s not got nearly the same features, but the concepts and overall feel are similar. Forbes described its features best:

Voyager is designed to be a multimedia workhorse, combining access to Verizon’s broadcast TV, video and music service with GPS navigation, high-speed Web browsing, and expandable memory (from 64 megabytes up to 8 gigabytes with a memory card). It has a 2.81-inch exterior touch screen that opens to reveal another screen and a full keyboard.

The touch screen worried me somewhat, but I plan to baby it. The front and interior screens were nicely sized and larger than any of the other mobile phone choices. And no matter how much I surf or e-mail, my mobile web expenses are capped at $15 a month. LG Voyager

I’m pretty happy with my fake, lower-tech iPhone. I don’t have any plans to blind myself editing documents on the thing, so I don’t miss the lack of full PDA functionality. And logging into my e-mail is fine with me – an extra $250 per year just to have it pushed to my phone seems unnecessary.

After paying $200 for the phone upgrade and raising my monthly mobile web costs from $7 to $15, I’m now as wired as I’m going to get.

Until the next round of mobile gadgets, at least.

Have you found any good mobile web deals with other wireless companies? Do share!

Verizon Turns Up Its Cool Quotient [Forbes]
Verizon Voyager Fan Site
Apple’s iPhone: Adding Up the Costs [Apple 2.0 Blog]

Image Credits: Verizon Wireless

Updated August 9, 2011 and originally published March 6, 2008. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Along with her partner, Sasha owns and manage six residential rental units. Sasha endeavors to support the causes and organizations she believes in through more conscientious spending practices. View all articles by .

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Andrew

Just as a note – depending on your corporate policy, you may be able to get personal e-mail on a BES BlackBerry (BES is the $45/month option from Verizon Wirless).

Unless your corporate policy blocks BIS services, the $45/month includes both your corporate e-mail and your personal e-mail (through BIS).

BIS, without any corporate/enterprise activation, is the $30/month plan.

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avatar Kevin

I thought about leaving Verizon for Sprint’s SERO plan, but couldn’t get out of my contract.

The VPak is interesting… I’ll need to look into it. But I can’t justify paying $15×2 for two lines to be upgraded.

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avatar emilyg

Do you really need web and e-mail access 24/7? At first I really wanted an iPhone, but I already have an iPod, a great camera, and a decent GPS navigator. I don’t need a fancy phone to stay connected to everything all the time. I’m already in front of a computer all day at work, and if someone really needs me, they can just call me. Recently, a friend in town from NYC was out at Starbuck’s with me to hang out and have fun. She has a Blackberry, and the whole time we were out she kept getting work e-mails, and was constantly distracted. This was at 10 at night on a weekend, when she was supposed to be out having fun! Yuck. No smart phone for me.

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avatar beth

Oooh I’m trying to decide what to do about my phone RIGHT NOW. I’m finally off contract. I have a simple little flip phone, and with my calling and texting I’m paying about $55/month.

If I sign up for the Sprint friends & family plan that’s been blogged about elsewhere, I can get 500 minutes and free texting and free mobile access for $30/month.

I don’t need all that stuff, and the comment by emilyg is right on target… but the price is amazing and I don’t know that I can think of a reason NOT to do it.

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avatar Dave

Try looking at these on Amazon.. they will usually give you the phone for free with a new contract or extending your current contract. I got a free blackberry pearl from them a few weeks ago when i upgraded my at&t phone.

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avatar Evan

By far, the best deal right now is the Sprint SERO plan.

I got a MotoQ for free and I have 500 minutes, nights/weekend start at 7pm, unlimited text messages, unlimited data for $30/month. It really is unbeatable.

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avatar beth

I signed up for the SERO plan last night, but I’m having ethical qualms. I can blame Sprint for not better checking the referring email address, but the bottom line is I’m taking advantage of a plan that’s not meant for me. Yeah, I can spout the big company, exorbitant charges, etc., but I don’t think it’s right. Am I the only one who feels this way?

(I think I’m going to do it anyway. Depends how loud the qualms get.)

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avatar AA

T-Mobile is cheaper $19.99 for BES Service.

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