Recommendation for new phone service

Starting a couple days ago, I noticed my phone battery was not discharging at its usual pace. It hardly lost any power. I checked to see if it was talking to the cell network, and it turns out it isn’t. So I visit the local AT&T store (this is a prepaid AT&T phone) and they tell me I must have been disconnected because of 5G. I was supposed to get an email telling me about it, but have not received any such.

Anyway, I decided to see if I can get a better deal elsewhere, so am looking for recommendations. I used to pay only $100/year because I don’t use the phone much. This year would have been different because I’m getting a lot of spam texts and they charge me $.20 per text. But that means there’s not much left in the account right now, so it’s a good time to switch providers.

The floor is open for recommendations.

Do they not still have prepay for AT&T? If you were to buy a new phone from AT&T would they not keep you on the old plan? I know you can get cheap AT&T phones from places like Target as that’s what I do.

Fairly sure they would keep me on the old plan. But getting cut off like that without notice made me want to see if I can find a better plan.

Couple of things to check first - if your phone wasn’t connecting due to the bandwidth migration, you will probably need to invest in a new phone regardless of the carrier you go with. 3g has been nearly entirely phased out for 4G/LTE and 5G use by the carriers. So if you’re looking for a carrier that will give you a new phone, you’d probably be looking at the more pricy plans.

IMHO (and speaking as a prior T-Mobile Rep), I’d go with -

And get the $15 per month (+ taxes and fees sorry) option, which is unlimited talk, text and 2.5G of data per month. Which should be more than you need, and sadly, a bit more than you’re used to paying, but without the text spam issues, which should hopefully even out.

You’re probably looking @ $100 for an entry level smartphone, or even more sadly, that much for a flip phone these days. If you want a cheap package deal, then some of the other pre-pay are an option, but the majority of them also have larger all-in-one package deals.

I do not generally recommend the resellers, since they get worse service in the event of emergencies, as they lease coverage from the big 3 (now), and are not involved in the technical side at all - so if there’s an outage, they normally can’t tell you anything.

I don’t run with a phone, but when I do solo trail runs on the more technical (rocks & roots) trails I do carry a small, lightweight ‘burner’ (serviceless) flip phone; it’ll call 911 (only) to prevent me from literally crawling for miles in the event of a sprained ankle. I got it some years ago for about $15 (& have never used it), it is a nice piece-of-mind insurance policy. Guess I gotta upgrade for relatively big bucks now.

I’ve been on Boost Mobile since they bought out Virgin Mobile. My phone is an older model Samsung Galaxy at $25/mo for unlimited talk & text.

ETA: I see Boost currently has a Samsung Galaxy A13 5G at 60% off.

One thing about the Boost and other heavily discounted prepaid phones - most of them are carrier locked - so it’s tempting to buy one and then go use it with Carrier Z, but it may not work for you.

Buyers from Ebay should also shop carefully, as I used to see a lot of complaints where a customer got a great deal from Ebay/Craigslist/Friend of Friend only for the phone not to work / stop working suddenly, to find that they phone they bought was still under a payment plan and IMEI locked after payment stopped - or was reported lost/stolen to the same effect.

With the market being for ever-more expensive high end phones, the old bar/flip phones no longer have any economy of scale, and for new models generally run $90-100. Again, tons of used models out there, but you need to be careful, not so much of the issues of the last paragraph, but if they’re carrier locked, or CDMA in a GSM area, or compatible with the bands in the area.

For the record, Nokia still sells a basic bar phone with 4G for $49.99 - you’d want to check BEFORE purchasing with your carrier to see if it would work with their network, but… if all you want is 911 capacity without having an actual carrier, this might be a decent choice.

OP here. I don’t really want to pay a lot for a phone, but the last time I lost my phone it cost me about $125 or so to replace it. The same model flip phone I had previously used had some kind of software problem, so my only choice was a smart phone. Except I never used the smart features, just used it as a dumb phone.

I don’t want just 911 service. Sometimes I do have to call people or people need to call me. It’s just not very often, so $100 per year usually was enough.

Sorry, the 911-only comment was more directed at @Spiderman who said they took a burner phone with him that didn’t have a carrier service for 911 calls if they were hurt out on the trails. Didn’t intend to confuse the matter.

Going back to trying to fit that price point -

Is a prepaid plan with a pay in full upfront of $99.99 plus tax, and gives you 400 minutes to use over a year. + $10 gets you another 1000 minutes and + $5 gets you 1000 texts. If you use it infrequently, the base is probably fine, and you can add those additional charges anytime. If you use it any more than those amounts, or began to use data for some reason (for MMS or quick location checking/GPS) I’d definitely go with the $15 per month plan I mentioned earlier.

Again, if you have really minimal use, you’ll probably want some sort of prepay/pay as you go plan, although I’d recommend going with the ones from the primary carriers rather than a reseller. If something is wrong on their network, they can actually give you an idea of the problem, rather than a ‘dunno’ when it’s a reseller.

Not a phone-savvy person here at all. I have to have a smartphone for one or two apps I need; if not for that I’d get an old flipphone. So disclaimed.

I’ve been very happy with Cricket Wireless for years. With my extremely minimal data consumption, I’ve paid exactly $30/month for a very, very long time. New phones when I need them (I buy the crappiest possible, which work perfectly well for me) are no more than $10 plus a $25 activation fee — not perfect, but a lot better than what you’d get if you had the misfortune to run into a phone store salesman.

ETA: Cricket let me keep my old phone number from the 1990s when I signed up, and they’ve let me keep it ever since then with every new hardware iteration.

I’ve been happy with Mint Mobile. $180 for a year.

Update. I’ve procrastinated on this. I did check out Cricket, but their cheapest plan is way more than I want to spend. Otherwise, I’m afraid I’ve kept putting it off.

A couple minutes ago, my phone suddenly goes “ting”. It was a message that the software on the phone has been updated. Now it talks to the network. At least to the extent that I can query my account balance.