Tracfone smartphone? Other suggestions?

I’ve never had a smartphone but I’d like to get one now. I’m considering a Tracfone (Tf) because I’ve been satisfied with their basic phone service. I’d like to get some info on whether that’s a good choice for me. I’m especially interested in hearing from those with Tf smartphones.

For one example, Tf offers a plan that include 1.5 GB data, 1500 minutes, and 1500 texts for $125. I have several questions:

Is there a way to estimate how much use I’d get from 1.5 GB? I would be accessing email, facebook, the Dope, etc., and looking at Youtube clips, but likely not streaming Netflix or doing any gaming.

Is there any interchangeability, i.e. if you text a lot more than you talk can the minutes be applied for more texting, or can unused texts be applied for more data?

Is this wi-fi, or the internet over cellphone networks? If the latter, is that a problem? (If these questions don’t really make sense kindly explain.)

Anything else I should know? Any suggestions for non-Tf smartphone and service?

I have had great luck buying one or two generation old iPhones from friends and family who are hooked on getting the latest and greatest. Craigslist too. Then you find a BYOD plan that meets your needs.

TMobile has a plan via Walmart that is $30 for unlimited text/data. Only 100 minutes of calls though. StraightTalk has a $45 unlimited everything that uses the AT&T network.

Tracfone definitely doesn’t allow you to trade texts for data or any other such trades. However, you can get extra of just the item you need more of, by purchasing an add-on card. (They’re sold in stores, you don’t have to send to tracfone for them.) You buy the card, scratch to expose the PIN printed on the back, and with that in hand, phone their toll-free number to add whatever to your account.

The $125 TracFone plan is for a full 365 days of service, though. And TracFone has unlimited rollover, so depending on how much he intends to use his data, it may be more economical to stay with them.

Note: while jasg’s use of “iPhone” in this context seems jarring for a happy TracFone user, the context was for using as a BYOD phone: “Bring your own device”. So the implication is for the OP to use the iPhone with TracFone.

TracFone is funny about which devices are permitted by their BYOD plan. So some careful checking is needed beforehand.

A few years ago, I got a new LG smartphone, did some goofy tech stuff to effectively unlock it, and added it to my TracFone account. Total cost under $50.

I’m not 100% sure what this means, but I use an old smartphone on wi-fi without a phone plan, so you could do that if you want. I would guess there’s a way to use wi-fi if one is available instead of using your phone’s minutes, but you’d have to ask TracFone. I’ve tried calling their customer service once, even though I didn’t have a TracFone. They were decently helpful.

I’ve been with Tracfone for over 10 years, around half of that with various smart phones, first Android and currently an older iPhone. The Android was a phone I bought from TF and the iPhone was a BYOD. On the TF website you can put in your zip code and they’ll show you the phones that will work in your area. There is also a place on the website (and in their app) where you can enter your number and a code and it will show you how many minutes, texts, data, and service you have remaining.

For me, the thing I like about TF is that I don’t have to have a plan, so I’d recommend starting out as pay-as-you-go and monitor your use for a few months. At that point you might find that you’re fine just adding service/time/data/texts a la carte, or you can determine if there is a plan that economically fits your usage. For me, I text and use data much more than talk time so I re-up my service annually (about $100) and add text and data as I go. 1gb of data is $10 and I think it’s $5 for 500 texts. I just added a few GB recently and if I remember correctly the time before that was in Feb, so 3gb lasted me about 5 months. As mentioned above, you only use data if you aren’t on WIFI, so I try to connect to WIFI whenever I can to save data. I think some text messages also use a little data unless you’re on WIFI.

Yep. “iPhone” could be any Android device as well. My point isn’t that you might be able to get a more capable smartphone by buying a used one than one from TracFone.

There are possibilities for WiFi calling and texting that bypass cellular provider limits - but those limits are not very common these days, so I don’t see them as a big factor for most customers.

Btw, StraightTalk is just another TracFone brand.

I wasn’t responding to his use of the word iPhone, but from the checking I did, any AT&T phone or unlocked GSM phone will work without a problem, as will most Verizon phones. So this would consist of a wide variety of smartphones. And unlocked phones are very easy to buy. TracFone even sells their own phones at Wal-Mart for about $20-30 if you’re not in the mood for a real fancy-schmancy one.

I’ve been using Tracfone with an unlocked Motorola G4 (Android) that I picked up at Costco about 2 years ago. I have had no problems whatsoever.
As others have mentioned, no, you can’t redistribute your buckets of voice, texts and data. Also, you can set the phone to use wi-fi if available and switch to data only when there is no wi-fi signal.
I haven’t had any problems with running out of data, but I pretty much only use data for navigation, weather, email, pulling up coupons or price matching something in a store. I don’t do social media, I get my Dope fix on desktops or laptops only, I rarely do streaming on the go and to me mobile gaming means the Switch or the 3DS.

The Tracfone branded smartphone from ZTE or LG (don’t remember which), while cheap, is utter crap. Don’t waste your time trying to save money going that route. Slow (only 3G was available at the time, despite 4G and LTE being widespread) and constantly triggering the screen lock during calls unless in bright light. I would have to shine a flashlight at the sensor to be able to use the keypad during a call. Utter crap. Plus it’s locked to Tracfone and it wouldn’t let me upgrade to a newer version of Android when one came out. Stay away and stick with the BYOD plans. Those rock.

The YouTube will eat that up in no time, as will any other video. Audio less so. The Dope is about perfect, as text is tiny.

Can would recommend an alternative?

Buy an Android phone outright. I’m using a Moto G4, andit can be bought outright and unlocked for $114.

Then go to

You can purchase a year’s service for $180, which includes unlimited talk and text and two gigabytes of data a month.

1.5G is very limited, even without streaming or gaming. I’ve used 6.5G since the beginning of this month.

You might want to look into Boost Mobile. I’m paying $62/month for unlimited data and hotspot (basically, I can use my smartphone anywhere as my own personal modem). It would be $55 except that I have the “Todo Mexico” add-on for $7. I think Boost will let you bring your own iPhone, including less expensive earlier models.

We’ve been using StraightTalk for many years, and switched to smartphones last year. Except for this weekend in Angel Fire, NM, the new phones have been great.

We bought the previous year’s Samsung Galaxy at Walmart for much less than newer phones. Since we rarely use them for data, it has worked out very well.

Of course you can use wi-fi if it’s available. Pretty much the only time I use data with my TracFone is looking something up in a store that doesn’t have customer wi-fi. Oh, or when there’s a power failure and the internet is out.