What smartphone + plan do you recommend?

I’ve been using a flip phone for years, but I need to upgrade. I don’t want to blow a lot of money on a smartphone, and I don’t want to get stuck in a monthly payment plan that will drain me dry.

My carrier is currently Verizon, and I’m OK with their service. I’m currently paying $43/mo for unlimited nights and weekends. Texting is a PITA, and current phone menu systems don’t work with blip-blip-blip letters. I basically want to make calls, text when necessary, take a few pictures every once in a while, and browse. Other than that, I don’t need so many bells and whistles. Maybe store some MP3s, but no videos.

When shopping around online, I found that not all the necessary info is provided. The deals are usually pay such-and-such amount a month, then upgrade after 2 years. How much will the upgrade cost? What if I don’t want to upgrade? I can live with paying up to $200 up front for the phone and $60/month for the service, but I don’t want to risk falling into a money pit with future upgrades. Even if other carriers have better deals, I suspect they have some way of getting their pound of flesh later on.

The upgrades are a necessary evil with a smart phone. Unlike your flip phone, the platform of a smart phone will only be supported for 1-4 years, depending on the model and carrier. Popular models tend toward the high end and not so popular models toward the low end.

It’s planned obsolescence.

Goto a Prepaid carrier like PagePlus which uses the Verizon network.

For roughly the amount you are paying now ($39.95 plus taxes) you will get:
Unlimited Talk n Text
1 GB of Data
100 International Calling Minutes
Unlimited Voice Minutes
Unlimited Text/Picture* Messages
[They also have cheaper plans]

You would buy your phone separately.

In the next few months (it could be anytime now) Pageplus will be upgrading to 4G from 3G so I suggest you wait until then. Most Verizon phones could be used–not just the ones PagePlus is advertising.

I’ve got the T-Mobile Simple Choice Plan with unlimited calls, unlimited texts, and 500MB data/month with no overages (it’s a hard cap), for $40 a month + taxes and fees (it comes out to about $50 total).

AFAIK you don’t ever have to upgrade if you don’t want to, with any company, but I’ve only ever used AT&T and T-Mobile. In fact, I’ve adjusted my services several times downward; I used to pay more than $80/month for a plan with limited minutes and lots of data I never used.

As for phones, if that’s really all you’re going to do with it, just about anything in your budget will do. Electronics nerds hate when you say this, but there’s really not a whole lot of difference between phones, especially if you’re just a very basic user. I’d look at a refurbished Samsung Galaxy phone, like a S1 or S2, but again, just for use as a phone with a little bit of browsing, just about anything will suit you just fine.

I’m with Virgin Mobile USA. I had to pay for my phone ($150 for an LG Volt) and the plan is $35 a month for unlimited text and data, and something like 300 minutes of talk per month, which is enough to last me for a year. Coverage is good, I think they use the Sprint network.

There might be other plans that save a tiny bit over this one, but this vendor is super easy to work with, I’ve never had any problems of any kind.

I forgot to mention that you don’t need to upgrade here either as long as the phone is actually working. At least, that’s been my experience.

Straight Talk has a good prepaid plan. $45 a month for unlimited talk, text, and data with up to 3gb of high speed (4g) data. For $60 a month, you can add unlimited international calling. You can buy a smartphone from them, but if you have an existing one, it will work with many models of phones.

I have TMobile’s prepaid plan - unlimited data and texts and 100min talk for $30/mo. I recommend it if you live in a large city.

I use it with an iPhone 5, but any phone that can take a SIM card should do.

I just upgraded to a 4G phone with Virgin Mobile, which meant I had to give up the plan I was grandfathered into - that was $25/month, but it only went up to $35. Yes, it runs on the Sprint network, so see check what coverage is like for that in your area. I’ve got an LG Optimus F3, which works well for my purposes, is easy to text/email with and I think it cost me $80 for the phone. I’ll not go back to a regular carrier again, because I hate being tied to a contract.

Hey me too:D