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To renew or not renew, that is the question


To renew or not renew, that is the question

I’m a long time AT&T customer that has recently had my contract expire.


Currently I own an iPhone 4 which I’ll be retiring shortly for a Galaxy Note (pending a 30 day review).


Here is my situation and possible scenarios and I’d love it if some of you brains out here that are familiar with the various types of services can confirm some things for me and possibly make some recommendations:


1.  I’m considering reupping my contract as I’m currently on a grandfathered in unlimited data connection.  This would be the easy peasy solution as I just buy the Galaxy Note at the subsidized price of 249 and go on my merry way.  AT&T has assured me that I will retain my unlimited data plan.  With unlimited voice (69) and 1500 text messages (15) and unlimited data (30) it costs me about 130 bucks a month for my service (after taxes).  Not cheap but it works and it works well.  I also salivate at the possibility of LTE speeds.


2.  My other option is to just buy the phone at the regular price of 599 from AT&T – without a contract and move to the GoPhone service.  My understanding here is that I will NOT get LTE service and the fastest data rates I will see what will be 4G and possibly even 3G depending on where I am at any given moment.  This is what AT&T reps have told me and I would like to get (if possible) confirmed reports from people that this will indeed be the case.  I’m pretty sure I’d have to unlock the phone if I go this route but I’m not sure about that either.  With GoPhone I could save some dollars (50 a month unlimited voice and text and 15 to 25 for data in 200 MB or 2 GB chunks, respectively).  That will reduce my bill (figuring after taxes) to about 90 a month.  I save about 40 bucks a month but I lose forever my unlimited data plan and the ability to get LTE as I don’t think GoPhone offers this service?  This is one of the things I’m not sure about.


3.  My third option to buy the AT&T phone in option 2 and unlock it (assuming this is easily doable if I purchase the phone through AT&T) and go with a third party carrier entirely like Straightalk.  This would give me the entire enchilada of unlimited everything for 45 bucks a month.  Now I’m talking saving some serious money, but again I’d lose my unlimited data.   Since Simpletalk uses AT&T towers I’m assuming I would get at least 3G data speeds but I won’t see 4G or LTE?  This may be entirely incorrect and it’s one of the things I’m trying to confirm.  I’d like to hear from some of you guys that either know or are doing this or have done this with an AT&T branded phone (or hear about better solutions if you know of one).


4.  Lastly, I could go with unlocked international version of the phone and pick whatever carrier I want but to me this may present serious ramifications here in the US as that version to the best of my knowledge doesn’t have an LTE radio in it and also might cause me problems with multiple carriers seeing it as data device (tablet) instead of a phone.  I’ve read stories of people just having their phones cut off for this reason.  There are also the possible plethora of issues surrounding the ICS (and other) updates being rolled out and fed to my device because Samsung will see it as an international phone and this may simply cause me all kinds of problems using it here in the US.  Is this relatively easy to manage?


While saving money monthly is important to me, stability of the phone is even more important.  I’m familiar enough with rooting Android devices, installing ROMs, kernels, etc. but I won’t be trying to make a science project out of the Galaxy Note like I did with my Asus tablet.  Yeah, I’ve finally get that nice and stable but I sunk hours and hours of time reading forums on xda, etc. to make perfectly sure (as much as one can) I was installing the proper revs of GB, ROMS and kernels to make sure I didn’t brick the device.  It’s unlikely that I’ll do this on the Galaxy Note as I’ve simply read too many horror stories of people bricking their gadgets or killing their broadband radios and other problems too numerous to mention because of some obscure combinations of CWM and ICS, other issues, etc.    The bottom line is I’ll probably stay on stock ROM until ICS is rolled out by Samsung for the US version of the device (again, assuming I purchase the AT&T branded phone). I know that buying an unlocked international rev will get me the Xyonos processor and some better performance but also know from the school of hard knocks that things aren’t always that simple and charging down this path may present problems down the pike that there are sure to be unknown unknowns at this point simply because ICS hasn’t been rolled out to the US yet.  To me that’s something of a risky proposition.


Some other notes:


AT&T has told me that I can return the Galaxy Note anytime in the first 30 days at no charge provided I don’t purchase it at a brick and mortar store (35 dollar fee here to return it).  They also told me that if I do return it, I’m back to non contract mode and month to month payment and if the Galaxy Note turns out to be a total nightmare I’ll probably simply wait for the iPhone 5 (2012?) to roll out come October.  They tell me this would be no problem, so the way I see it I have nothing to lose by testing the Galaxy Note for a month.  Not to get into the iOS versus Android debate – I’ve enjoyed my iPhone tremendously, I just want the extra screen space and Spen/stylus functionality that the Galaxy Note will bring.  I’m an older fellow and me eyes are goin (plus I go back to days of the Palm OS and loved what I could do with a stylus).


I’m hoping someone can shed some light and offer corrections on my perceived “truths” above if need be or simply offer advice on how well their move to an alternate carrier has gone (or not gone if it’s been a horror story).


Thank you for taking the time to read what has become an unabridged companion volume to War and Peace.

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