A reader, Richard, asks…
Hi Bob. I’m looking for advice on a new smartphone. I’m in need of purchasing a new Tracfone as my current one is becoming obsolete already after just 2 years. I need one that uses GSM technology as my current phone only works on Verizon’s CDMA technology for voice, which they will no longer be supporting come January 2020. I want to stick with Tracfone but want to go with an iphone this time instead of an android. I find my current android phone incredibly annoying and not very intuitive at all. I mean it’s bad. Granted it’s running 5.1.1 version. My current phone came bundled with so many useless apps that took up most of the memory. I hate the way it tells me to delete apps that I no longer use to free up space. Well guess what. Every app that came bundled with the phone I did not use and it wont allow for deletion of those apps. Talk about a scam. The concern I have with the offerings directly from Tracfone is the fact they are already fairly old phones. I worry if I buy one it will soon be outdated and I’ll have to buy another phone in short time again. I’m looking at the iphones as I believe they are more up-gradable and have better support than the Androids. I believe if I bought an iphone 7 or later that it will be able to be upgraded to their latest operating system and beyond. I would have to purchase the phone elsewhere other than Tracfone for newer versions and I’m a bit nervous about the whole bring your own phone deal with sim card, but I definitly want to keep my phone number. Does Tracfone charge more for their service if you bring your own phone? I currently have an active account with them and I’m on their 90 day pay as you go plan which works perfect for me. I’m 57 years old and not too computer savvy. I can rebuild my engine and tranny in my car better than I can comprehend computer technology. LOL!
You have a pretty good understanding of the issues regarding updating to a new smartphone with Tracfone. Here are a few things to clear up a couple of points.
Tracfone doesn’t own their own cellular network, instead they lease service from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, or other companies. Your phone uses the cellular towers from one of those companies. If you received a message from Tracfone telling you you need to update to a new phone its because it uses Verizon’s CDMA network (3g) and Verizon is shutting down that network and moving all their customers exclusively to their 4G LTE network.
You are going to need a new phone and you have a choices between iPhone and Android as well as buying from Tracfone or bringing your own phone. As you commented Tracfone sells both iPhone and Android. The iPhone choice is limited to phones that were released a few years ago. They also sell Android phones, typically budget or value priced models. Sometimes they sell older Samsung Galaxy models. While the choice between iPhone and Android phones is a matter of personal preference there are some things to consider. Apple tends to provide software updates for a long period of time and those updates come directly from Apple. When you buy an android phone in most cases its up to the carrier as to if or when you’ll get an update. Many have told me they NEVER have received an update on an Android phone bought from Tracfone.
In my opinion, the best deal from Tracfone right know is an iPhone 7 for $218, that is a Black Friday deal. I expect the phone will get updates from Apple for another two years. That’s a cheap date to get on board with Apple. There are some other considerations, but that’s a discussion for later.
The other option is to buy a new iPhone or Android phone someplace else and then sign up for Bring Your Own Phone. Don’t fear BYOP. With BYOP, you’ll have a chance to decide which towers your phone uses: Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile. The choice really depends on what works best where you use your phone. You just need to decide on which phone is in your budget and pick on that is compatible with the network you want to use. You can buy the iPhone 8 directly from Apple for about $450. The new iPhone 11 at $700 is a great deal. It will get software updates for years and is a good value for the money. You can also shop for an android phone, Google (Pixel) and Samsung (Galaxy) have good deals and you can buy from Best Buy, Amazon, Google or Samsung. Samsung has more features and fancier hardware, Google has possibly the best camera and will get software updates for some time to come. Look for dels on Google Pixel 3 and 3a. For Samsung the Galaxy S10 and S10e.
Regardless of which phone you choose and where you buy it from you’ll want to transfer your service and number. When you do this the plans you are eligible for may change. Tracfone is pushing monthly plans these days where you pay monthly for unlimited talk and text and your data rolls over. If you have a large balance of minutes and don’t need unlimited talk and text you may want to make sure you don’t switch to one of those plans.
If your phone qualifies for 3X minute plans or the $50 for 365 service days option you will lose those options when you go with a new phone. (hint, one tip is to load up before you switch).
I’d say if you want to go inexpensive, go with the iPhone 7 from Tracfone. see see Tracfone Deals , otherwise the recommendations above are solid depending on what you are willing to spend. And for most people, either the AT&T or Verizon towers are a good choice for BYOP.
Feel free to ask follow up questions. Hope this helps.