Looking To Upgrade

A reader Rob commented…

 I am looking to upgrade phones for my wife and I. What model would you suggest so I do not run into these problems. My wife likes the iphone 5 but I am doing my research first. I like the galaxy S4 & HTC 1 as well. I looked at both T-moblie and At&t coverage maps. At&t has 4G coverage in my usage area’s. I would like to tether when I am at my hunting camp and on vacation if possible. You seem to know your stuff so I look forward to your reply. Thanks for your help.


Hi Rob,
Sorry for the delay in responding. I wanted to write a post to respond, and with it being August it took me a little longer than expected. You did not mention what mobile carrier or what phones you and your wife are currently using. Here at smartphonematters.com I usually write about using prepaid service with unlocked smartphones. This means you pay more for your phone and less for your service.  I usually don’t write about contract plans, but if you have specific questions I will try to help.

iPhone 5
I use the iPhone 5 and I am happy with it. If your wife is interested in the iPhone 5 I would wait until after Sept 10. Rumor is a new iPhone is coming, so she may want the new one or be able to get a deal on the iPhone 5 as it won’t be top of the line anymore. If you go the unlocked phone and prepaid route, you might consider a used iPhone 5 from eBay if you are looking to save money.

Galaxy S4 and HTC One
These are both great Android phones.  I have been thinking about getting the HTC One because it is a nicer looking phone. The specs on the S4 are better. A number if S4 users have commented about a lot of less then useful features and software that Samsung has added to the phone. Another consideration is do you want a phone with pure Android 4.x or Samsung / HTC’s version.  Both companies customize Android for their devices, although it is possible to buy pure or stock Android versions from Google Play.

Service Providers and Data Speed
In general, you want to make sure you choose a wireless carrier that works well where you plan to use your phone.  That includes home, work, and anywhere you travel frequently.  The big players are ATT, TMobile, Verizon, and Sprint.  Most of the prepaid carriers I write about such as Net10 or Straight Talk re-sell service on one of those networks. If you are using a GSM phone with a SIM card, you want to make sure phone is compatible with the network you choose. For example, many of my readers are trying to use Straight Talks T-Mobile SIMs in iPhones and get slow data speeds because T’mobile doesn’t support 3G /4G service for the iPhone in many areas. They are working on it, but it isn’t there yet.

I would also suggest you don’t rely on coverage maps. They are great for showing you where there isn’t service, not so much for if you will get great service. The best advice is to try the service your self and ask as many people in your area about what they are using and if it works well.

Know about 4G

There are different types of 4G service. HSPDA+ and LTE.  LTE is the fastest.  If you go the prepaid route, AT&T Pay N Go is the only prepaid 4G LTE I know of. Other 4G services will be HSPDA, which is fast but not as fast as LTE. So for example, the iPhone 5 supports LTE, but if you use it with Straight Talk or Net10 on the ATT network you will only get HSPDA.  I do as  do many others, its a trade off, as I like spending less than $50 a month for my service.

Tethering and HotSpots

Tethering is against the terms of service for all of the prepaid services that I am aware of.  These means that if even if you could technically get it to work on your phone, they would shut you off if they figure out you are doing it.  You mentioned wanting to use it at hunting camp.  If the camp is isolated, you may not get a data at all or very slow data in a remote area. My brother lives in NY state and I barely had any service at all. This is dependent on where you live.  Also, if you only go hunting a couple of times a year you can buy a prepaid hot spot with to use just for that time period.

I see from your comment that you may have ATT 4G coverage it your area. I’d start asking anyone I know if they are using ATT and how well it is working. Please feel free to comment and ask questions if I can help.

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