Getting the Best Deal on an Android Phone
A smartphone is a basic necessity in life these days. And when picking between Android and iOS, more and more people have started to lean towards the side of Google's product. The open nature of the platform, combined with the huge diversity of devices on the market across all price ranges, have made Android a very popular product among many.
Finding the best deal on a new Android phone can be a bit tricky though. Between all the offers you're going to get from the four main carriers, you might find yourself confused over what you should pick. Worry not though – as long as you're aware of the kinds of features you're looking to get, you should be able to find a good deal with relatively little effort. Remember, sometimes the best cell phone deals show up in the places you'd least expect to find them.
Talking and Other Basic Features
First things first – you should get a plan that covers your talking and texting needs adequately. Most carriers will give you a good deal in this regard in general, but you're going to see some minor differences here and there that will matter a lot in the long run. For example, if you're interested in a family plan, you might want to talk to certain carriers as opposed to others, as they might give you a better option on multiple lines.
AT&T is generally great if you want to go for an unlimited plan, although there are some caveats to this. Just remember to compare the rates across all levels of their offers carefully. Sometimes, paying just a little bit more can get you a lot due to the way their system works.
Where Do You Live?
Coverage is still an important issue for US carriers. All of the four companies have had different levels of success in covering the entire nation with their networks, and currently Verizon seems to be winning, with the largest area falling in the radius of their towers. AT&T are also not a bad option in this regard, as their level of coverage is almost the same as Verizon's, although slightly lower.
It's important to figure out if you fall in the area of your intended carrier, and whether they cover any other points of interest that you might have. For example, if you have family in another state and travel to them frequently, you might want to make sure that you won't be left without network access in the future.
Data Usage Patterns
Data is also a critical feature for most Android users. Since you probably want to use your smartphone for browsing as much as you can, you'll also want to make sure that your plan includes a lot of data, and that your carrier also offers good enough speeds to match your needs. Don't just assume that you're going to get reasonable speeds anywhere in the country with any of the four carriers – the situation is quite far from that.
So far, T-Mobile have the best transfer rates of all carriers, followed by Verizon. Sprint is a terrible choice in this regard if you need fast connection speeds, as reports indicate that they can't even go above 10 Mbps yet. While they have been improving their network, it will likely take a while before we see them getting to a proper state.
Carrier Financing for a Device
And of course, you might also want to consider the financing options offered by your carrier of choice if you want to get the best deal on your device. Every carrier follows more or less the same scheme in this regard, requiring you to pay off the cost of the device over a 24-month period. Sometimes there might be exceptions in the duration of the contract, but that's the typical value you'll get.
The main difference here is in how much you'll have to pay in advance, as some carriers require larger upfront payments. These plans usually come with better features all around though, so it might be worth considering an option like that if you can afford it.
Of course, you always have the option of paying for the device out of your own pocket, but that defeats the whole purpose of this discussion in the first place. However, in some cases it might net you slightly better results in terms of the conditions of your contract.
Take it slowly and approach this in a methodical manner. You need to compare all offers on the market before settling on any particular one, and make sure to talk to all carriers in detail. You never know when you might get a better deal from a carrier that looked unattractive at first. And keep your eyes open for any possible switching opportunities too – you might get access to much better deals at some point in the future, and it can be worth changing over to those in some cases.