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Old 05-15-2019, 02:43 PM
 
Location: 125 Years Too Late...
11,044 posts, read 10,790,981 times
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Okay, so I've had a Tracfone for many years (for the last four phones). I pay no monthly fee and "recharge" the minutes when they run low. I spend maybe twenty dollars every three or four months most of the time (if even that). I honestly do not use phones that much and when I do, it's generally just texting. I could actually live without a phone at all and it wouldn't hurt my feelings. BUT... it is nice to have a way for others to get a hold of me.

So... Tracfone is upgrading their network (I'm told) and the phone I have will not be functional soon. So, I need to find out what my options are either with Tracfone or someone else.

Here are my requirements (or lack thereof):

* I only care about voice and texts. NOTHING else. No data, no internet, no apps, no this. No that. I don't want a bunch of crap on the phone. I use none of it. I want minimal functionality (it isn't just that I do not wish to use the technology/functionality, I don't want it to be there at all if that is possible these days). I don't even care if it doesn't have a camera.

* No monthly fee. I pay for the minutes I talk and for the texts I use. Not to have a paperweight sitting there costing me money when I don't use it that much.

* NO GPS, no tracking.

* It can be a flip phone, I don't care. For texting, though, it's nice to have a keyboard or a screen keyboard. And texting is what I do most.

So, for you phone tech gurus... any options like that or am I SOL in this modern phone-addicted world? I read a blog entry about Lycamobile and that they have a "secret plan" with no monthly fee if you call them and ask for it. I know Tracfone still will, but like I said, I DO NOT want a smartphone--dumbphones only. Any other companies out there without monthly fees (pay as you go) and offering dumbphone support?
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Old 05-15-2019, 11:18 PM
 
Location: Inactive
197 posts, read 75,388 times
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You may want to look into Charity Mobile https://www.charitymobile.com/plans.html 'Data Restricted lines restrict mobile data usage except for multimedia messages (MMS), network updates, operating system updates, and phone activation' at $14.95 month before taxes with data restricted plan with 250 minutes and 10 cents a text message. Its some more than what you spend now, but a best match on data and GPS blocking. The LG Exalt flip phone $75 which is better rated of flip phones https://www.charitymobile.com/phones.html#feature which they use the Verizon network https://www.charitymobile.com/coverage.html, and in the pdf manual https://www.charitymobile.com/exaltlteug.pdf page 72 of 123 (physical page 70) under Location, you can turn it off for cellular tracking. Except for price, mostly meets your requirements, its the cheapest and best match can find. I just switched to Charity Mobile (great and helpful customer service including dumbphone tech support https://www.charitymobile.com/support-performance.html ) recently, including an older relatively getting this Exalt phone for them. The FCC requires GPS to be turned on for 911 calls only for all phones. Nearly all recent phones have cameras, so you can choose simply not to use, though Verizon has one without one Kyocera DuraXV LTE , but its $264. Verizon directly no longer offers per minute plans https://www.howardforums.com/showthr...feature-phones and see other Google search results.

Flip phones not have an on screen keyboard so slow typing with 10 digit keys. I have this with my LG G7 phone https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1 with an adapter https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1 which works well for typing longer messages, but never tried connecting to a flip phone. You may want to reach out to the seller on Amazon for this external USB connected keyboard with that question. As far as phones checking out different features, https://www.phonescoop.com/phones/finder.php is a good tool.

AT&T has a prepaid plan for $8.33 per month ($25 every 90 days) https://www.att.com/prepaid/plans.html 25 cents a minute for calls and 20 cents for each text. For a flip phone, two models https://www.att.com/buy/prepaid-phones/ $50-60, but neither well rated. AT&T if call customer service can disable text messaging which did for a backup phone I seldom use with them, but unsure about data. Problem is the text messaging block not work and getting dinged 20 cents for spam calls, so switched to their $2 day daily prepaid plan, so only get charged for days you use the phone. I activated this phone https://www.amazon.com/ZTE-Z223-Prep.../dp/B01E4SUWH4 better rated, which activated two months ago at an AT&T wireless store. The user manual https://www.att.com/support_static_f...s/ATT_Z223.pdf though I do not see anywhere you can turn Location tracking of this phone off. There might be other flip phones on Amazon or elsewhere that might be compatible with their service meeting your needs, which hopefully others can chime in. Unlike Verizon Wireless, some of AT&T's tech support is overseas with mixed results in getting help.

T-Mobile has no flip phones, and Sprint/Boost Mobile prepaid had only one when recently last checked, but it is not well rated. Both of those companies going through a merger, so uncertainty what their service will be like in a couple of years, plus both of their networks are smaller compared to Verizon and AT&T.

There is also this Pay as You Go comparison https://www.prepaid-wireless-guide.c...pare-payg.html which the only one personal experience is the AT&T Go Phone above. Others can perhaps chime in with experience with the others listed, whether or not the service and the any flip phones offered would meet your needs. Problem is not every MVNO Mobile Virtual Network Operator reseller, cheaper in price, has tech support or will allow you to block data like Charity.

I feel for you, as technology progresses?, some needs get left behind. I long for myself and relatives phones with removable batteries, external antennas, no built in computer (move toward 4G LTE flip phones having one) and candy bar style form factor, but you can hardly find many of them, which if available at all, you are sacrificing something else on your needs list. I remember otherwise simpler phones that discontinued a decade ago with an on-screen or built in keyboard that is not a smartphone, but not to be found today. Its like HGTV with them checking out a few houses during a show, and none of the houses meet all of the needs, but most of the needs.

Last edited by sprklcl; 05-16-2019 at 12:29 AM..
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Old 05-16-2019, 06:21 AM
 
13,445 posts, read 3,673,268 times
Reputation: 4630
Quote:
Originally Posted by sprklcl View Post
You may want to look into Charity Mobile https://www.charitymobile.com/plans.html 'Data Restricted lines restrict mobile data usage except for multimedia messages (MMS), network updates, operating system updates, and phone activation' at $14.95 month before taxes with data restricted plan with 250 minutes and 10 cents a text message. Its some more than what you spend now, but a best match on data and GPS blocking. The LG Exalt flip phone $75 which is better rated of flip phones https://www.charitymobile.com/phones.html#feature which they use the Verizon network https://www.charitymobile.com/coverage.html, and in the pdf manual https://www.charitymobile.com/exaltlteug.pdf page 72 of 123 (physical page 70) under Location, you can turn it off for cellular tracking. Except for price, mostly meets your requirements, its the cheapest and best match can find. I just switched to Charity Mobile (great and helpful customer service including dumbphone tech support https://www.charitymobile.com/support-performance.html ) recently, including an older relatively getting this Exalt phone for them. The FCC requires GPS to be turned on for 911 calls only for all phones. Nearly all recent phones have cameras, so you can choose simply not to use, though Verizon has one without one Kyocera DuraXV LTE , but its $264. Verizon directly no longer offers per minute plans https://www.howardforums.com/showthr...feature-phones and see other Google search results.

Flip phones not have an on screen keyboard so slow typing with 10 digit keys. I have this with my LG G7 phone https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1 with an adapter https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1 which works well for typing longer messages, but never tried connecting to a flip phone. You may want to reach out to the seller on Amazon for this external USB connected keyboard with that question. As far as phones checking out different features, https://www.phonescoop.com/phones/finder.php is a good tool.

AT&T has a prepaid plan for $8.33 per month ($25 every 90 days) https://www.att.com/prepaid/plans.html 25 cents a minute for calls and 20 cents for each text. For a flip phone, two models https://www.att.com/buy/prepaid-phones/ $50-60, but neither well rated. AT&T if call customer service can disable text messaging which did for a backup phone I seldom use with them, but unsure about data. Problem is the text messaging block not work and getting dinged 20 cents for spam calls, so switched to their $2 day daily prepaid plan, so only get charged for days you use the phone. I activated this phone https://www.amazon.com/ZTE-Z223-Prep.../dp/B01E4SUWH4 better rated, which activated two months ago at an AT&T wireless store. The user manual https://www.att.com/support_static_f...s/ATT_Z223.pdf though I do not see anywhere you can turn Location tracking of this phone off. There might be other flip phones on Amazon or elsewhere that might be compatible with their service meeting your needs, which hopefully others can chime in. Unlike Verizon Wireless, some of AT&T's tech support is overseas with mixed results in getting help.




T-Mobile has no flip phones, and Sprint/Boost Mobile prepaid had only one when recently last checked, but it is not well rated. Both of those companies going through a merger, so uncertainty what their service will be like in a couple of years, plus both of their networks are smaller compared to Verizon and AT&T.

There is also this Pay as You Go comparison https://www.prepaid-wireless-guide.c...pare-payg.html which the only one personal experience is the AT&T Go Phone above. Others can perhaps chime in with experience with the others listed, whether or not the service and the any flip phones offered would meet your needs. Problem is not every MVNO Mobile Virtual Network Operator reseller, cheaper in price, has tech support or will allow you to block data like Charity.

I feel for you, as technology progresses?, some needs get left behind. I long for myself and relatives phones with removable batteries, external antennas, no built in computer (move toward 4G LTE flip phones having one) and candy bar style form factor, but you can hardly find many of them, which if available at all, you are sacrificing something else on your needs list. I remember otherwise simpler phones that discontinued a decade ago with an on-screen or built in keyboard that is not a smartphone, but not to be found today. Its like HGTV with them checking out a few houses during a show, and none of the houses meet all of the needs, but most of the needs.


I have that plan, and I've had it for over 10 years .

I have two AT&T models that I can swich between the 2012 (?) Lumia 5 series, and the 2017-2019 (?) ZTE Blade Spark.

The ZTE takes the NANO SIM without any converter, and to use the Lumia I just slip the NANO SIM into one of the little converter frames (the same no matter the carrier label on the outside...sold at Best Buy for $1.00) and slip that into the Lumia (which takes the next size larger (than NANO) SIM card)

I have two of each....two working 5 series Lumias and two working ZTE Blade Sparks.

The Lumias have a removable battery and, IIRC, a 5.0 megapixel camera. The Lumia runs on Windows 8.1, which doesn't bother me, as I don't care about using web apps on a phone either. It works great for texts and calls, has a touch screen, and I like the way picture file names are arranged (how the date pops out visually). I carry it in a generic flio close belt clip case. I don't use the belt clip...just have my car key tethered to it. I keep the battery out of the phone and in that case. I have another very small older pocket camera case that functions as my wallet. It has a small zip pouch, and another small flip close outside pouch. In the outside pouch I keep (for CCs, ATM/DCs, my DL, etc.) a very small REI zip case (RFID blocking) and a current hotel card if I'm staying in a hotel. In the inside zippered pouch I keep business cards, cash, and the second Lumia battery (charged)).

(I paid $49.00 for each Lumia new, and have seen them for almost twice that on eBay within the last year. They hold a 64 GB card max, and I have a 64 GB card in there.

Location can be turned off on the Lumia. Can't remember re that re the Blade Spark, but I think it can

The first ZTE Blade Spark I purchased was $99, and I put the max (size allowed) 128 GB card in there. I dropped it on a concrete sidewalk and the screen was toast after that. I bought another new Blade Spark (down to $69 by that time) and switched the 128 GB card to the new one. I really like using that phone for certain short videos, and taking pics in particular situations. A few weeks ago, I saw that camera on a coseout for $19 and picked up another one. Got a second 128 GB card, and the total was under $40.00 before tax for both together. I like that the Blade Spark runs Nougat (Android 7.1).

I keep the Blade Spark in an outside pouch in my computer bag that accommodates up to three phones (I also have an iPhone SE in there in an Otterbox Defender case that I use for lots of things (pics, 4k video, alarm, etc), but don't have it activated as a phone.

I think you might like AT&T's $2 a day plan.

When my prepaid Verizon balance gets to zero, I'll probably port that number over to AT&T for a second AT&T 2$ a day plan, and I may buy a cellular iPad Pro and get AT&T's prepaid iPad unlimited data plan (if I'm going to pay for data....I want a 'bigger than a phone' screen).
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Old 05-16-2019, 10:28 AM
 
Location: 5,400 feet
2,754 posts, read 2,697,393 times
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Tracfone does not have a network to upgrade, they buy space on other networks (Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile).


If you are getting told that the network is being upgraded, I presume that you have a 2G phone. I think T-Mobile is the only network still using 2G (I know Verizon and AT&T dropped theirs). You are going to have to upgrade your phone to at least 3G regardless of what service you use. There are 3G Tracfone flip phones available. Look on their web site.


Just be aware that AT&T has announced that their 3G network is going away in 3-4 years, and I expect others will follow.
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Old 05-16-2019, 10:43 AM
 
1,241 posts, read 681,874 times
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You can stay on Tracfone, and you can keep the pay-as-you-go (this is what I have also). All you need to do is upgrade the phone. I think there are flip or dumb or feature phones that are compliant, but not sure. You are not required to use data or GPS or anything that you don't want.

You can go to the Tracfone website and see what they offer. Also check out HSN.com and QVC.com as they often sell Tracfone bundles (phone and service) where you almost get the phone for free.
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Old 05-16-2019, 12:12 PM
 
Location: Wandering.
3,545 posts, read 5,680,797 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jiminnm View Post
Just be aware that AT&T has announced that their 3G network is going away in 3-4 years, and I expect others will follow.
  • Verizon shuts down 3G at the end of 2019.
  • AT&T shuts down 3G in Feb of 2022.
  • Sprint stopped allowing new 3G devices on 5/1/2019 (and any changes to those devices). Looks like they'll drop support by the end of 2021.
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Old 05-16-2019, 12:51 PM
 
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I am a Tracfone customer too, and until a month ago, was like the OP with a hard stance against smart phones. My 6 year old flip phone broke. I searched around for a new phone and bought a Moto e5 with a one year Tracfone service for $80. I love this phone because it can play music and movies, goes online, gives me directions, shop for me, and oh yeah it can text (without me having to type; well I still have to say the words) and make calls too.

As for the privacy concerns, we gave that up a while back. If you own a TV made in the last five year, you gave data companies permission to at your viewing and watching habits. Your internet provider probably knows more about your habits than you do. Your phone can be tracked without GPS. Signals leaving and entering your phone come from cell towers that can be triangulated to determine the location of the phone.

Anyway, Now I know why Tracfone can sell phones so cheaply, because they know most people will be hooked and use a lot of data. They charge an insane price of $10 for 1GB of data when most of their competitors only charge about $5 for 1GB of data.

Last edited by davidt1; 05-16-2019 at 12:59 PM..
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Old 05-16-2019, 04:00 PM
 
Location: Ohio
20,704 posts, read 14,665,300 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisC View Post
So... Tracfone is upgrading their network (I'm told) and the phone I have will not be functional soon. So, I need to find out what my options are either with Tracfone or someone else.
You might not be old enough to remember the 1G days.

I do.

Cell-phones have been around for decades, they just weren't called cell-phones. They were called radio-telephones and primarily used for ship-to-shore communications and in police vehicles.

Over time, as the frequencies got crowded with more users, they had to figure out how to allow more users on the frequencies. So you have one person bogarting a frequency, but they're only using 60% of the band-width. If you chunk up the conversation into time-packets, then you can get more people on the frequency and use 100% of the band-width. That's TDMA or Time Division Multiple Access.

More users necessitated sub-dividing the frequency, and that's what FDMA or Frequency Division Multiple Access is.

When that became crowded, the combined both systems into FTDMA which is what most people use now.

The other system is CDMA or Code Division Multiple Access, and as far as I know, only Sprint uses that (and perhaps carriers using Sprint's network).

CDMA was developed by the Army near the end of WW II. It's an inherently secure means of communication.

If you were in the Army, you might remember using Nestor or Victor with your radios. These were little boxes that you attached to your radio, and they converted an analog signal to a digital signal with a code prefix, and only a receiver knowing the code prefix can decode the digital voice packet and convert it back to analog. Later, you could skip the analog step, because your voice packet was directly digital.

People with radio scanners can pick up FTDMA cell-phone conversations, but not on a CDMA network.

Anyway, the 1G -- First Generation -- Network was all you had for a long time and it could only handle voice communications.

The 2G Network is what allowed you to send text messages.

The 3G Network added data to the mix, so you have a voice protocol, a text protocol and a data protocol, which is what allowed you to access the internet.

The 4G Network did two things. It combined the text protocol with the data protocol, and it increased data speed, so you can stream data.

The 5G Network combines the voice protocol with the text/data protocol, so there's only one protocol, and the speed is even faster.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisC View Post
Here are my requirements (or lack thereof):

* I only care about voice and texts.
So, what's the problem?

I have a TracFone. A flip-phone. Pre-paid. I never use the internet and I don't recall ever sending a text message, although I receive a few each week.

If you go to the TracFone web-site and scroll all the way down to the very bottom you'll find an Alcatel flip-phone just like the one we both have now, except it's 5G compatible.

I think it was $19.99.

If you understand sales, everything is "top down."

TracFone, of course, wants you to buy the more expensive smart-phones, which is why the inexpensive flip-phone is buried at the bottom of the web-page after 30 different models of smart-phones.

If you watch, Best Buy sometimes has the TracFone flip-phone on sale for $9.99.

I'm going to watch Best Buy over the next few months to see if they offer the TracFone 5G flip-phone on sale and if so, I'll buy it and if not I'll pay the $19.99 and get it from TracFone.

To me, carrying around a smart-phone is like carrying around a raw egg.

You can't put them in your back pocket, because you butt-dial or break the screen, and you can't carry it in you front pockets because it's too damn bulky and I never wear belt, because if I'm not in jeans and water-buffaloes I'm wearing shorts so I have no place for a smart-phone.

My flip-phone I can just stick in my pocket and forget about it.
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Old 05-16-2019, 04:55 PM
 
Location: Sierra Nevada Land, CA
8,680 posts, read 9,455,119 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mircea View Post
To me, carrying around a smart-phone is like carrying around a raw egg.

You can't put them in your back pocket, because you butt-dial or break the screen, and you can't carry it in you front pockets because it's too damn bulky and I never wear belt, because if I'm not in jeans and water-buffaloes I'm wearing shorts so I have no place for a smart-phone.

My flip-phone I can just stick in my pocket and forget about it.
What planet or decade are you from? My iPhone fits nicely in my front or back pocket. Men carry their smartphone the front pocket and women in the back pocket or purse, no one has complained of having the issues you claim. I've not broke my screen ever nor butt dialed unless I stupidly left my phone on the dialing screen when I put it in my pocket. Your choice of attire or lack thereof is a personal choice and has zero to do with the smartphone. I wear jeans, dress pants and shorts and the pocketablilty of my iPhone is not at issue.


Just admit you don't like smartphones for no particular reason and leave it at that.
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Old 05-17-2019, 04:53 AM
 
13,445 posts, read 3,673,268 times
Reputation: 4630
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidt1 View Post
I am a Tracfone customer too, and until a month ago, was like the OP with a hard stance against smart phones. My 6 year old flip phone broke. I searched around for a new phone and bought a Moto e5 with a one year Tracfone service for $80. I love this phone because it can play music and movies, goes online, gives me directions, shop for me, and oh yeah it can text (without me having to type; well I still have to say the words) and make calls too.

As for the privacy concerns, we gave that up a while back. If you own a TV made in the last five year, you gave data companies permission to at your viewing and watching habits. Your internet provider probably knows more about your habits than you do. Your phone can be tracked without GPS. Signals leaving and entering your phone come from cell towers that can be triangulated to determine the location of the phone.

Anyway, Now I know why Tracfone can sell phones so cheaply, because they know most people will be hooked and use a lot of data. They charge an insane price of $10 for 1GB of data when most of their competitors only charge about $5 for 1GB of data.
Not if the phone has a removable battery and you leave the battery out except when you are making and receiving calls. It can only be tracked when the battery is in.
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