Help me pick my first Smartphone with a no-contract plan. Low price, decent phone.

CJ Mac

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It's our 25th wedding anniversary next week and since my 1st choice of a gift for my husband fell through, I thought I'd get him a Smartphone. We have been using very cheap Tracfones (maybe cost $10 at the most) and pay $20/month for both of us.

I have 2 Samsung tablets that are not phones. I take them on trips so I can use Wi-Fi along the way. Here are the main reasons we're ready to move to at least one Smartphone:

1. Often we're in a place with no Wi-Fi and can't look up an address or phone number.

2. We're tired of our Garmin not always knowing the right directions and not knowing about traffic/construction.

3. Would be really nice to listen to Pandora along the way.

4. My husband wants to be able to take photos of wildlife he sees on his postal route (hawks, foxes, etc.) but his cheap phone only shows a dot.

Okay, so I'm looking at Tracfone itself but am confused by the various Galaxy options: J3 Luna Pro, J7 Sky Pro, Galaxy S7 (most expensive but sounds nice). A friend wants me to get the Google Project Fi thing with an MX4. Another suggests a cheap phone from Metro PCS (but the coverage looks LOUSY).

Anyway, can anyone offer suggestions? I'd like to be able to hand the phone to my husband next Tuesday (3/6). Since we're used to only paying $20/month for both of us, I'm trying to stay below $50/month if at all possible--that's with me sticking with a cheap phone and my husband using the smartphone. (I'm a housewife and pretty much only go out and about with him.)

P.S. As a letter carrier he would need--if not a very sturdy phone--but a very sturdy case for the phone. He'd probably have to wear it on his belt. He gets caught in downpours often and has had a few bad falls as well.

P.P.S. Is it relevant to say we're in Birmingham, AL?
 
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Mooncatt

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The LG V20 is still the best all around package in my opinion. A great camera, all metal body that's rather durable (albeit slippery), performs well without skipping a beat, and has features that are becoming hard to find in a smartphone. It's about 1.5 years old, so you can pick them up cheap.

For a case, I love this one.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B01K...ag=hawk-future-20&ascsubtag=UUacUvbUpU6173364 It doesn't have a belt clip option, but looks and feels great.
 

anon(181017)

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I would second your friend's recommendation for Project Fi and a Moto X4. I use a more expensive Pixel so can't comment directly on the Moto, but they have always made really solid budget phones. I'm sure there's an X4 review here somewhere on Android Central.

I think Fi service is great, straightforward and transparent billing. $20/mo for unlimited calls and texts, $10/Gigabyte of data, and you pay for exactly what you use. Most people agree it's less of a deal if you use over 2GB/mo, but if you are first time smartphone users and think you'll be using mainly navigation and music streaming you probably won't use too much, but I suppose music streaming could add up if you're constantly doing it. But there's absolutely no contract, so you'd be free to leave at any time if you found a better deal elsewhere. I know you said the smartphone is for your husband, but if you wanted one too you could be on the same account for another $15 for calls/texts, and the same $10/GB shared data.

Your friend probably told you how it works, but Fi picks the strongest network among T-mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular, so I'm sure would be fine in Birmingham.
 

chanchan05

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I'd probably say Motorola too unless you can score a V20 or a Pixel 1. The S7 is nice and the best shooter among those you mentioned, but it is after all glass, and when you said postal route, I wondered if your husband might be working in mail delivery, and it gave me images of dogs chasing him. This makes a glass built flagship Samsung a bit of a concern. The problem with the Motorola though is that they haven't really been known for great cameras.

I don't know if the J7 Sky Pro is the same phone as the J7 Pro in Asia, but if it is, it's a pretty good phone with a good camera too.
 

CJ Mac

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I've read that the Moto X4 is also all glass and that worries me a little. And I can't find an otter-box type case for it.
 

CJ Mac

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That LG V20 looks very good. I assume I can bring it to Tracfone and use their pricing. I'll give them a call to check. Thanks for the advice!
 

CJ Mac

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Any way to find out if the J7 Sky Pro is the same as the J7 Pro in Asia? It IS a very good price.

Been looking for V20s--not many available--either VERY expensive or cheap refurbished. Most all are with a certain company: on Best Buy the only one available is with Verizon. I don't know if those big companies offer no-contract options.

Too much to look into in so short a time! I suppose the Project Fi would be the easiest to try out.

I appreciate everyone's help. Have to run off to a funeral. :-(
 

Mooncatt

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I don't know if those big companies offer no-contract options.

Those mostly went away. The plan itself isn't really under a contract anymore, but you can still finance/lease a phone through them for about 2 years of payments. You aren't obligated to do that, and can buy them outright for full price. I can't speak to other carriers, but often times Verizon special deals are tied to financing the phone. For example, they may give you a $20/mo bill credit for the two years of the financing, but not if you pay it in full. And if you start with financing but decide to pay it off early, you lose out on the remainder of those credits. Crazy, I know.
 

chanchan05

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Any way to find out if the J7 Sky Pro is the same as the J7 Pro in Asia? It IS a very good price.

Been looking for V20s--not many available--either VERY expensive or cheap refurbished. Most all are with a certain company: on Best Buy the only one available is with Verizon. I don't know if those big companies offer no-contract options.

Too much to look into in so short a time! I suppose the Project Fi would be the easiest to try out.

I appreciate everyone's help. Have to run off to a funeral. :-(
I checked the J7 Pro vs J7 Sky Pro and no they're not the same Phone. The one in Asia has more RAM, Storage, and better processor and camera.

Looks more like the J7 Sky Pro is the 2016 version of the J7 in Asia rebranded for tracphone use. It's a pretty decent phone and many people still use it (I see them in the train). However unlike the J7 Pro I don't have any experience with that model. I'd assume it to be at par with most Samsung mid rangers though. Reliable with acceptable photo quality. For those on a budget I'd say it's a good choice based on specs on paper. Plus it's aluminum and plastic so it should be pretty standard in terms of durability.

However I'd say the V20 is the best choice. Although that would depend on how much you can get it for, and how much is too much for you.

Have you checked the Motorola G5?
 

CJ Mac

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A brother and a nephew are telling me to go with the Galaxy S7--something to the effect that we'd be able to keep it longer with the updates that we'd get. Make sense?

So I'm heavily leaning toward Tracfone and either this S7 or the J7 Sky Pro. I see there's an OtterBox for the S7 so that ought to do him all right. He's had his cheap phone for years now, so I guess he's not dropping it, getting it soaked too often. Oh wait: I remember now that when we have downpours he says he has to just let the phone dry out and it will eventually work again. Hope we can keep this one--whichever one--from getting soaked.

Want to assure you that I'm not ignoring the advice you've given; I'm just getting overwhelmed with the options. (And the funeral I attended today didn't help.)

Thanks!
 

chanchan05

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A brother and a nephew are telling me to go with the Galaxy S7--something to the effect that we'd be able to keep it longer with the updates that we'd get. Make sense?

So I'm heavily leaning toward Tracfone and either this S7 or the J7 Sky Pro. I see there's an OtterBox for the S7 so that ought to do him all right. He's had his cheap phone for years now, so I guess he's not dropping it, getting it soaked too often. Oh wait: I remember now that when we have downpours he says he has to just let the phone dry out and it will eventually work again. Hope we can keep this one--whichever one--from getting soaked.

Want to assure you that I'm not ignoring the advice you've given; I'm just getting overwhelmed with the options. (And the funeral I attended today didn't help.)

Thanks!
As I said, performance wise the S7 is the best among those you listed. It's performance is rivaled by the V20. It is also water resist under standard conditions. So it can survive downpours and even being submerged in clean still water. The only concern about it is it is glass.

As for updates I hear that updates in the US don't work like it does outside, so I'll let someone else comment on that.

If you feel that you can just get an Otterbox and roll with it, then go for it. Just a bit of warning that being in an Otterbox doesn't mean it will be indestructible, you should still take care.
 

CJ Mac

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Okay, after reading enough good comments on the V20 elsewhere, I'm thinking I should go with it. So now here are the V20 questions:

What do you think about purchasing a refurbished or "like new" V20? Would you still spring for a new one?

I read "The V20 can take some really good pictures if you know what you're doing. Sadly, I don't so I need to learn the settings." My husband wouldn't have time to set up anything if he sees a fox or hawk carrying away a squirrel. Think he could still take a decent photo?

I'm confused about purchasing phones that say a specific carrier. I want to use Tracfone with it. Do I just make sure it says "unlocked"?

Thanks--hope to get this ordered asap to have for our anniversary next week.
 
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Mooncatt

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Regarding your first question, I don't trust refurbished phones, period. Anytime I do a warranty exchange, I call it refurbish roulette because of all the problems I've had with them through the years.

The camera on the V20 does have some weaknesses, but I usually shoot in manual and have become accustomed to it. If your main concern is focus speed, then perhaps it won't be the best for you. I personally haven't been affected by it, but I'm also the person that usually doesn't even think to get a photo of something fast like that until it's too late anyway. Lol. But on the V20, you can add a camera shortcut to the secondary screen to open right into the app from screen off.
 

CJ Mac

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Thanks. I was nervous about purchasing refurbished as well.

And to be honest, my husband is no photographer and it's unlikely he could be quick enough on the draw either. He mostly wants to prove to me that he's seeing the things he's says he's seeing. ;-)
 

CJ Mac

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Okay, chatted with a Tracfone guy who said I need a phone with GSM technology, unlocked, and operating between the frequencies of 850 and 1900 MHz bands.

Will I find all that when I search for V20s for sale? I do not want to make the mistake of buying a phone that doesn't work with Tracfone or in our area for some reason.

I love you guys for helping me. :)
 

CJ Mac

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I tried to post earlier but got interrupted. Think I'm going to have to give up on the V20 since I can't find a new one from a seller I trust.

So now I'm back to Tracfone's S7 or J7 Sky Pro. It wasn't on my radar before, but I'm seriously leaning towards the Sky Pro just because the reviews are all positive and at $119, it won't be a tragedy if my husband drops it.
 

CJ Mac

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Okay, I've done it: ordered the Galaxy S7. Now I need a STRONG case pronto! Are those screen covers necessary as well? I don't like the one I have on my tablet because it always looks a little smeary and seems impossible to clean so as to make it look new.

Thanks for your help!
 

CJ Mac

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I just have to tell you guys: tomorrow's the anniversary and the phone never came as it was supposed to Friday or Saturday. Had to chat to find out there's something wrong with my payment. I didn't because we're traveling and I don't want it to show up this week.

So now at 10pm, my husband tells me our minutes never showed up on our cheapy Tracfones. As I'm trying to work it out with a guy from India and it's taking FOREVER as usual, my husband says, "The next phone we get, let's make sure it's not a Tracfone!"

So now I'm wondering if I should cancel the order on the S7. If I wanted to still get an S7 but use a different carrier, I'd have to get from someone other than Tracfone right?
 

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