Ask Us: Grab Bag Part 1

We get a ton of search engine inquiries every day.  Many of them are the same, but a few are not common.

This is our Grab Bag, Part One.  Or in other words, a little bit of everything.  And it’s all from YOU, our readers and visitors.

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“Can you get a free upgrade without a contract for Verizon?”

No, there’s no such thing.  There’s no such thing as a free upgrade, and there’s no such thing as a free phone.  Well, technically, at least.

We’ve talked about the term “free upgrade” before.  When people use this term, there’s a lot of confusion as to what that means.

To some, free upgrade simply means that you won’t pay an activation fee to upgrade.  There was a time, even not too long ago, that some upgrades on Verizon required an activation fee of sorts.  Today, as of this article, there is no such fee.  As such, upgrades don’t incur an additional charge (i.e. “free upgrade").

To most people, the word free means zero cost.  The reality is simple: even though you may not pay anything up front for a particular phone, which is becoming rarer with time, you are most definitely paying for the phone.  Because the whole contracted wireless business hinges on the fact that the carrier pays for most - if not all - of the phone price, you can be sure that such costs have been built into the monthly price plans.  In other words, if we lived in a contract subsidy-free world, your expensive monthly plans would be much cheaper than they are today.  The sale of a phone, especially as zero cost to the consumer, is one of the largest costs that a service provider must accomodate.  Those costs get passed onto you.  So while you may not have paid a cent for some old, basic, unwanted, or unuseable model, you are most definitely paying for it over the long haul - and then some.

Because of this, for as long as carriers discount phones with contracts, there will never be such a thing as a contract-free zero cost phone.  Those little things cost someone hundred of dollars to sell to you, and you better be sure the carrier is going to make back that money with interest.

Long story short, the answer is no.

“What is AT&T’s return policy?”

For that answer, visit AT&T’s Return Policy website.

“When are you eligible for a phone upgrade with a 2-year contract on AT&T?”
-or-
“Did AT&T Change it’s upgrade policy?”

Deepskyblue has answered this previously.

“If [you] have a 2 year contract with Verizon, can [you] get a new phone during your contract?”

Yes, you can.  It won’t be the price you want to pay, however, as you likely haven’t finished enough of the old contract to allow you to sign a new one, so you’ll be paying the Full Retail price, which is generally within $20 or less of what the carrier paid for the phone.  This is part of the contract trap - since the carrier is paying for the bulk of your phone’s cost, they get to pick when and where they get to pay for part of your next phone.

“Does Samsung Reality require a data plan?”

For some reason, we see this specific model mentioned most often, followed closely by the Samsung Rogue.  Yes, it technically does require the data plan, and will continue to do so for many years to come.  Also technically, most Verizon Wireless employees who interact with customer (stores or on the phone), should have the ability to remove that data plan after it’s been added (and only then).

The same is true for several phones, including the EnV3, the EnV Touch, the Chocolate Touch, the Alias 2, the VX8360, and more.

“Palm Centro need data package?”

Assuming you’re willing to take on such a device, the answer is no, it will not require it, but the system may automatically attach it.  Remove it afterward, if necessary.

Blackberry phones, regardless of how old they are (even the 7250), will always require a data plan.

Other types of phones (Palm and most Windows Mobile 5 or 6 phones) will not require data if they were released before late 2007.  The Centro is one such phone.

“Verizon makes you buy a data plan on any phone with a keyboard?”

No.  Most of your basic phones, which don’t require data plan, are keyboard phones.

“Why get billed a month in advance?”

This is a question with a long explanation, but an easily shortened answer: because that’s how the carrier likes it.

Think to most rental agreements.  You almost always put down a month in advance in addition to a deposit.  The deposit is for clean up and repairs after you leave.  The month in advance is so they aren’t billing you after you’ve enjoyed your two bedrooms and tiny kitchen each month.  The idea is, if you have money invested in your rental, you’ll have the decency to respect the property as if you owned it.

Phone service is like renting an appartment, in some ways.  You’re handed a phone with a minute plan and told to enjoy your service.  If you’re paying in advance, you’re more likely to give a crap about your usage.  If you pay after using your serivce, and you don’t like the bill, the carrier is out all that money if you don’t pay it.  So it’s a win-win for the carrier, in the end, and not really that big of a deal for the consumer.  If you don’t like it, you can always try prepay.

But the last logical reason why they bill in advance - which, by the way, is really being billed for the month you’re already using on most carriers, and not a true “month” in “advance” - is if or when you decide to leave your service provider, they aren’t getting stiffed with the last minute’s usage at the end of your service.  It’s the same thing as we already mentioned, just at the tail end of everything.

“Verizon phone stuck on 1X.”

For those who aren’t familiar with the lingo, 1X refers to the 1XEVDO voice network run by Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and some regional companies.

There’s a common misconception that 1X, which is essentially a “2G” service, is a bad thing.

The reality is, if you’re on a CDMA network such as Verizon or Sprint, every phone call you make is through their legacy 1X network.  You can’t avoid it at this time (4g LTE may change that with VOIP in the near future).  If you make a call, your phone screen likely switches to 1X, or makes no indication it is (but it’s still doing it).

Now, if the phone is stuck in 1X after a phone call, then you have other issues.

There’s a small chance you live on the fringe somewhere and 3G or 4G doesn’t come in strong enough.  A Verizon phone will default to 1X if there is no EVDO (3G) or LTE (4G) present, which is very hard to find.  Or, it’s quite possible that you’ve gone and changed a setting that forces it over to 1X.  This happens commonly on Android phones (check your mobile network settings in Wireless Settings, if anything is unchecked, it probably has something to do with your problem).  We’ve seen people turn off some setting to conserve battery life, not realizing it turns off the 3G and/or 4G connection.

Lastly, if the phone just won’t come out of it, call your carrier’s tech support or visit their main stores for help.  There’s likely a problem with the hardware inside the phone, which may or may not be repairable, changeable, or replaceable under warranty.

“Do you need to have a data plan to put a Citrus on your contract?”

Yes.

The real question you should be asking is this: “Should I get the Motorola Citrus?”

Answer: No.

Or,  "Is the Citrus a good phone?”

No again.

Or even, “Is the Citrus worth buying, even at free?”

Hell no.  It’s not worth buying even if they pay you to take it.

“Can you activate a verizon smartphone online without a data plan?”

Our final question is a common variant of the age old question of “can I find some way to trick the system and avoid a data plan?”

The answer is no.  If a phone requires a data plan, and it’s a smartphone, there’s no amount of begging, pleading, espionage, subterfuge, or threatening that will take off the data plan.  Maybe, perhaps, a long legal battle and hundreds of call from a lawyer can get the trick done, but rest assured it will never happen with the people you can call on the phone or see in the store.  They keep those powerful people busy at work figuring out new ways to take over the world.  True story.

 

Thank you for participating in Grab Bag, Part One.