December 16, 2010 by falcon7204
I found myself in need of a new phone several weeks ago, so I started looking at free alternatives to the phone offerings from AT&T. (I’m a cheapskate when it comes to that sort of thing.) I looked at the variety of smartphones available, and I looked at the number of less-capable phones, and I came to the conclusion that AT&T is trying to push the more expensive smartphones at the expense of those of us budget-minded customers. BlackBerrys, Android phones, iPhones, and lots of stuff that does lots of stuff.
And costs lots of money.
So I looked into the refurbished models. To my surprise, AT&T offered a Samsung Captivate (Android-powered smartphone), refurbished, for free. I had to double-check my eyesight. Yes, free. But oddly enough, they were out of stock. Go figure. Most of the other phones being offered were iPhones, with the occasional refurbished BlackBerry thrown in. I’m not a big BlackBerry fan (I use one for work), and the rest of the refurbished offerings were cheapo flip phones or small slider phones like the one I was trying to replace. So I decided to wait until the Captivate was once again offered as a refurbished choice.
A couple of weeks later, they took it off the list.
So I had to look at something else. One possibility was to keep the phone I currently had, but it was frankly not well-made (I treated it like gold for two years and it was showing its age) and I was afraid all of my options would disappear if I waited too long.
I took the plunge and decided to buy a refurbished iPhone 3Gs for $79. I had a little trepidation, not because I was leery of the technology, but because I was afraid they were too fragile to hold up to daily use.
I needn’t have worried. This iPhone has actually been a pleasant surprise. It is not something you want to kick across the parking lot, but it seems solid enough. I have it encased in an Otter Box silicone case, and I have a screen protector on it, so I’m not as worried about the occasional scratch because there won’t be any. Sound quality is exceptional, much better than my old phone, and it’s quite easy to use.
And then there are the apps.
I have not even scratched the surface of what’s available yet (and as I stated before, I’m a cheapskate, so I’m only interested in free apps), and already I have downloaded more than a dozen apps. There is the Bible app that lets me read up to 30 different versions. There is the AT&T U-verse app that lets me schedule a recording on my DVR. There is the account manager app for my wireless service. There is Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, TweetDeck, Google Earth, a couple of Starbucks apps, travel apps, free wi-fi finder apps, solitaire, and even an alarm clock. That’s not the entirety of what’s on my phone (is it really even still a phone?). Many of them come in very handy, like the spirit level, the barcode reader, the guitar tuner, and the MapQuest app…which makes a very convincing imitation of a GPS device. And it’s free.
Oh, yeah, and it plays music and movies. I have a movie and about 470 songs on it so far, plus all sorts of pictures. The camera is workable (3 megapixel) and it takes halfway-decent video. You can’t edit it like you can on an iPhone 4 (or shoot in HD for that matter), but who cares? My main uses for it are as a phone, a music player, and a map/level/Bible/e-mail/browser/guitar tuner/barcode reader/Starbucks finder/account manager/alarm clock/yadda yadda yadda.
I have to admit, I am very pleased with my iPhone, although I feel like I voluntarily submitted myself to the Borg for assimilation. But like my daughter (who also is an iPhone user) told me, the new would wear off quickly, and it has. It’s very useful, but it’s no longer the bright shiny toy it was.
Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to shop for some more apps.