My wife's phone is dying. The microphone isn't working anymore, so she can only carry on half of a conversation. T-Mobile is willing to give her a cheap phone for free, but I'd really prefer something that'll sync with the Mac, like the current T68m that we both have. Since our contract with T-Mobile has expired, we're free to switch, and there are tons of special offers and rebates out there. So, I've been looking at phone plans off and on for a few days. And, I've come to a conclusion:

They're designed to drive people insane.

I mean, I have my choice of 3 or 4 providers. I can buy direct from the provider, via a store, or via someplace like Amazon. Each provider offers 2-4 different types of service contract, and it's not always clear what the difference is. Plus, the contracts offered directly and the ones offered via Amazon differ, sometimes substantially. Heck, even the phones offered vary--Amazon will sell you a Nokia 3650 for AT&T, but AT&T won't sell it to you directly.

Amazon has some amazing prices (the AT&T 3650 is $-150 after rebates), but you can't get a family plan with rebates on both phones. In fact, the second phone doesn't even get a discount at all if you buy it from Amazon, so the second 3650 would be $400 or so. Plus, their plans have 20-40% fewer minutes then the ones on AT&T's web site.

Here's what I want:

  • Two phones
  • Under $50/month for 300-ish minutes of service
  • Phones must sync calendar/address book with the Mac, and should have bluetooth
  • Phones should be the same, but don't have to be
  • Phones should work from home as well as at work. Reception is currently spotty in both places

There are, unfortunately, only a handful of phones that fit the requirements. Nokia has a couple (most 60-series phones, including the 3650), and Sony/Ericsson has one (T610/T616), and Siemens has one (S56). Most PDA phones will work, too, but I don't want to spend $500 per phone. The Motorola MPx200 MS-Smartphone is roughly free after rebates from Amazon, it might work, even though it's probably going to be a pain to sync, and the MPx220 isn't too far out.

Ugh, I hate dealing with this kind of stuff. Phones aren't really worth this much to me, and none of the phone/PDA hybrids seem to have broken free of the telco lock-in mindset. Every year, I keep thinking that this will be the year when phone prices finally drop and Cool Stuff is available for cheap. Sigh. Maybe next year.