Residential Mobile Phones

Residential mobile phones are one of the most popular forms of communication today. Modern cell phone service lets you stay in touch at all times, by texting, speaking, emailing, Tweeting, or Facebooking.

Cell phone services are quickly making home phones obsolete; recent studies have shown that more and more young families are only using cell phones for communications.

Residential mobile phone plans can be as cheap or as expensive as you want them to be. A pay-as-you-go plan with T-Mobile, for instance, means that you only spend as much as you use.

Families also have options, since they can save money with various family residential family plans. Verizon’s nationwide family talk and text plan, for example, gets you two lines, unlimited texting and 700 shared calling minutes for $99.99 a month. Each additional line (so, each additional phone) on this plan is $9.99 a month.

Individual phone service plans tend to be the most expensive of residential mobile phone service plans. AT&T’s Nation Individual Plan gets you 900 minutes for $59.99. A similar family plan, with 2 phones and 700 minutes, costs $69.99. (Neither plan includes unlimited texting.) If you can find a way to use the two lines - maybe share lines with a family member or a close, trusted friend - you can save around $35 a month. It’s become popular for many young people to remain on their family plan, even after independence.

Most carriers also offer perks for signing up for a one or two year contract; the most common is a massive discount on a cell phone. With Verizon, for example, a two year contract will get you a $650 iPhone 4 for $200. Sometimes, you can also get a phone for free when you sign a new contract (these aren’t the best phones, though).

A one or two year contract will save you money on a phone.

Without a contract, expect to pay $300 for an average flip phone and between $500 and $700 for a smart phone. That’s a large, up-front cost for a phone without a contract. Cell phone manufacturers have licensing and sale agreements with major cell phone carriers, so you probably can’t take that smart phone you paid full price for to another network. Why not sign a contract and get a discounted phone?

Beware of data plans. Unlimited data plans used to be a relatively cheap addition to your monthly mobile bill, up to a few years ago. As the standard features phone market declines and demand for data increases, cell phone companies have realized how unsustainable unlimited data is. So, carriers have started offering tiered data plans. Here’s an example.

When the iPhone was first released in 2006, AT&T charged $129.99 for a family plan that came with 700 minutes and unlimited data usage. Now, the same plan from AT&T costs $99.99 a month - without data. There’s an additional $15 fee if one phone on that plan uses data. After that, AT&T’s tiered data plan goes something like this:

  • $15 a month for 200 MB of data
  • $25 per month for 2 GB of data
  • $10 per gig over the 2 GB limit

So, you’re paying $130 a month for 200 MB of data every month; you used to be able to pay $130 and get unlimited data.

The only major company that still offers unlimited data is Sprint. Sprint’s unlimited data option starts at $69.99 a month and includes a mere 450 minutes. If you don’t want data, make sure to get a phone that doesn’t require it.

Activation Fees

Most cell phone service providers charge you an activation fee, even if you sign a contract. Ask if they can waive that fee for you; the worst they can say is “No.” At best, you can save $25 to $50 just by asking a question.