Wednesday, June 17, 2009

To Buy or Not to Buy?

Well it seems like everyone's talking about cell phones this week and it's made me think a little about mine.

For years I always went with the no-frills free phones. They would conveniently fall apart right about when my contract would expire, so I would dutifully re-sign with my cellphone overlord, get my new crappy free phone and continue on with life. I never questioned this until my phone fell apart a mere six months after I had purchased it. Given the option of paying full price for the crappy no-frills phone, I instead opted for the magical land of eBay where I found a used phone that, yes, had some scratches, but worked perfectly. And lo! Me and my cell phone were happy for a year and a half until it basically went kaput.

At that point I was getting ready to move to the UK so I took a friend's old phone that was UK compatible with me. And it's served me quite well for the past year, but I've had it for almost a year now, and I believe my friend had it for over a year before me, and there are signs that this cell phone may well be on its last legs.

Now back when I bought my first phone off of eBay I swore I would never buy a new phone again. Why sign a contract to get a crap phone when I can get a perfectly good phone at a decent price off of eBay. I only ever got the stupid no-frills phones anyway, so what does it matter.

Except that phones have changed since I made that edict and phones are increasingly no longer just phones. More and more of my friends have iPhones and Blackberries and their phones can do cool stuff like tell you how to say giraffe in Portuguese. So I fear that I am succumbing to the Shiny! Technology! Greedy! Gremlin.

I mean I'm not. Not yet, anyway, because A#1, my phone still works and A#2, I'm an unemployed student with no cash to spare.

So for now, my principles are intact.

But I do kinda want an iPhone. And I kinda hate myself for kinda wanting an iPhone.

But WHAT DO I DO IF I NEED TO SAY GIRAFFE IN PORTUGUESE? What then?!! Think of the children!!

I know, I know ... new cell phones are incredibly damaging to the environment. And I have principles.

So I'm not buying a new cell phone.

I guess I'll have to wait until I get home to my laptop computer in order to translate giraffe into Portuguese. Or else start learning Pourtuguese.


hgg said...

The quantity of one gadgets that flows the market is just sickening. What a waste of resources to have to change every six months either because the cheap ones fall apart or because one just have to get the most recent features. I've had my tiny not-too-expensive-but-not-cheap-either Nokia phone for a good three years now and I'm not getting a bloody iphone till that one crashes (even thought It seems to last forever though.

organicneedle said...

My cells always fall apart right around contract time too whether I spend a little, lot, or nothing. That is why I was so excited about the refurbished ones. You can always join me in annoying the phone manufactures into backing them up. :)
I too like the new fancy features but am way too cheap to pay the monthly phone web access fees.

ruchi said...

HGG, yeah, I'm with you. My computer is also four years old and I desperately want a new one but am withholding until it dies.

Needle, heh, I actually never buy the warranties. I like to live dangerously. ;)

organicneedle said...

The warranties come with the phone automatically. The problem with the refurbished is that they will only back it up for 90 days. If it dies on day 91 you will be shelling out 200-300 for a new one. New phones they automatically back for a year.

Jennifer said...

I'm too cheap to pay for the phone plans required for smart phones, so I'm safe!

Color Me Green said...

ugh i recently had a nightmare when my phone broke and i wanted to find a used one. this really deserves a whole post of its own but suffice it to say i had a very sketchy experience getting a used phone from a store. it works, and i just hope it keeps working. i am tempted to get an iphone when my current contract ends - refurbished obviously. mostly because my boyf has an iphone and he's always on it so it makes me want one just so i'm not so bored when he's on his. stupid right??

Mouse said...

Why feel guilty about owning an iPone? It's a great consumer product. It is one of the few things I have ever bought that has, without a doubt, improved my life.

I will happily pay $100 a month to 1) make phone calls, 2) always have music with me, 3) never stress if I need to get home for an important email, 4) [the big one] never, ever get lost in the city of Los Angeles again.

Absolutely worth the money. And hey, without "useless gadgets" none of us would know about the Iranian election revolt.

Farmer's Daughter said...

My phone is 8 years old. See my latest post for details of why I won't replace it unnecessarily.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

The new iPhones are coming out soon (next week I think), so there will probably be a lot of the current ones coming onto sites like eBay and Craigslist.

As much as I'd like to upgrade from 8Gb so I don't have to delete music if I import an audiobook, I'm going to wait out at least one more round of hardware upgrades! (Unless my husand decides he wants an iPhone, in which case he'll take mine and I'll get a new one. This is unlikely, although he did have fun when he borrowed mine yesterday)

ruchi said...

Needle, yeah when I was Sprint they definitely did not automatically give you a year long warranty. You had to buy it separately.

Jennifer, good point. I didn't think about that ... I wouldn't want to pay the high monthly prices either.

Julia, okay, this is actually one of the things preventing me from getting the iPhone. I HATE when I'm out with people and they get on their iPhone and start doing stuff on it ... it's like ... hello! I'm right here, in front of you. Pay attention to ME, not your PHONE.

Mouse, darlin, it's called a THOMAS GUIDE. And also looking for where the Hollywood Hills are and using them as navigation. ;)

Abbie, eight years!! That's amazing. You should win an award or something.

Cath, yes, I am hoping I can have my cake and eat it too by snagging a used iPhone when I'm ready to take the iPlunge. :)

Fix said...

These are good questions, Ruchi, and some of the ones I got frustrated with during my year(s) of reduced consumption. Because, really, if you are constantly salivating over an iPhone you are becoming more materialistic, not less.

I just replaced the headset for my iPhone for the THIRD time in 18mos. Luckily the cute apple store guy (aren't they all!) spared me the $29.95 but warned me he wouldn't do it again. You can't talk hands-free without it, and you can't listen to music with good headphones because they don't fit. Nice racket, I'd say. Plus, those dead three? Apple took 'em back but I'm willing to bet they're in the landfill.

It was fun being the first girl on the block to have it, but it has changed my habits in certain ways and not necessarily for the better. That bent-over-the-phone thing? Now I'm checking my email every 3-5 minutes instead of every hour or two. And I can't properly respond so it makes me feel even more behind. I'm looking forward to a vacation abroad where I will have to turn it off!

Still, it's fun, generally well-designed, and certainly a status symbol - Greenpoint, anyone? Echo Park? - and I think certain people can get a lot out of it. I hope a used one pops up for you if you decide to go for it.


Kelly S. said...

Maybe someone has said this already...but you can buy used iphones on ebay. People like to upgrade to the newest model when they have a perfectly good slightly older model...

Rosa said...

just make gadgety friends. My current phone is SO MUCH FANCIER than the free phone I lost, and it's a hand-me-down from a friend with a gadget fixation.

By the time you have a good reason to replace your phone, you'll be able to get a really fancy phone on the used market.

ruchi said...

Megan, you make a good good point. If you are really coveting a gadget that makes you more materialistic than not and you should probably just get it out of your system and buy it.

Kelly, good point.

Rosa, even BETTER point. I have several gadget freak friends, and next time one of them wants to upgrade, I can not so subtly offer to buy their phone off of them for cheap. ;)

Unknown said...

dude you don't understand the power of the iphone. I must obey my master. All bad Star Wars references aside, It's pretty ridiculously useful and while I'm sure it uses a fair amount of power it certainly cuts down on my laptop usage which I'm assuming has to take more power to run, and cuts down on my paper usage. I was going to carry a cell phone anyway, I might as well make it work more for me.

Anonymous said...

My Nokia is 5 years old. Until last year I had to recharge the battery once a week, now twice. It is diying slowly.
I hate it that phones are not phones anymore. I´m very emotional about it.
I´m worried about having to get a new one one day, couse i´m sure they woun´t put up for as long as the one i have now. Because it´s almost impossible to get one nowadays that isn´t a computer. I HAVE a computer, i don´t need another one, it´s just STUFF.
I don´t like to own stuff.