In search of a new cell phone

iPhones on display at a Beijing store.

TEXT OF STORY

Tess Vigeland: We're talking about the iPhone again?

Yes.

Really?

Yes, it's big news.

Oh right of course, because iPhone customers are getting another choice of carrier. Alert the media! Oh wait.

OK, so for those of you who haven't heard, the Verizon Wireless iPhone will hit stores this week. Marketplace's Janet Babin, for one, will be exploring them as an option because her phone is, well, old. Like two years or something. So she went looking for the best way to make a decision about her next move.


Janet Babin: My Blackberry became the butt of jokes when I lost the plastic "K" key. But I knew I had to replace the phone when it started calling my friends, even when locked.

At one point, Cliff Schuman told me I called him nine times within like, five minutes.

Cliff Schuman: It was like your phone was calling me by accident as it was rocking around in your bag, even though your phone was locked according to you.

Really, it was locked!

So, which new phone to get? I had to at least consider the iPhone, with its modern contours and amazing cool factor. But I kept thinking about "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart's iPhone rant.

Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show": Those of us in the iPhone community have sacrificed one thing for the ability to carry around every photograph we've ever taken. We have sacrificed the ability to make phone calls.

Meline Toumani: The calls do get dropped -- all the time.

That's iPhone-ista loyalist Meline Toumani. She told me, get an iPhone anyway.

Toumani: I mean who even talks on the phone anymore, you know? We send text messages, we send emails.

Ending dropped calls on the iPhone might be as easy as switching carriers. Early reviews of the new Verizon iPhone say reception's much better than with AT&T.

My friend Iyala Berly still has iPhone envy. But she had problems with AT&T and won't be waiting in line for a Verizon iPhone either.

Iyala Berly: I also don't like Verizon. I've been around the block with all of them, and at the end of the day, T-Mobile is -- even though service is not the strongest -- to me it's worth the customer service.

I could stick with my current carrier, Sprint, and get a new HTC Evo handset. At the Sprint store, Evo user Bill Vogel couldn't stop raving about how fast it downloads video. And he says the apps you can buy for the Evo really impress his kids.

Bill Vogel: They don't care about the Apple market compared to the Android market. All the really cool stuff that they want to play with is on the Android market.

Great. So, I've waited so long that the iPhone isn't even hip anymore?

And we haven't even started talking cost. Any smartphone but a Blackberry will set me back about $200, and that doesn't even include monthly data and calling plans.

My friend Cliff, the guy my Blackberry loved to call, he has an iPhone, but he told me to buy a basic phone and get unlimited Metro PCS service for about $40 a month.

Schuman: Why are we paying so much money, for what? It's like I really just wanted a phone, instead I check the weather, I check everything else and the phone part doesn't work, and then it becomes too expensive. Do I really need all of that?

That's the question, how much smartphone do I really need? I still haven't decided.

In New York, I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace Money.

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