Face it. We weren’t raised with today’s technology, so some of us baby boomers have been a little slow to adapt. Particularly with the speed at which everything seems to change. That’s why BoomerCafé co-founder and publisher David Henderson has put together a primer about cell phones, and how baby boomers can save a bundle by getting smart about smartphones.
Big changes are underway in the U.S. mobile phone industry, but lots of boomers may not be savvy enough about smartphones to make the best of them. There’s more competition and opportunities for budget-conscious baby boomers to save a bundle.
It’s largely driven by consumers objecting to the traditional phone company model of holding us hostage to two-year contracts — a scheme where consumers pay an outlandish premium for a phone in addition to buying it upfront.
The trend is toward something simpler — you purchase a so-called “unlocked” phone of your choice — that means it’s not associated with any mobile phone company — and then select the service of your choice, like the rest of the world has been doing for decades … everywhere but here in the U.S. It’s predicted this new direction will lead to more competition and lower service costs to consumers like us … and, saving $$$ each month is good news particularly for boomers who want to stretch retirement dollars.
The benefit is that a mobile phone user — that’s us — can buy the phone of our choice outright and separate from the service. Then, we select the best service plan for our needs. If we don’t like a service, we can switch. But here’s the catch – when you do it, you must be “out of contract.” That means once your two-year contract expires, do not renew or upgrade it! When you are “out of contract,” keep it that way.
That lets you shop around for what catches your fancy, regardless of any voice or data plan … and there are many unlocked phones and plans to choose from.
Two new unlocked smartphones are today capturing attention as equal to or even better than any of the leading models, like the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy series. The Asus ZenFone 2 and OnePlus are sold unlocked and available for outright purchase for about $300 – $350. It’s not surprising that there is big demand for them.
And here’s the best part for baby boomers – most cell companies now offer month-to-month service for voice and data, no contract, no commitments, for about $50 a month.
Here’s a little more information about a couple of popular unlocked smartphones —
- The ASUS ZenFone 2 with 64GB of memory sells for $299 unlocked. It’s available at Amazon.com and BHPhotoVideo.com among many places online. I have had a chance to evaluate the ZenFone 2 and think it’s an advanced smartphone in all respects and on a par with Apple’s iPhone 6. The big attraction is a state-of-the-art smartphone with an enticing pricetag.
- The BBC television technology program called Click named the OnePlus smartphone the best in the world. The OnePlus has a striking design. A possible downside, in my opinion though, is that OnePlus is headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China. They have no offices in the U.S. or Europe. The OnePlus does not use the popular Android software (developed by Google) but rather an open-source version called “Cyanogen.” I’d suggest reading about the potential issues of Cyanogen before buying. The phone currently is sold primarily through the company’s website. I asked OnePlus about tech support, and they said that should someone encounter a phone problem, they will be instructed to send it to the U.S. warehouse, wherever that is. Nonetheless, the OnePlus is very popular.
Bottom line is that baby boomers can save about $1,000 a year by staying “out-of-contract” and simply paying month-to-month with no contractual bonds, taking advantage of these changes in the monopolistic-but-changing U.S. mobile phone market.
[Note: BoomerCafe.com does not endorse or recommend any product mentioned.]