Regretting Cheap Smartphone Plans
The cheaper the plan the better. However a Smartphone critic from Japan is trying to warn people not to be sucked into buying a Smartphone due to a tempting price plan.
Many of these cheap plans are actually omitting the original functions of the phone which call somebody with a standard phone number. Sales people trying to sell cheap plans may tell you that you can make calls using What’s , Facebook or Line (in Japan). But not everybody has a Smartphone, and if you do use these apps to call people, the line is often bad and has a terrible delay. Not very professional for business calls. It is always better pay more and get a voice all plan with reasonable minutes.
Also be aware of the exclusion of SMS services. Again you may told that Facebook, etc.. is a better alternative, but not everybody uses social networks. Facebook is very popular but not the whole world is using it. Make sure that it is included.
Once of the biggest complaints, especially in Japan in the speed drop after the data plan is used up. For example a very cheap data plan may offer 2GB per month. For those not too sure how much a GB or Gigabyte is, imagine a HD YouTube video running for around 120 minutes. That’s your 1GB plan all used up in 2 hours. Now in Japan once your limit is up, your speed will drop to around 128kps. 128kps is like going back to the old Dialup modem days, 56k modem x2 speed. Nowadays that is unusable.
That speed cap can be unlocked however for a fee of around $20 - $30, then you get an extra 1GB again. You might as well have paid that little extra for a bigger or even unlimited data plan.
This is where the phone companies will make money from you, tempting you with cheap plans hoping that you will pay for extras here and there.
In Japan they have a very sneaky service. Basically they offer you a very cheap plan, where the monthly repayment of the phone itself equate to up to 75% discount, sounds tempting?
However you are obliged to sign up to around 6-8 paid services e.g. TV apps, Notice boards etc. which are free for the first couple months but charge your around $3 - $5 a month after that. They say that you can unsubscribe anytime without paying a penny, however there two main problems.
1. Most people forget to unsubscribe and don’t even look at their phone bills properly – big earner for the phone companies.
2. Trying to unsubscribe is often long winded and difficult – on purpose of course in order for the companies to squeeze as much out of you as they can.
Open Wi-Fi Network plans
A no data and call plan will naturally mean and cheaper monthly costs. You may be convinced into thinking that “OPEN” mean use an open Wi-Fi anywhere and any time. Although Wi-Fi does have wide coverage these days, open Networks or not available everywhere. If you are often out and about and need to make quick urgent calls then this plan would not be for you. You may end up spending even more money making those urgent calls.
No Data Usage warning
A lot of Smartphones have the ability to quickly check your data usage and even give you a warning. However certain cheaper models on cheaper networks do not allow you this luxury. You can easily go over your plan without realizing and get a shock when you receive the bill. Of course, the phone companies have done nothing wrong but it is about the ethic of the whole thing. They could at least remind you or send a quick text to say that you are coming close to your limit. That way you can take action on how you will use your phone for the remainder of the month.
In Japan at least they drop your connection speed with no further charges no matter how much you continue to use it.
If you have the budget, you might as well go for a plan that has you covered. It is true that most people don’t even use a third of their talk time monthly plans nowadays however there is nothing much you can do about that with most plans. It is difficult to tweak this and that in order to get the perfect plan. I believe that buying a little more than what you need avoided nasty surprises in the end.
I own a Smartphone in Japan and as most typical Japanese workers we give our salaries to our wives and they take care of all the bills. I used to have a 3GB “light” plan. My commutes to work are 1.5hrs each way so use quite a lot of data in the weekdays. I often went over my 3G limit, got the warning, speed dropped and kept unlocking 1GB extra all the time. I was regularly scolded by my wife for having all these extra fees added to the bill every month.
I now have a 5GB plan, never go over the limit and has worked out cheaper. I hardly use voice calls but that’s just part of the plan.