Finally, my experience as a seller can be helpful!
Most plans are the same except for minute counts. All but the most basic of plans includes long distance, unlimited nights/weekends, and nationwide coverage (for a nominal fee). Most plans (save the newer 'unlimited calling' plans) can have additional lines added, again for a nominal fee.
The important thing to check is coverage areas. The big providers generally have agreements with smaller networks, but those agreements only cover voice, not data. So, if you've got Sprint, you have to get signal from a Sprint tower to use the Vision features. Each carrier will provide a coverage map on their website... Sprint and VZW's maps are zoomable to the county level.
Also (and continuing with the Sprint example), you can access data features without paying the extra $25/month for the Vision package. You can access them on a pay-per-use basis, with a small charge per MB accessed. If you're playing networked games or using navigation features, the charges can rack up quickly.
My plan, for the record, is with Sprint. The plan itself is no longer available (I'm on a 300 minute share plan - 2 phones... the shortest available now is 800 minutes, I think). I am getting shafted, but it's because of the add-on features. The Vision pack ($25 + $10), unlimited text ($15 each), insurance ($7 each), roadside rescue ($4 each) gives me a phone bill around $134 after an employer discount. I could trim that a bit, but it's not worth the hassle to me.
And, if I haven't thrown enough out there, I'm due to upgrade and I'm looking at the Blackberry Pearl
. I've cleverly slipped in a link to my favorite hardware comparison site, which will let you see the phones available by brand or carrier... along with user reviews. My current phone is the LG Fusic
, which has access to some websites and useful features (like navigation and weather radar) without requiring an actual data plan.
If you're looking for hardware recs, I like LG, Samsung, Sanyo, and Nokia. Nokia's only last because they waited so long to make a flip. I discourage Motorolas (there's always something
glitchy about Motos) and Audiovoxes (they just feel cheap).
My carrier preference is Sprint, partly because of the phones, partly because of the discount (which they extend to a good number of large and small business employees), partly because I've had them for four years and haven't had any problems with mobile or customer service. At least, no problems that weren't partially my own fault. :-)I'll go back to my corner now...