Why I Finally Replaced My 7-Year-Old Phone

Oh, the life of the rich and famous. I recently upgraded my phone from 2014 to a phone from, wait for it – yes, 2016. It’s a whole two years newer and let me tell you, in those two years phone manufacturers really upped their game. My new phone has such fancy features as enough storage space, an operating system supported by the manufacturer, and a pretty good camera. I’m still confused by the fact that with my new phone I don’t constantly have to juggle deleting apps, photos, text messages and the like ensure sufficient space for the phone to work.

However, I must confess that the phone upgrade was not entirely my choice. I’ve written previously that I about how I don’t put much stock in getting the newest, fanciest phone and am trying to reduce my dependence on and usage of my smartphone. It is because of this that I had planned to run my previous phone into the ground, but my hand was forced by the recent Sprint/T-Mobile merger. As I’ve mentioned before I use Tello phone service, which is an MVNO that runs off of Sprint’s network (what’s an MVNO, you ask? One of my favorite writers did a wonderful write-up of MVNOs here, which you should definitely check out). I pay $6 a month for 100 minutes, unlimited texting, and 500MG of data, all of which is sufficient for me. Back in October 2020 Tello sent out a message to its users informing them that with the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile, Tello would be transitioning from CDMA to GSM (not sure what that means? No worries, I got you), which meant my previous phone – which was too old to be compatible with both CDMA and GSM – would no longer be supported by Tello’s network. We were informed the change would come no sooner than mid-year 2021, so were given ample time to prepare. I did have the option to switch phone carriers at this point, but I do really love Tello and fortunately my mom had an older, yet compatible phone of hers that she wasn’t using and offered it for my use.

When I received the phone I popped in my previous Tello SIM card before realizing with the CDMA to GSM switch I would likely need a new SIM card. For a short period of time I was slightly upset that I would have to pay for a new SIM card, but I called Tello customer service one evening around 9pm and was doubly pleased to a) find they were open at this hour and b) learn that, as a current customer, I would be entitled to a free GSM SIM card with free ground shipping. The SIM came a few days later and once I popped that into my new phone I only had to configure one phone setting, the information for which I found easily online, to enable MMS message receipt.

I was very pleased with my Tello customer service experience throughout the transition, which affirmed my decision to remain a customer on their network. Now that I have a whole 16 GB of storage with my new phone, I went ahead and downloaded a number of survey and secret shopping apps recommended by Financial Panther; keep an eye out for some of those in future Pandemic Finance Diaries posts! This also means that I don’t have to split my frequently used apps between my old phone and another wifi-only phone I was using. Yes, you read that right, I used to use two phones at certain times. Now that I have three cellphones (!!) I have two too many for me, so I’ll likely donate the other two to a social services organization. My new plan is to run my 2016 phone into the ground, and seeing how my 2014 phone was able to be used for a good 7 years I hope I’ll be able to use my new phone for at least another two years.

How often do you replace your tech gear?

June 2021 update:

When I first installed my new GSM SIM card I had to search online for directions on how to change my carrier settings to allow receipt of MMS messages. My new phone also didn’t have visual voicemail activated, but I rarely receive voicemails so this didn’t bother me too much. However, it seems these were common problems among users, so in June I received this email from Tello:

Requesting my free replacement SIM was very easy and, once installed, solved all of the abovementioned minor issues I was having. Once again a win for Tello!

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