[PLUG-TALK] Phone stuff: Decisions, decisions

John Jason Jordan johnxj at comcast.net
Wed Mar 9 12:11:51 PST 2011

So I've got this Atrix 4G halfway figured out; that is, at least I
understand Android enough to be able to use it. And I can type now
that I have a stylus. (Three for $3.99 with free shipping from eBay.) I
have about 20 days left to return it to AT&T, which I am still

I am really unhappy with Motorola. The bootloader is locked and it
may take a long time before someone manages to hack it, if ever. I can
root it, though. Nevertheless, the corporate lock-in policy sticks in
my craw. 

Another issue is AT&T. They served me well for years with my plain old
Razr phone, but their data plans are very expensive compared to the
competition. And I guess the Motorola lock-in is at least partly their
idea. And I have discovered that their 4G coverage in my area sucks.

As an example of the suckitude of AT&T's 4G coverage, listening to
internet radio stations the station connects, but after a few minutes
the sound stops and the phone says "buffering." Sometimes it takes
several minutes of buffering before the sound starts again. This
happens at home in Overlook, all the way down Ainsworth to 42nd,
and all the way on the Max yellow to PSU, and all over PSU. In fact, I
haven't found anyplace in town where the bandwidth is enough to listen
to internet radio. And the above refers to listening to our own
All-Classical station right here in Portland. (The Atrix does not have
an FM radio.)

Checking around I find that the best plan deal for me is T-Mobile
1500 minutes with unlimited everything else for $80 a month. That's
about what I pay AT&T for 450 minutes, no text, and 2 GB data.
Verizon and Sprint don't offer much that interests me, so the debate is
between AT&T and T-Mobile. What I don't know (and it may be
unknowable) is whether TMobile's 4G is better than the crappy 4G
coverage that I get with AT&T. And AT&T employees tell me the "network
team" is busy improving coverage. If anyone knows of any recent reviews
of how much bandwidth AT&T actually provides city-wide compared to
T-Mobile's 4G, I'd like to know. Even anecdotal experience from
T-Mobile users would be helpful.

There is also some question of T-Mobile's financial health. But if they
get too deep it is most likely that someone will buy them out. And even
if they fail and leave me in the lurch, I can just sign up with a
different provider.

And then there is the matter of phones. I can return the Atrix 4G to
AT&T and buy an unlocked one from eBay for $500-550 or so, and then use
it with T-Mobile. But then I'm still stuck with Motorola. And T-Mobile
has nothing comparable now or coming soon, although rumor has it that
the LG Optimus Dual is on the way. Or maybe I should just get the
Google G2 and forget about having the coolest phone.

Decisions, decisions.

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