Help! I’m Upgrading a Smartphone

by Marc Bastow | December 19, 2012 11:50 am

You know that part in Terminator II when Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cyborg announces that “Skynet is now self-aware”? That just happened to my 3-year-old cell phone. It now dials numbers randomly and without prompting, and sends texts along with emails without me lifting a digit.

Which means it’s time to upgrade to a new phone. I now own a Motorola (NYSE:MMI[1]) phone that runs on Google‘s (NASDAQ:GOOG[2]) Android platform, but I’m not wedded to it in any way. And I’m lost.

The peanut gallery in my life (read: children) want me to upgrade to the latest and the greatest, while the guy in my head screams out for simplicity and ease. Let’s hear the arguments for both.

By all accounts, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL[3]) and its iPhone should be my one and only stop once I set foot in the Verizon (NYSE:VZ[4]) store (my wife runs the phone systems, so the choice of service supplier is out of my hands).

And why not? It’s the bees knees of mobile phones[5], with enough apps available to keep me entertained, mesmerized and functioning 24 hours a day. Plus — and this is big — since my children each have one, I get free tech support!

The problem is I can’t possibly need — nor can I conceivably understand — all the bells and whistles and apps. A quick look at my current phone shows I have exactly no apps beyond a simple browser that has about five bookmarks.

Best Buy‘s (NSYE:BBY[6]) website suggests the cheapest iPhone 5 available is around $150 with 16 MB of memory and enrollment in a two-year service plan. Even I know 16 MB won’t get me beyond the next year without an upgrade, but it’s a start. Price without the plan? $700, thank you very much.


After seeing lots of people in my recent travels to Europe and Manhattan peering into Samsung‘s Galaxy and Nokia‘s (NYSE:NOK[7]) Lumina, both seem worth checking out.

The Samsung is very attractive, with a big screen, probably just enough apps to handle my needs without overwhelming my senses and a price that’s virtually the same as the iPhone ($150 with a plan and $700 without). I do love the bigger screen, though, and I’m not intimidated by its size in my hand. And like I said, it’s quite popular[8]. Very nice.

Nokia is trying to make a big comeback, and the Lumia 920 is selling very well in Europe. Here’s the catch: It runs on Microsoft‘s (NASDAQ:MSFT[9]) Windows Phone 8 operating system, which might be a bit of a flyer. Much as I tried, I couldn’t find the price for a 16 MB handset on Best Buy’s site, but its price for the Lumia was less expensive, at $99 with contract and $600 without.

What to do? Well, if this were about picking the stock of any of these guys, I’d run right to Apple, even with the furious sell-off in the stock[10] over the past three months, which seems  a little overblown.

But it’s about something more important: what has become my lifeline and, according to folks at InvestorPlace way more savvy in these matters than I, ultimately the only device I’ll need to carry.

My smartphone will make my calls, send my texts, pinpoint my location, check my bank balances, pay my bills, take the place of my driver’s license for ID purposes, buy my coffee, make dinner reservations, and keep all the pictures of my family I’ve ever taken. And that’s just what’s available today.

It’s a big decision. Word is that Santa will be making it for me in a few days. I’m terrified.

Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at As of this writing he is long AAPL, VZ and MSFT.

  1. MMI:
  2. GOOG:
  3. AAPL:
  4. VZ:
  5. bees knees of mobile phones:
  6. BBY:
  7. NOK:
  8. it’s quite popular:
  9. MSFT:
  10. the furious sell-off in the stock:

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