No More Texting for Me, Thanks

Consider this entry a Public Service Announcement, as well as a rant about First World Problems.

A few weeks ago, my oh-so-high-tech flip phone started acting up. When opened, the screen would be distorted and filled with all manner of glitchy colors. The first time this happened I thought nothing of it. Even the second time, I was able to rationalize it away. After all, it had only happened at work, and could usually be fixed with a quick Open-Close-Open sequence. Maybe if I ignored the problem, it would go away.

But of course, it didn’t go away. In fact, it started to worsen. The screen started glitching while I was at home, and eventually I had to turn it off and on again to be able to see anything. After a while, even that stopped working; now, when I flip open my phone, all I see is a bright white screen.

Long story short, my phone is borked. It’s probably a problem with the screen connection, and given that I have a 4-year-old flip phone, that’s not exactly unexpected. And since my cell phone is the only phone I have, this has the potential to be a serious issue. Luckily, it still makes and receives calls. But since I can’t use the screen, I can’t exactly read or reply to any texts, which have become a surprisingly handy means of communication for me, given the awkward input of a numpad.

I repeat: any texts you send me will go unread and unanswered.

I suppose I’ve been talking about upgrading to a smartphone for a while, and this would be a great opportunity to do so. The problem is, I can’t afford it. I’m still on my family’s calling plan, which was great while in grad school. But I’ve wanted to get my own plan for a while, mostly for my own peace of mind. The problem with that is there’s a significant jump in monthly fees if I go solo, even for basic calling plans. And with a budget already stretched tight by underemployment, credit card bills, and student loan payments, that’s just not realistic. Plus, I’m not sure I would want to sign a two-year contract for a basic phone; I’d like to think that my financial situation will improve, and I can get a smartphone to tinker with in the not-too-distant future.

So where does that leave me? Well, I could find a used phone on Craigslist or eBay and activate that. I could also look at one of the “alternative” carriers that offer prepaid service at a steep discount. I hear it’s pretty easy to transfer your number these days. There’s even some unique companies out there, like Republic Wireless, which offers smartphone plans on the cheap with the expectation that you spend most of your time on wifi. Interesting concept, but I’m not sure if it would be too much of a compromise. That, and I don’t like making decisions.

So yeah. Does anyone have any experience with any of the smaller carriers, like Boost, Cricket, Straight Talk, etc.? Or even (I kinda hate to ask) an old Verizon phone they’re no longer using?