My Daughter’s Cheap Wireless Smartphone: One Month Later
Last month, I shared my bemused frustration with my daughter, who did not want to give up her old “dumb phone” for an Android model with a lot more functionality. I think she was just worried that a smartphone would be too expensive. Walmart Family Mobile’s cheap wireless plan really gave us the incentive to try the service out.
At the time, I told her the myTouch was just a trial (there’s no contract involved, so we can cancel service any time we want). We kept her old number on her old phone, but if she liked the new one, we would switch the number over. I guessed that was what we would end up doing, but you never know. My kid can be stubborn (she inherited a double dose of it from both her dad and me), and she easily could have decided that she didn’t need a phone that would allow her to get directions, retrieve her email, check her grades, play music or download and play games.
So I actually wasn’t sure until a week ago, when the first monthly payment was due.
“Before I pay this: Are we keeping the phone?” I asked.
She shot me a look that could only be interpreted as saying “DUH!”
I really should not have wondered. It didn’t take her long to find apps she enjoyed, like Netflix and the one that allows her to use the phone as an FM radio. We haven’t tried streaming audio or video apps on 3G, even though Walmart Family Mobile gives her unlimited data (in addition to unlimited talk and text). This amounts to 5 GB on T-Mobile’s powerful network (if she manages to exceed 5 GB then she will continue to receive data at lower speed). At $40 per month, I think this is an excellent value.
A funny thing regarding the network: The plan officially says she’s on the 3G network, but according to the phone, she’s been connecting on 4G. Either way, the browsing and downloading is FAST.
So far, the phone has been useful in her first month of school. She can fire up the browser for research, or locate supplies she needs to purchase for class. I should probably mention here that my daughter is a high school senior who has been carrying a cellphone for several years and has demonstrated herself as a responsible phone user. So we are past the age where I would feel the need to take advantage of the parental controls that Walmart has built into their Family Mobile service. But I like knowing that if I need it, I can set up her phone to block certain kinds of messages and content, exclude certain numbers and keep her from calling 411 (which costs money).
Walmart Family Mobile informed us that our first month to month payment was due via a text message. This was a surprise to me. I learned later by logging onto my account at MyFamilyMobile.com that foregoing the cost of printing and mailing bills is one of the ways Walmart is keeping the cost of this phone service down. You may also choose to receive your bills via email.
Taking care of the payment was easy as pie: I dialed 611 from the phone. But I can also pay it online at MyFamilyMobile.com. You can use any valid credit or debit card to pay, or set it up for automatic payments. This is also where I can review my daughter’s usage or set up some of those blocking functions.
All in all, my daughter is happy with her new phone, and that makes me happy too.