What's better than getting a great deal on one of the hottest smartphones on the market? How about getting a good deal on two of these devices.
In this edition of Ask Maggie I help one reader get the best deal I could find on the Motorola Razr Maxx, one of my favorite Google Android devices on the market. And I help another reader, who wants the most social smartphone around, decide if Windows Phone is right for him.
My girlfriend and I both have HTC Incredibles. We are both due for an upgrade on March 21. We want to get the Razr Maxx. I was considering waiting for a price drop. But if the price is not likely to drop for a couple of months, then we will probably just go ahead and get it at full price.
Any insight as to when the price would drop on the Razr Maxx or when a "buy one, get one free" deal will come around again?
I've got some bad news for you. Unfortunately, you just missed one of Verizon's famous "buy one, get one free" promotions for the Droid Razr Maxx. Verizon offered this special promotion last month around Valentine's Day. But the promotion is now over.
The current "buy one, get one free" offer is for the Samsung Stratosphere or the LG Spectrum. These are also good phones. And if you're looking for a deal, this is a good one. That said, I personally like the Droid Razr Maxx a lot, mostly because it operates on Verizon's 4G wireless network, but doesn't suffer from the same battery life issues other 4G LTE smartphones experience. In fact, the "Maxx" part of the Droid Razr is for the bigger battery, which has the longest battery life of any 4G LTE device on the market.
I asked a Verizon Wireless customer representative if she thought that Verizon might offer the Droid Razr Maxx again for the "buy one, get one free" promotion. And she told me that it was unlikely. The Droid Razr Maxx is priced at the high-end: $300 with a two-year contract. And it's hard to say when it will get a price cut. Unfortunately for you, I don't expect it to drop in price in the next couple of months. In fact, when I asked my CNET Reviews colleagues, the general consensus was that it could take six months for Verizon to drop the price on this phone.
But I do have two bits of good news for you. It looks like you can get the Droid Razr Maxx on Amazon for $200 with a two-year contract.
Also, Verizon is currently offering a double data promotion for its 4G LTE customers right now too. You can get 4GB of data for $30 a month instead of 2GB of data for $30. The customer representative I talked to online said the promotion runs until March 31. Since you sound ready to pull the trigger on some new devices now, I'd go ahead and buy the phone now and sign up for Verizon's double data promotion. That way you will be locked into a contract with 4GB of data for the same price you'd pay for 2GB of data. While this is not a true discount, you will be getting more bang for your buck, if you think you'll be using a lot of data.
I'd call Verizon's customer service to double-check that you can buy the phone from Amazon and still get the double data promotion from Verizon.
Sorry I don't have better news for you. But at least you may be able to save some money ordering the device through Amazon.
In search of the most 'social' smartphone
I have a basic "dumb" phone on Verizon Wireless. Until now, I didn't think I needed a smartphone since I used my fourth-generation iPod Touch to access all those cool "smartphone" features that I didn't have on my "dumb" phone. But my iPod Touch was stolen recently, and now features I used daily have been ripped away from me.
Since I become eligible for a phone upgrade in the first week of April, I was thinking about just going ahead with getting a smartphone. I'm looking at four distinct phones: the Droid 4, the iPhone 4S, the Droid Bionic, and the HTC Trophy.
I really want a very social phone (like for Facebook and Twitter and such), and a phone with a good camera. I like the Droid 4 because of its awesome keyboard, and the Bionic has a really nice touch screen. The iPhone of course has an amazing camera on it, but it's not really social unless I download several apps. I know the HTC Trophy is older but it has Facebook chat built into its messaging. Which would you say is the best for a socially connected person?
First, I am sorry that someone stole your iPod Touch. That really sucks. But I am happy for you that you are finally getting a smartphone. I think you're going to love your new smartphone! Not only will you not have to tote around two devices, but you'll be able to surf the Web and check all your social-networking updates even when you're not in a Wi-Fi hot spot.
Which device is right for you? Any of the choices you mentioned would be great. As you mentioned in your question, with Google Android smartphones or the iPhone, you will have to download individual social-networking apps onto your device. This isn't really that big of a deal. Most people are happy to do it, since social networking is just one reason they use their smartphones. But it does require you to open each app to check what's going on. You can get updates from Facebook and Twitter pushed to either of these devices, but it won't necessarily be integrated with your contact list.
But if it's important to you to have these social connections built into your device, then I'd consider a Microsoft Windows Phone. Microsoft has built what it calls the "People Hub" into its software, which integrates your address book with all your social-networking sites. Here is how Microsoft describes it on its site:
"The People Hub is more than just an address book on your phone. It's a one-stop shop that keeps you up to date with your social networks and helps you stay in touch with the people you care about most."
The People Hub aggregates all your contacts' Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn updates so that you can access them without checking individual apps for each social network. It also allows you to filter posts and group people together into categories. For example, you could put work contacts on one category, while you segment your family members into another category.
If social is what you are looking for, then a Windows Phone smartphone is for you. The only problem for you is that your choices on Verizon Wireless are limited. It's basically the HTC Trophy or nothing. While this is a fine smartphone, as you mentioned it's older than the others you're considering. It also lacks 4G LTE support, which may or may not be important to you. Also, keep in mind that the iPhone 4S also is not a 4G LTE device. The main benefit of 4G LTE is that it offers faster network speeds.
One other thing to consider if you want any Windows Phone is that it's a platform that is still catching up to Apple and Google in terms of the number of overall apps. Microsoft has made some significant progress here. But it's likely that if you go with this platform, you may miss out on some apps that are already available on Android and iOS.
If you are concerned about not having as many apps to choose from, then I'd consider the iPhone 4S. You're already familiar with Apple iOS from using your iPod Touch. And it will just be simpler for you to use if you have already purchased apps or have music in iTunes for your iPod Touch. Of course, it's not impossible to download the same apps on an Android phone or to a Windows Phone, if those apps are available. And you can figure out how to move your music to a new device. But it takes a bit more work than if you simply plugged in your new iPhone 4S and were able to access all the same apps you had on your iPod Touch.
Anyway, that is just something to consider. If the social hub features are very important to you, then Windows Phone is likely the right OS for you. And if that's the case, you may want to consider switching carriers, since you said your contract is up in early April. I don't expect Verizon to make a big push with Windows Phone anytime soon. That said, AT&T is hot for Windows Phone. And early next month it will be selling the Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC Titan II. These phones will support 4G LTE and are the latest and greatest when it comes to Windows Phones.
Good luck making your big decision. And I hope this advice was helpful.
Ask Maggie is an advice column that answers readers' wireless and broadband questions. The column now appears twice a week on CNET offering readers a double dosage of Ask Maggie's advice. If you have a question, I'd love to hear from you. Please send me an e-mail at maggie dot reardon at cbs dot com. And please put "Ask Maggie" in the subject header. You can also follow me on Facebook on my Ask Maggie page.