Section Editor Joni Blecher, a.k.a. the Cell Phone Diva, wants to answer all your questions about cell phones, service plans, and wireless connectivity. Send her a question!
Q: I have a Nokia 3560 and want to know how to change the faceplate on my phone. I can't figure it out.
A: Changing faceplates on cell phones can be a nail-damaging affair and even a bit of an enigma. The good news is that once you solve the puzzle, you can preserve a manicure and personalize your handset with new faceplates often and easily. In the case of the 3560 and similar models, such as the Nokia 3595, simply push in the tab on the top of the phone, grasp both sides of the cover near the screen with your other hand, and pull. It should pop right off.
For future reference, you can typically find directions to change faceplates in the phone's manual.
All in the family
Q: Help please! I have been a Nextel customer for seven years, and I am fed up with the service and the lack of a signal. Also, the bills are always confusing (extra charges), and pressing a Direct Connect button can be inconvenient, especially when it seems I can have free mobile-to-mobile minutes with another carrier by placing a call instead. I am ready to switch my mother's cell phone and mine. My mom is worried about the cost of switching and paying for a new phone, but I know we would save money in the long run. Order of importance: the service; the plan; and a cool flip phone that has text messaging, downloadable ring tones, and a camera.
A: Your plight isn't uncommon, but you need to understand you'll have to pay extra fees no matter which service you choose. Like any other type of phone service, there are taxes and regulatory fees that are passed on to the consumer. When it comes to cell phone plans, I always tell people to add 15 percent to the monthly bill. As far as the cost of a mobile, if you're willing to sign a two-year contract, you'll be able to find a fairly hip handset that will meet your needs for less than $100.
That said, let's address the real issue at hand: Will you save money if you switch providers? Yes. Nextel service is designed for business users, and if you're not using the phone for work, you and your mother will be better off with a family plan that allows a group of people to share an allotment of minutes to make and receive calls. All calls to members in the group are free and not subject to peak and off-peak restrictions. Select a plan that works for both of you (at least 800 minutes to share) and pay an additional $10 (T-Mobile and Cingular) to $20 (Sprint and Verizon) each month for the extra handset.
But first, you need to find a new provider. Your best bet is to ask people at work, friends, and even neighbors. They can tell you firsthand about how well different carriers work in your area. Then check out this site to get more feedback. Just input your zip code, and you'll find user reviews of local plans and service.
Playing the numbers
I have an LG VX10 with Verizon service. When I get a new phone, is there a way to transfer my entire phone book to that new mobile without manually entering each contact?
A: Absolutely. If you're getting another Verizon phone, simply bring the VX10 and your new mobile to the customer service department of a Verizon store and ask them to transfer the phone book. It shouldn't take more than 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how many contacts you have stored. Better yet, it's free! Other carriers have a similar feature, so if you're considering switching providers, ask them if they offer the same service.
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