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Verizon Wireless Won’t Abandon Flip Phones

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Smartphones are taking over the shelves at Verizon, but the carrier hasn’t forgotten about your parents and basic cell phone users.

I knew that the selection of “basic phones”, as Verizon calls them, would be limited, but I wasn’t ready for what I found when I helped my father-in-law buy a basic flip phone before the new $30 per line upgrade fee goes into effect.

After touring row after row of smartphones we found the basic phone section, tucked away in the corner.

Verizon Basic Flip Phone

Verizon's small basic flip phone selection.

Verizon offers six basic phones for basic phone users to pick from. According to Nielsen, just under 50% of cell phones are not smartphones. Suffice to say, there are a lot of basic phone users, but not a lot of choice.

While looking at the prices and descriptions I was sure that there was some mistake. The Samsung Convoy 2, a basic flip phone, retails for more than an iPhone 4. More than the 4G LTE LG Lucid that Verizon just sent over for review.

I joked that the next time he picked out a phone he wouldn’t be able to buy a basic phone. It’s not that he doesn’t want a smartphone, but he’s not ready to spend $30 a month for two more lines.

Verizon is Committed to Basic Phones

The good news is that the next time he needs to buy a phone, he’ll still have a basic phone option. Verizon spokesperson Laura Merritt tells GottaBeMobile that Verizon hasn’t forgotten the flip phone.

“Increasingly customers are switching to smartphones and we have a portfolio that offers them a number of options, however we recognize that many of our customers prefer a simpler phone.” says Laura Merritt, adding, “Basic phones are an important part of our portfolio and we will continue to give customers basic phone options.”

Verizon Smartphone

One small selection of Verizon's smartphone offering.

Why Flip Phones Are So Expensive?

Carriers used to give away flip phones, but these days it’s cheaper to get a iPhone or even a 4G LTE Android phone because carriers can count on a steady stream of cash for the next two years.

The Samsung Convoy 2 is $119, but the cost over a 2-year-contract (for his second line) is $240.

The $99 iPhone 4 is cheaper up front, but over the course of a contract the cost would balloon to $959.52.

$20 in up front savings isn’t noticeable after factoring in the $720 more expensive plan required by smartphones.

I’m ignoring the cost of the minutes here as there is no way to buy a phone without minutes.

How Verizon Can Convert Flip Phone Owners

It’s not that my Father-in-law couldn’t use a smartphone, it’s the lack of a family data plan that prevents him from joining the world of apps and mobile connectivity. This is the same reason my parents don’t have smartphones.

I know my dad would choose a smartphone like the Casio G’zOne Commando for his phone or an iPhone with a rugged case because he’s hooked on the world of apps and video chat thanks to an iPod Touch.

We’ve heard rumors of family data plans for a while, but the latest rumor says we could finally see family data plans this summer.

It’s too late for my in-laws, but I see the 50% smartphone ownership jumping dramatically in the year after the introduction of a family share data plan.

Have you had similar experiences?

 

Josh Smith is Editor of GottaBeMobile and Notebooks.com. He's always looking for ways to help you get the most of your gear and loves to talk about tech on radio and TV. Josh uses an iOS and Android devices as well as Mac and Windows Computers. Josh Smith on Google+ Email: [email protected]

11 Comments

  1. Richa12c

    04/12/2012 at 5:07 pm

    Funny, when I got my Galaxy Nexus at Verizon they were on a nice display. When I said I needed a flip phone for my wife, the lady left to return with a small bag and dumped out 6 flip phones out on the counter. What a presentation! And I almost paid as much as I did for the OG Droid two years earlier.

    • Josh Smith

      04/14/2012 at 8:34 am

      Saw a similar experience at the corporate mall kiosk the other week.

  2. toolazyforalogin

    04/12/2012 at 7:41 pm

    Great article.  Such truth about the family data plan.  We’ve been waiting for this for a long time before we can upgrade all of our phones to smartphones….$30 is way too much for each line.

  3. Sam P

    04/14/2012 at 7:02 pm

    Verizon doesn’t appear to be subsidizing that Convoy at all.  If they don’t offer you postpaid plant rates and lock you into a multi-year contract, it makes little sense to buy one. May as well go prepaid.

    If you want a family data plan now, there’s Ting, a Sprint-based prepaid carrier.

  4. Ellen

    06/07/2012 at 3:05 am

    I think it’s a mistake to characterize flip phone buyers as somehow less tech savvy, because many of us simply prefer the smaller width, lighter weight, and longer length (when open) of the flip phone. I’m looking for a flip phone to replace my old and ailing smart phone, and while I haven’t decided which one I’m going to get, there are several out there that offer e-mail and mobile web, albeit without the touch-screen and app features, but still, the access is there if you need it (and pay for it! :O)

    Several of my friends have said they are thinking of doing the same, as well, especially those that carry their iPads around with them.

  5. Vivek

    06/28/2012 at 12:01 pm

    My wife and I started looking for flip phone for her. It’s not that she is not tech savvy (she is using smart phone for last two years). It is just that she hates small form factor of smart phone for surfing and big form factor to carry or hold during the phone conversations.

    She would prefer a 4G LTE tablet (that she can carry in her purse and use it for surfing) and a basic flip phone with a micro SD card support for carrying her songs.

    I am still searching for a “cute” flip phone that will work on Verizon.

  6. Steve Guinn

    07/09/2012 at 10:08 am

    I bought a Convoy 2.
    I am a senior (75) and my thumb is too big to select just one small key. The Convoy has big keys, but the messaging font size is way too tiny (to read, not punch).
    The best senior phone is the Samsung Haven (if you can find one). However, the Haven will not connect to the Internet and has no provision for plug in memory.
    I am beginning to wonder if I made the right choice. The ability to read a message probably beats the lack of internet connectivity. I put the unit in the driving mode and it reads a message to me. Not private, but it works. I may ask VW to trade. Who knows.

  7. mark98115

    09/29/2012 at 9:48 am

    I’m an IT professional and the only phone I care about using is a flip phone. I still want a browser and gps and the basic functionality like camera, notes, calendar etc. But I do not want to carry a rather bulky (when compared to a flip phone) thing in my jeans pocket. For mobile apps and web browsing on the go I have a tablet.

  8. Jack

    10/19/2012 at 7:32 am

    “smartphones” are dumb – watch the commercials, stupid kids doing stupid things – unproductive! Time wasters! I need a phone, I need texting, emails are good but not worth the data cost on a phone, since I am at my computer – WORKING. The only ones who benefit from “smartphones” are the telecom$ and that is “smart” for them.

  9. Becky

    12/01/2012 at 10:18 am

    It’s difficult to find discussion on one very important PROBLEM with “SMART”phones. The fact that my car’s bluetooth capability unlocks the smartphone’s screen. When I lock my car and stick the phone in my pocket, it “pocket-dials” my clients. Not good. I changed to a flip phone and now it hangs from my keychain in a small leather case, connects to my car’s bluetooth, and comes with me with no pocket dialing on my keychain. It also helps me find my keys! Hooray for Verizon! But we need a 4G flip phone! or a “smart”phone where the screen stays locked. I’m looking to switch from AT&T where 3G is the pits!

  10. Eva hebert

    06/17/2013 at 5:29 pm

    Yep….was treated very “dismissive” by Verizon staff cuz I was not seeking a smart or iPhone. All my friends who have existing Verizon customers are experiencing similar customer service personnel bad behavior issues. Looking into other carriers now and I am not alone….aaah Verizon….there’s a lot you still have to learn. Like, oh let’s say, integrity. Shame on you. Just because someone seeks a simpler phone, does not mean they aren’t savvy electronically or that they don’t have the money…think guys

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