Need a phone- buy in America or Taiwan?

Hi everyone!

I’m leaving to Taiwan in November. I was taking stock of “things I still need to do”, and on the list was figure out what I’m going to do about a phone. I have an older smartphone from Verizon (the original Stratosphere) that’s still in good working order, but it has no SIM card slot- it’s locked to Verizon and they can’t do anything about it, it’s just programmed that way. Verizon does have coverage in Taiwan, but the rates are staggering, so I don’t want to do that. So, it looks like I need a new phone. Should I get one here or there?
I’ve heard you can get really cheap smartphones in Taiwan, but I’m worried about the quality. If I buy a phone for $50 in Taiwan, will it break in a week? Conversely, is it worth shelling out $600 here for a contract-free phone?

Thanks!

I faced the same thing as I was a Verizon customer for 13+ years before moving here last month. I ended up picking up a Nexus 4 from Google before I left because there was no contract required, it was already unlocked and offered great specs for the price. Google just dropped the 8GB model down to $199.

Based on the above comment, Mr. Jake is a gentleman and a scholar. Google did indeed drop the price of the Nexus 4, which is an overall very decent phone. I’ve been using it for half year and have no complaints. You won’t find any decent phones at that price off-contract in Taiwan (or the US, either), so go for the Google.

Buy in Taiwan.

It may be more expensive than America but all phones are unlocked in Taiwan and works everywhere in the world. US phones however tend to have weird systems (like CDMA if you go with Verizon) and on top of that they carrier lock them. You just have to pay 14 months upfront when getting a contract. So if you do find a phone cheaper in America, assuming it’s GSM, you’ll still have to mess with getting them unlocked to use it here.

[quote=“Taiwan Luthiers”]Buy in Taiwan.

It may be more expensive than America but all phones are unlocked in Taiwan and works everywhere in the world. US phones however tend to have weird systems (like CDMA if you go with Verizon) and on top of that they carrier lock them. You just have to pay 14 months upfront when getting a contract. So if you do find a phone cheaper in America, assuming it’s GSM, you’ll still have to mess with getting them unlocked to use it here.[/quote]

Buy in America.

Nexus 4, again, is an unlocked GSM phone for US$200 and no contract with above-average performance and the most up-to-date Android version. It is the cheapest unlocked, good phone on the market anywhere in the world (presumably because Google the Juggernaut doesn’t actually care about turning profits).

Mine just had an unfortunate accident that left the screen cracked – totally my fault – and I plan to replace it with another N4. Fixing it would be about $150, and getting a new N4 will be $200… It’s an obvious decision.

I’m a smartphone idiot so please indulge me in some basic questions. With the Nexus 4 can I add apps such as the Pleco Eng-Chinese dictionary, Kindle, and Google maps (yeah, I can’t imagine the last one being a problem)?

Nexus 4 is Google’s “pure” Android phone, so any Android app can be installed. MM, I assume you’re an iPhone user? Basically, HTC, Samsung, etc. want to differentiate their phones by adding dumb useless features and buggy graphical interfaces over android, but even though they look different, the OS still works the same at its heart. Google got tired of “HTC Sense” and “Samsung TouchWiz” and “Moto Blur” and decided to make its own line of phones that just have nothing-but-Android, and as a result get the newest updates on the day they’re released rather than months later. That’s what the Nexus line is. Simplicity and functionality.

Actually I don’t have a smartphone of any type. Basically I looked at the cost of a smartphone and subscription and the fact that I am out of the country for 4-5 months a year sometimes (and hence would be doubling up on 3G costs) and decided it was not worth it. An iPod and skype was all I needed.

But I need to replace the iPod and so wouldn’t mind a reasonably priced phone that I can use as needed. In essence I work at home and when I am not at home I am travelling. People email me when they want to get in touch not phone.

Anyway, thanks so much for answering my questions.