The actual pain involved in moving smartphones to no-contract plans

Wondering what kind of hoops you have to jump through to get a no-contract data plan up and running? Wonder no longer.

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A little SIM shuffling to escape Contractville.

Photo via Kai Hendry/Flickr

How much should a husband and wife pay to tote around smartphones with reasonably reliable service and not really call that many people? For my wife and myself, I didn't think that amount was $120 per month. But that's where we ended up, after signing onto Verizon more than two years ago and picking up an iPhone and an Android.

I've pondered (read: blogged) about "open phone marriages", and looked at no-contract smartphone plans that don't suck. To actually make the jump, however, would require more than just flipping a few switches. What kind of pain is required for moving from the easy comfort of Contractville to Pre-Paid Junction? I will tell you, having just (almost) moved my small smartphone family.

I started out with a Galaxy Nexus and an iPhone 4 on an expired 2-year Verizon contract, now running month to month on a technically unlimited "4G"/LTE data allowance. I ended up with two phones using unlimited talk, text and data on AT&T's own "4G" service (HSPA 14.4, or maybe HSPA +21, depending on who you ask on Straight Talk. My wife and I don't use scads of data, but she occasionally pulls a long day streaming music or watching (mostly listening to) a Netflix or Hulu show or movie in the background. or I will do something stupid like download a CyanogenMod ROM directly onto my phone, over the air. We have Wi-Fi at home, but my wife does not at her office.

Maybe the biggest stumbling block, at least for a phone nerd who would even think about this kind of thing, are the "4G" data speeds are not cutting-edge "LTE" speeds. However, they are, for our purposes, absolutely fine. We text, email, check in on Foursquare, watch very rare videos, and download a few apps here and there.

So there is giving up the ultra-modern LTE life, but what other pain is involved? A short, realistic list:

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