My new Android smartphone, a Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket — the best $20 I’ve ever spent?

It finally happened.  I broke down and purchased my first smartphone, a Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket.  Long name, I know.  Here is what’s important:

  • Android device, with update to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) soon to arrive according to the rumor mill.
  • 1.5 GHz dual-core processor.
  • 4.5″ AMOLED display.
  • Support for 4G LTE network, and Boston is one of the few markets currently supporting 4G LTE!

My now retired trusty Sony Ericsson T637 with my new Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket.

By renewing our contract with AT&T (we were going to stick with them anyways; I’ve had AT&T for 10 years) we were able to purchase refurbished Samsung Skyrockets for $20 apiece.  That’s right, $20!  (The Samsung Galaxy S II, which doesn’t support 4G LTE and has a 4.3″ display is only $10 refurbished!)  Samsung makes great products (we have laptops, laser printers, monitors, etc. made by Samsung) so we were comfortable going with refurbished phones from them.  Plus they come with a 90-day warranty AND I used my American Express to pay for them which doubles the warranty, so we felt comfortable with the amount of warranty that we’d have on them.  They arrived in recyclable AT&T packaging with the phone, battery, battery cover, earphones, manual, charger, micro-USB cable, SIM card, and activation instructions.  Both phones appear flawless.

We had to add two data-plans and opted for the 3 gigs per month for $30 each ($10/gigabyte) since any overage results in buying another 1 gigabyte block for the same $10/gigabyte rate.  The only reason AT&T pushes the 5 gigabyte per month package is to up-sell you on being able to tether your device so you can create a WiFi access point using your dataplan and phone.  It’s a waste of money.  There are a bunch of other options including rooting your phone (warning: might void your warranty) and using free apps, or some apps that don’t require rooting your phone (FoxFi seems like a great option, and it’s free!).

After doing some research (which, yes, included YouTube), we opted for the Otterbox Defender series case.  Watch this video of an iPhone in an Otterbox Defender case survive a drop from 23 stories — I sure hope that isn’t faked in any way.  The cases are offered in two colors: all black and black with grey (called knight); we bought one of each so we could easily distinguish our phones.  The cases seem VERY protective, although there seem to be some manufacturing quality issues at Otterbox (more on that in a separate post).  They come with a holster which doubles as a kickstand, although the device might be a bit too big to wear comfortably.  The dust covers are also a really nice touch.

After playing with the phone for a few days and installing about 40 apps so far, I absolutely love it!  Expect future blog posts about some of the great apps that I’ve already found.

This might be the best $20 I’ve ever spent.


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