Smartphone owners can themselves be dumb phone owners if they're paying for expensive contracts they don't really need. Carriers often set monthly minimum voice minutes and data allotments too high.
That's why AT&T's GoPhone plans and devices are worth looking into. This alternative actually became useful thanks to the network's 4G LTE GoPhone reboot that began on June 21.
AT&T GoPhone is the carrier's pay-as-you-go answer to the increasingly popular offerings of Boost Mobile and Cricket Wireless. Only, AT&T offers access to its wider, more capable high-speed data network.
Like the 4G network, the plans and phones are pretty familiar, making a potential switch a little more saleable to existing smartphone owners who don't want to dumb down their tech.
AT&T GoPhone plans comes in threes
The AT&T GoPhone plans are all about simplicity. It begins with $25 a month for 250 nationwide minutes and unlimited messaging. Data is optional at this level, priced at $5 for 50 MB a month.
The middle-of-the-pack GoPhone plan is $40 and bumps up the nationwide minutes to 500 while keeping messaging unlimited. Built-in data of 200 MB can be supplemented with 100 MB for $5.
However, existing smartphone owners looking to switch to AT&T GoPhone are going to want to look into the still-reasonable $60 plan. This top-tier option offers unlimited nationwide calling, unlimited messaging and a more familiar 2GB of data. Additional data is $10 for 1GB.
All GoPhone monthly plans include international texts from the U.S. to Mexico, Canada and 100 other countries.
These three no contract plans, even the top-tier $60 a month option, can reduce wireless bills by almost half. Of course, the point of the contract is to subsidize the expensive phone that you really want.
That's why picking one of the best AT&T GoPhone smartphones takes a little more time and effort than it would for someone with a wider selection, but who is getting roped into a contract.
Samsung Galaxy Express
The Galaxy Express is AT&T's star GoPhone, as it's the first LTE-capable smartphone for the carrier. Its Android 4.0 operating system gives the pre-paid world a modern enough mobile OS, while the rest of its specs are good enough for contract customers, and it's only $250.
There's a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor inside, 4.5-inch touchscreen on the front, and 5-megapixel camera on the back.
It's also able to pack in 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage into its sleek .36-inch body. No one will know you have a phone in your pocket, nevermind a cost-saving no-contract phone.
The 2000mAh battery gives it more talk time than many of today's competition phones in the same category, making the Samsung Galaxy Express ideal for smartphone owners looking for an Android phone with no commitments.
Samsung Galaxy Appeal
Pre-paid wireless customers who have trouble committing to both contracts and touchscreen keyboards will be happy to know that there's a $150 smartphone that is tactical and practical.
The Samsung Galaxy Appeal, with "appeal" right in its name, impresses with a side-sliding QWERTY keyboard behind its 3.2-inch HVGA display.
This is perfect for the unlimited text messaging that is a part of all three GoPhone plans.
Inside, there's an adequate Qualcomm 7225A 800 MHz processor, Bluetooth 3.0, WiFi and GPS.
While the Galaxy Appeal only has a 3-megapixel camera and somewhat-dated Android 2.3 Gingerbread it remains one of the few really affordable options for keyboard-requiring smartphone owners off-contract.
No smartphone list would be complete without an iPhone, and now GoPhone round-ups can include Apple's darling smartphone.
While phones like iPhone 5 aren't directly sold to customers as straight-up GoPhones, AT&T is allowing new and existing no-contract customers to bring in their own 4G or 4G LTE device.
On the one hand, thrifty customers can get a free iPhone with a contract if they select the iPhone 4 model, and a $100 iPhone 4S. But again, that's with a contract and pricey month plan for the next two years.