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After discussions, he wants the quality of his old Sony Experia but not the price. We gradually narrow it down that he will spend between $500 and $600 to get a quality phone that will last a few years.

$499:

  • Samsung A70
  • Realme XT
  • There is the run-out LG V30+ at $499 (originally $1299) that is superb value.

$599:

You can read more about the best phones under $500 here.

Steve’s use then dictates the mobile plan

A smartphone can act as a 4G modem, so if Steve only needs a few GB a month, he can wirelessly tether it to the laptop (the phone appears as a Wi-Fi router SSID).

Instead of spending $15 with Vodafone for a home modem he can use the phone instead. And this is where it gets interesting.

I use Woolworths Mobile so let’s start there. Why? Because it uses the Telstra 4G network and because it gives me a 10% discount once a month on my food shop as well as Woolworths Rewards!

It has no lock-in monthly plans including $10/1GB, $20/6GB, $30/30GB, $40/42GB, $50/55GB and 180 day $60/12GB and 360-day $150/84. But there is an even better thing called a data bank (or data rollover) where you can roll over unused data.

Now not that we are too Scottish, but both my wife and I are on $20 plans, and she has 60GB and I have 30GB left in the data bank. We could easily tether that to a laptop!!!

So that is what we recommended to Steve. For $5 more he has voice and data on the phone and can share it with his laptop.

What Laptop to buy?

Steve writes, I understand I probably must use Microsoft Windows, but I don’t like Microsoft or Google. Is it possible in today’s world to operate technically without them but still be functional?

Sorry no – it is not. But both are trustworthy (depending on what precautions you take).

Now, remember that he does not need Word, but he needs email, internet, search etc. Either an Android tablet or a Windows laptop could do that and has all the free required apps – even a Chromebook would work. He is not a power user so an i3 processor and 4/128GB RAM would be fine.

But Steve is of the ilk that needs a ‘hunt and peck’ keyboard and a mouse/trackpad to get the best from a computer, and that tends to rule out most Android tablets (unless you use a dongle).

We settled on either of two hybrids (tablets with detachable keyboard/trackpads)