Woman in facemask with mobile phone checking into venue scanning QR code during pandemic.
27 August 2021

Contact-tracing smartphones on a budget

You don’t have to spend much for a phone that runs the COVID Tracer app.

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Neville M.
31 Aug 2021
Tracer App

My app has stopped working after upgrading to the latest Android operating system. 11 I think. I contacted the app provider and they were at a loss.

Peter S.
30 Aug 2021
Top up or monthly plans

I do not have a mobile phone and would like to buy one, but I do not want to sign up to a (probably costly) monthly plan. I have been unable to find a provider that just offers a 'top up' system for payment without there also being a monthly fee. Does anybody know of a provider that currently offers a 'top up' system for payment without incurring monthly charges?

Eleanor L.
30 Aug 2021
Vodafone Legacy Top Up plan

I've had a Vodafone Pay & Go Top Up plan from away back, but they have just increased the rates. "Data will be 30c per MB, std NZ voice calls will be 40c per min and std NZ TXTs will be 20c each." So I'll have to watch, as the $15/4 week prepay may work out cheaper. (If I used mobile data, the $15 prepay would definitely be cheaper)

Doris L.
30 Aug 2021
2degrees prepay $10 valid 365 days, or monthly $10 plan

2degrees have 2 great deals for low mobile users.
Their minimum prepay top-up is $10, valid for 365 days. But find out what user charges are for calls and texts.
I found the $10 monthly plan better in the long term. Unused data is carried over for up to 12 months. It will give 250MB data, 100 mins of calls, unlimited texts per month.
I found having data means the easy use of google maps to find directions to a destination while out, or making a call or send a text while out.
100 minutes calling a month means no worry about costs per minute when being put on hold. Many tradespeople provide a mobile number to contact, which costs money using a landline, but can be called "free" if staying within the 100 minutes per month.

Josie
28 Aug 2021
Phones sharing the same phone number

Why is it impossible to own 2 mobile phones which have the same mobile phone number.
I would like to have a simple small mobile phone for texts , tickets, and maps, and a fast mobile for phone calls, Covid tracing, maybe emails etc.
It would also mean that I would always have a phone that is charged.

Bob R.
29 Aug 2021
Re: phones sharing the same number

It’s not impossible to have two phones sharing the same number - it’s just a fact they can’t share simultaneously. The number is tied to the SIM card, which has to be unique for obvious reasons. However there’s nothing stopping you from moving the SIM from one phone to another to achieve what you want albeit clumsily.

Nick W.
28 Aug 2021
Updated information on iPhones

Hi there. My phone is a 2015 Model 6S Plus. It runs iOS 14.7.1 - latest version. Hence the Covid tracer app works fine. However, the previous year’s iPhone 6 cannot update. Your writer stated iPhone 7’s were needed to run the latest software but this is not currently so. It may be so after November when Apple release a new model as functionality seems to wane from age 6 years.

Willie &Chris V.
28 Aug 2021
iPhone 6

Have an old iPhone 6 (cheap second hand) does everything including Bluetooth tracing and alerts after the last app update.

Roxanne S.
28 Aug 2021
Any phone/camera capable of taking photos

Any phone /camera capable of taking photos works too , just take a photo of the QR code and it will time stamp it for you giving time and the location details listed in the photo :) no need for data etc too

Carel Jobsis
28 Aug 2021
Photo works as a backup, but you'll miss out on alerts

For me, the key feature of the scanning app is that it will alert you automatically if you've been at a location of interest, or near a possible contact. Taking a photo of the QR code will work for manual contact tracing if you really can't/don't want to upgrade your phone, but you are missing out on important features.

Sue H.
28 Aug 2021
Not the best option

This is good as a personal reminder if you have nothing else but ideally you want the tracer team to be able to contact you if you have been in a location of interest

David M.
28 Aug 2021
There is an alternative app

I have an Android phone stuck on Android version 5. I complained to the Ministry of Health about lack of support for old phones and they pointed me to Rippl. This app is approved and only lacks the (dubious IMHO) Bluetooth proximity feature. So give the Rippl app a try before buying a new phone.

Ross E.
28 Aug 2021
Vodafone smart e11

Does everything you want it to, albeit, at a relaxed pace. Under 70 bucks, and at 4.9 inches, much more pocket friendly than the usual 6 inch plus monsters.

Alastair B.
28 Aug 2021
Nokia 2

I've got a Nokia 2...cost about $100 a couple of years ago. It's pretty basic with a slow processor and not much memory but runs the Covid app just fine...as you say takes maybe 20-30 seconds to get it running when I turn on the phone but almost always can read the QR code (except where there are reflections). I have Bluetooth enabled and got a warning last week as I was in an area with an infected person in Coromandel Town so it's good to know that everything works with the app.

It will run most of the apps I need fine but not that fast. Camera's fine for the price. We're in a rural area with very limited cellphone coverage so it's not great in that respect. If you're not too impatient it's a good cheap option I think. Great battery life BTW.

Could Consumer's next cellphone tests please assess their performance on weak signals...it's pretty important for those of us who are not townies.

Margaret C.
28 Aug 2021
Reflections

When the code is unreadable because of reflections, if it's on a window then you can often read it from the other side. Non-intuitive, but it seems the code is reversible.

Lloyd B.
28 Aug 2021
What about an original iPhone SE?

The original SE is the brains of an iPhone 6 in the body of an iPhone 5, works really well for scanning, tracing, booking vaccines, and alerts. Now running iOS 14.7.1
Really cheap second hand

Peter I.
28 Aug 2021
The SE still remains the best they ever made.

But it’s based on the 6S not the 6. I’ve been using my old 6 since my SE finally gave up after being dropped countless times and still working through smashed & taped screen.
The 6 by comparison was a slug.
This all reminds me of the back n forth emails with Consumer and how this very website wouldn’t work on a phone that could still be bought brand new 1 year prior (the budget iPhone C, that had an OS limit just like the 6) Their response boiled down to “Oh well, buy a better phone”.