So my phone choice was logically made: prepaid contract-free to reflect my exceedingly low volume needs. Verizon to reflect that the people I would most likely need to call in the foreseeable future are also on Verizon, implying lower costs (eg, unlimited talk time not just evenings and weekends). Full QWERTY keyboard for such messages as might need typing in because I have tried sending messages using phone keys and, well, I understand kids can do that but I can't. Or won't. Maybe it's my attitude problem but I'm sticking with it.
This should seem to simplify phone model selection since if you look at Verizon's web site and their prepaid phones they have one QWERTY-keyboard prepaid phone, the Samsung Intensity. And the local store had a model which I was able to experiment with and found ... more or less all right, yes. I could be comfortable with it. It even displayed web sites I'd created with my own Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction on them in a reasonably legible fashion. Decision made. Except ... one visit the store nearest me had another model, the LG Env2, on the shelves of prepaid phones. They had none on hand to experiment with, but they did have an Env3 with very similar physical dimensions and properties. And that fit ever so slightly better. (And rendered pages better, although I'd guessed the Mobile Web stuff might easily vary between models.) When I went in that Saturday to buy a phone, though, they had none in stock. I asked and they had none nearby either, and couldn't do prepaid phone service with an Env3.
But! They could order one from the warehouses, and have it come in, most likely by Tuesday. That wouldn't be too bad, and there'd even be two days of margin before I'd be off to see bunny_hugger. So I committed to it, and bought my first hand phone, getting a number comfortably in my home area code but with a suspicious-looking zero as the second digit in the exchange block, which looks unnatural. And my parents found it not excessively strange that I had managed to go to the store, buy a phone, and not have an actual phone in hand from it. (I couldn't even be sure which of the several colors of phone it would be.) They know me at home.
Trivia: AT&T president Fred Kappel overcame the phone company's reluctance to offer phones in colors other than black in the late 50s by secretly having an advertising agency prepare four large magazine advertisements for colored phones, and then announcing to a corporate conference that Western Electric was proposing to put colored phones in mass production and marketing. Source: Telephone: The First Hundred Years, John Brooks.
Currently Reading: The Visible Man, Gardner Dozois. Ah, that early 70s science fiction: most stirring right where it's most disturbing or depressing.