I recently made a change that I hope will allow me to pay around $25 per year
(mandatory yearly topup for the number to remain active) for a smartphone. The idea is to use a prepaid phone plan with a long expiry period. In Canada, this is the one:
It is only to be used for SMS verification (incoming messages are free) and any time I have a real emergency (I had to call 911 only two times in my life so very unlikely). Most of the time, the phone will be connected to Wifi, which can then be used for pretty much everything, including phone calls, since I got a free Voip number (these virtual numbers often don't work for SMS verification, which is why I still need a real phone number):
If I end up not being able to live without data in the long run (I just made this change last week), I have a plan. I have 2 options:
1a) I have another old phone that I can use as a wireless data hotspot. I will load it up with another prepaid SIM card from Serbia (that works in roaming in Canada), which, surprisingly, has lower roaming data 30-day package costs than if I were to buy them from a Canadian provider (they start at $4 for 30 days). If I really need data, I can just turn on that phone and my primary phone can use the Wifi to connect to its Internet (with Data Saver mode turned on and that connection set up to be treated as a metered connection).
1b) Option 1a above, but using only one dual SIM phone (when my current phone dies, I know what to look for).
2) Get the cheapest 30 day package from the Canadian prepaid provider, which starts at $10, with Data Saver mode turned on.
However, the only time I can ever envision absolutely needing data is:
a) when I am traveling, for Uber and Lyft, in which case it would be cheaper to use the Serbian SIM in roaming anyway, or
b) if I need Uber or Lyft in my home city in some kind of an emergency, but in this case, I can just call a normal cab using the phone and pay by the minute, or
c) I am meeting with friends somewhere and they are messaging me on FB Messanger/WhatsUp/Viber to tell me a change of plans AND I am not near a Starbucks or McDonalds or any business from which I can steal WiFi AND my friends don't figure out (or I forget to tell them the protocol) that I am not seeing their messages and so they don't send me an SMS, or
d) some app appears that I need to use and it requires data when I am outside with no alternative (currently there is no such app).
Btw, for 2 factor authentication, companies are starting to use apps instead of SMS, so there will be even less need for an actual phone number in the future (compared to only a data-enabled smartphone or tablet). And for 911 emergencies, I believe by law any phone can be used even if it doesn't have a plan or SIM card.