Here's a few thoughts that I had about your post
Carl Jokl wrote:I would expect the phones to be to be on some kind of a contract.
I was serving in Scotland in 2003 when they finally gave missionaries mobiles there. We used it all the time. It was a million times more convenient than just having a landline. In fact, in my last area, we submitted our weekly numbers to our Zone Leaders by text, rather than having to read them off over the phone. It sped up the procedure for our Zone Leaders.
Of course it was on a contract, but not a typical contract. Getting a single contract for 90 phones is a lot different than your typical "family plan."
Carl Jokl wrote:the Church/Missions are specifically getting the mobile providers to give them the most cut down and basic phones available instead of the more powerful one which would have normally been provided for free.
Just because a phone would've been provided free with a typical contract for a single phone does not mean that the same would have been provided free on the most economical corporate plan. I'm fairly certain that the mission works with the service provider to find the most economical plan, and that is the primary concern. Yes, a missionary could make great use of the latest Android phone, but they certainly don't need it to do their work.
Carl Jokl wrote:Owning a PDA was against mission rules.
I got a PDA for Christmas from my parents during the last Christmas during my mission. My mission president had no problem with me using it. I put the scriptures and hymnal and whatnot on it, and I had a spreadsheet on there (Pocket Microsoft Office came standard on WinMo devices at the time) in which I recorded all our numbers. I could update that information on the fly while we were travelling between appointments, rather than having to write it down, or remember it all day and record it that night.
My mission president made the decision to allow that. Your mission president made the decision not to allow it. It's not a general Church rule.