Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Data Cometh

So today marks just around 3 months since I canceled my AT&T iPhone service. It has been a very interesting experience so far.

Up until a few days ago I had no access at all. I had survived by finding as utilizing free wifi hotspots in (or just outside) coffee shops, bookstores and libraries. When I was on the road or at a restaurant I spent most of the time on my phone reading ebooks on the Kindle app. That I could do without needing wireless data.

I read a lot. I actually finished a decent number of books reading them on my phone or in physical paperback. The time I had previously used to twitter away time on my phone apps was now going towards reading.

After a few months I really didn't miss not having wireless data absolutely everywhere. I planned to be somewhere with wifi if I thought I would need it.

Just a few day ago however I decided to purchase a T-Mobile mobile wifi hotspot. I got it on sale at Best Buy for $80 (reg. $130). I use their prepaid 1GB of data for 30 days for $30 plan.

1GB may not seem like a lot but I have become an absolute data miser. Having to get all your info from various physical wifi hotspots dotted around the city gets you used to usin data sparingly.

If/when I do turn on my mobile wifi hotspot it is only for the exact time I need the data connection and it gets turned off after I'm done. I also try to pre-load as much work as I can in other apps before turning the information over to the network connected app.

As an example I am currently writing this post in the Doc2 app and will then cut and paste it into the app when I'm ready to upload it.

I was also able to make free phone calls via the TalkaTone app (uses free Gogle Voice service) on my iPhone 3GS through wifi. While I'm not sure of te data usage while VoIP'ing if it isn't horrendous that right there could cut down on the number f outbound calls I'd need to be making on my $0.10/min voiceT-Mobile prepaid phone service.

So right now assuming I stay within my already purchased voice minutes my total monthly bill for talk, unlimited text and 1GB of mobile data is $45. $15 for the unlimited text and $30 for 1GB of mobile data.

That us less than half of what I was paying for my old AT&T iPhone plan.

The disadvantage is the data isn't unlimited and requires a bit of planning and a couple of minutes to turn on the mobile hotspot. I still need my $0.10/ minuter prepaid talk to get traditional phone calls from place like work etc. Also it is slightly inconvenient to have to carry three devices (1st gen iPhone, iPhone 3GS and mobile hotspot) rather than one. It doesn't really bother me much as all three do still fit fairly well in my front pocket.

The advantages are that I can connect multiple devices to my hotspot including my laptop, both of my iPhones and my iPad if I ever needed. Granted I dont often need mobile data on my laptop or iPad but if I do for some reason (long road trip or working from a resteraunt I have it. Simply turning oon the mobile hotspot functionality on the new iPhones costs $30/month.

My wife left her new iPhone 4S in the car this morning and I couldn't help myself from talking to Siri. That is such a cool feature. If anything would make me say "Stuff it!" to my current digital austerity and run back into the cold arms of another two year contract it would probably be Siri.

That said I don't think I'll be jumping back in right away. I'm kind of enjoying the changes to my life that cutting the mobile data umbilical cord has brought I to my life (library ebooks, paperbacks and living "off the grid" more often than not).

I have 30 days to decide if I like the hotspot and how it works enough to keep it. If not I can return it for a refund. Now I'm going to fire up my mobile wifi hotspot and post this.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Quick Recap

I wrote the following as a response to a reddit questions about whether anyone had cut the chord on their cell phone plan.

I recently torched my ATT iPhone contract. I was out of contract. I transferred my cell number to a cheap ($20) T Mobile pre-paid phone and popped the sim in an old T Mobile Motorola Pebl.

I went with the $15/month unlimited text and $0.10/ minute talk plan. I use the Pebl for talk and text. My iPhone 3GS became my glorified iPod Touch.

Funny thing is I still use my iPhone pretty much the same way I did before at home and work where I have wifi (also at Starbucks, Barnes and Noble and at the library).

The best find I made was the iPhone app Talkatone. It connects to your Google Voice account and allows you to dial calls for free where ever you have a wifi signal (some set up in your Google Voice settings required.)

Sure testing in the Pebl is cumbersome compared to the iPhone but where as I was paying $95/month before I am paying $15/month plus a few bucks/month to top up my voice minutes for things like work calling etc.

My original plan was to work this set up for 6-12 months to save up for an iPhone 4S but I am not missing this much as I thought I would without a mobile data plan.

I may still get a new iPhone but living so cheap will make hefting on an expensive 2 year contract look less and less attractive.