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My epiphany about smartphones and data services

So I had an epiphany a couple of days ago. And this began with me coming home from a business trip racking up a bill of PHP30k worth of roaming charges. And that was just for 2 days of use. Of course the cost is charged to the company but waiting for the bill to be settled incurred my line being cut for 2 days. I was alternating between two phones: my HTC Mozart (which you can get in SMART’s Rockwell branch on plan 1800) and a HTC Desire S (the new Android 2.3 device which SMART let me pull out for testing).

Anyway, the feeling of not being able to call or text was a tragic one. My phones, for all intents and purposes were dead. They were only good for Angry Birds. Well, at least the Android phone. BUT not when I entered a WiFi hotspot. It’s like the phones magically came to life whenever I entered wireless hotspot, plugged in the password and went online.

My “no text” was solved using a combination of sending Twitter DM’s and chat using Kik Messenger. Since Kik works across multiple platforms, I’m pretty much solved. If not, the DM on Twitter solved the gap.

My “no calls” was easily solved with Skype and Fring (well actually I barely used it as I’d send DM’s to everyone telling them to call if needed).

Couple that with being able to update your Facebook status, Foursquare, Plurk and surf the web, I barely noticed that my SIM was inactive. Oh, and I have complete guarantee that my messages were sent, unlike SMS that at times doesn’t make it.

Have we entered an age where GSM is slowly becoming obsolescent? Not obsolete, mind you? Obsolescence is when there’s nothing wrong with a product or service. It’s just that there’s something more efficient that makes the previous service redundant. It’s just like how SMS replaced the pager. People have defined “smartphones” as phones that allow you to install apps and do more things than call or text. I think this is fairly accurate.

But I do like my own definition: it is a phone that doesn’t need to use 2G technology (i.e. calls and text) to send messages and call. Smartphones take advantage of more advanced infrastructures such as 3G, HSPA (3.5G) and LTE. You know that USB dongle you bought to connect your laptop to the Internet? That’s essentially a smartphone stripped of all other functions except Internet. I think this is precisely why telcos are offering pure data plans on SIM cards as we unconsciously move away from the “text and calls” generation towards data.

This post was inspired by a conversation I had with Chrina Cuna on my weekly tech show on defining what exactly a smartphone is. You can catch this show every Wednesday from 2PM to 4PM on Flippish. If you aren’t online at this time, you can always watch the archives.

I hope they settle my bill soon 0_o.

By Jayvee Fernandez

Jayvee Fernandez is a tech enthusiast, EAN certified SCUBA Diver and underwater photographer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. His photos and videos have appeared in various international and local publications including Random House Germany, Discovery Channel Canada, and CNN.

5 replies on “My epiphany about smartphones and data services”

Interesting idea. Going cold turkey on GSM. Bring along a pocket wifi like I do and your never without a wifi hotspot and you’ll really never miss your GSM service.

Have you tried liveprofile.com? it’s a new social messaging platform. Looks nice and multi-platform and best of all FREE 🙂

Marvs

I had a similar feeling when I just bought my Samsung Galaxy S (which is a huuuuuuge leap from my Cherry Mobile P1). It retrieved all my Gmail contacts so whenever I try to text someone, that person’s email address also appears.

Yes I noticed this too! You can actually getaway with a mediocre call and text plan as long as you get a decent data plan.

I am currently based in the US and I am currently subscribed to the lowest tier plan for calls and text. But I augment this with an unlimited data plan. I use Kik, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo Messenger and Google talk for pseudo-text messaging. And I use google voice and skype for free calls…even international calls.

I hope net neutrality is established and we won’t need a separate call or text messaging plan and everything just goes through an internet connection.

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