Saturday, May 19, 2012

From smartphone to flip, from Tmobile to Sprint: Why did I switch?

The short answer: Ting!

Su lost her smart phone. That lead me to start searching for phones, and somehow Ting showed up! By Tucows.. Remember them? Guess not, but if you think hard you would.

Ting isn't a mobile service, but its like a software engineers approach to how a mobile provider should operate. You pay for what you use! That's it, really. Its simple. Now when you start calling people, you don't need to calculate in your head, if its Sunday or Monday, morning or evening, early evening or late evening.. Or just broad sunlight (which is really bad for the bill).

No more of that shit.

A quick comparison against my current T-mobile bill showed that I should be paying half of what I currently do for the two lines I have, for the resources I use (call, text, data). And my bills would actually look readable.

But, to switch, I'd have to buy a phone from Ting. By telling this, I think I'd probably loose half of the people reading this post who I just got excited. Its okay, I lost my excitement for a bit too, who wants to spend 500 bucks for another smart phone (anyone?). Then, I had this amazing realization..

Wait for it!

You don't need to get a freaking smartphone. No you don't.
People can live perfectly fine without it, and IMO, can run things more efficiently without it.

But really, why?

The practical reasons I had to drop smartphone from my pocket are the following:

- With a typical smartphone (iPhone, or unlocked Android) you're stuck with a GSM phone in US, you can either have Tmobile, or AT&T. Both have bad coverage, almost anywhere outside of the city you live in.

- The rest of the two networks: Sprint and Verizon charge way over the roof for their services, and give you a device which doesn't work in the rest of the world.
That's what should be called, a "smart-knife".

- The battery life of any of these smartphone is barely enough to get you through the day. When I go for camping/offroading trips, and am out of power for some days, this thing is just dead weight after the first evening.

- Because 3G doesn't work once I start driving outside the city, the GPS doesn't work. This hit us really bad last year, when we were lost finding our campsite; and we went ahead and bought a real GPS, which hasn't failed us once.

- For places where I don't have access to WiFi, but want to use my iPad, even though my Android is nice enough to become a WiFi hotspot, it becomes hot like its on fire, and dies in the next hour.

This is what you actually need.
- The thing weighs a ton. Sure I'm used to it, but it still is like carrying a rock in your pocket. - Because I have so many distracting apps on the phone, its very hard to put this thing down and out of sight. Instead of taking the time to absorb my surroundings and
 indulge, I'm just constantly checking my phone.

I think once you get rid of this obsession to have this single device which does everything, things really open up for you. Individual devices put together (GPS unit, mobile hotspot, iPod, camera) do a much better job than a smartphone ever would.

My Setup
So, what do I do? I create an account with Ting, order 2 "feature" phones with a battery life of 840 hours (standby), and which weigh like 3 ounces. They have 2 apps I like: One is calling people, and other is texting people. And they do it really well!

Does this mean I'd never use internet again? Hell no!

I'm not finished explaining my setup. On top of these two phones, I got a WiFi hotspot, which can last me 8 or so hours of continuous connection. I already have an iPad, which makes for a really great net browser with its much bigger screen estate (compared to a typical smartphone), and has a battery life similar to the WiFi hotspot -- 8 hrs or so.

Overall, I have two lasting phones which won't die on me, and with Sprint, would provide me way better coverage than T-Mobile; and a way to browse the net whenever I feel like, without worrying about getting cut off due to battery.


The experiment is simple. Live without a smart phone. Use whatever else as needed, which means:
- Plan ahead if you want to go somewhere.
- Instead of IMing: Call people, or text them. That'd save you time anyways.
- Use pen and paper for writing notes (I already carry a Slimmy wallet, whose 3rd compartment carries some paper pieces for note taking) -- and export them to TODO / calendar whenever you have access to net etc.

That's it really. Let's see how it turns out.