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Cell phones with Wi-Fi that don't require data plans?

by FrakkinToaster / June 14, 2009 1:12 PM PDT

Do they exist? The iPhone and Blackberry Bold are my first choices, but they both require expensive data plans. My main use for the phone will be text messaging and phone calls, but checking the Internet from time to time via Wi-Fi would be nice.

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by Pepe7 / June 14, 2009 1:21 PM PDT

I don't have a data plan on my ATT Tilt (precursor to the Fuze. Most of the day I'm around wifi so I don't need their data plan. AFAIK the Bold doesn't require it if you don't mind the unsubsidized price from ATT (ouch!). If things haven't changed, the only handset ATT offers now with an absolute data plan requirement is still the iPhone. Again, the best prices are always with a data plan. Refurbs online are one way to get a better price w/o data.


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How about Samsung Jack without data plan
by bobby_81 / December 29, 2009 12:57 AM PST
In reply to: Sure

I follow you postings and recently I have a need to upgrade my phone to the one with wifi capability. I am interested with Samsung Jack. Should I get the one non ATT unlocked from ebay or else. I am not sure if any other provider carry Samsung Jack. Basically, I am interested with windows phone.

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Telus Motorola Milestone
by neals79 / February 10, 2010 1:34 AM PST
In reply to: Sure


I was thinking about getting the Canadian Motorola Milestone that has ATT 3G bands. Before purchasing do you see any reason that ATT would bump my $10 Media Net Unlimited to a $30 PDA plan if I swapped my SIM. Like you said before it's a non-ATT smartphone so the IMEI shouldn't red flag ATT, right?

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no problem
by birdmantd Forum moderator / February 10, 2010 2:32 AM PST

If the device is not sold (currently or previously) by At&t then they won't know the IMEI in their data base and you won't have to add the higher data price to your plan.

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nexus one
by neals79 / February 10, 2010 7:20 AM PST
In reply to: no problem

So what is the deal with the T-Mobile Nexus One then? The version they will carry should be slightly different. Does that mean that if Motorola ever does make a Droid or Milestone for AT&T they will be able to detect my Telus Milestone.

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by birdmantd Forum moderator / February 10, 2010 7:42 AM PST
In reply to: nexus one

Yes, I am aware of the recent move by At&t to add the data feature to people using the Nexus 1 on At&t. No telling what may or may not happen later with other devices, only time will tell. Until it happens, don't worry about it too much. Just keep checking to see if such a policy is implemented.

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AT&T has changed their policy
by handel50 / September 25, 2009 3:38 PM PDT

I have a palm treo 680. As long as I keep this phone, I can start and stop my data plan with AT&T as I like. However, with their new policy, if I get another palm or any smarthphone, I MUST take the $30.00 plan. I called AT&T to see if I would be charged if I purchased another palm treo off Ebay and put my SIM card in it? They said, yes, that each phone has its own ID number, and if I switched phones, it would be recognized as a different phone.

I am VERY upset about all this. I use my treo for its PDA capabilities, not the internet/email. Have I used it for that, yes, but it's not why I bought it, and if I had to never use that part of the phone, I'd be fine.

I used to have a separate PDA and a phone, now it looks like I'm going to have to go back to that, and I hate the thought of it. Is there any non-smartphone out there that will let you access documents, keep memos, keep a calendar, have all your contacts and do a "search" of the whole phone - tasks, calendar, memos, etc? I don't think so.

I was told it hapeend because of people running up their usage and then complaining, so the company decided to require the package. I'm tired of having to suffer because of irresponsible people.

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No worries
by Pepe7 / September 26, 2009 11:55 AM PDT

Simply buy an unlocked, non-ATT branded smartphone from someplace like Amazon and you can still avoid the mandatory data plan. Of course ATT CS will tell you otherwise. Believe me, a non-ATT IMEI will not register to force the message telling you to add the data plan.

FWIW, this change wasn't the result of people abusing the system, but merely ATT going along with what the rest of the wireless carriers have already implemented. Revenue is revenue. Data is now king.


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Help me understand
by handel50 / September 26, 2009 1:02 PM PDT
In reply to: No worries

So, what you're saying, Pedro, is that if I purchase (say a Palm Treo 750) on somewhere like Ebay, it needs to be unlocked and not set up for AT&T and AT&T will never know that I have switched phones if I put my SIM card in it?

Also, the help person with AT&T told me that if I get an unlocked phone all the features may not work. Was that not true? What kind of features would she be talking about?

I'm new at this type of technology. I'm pretty good with the computer, but know very little about phones.

I had almost thought I would just have to go with a phone something like the Samsun Eternity. But I would love it if I could just keep a palm treo. Any additional detailed help you can give is greatly appreciated. My husband will soon be on a transplant list and I want to make sure I have a back-up phone ready in the wings.

What I hear you saying is that I could buy an unlocked phone from somewhere, put in my SIM card and it would all be just as if I'm using my old phone and AT&T would not be charging me any differently than now. Correct?

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More info
by Pepe7 / September 27, 2009 10:27 AM PDT
In reply to: Help me understand

Technically, ATT can tell whether or not you have an ATT branded handset since they keep track of their own IMEI numbers. In this sense though, all they care about is being able to extract additional revenue from you as a customer. Right now, bringing in your own unlocked model that is not ATT branded is the way to circumvent the data charges. If you pop your SIM card in a non-ATT phone it will often not show the correct model. When I use my backup v551 it show up in the OLAM as a v400.

It's true some of the features may not work out of the box with a phone you buy via ebay, but most all of the crucial ones such as SMS, MMS, voice mail and internet will once you enter the correct ATT data settings. It's possible the non-ATT branded smartphone won't be able to use additional features that require software, such as CV (cellular video) or turn by turn navigation. They normally try to scare people away from buying unlocked handsets with such warnings.

Just make certain that any phone you pick up from a third party is not ATT branded. Ebay sellers are notorious for sending phones that do not meet the descriptions. It is however as easy as popping in your old SIM card though. This is the biggest advantage of GSM.


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Thanks for the information
by handel50 / September 28, 2009 12:43 AM PDT
In reply to: More info

Thank for the information. I'm still debating which route to go. I have an ACER netbook and I may just go to a non-smartphone if I can find one that does what I'd like it to in order to maximize messaging costs with another member of my family on the same plan.

Your information gives me another option to just keep my same system, though and I thank you for it.

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What do you need...
by Pepe7 / September 28, 2009 2:47 AM PDT

...of your non-smartphone, hypothetically? Maybe I can help.


p.s. how do you like your netbook, btw(?)

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Needs and wants
by handel50 / September 28, 2009 1:01 PM PDT
In reply to: What do you need...

My PDA capabilities are most important
1)Calendar with alarm and ability to add notes to the event and ability to repeat some events
2)Tasks (various categories, if possible), with priorities, deadline dates (would like, but not imperative)- use it for shopping lists and "to-do" lists
3)Memos (I currently use this for making notes at doctor appointments and for keeping my passwords (I have a lot)
4)Contacts and a place for emails, addresses and birthdays (I have quite a few) Like it if I can go to texting from the contact list.
5) Alarm
6) Essential - computer sync back-up of some kind. I currently use Palm Desktop, but using Outlook would be okay or another program.
7) Nice camera and video
Cool Qwerty keyboard (touchscreen type is okay - like Samsung Eternity)
9)Texting (pics, too would be nice)
10) good battery life and voice quality - really important

Would be nice but could live without it
1) I LOVE my search feature on my palm - I can type in something and it searches calendar, contacts, whole phone to find it for me. But I could live without it. I don't think any other phone has this.
2) Wifi
3) Word/Excel capabilities - I know this is unlikely

My plan is to keep the majority of my medical records on my ACER and to use it for my internet and email wherever wifi is available. Is this an impossible wish list? Thanks for your help.

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(NT) I thought you wanted a *non* smartphone? (n/t)
by Pepe7 / September 29, 2009 6:45 AM PDT
In reply to: Needs and wants
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by handel50 / September 30, 2009 1:26 AM PDT

Basically, I want exactly what I have now - a palm treo with the ability to turn on and off the data plan. Since that's not possible to my understanding, I was wondering what's the next best thing I could get that does not require the $30.00 data package. If I have a phone in the non-smartphone category I could share messaging and data packages with my son at a much lower rate. There are phones that can text/web/email for $30.00 a month or they can do a family texting unlimited for $30.00 for all phones, etc.

So....I was thinking if I can't have my smartphone without the data package of $30.00 + $5.00 for lowest messaging plan, and then pay separate for any other phone on our family plan, I would cut back on my phone and get family features for messaging at least.

Does this make sense? Sorry for being confusing.

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by Pepe7 / September 30, 2009 1:48 AM PDT
In reply to: Non-smartphone

Technically, you can turn off the data plan feature on your account as you see fit with a non-PDA. For example, I switch to my non-ATT branded Motorola v551 and add the $15 medianet feature as needed. Popping over the SIM card into my ATT Tilt PDA does not alter this either. You just have to have the SIM inserted into the non-smartphone for awhile to see the option of being able to remove the $15 medianet feature. If you leave your SIM inserted into the PDA, you won't see the $15 but only the $30 data plan option. ATT keeps track of the phones & appropriate data plans by using the IMEI of their own handsets.

You may have missed something from my posts above. To reiterate, you can simply buy an unlocked PDA/smartphone that is non-ATT branded, insert your current SIM and go online to the OLAM (online account manager) to add/remove the $15 medianet feature as needed. You could also go without and use wifi only- your choice and budget of course.

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by handel50 / September 30, 2009 2:13 AM PDT
In reply to: OK

I guess I'm just a little "slow" about this "unlocked" thing. I've never done any of this. I've just done whatever the phone company says I can do.

I read what you said, but I thought that I would still have to add the $30.00 package off and on even with the unlocked phone if I ever wanted to use it.

Here's what I'm hearing you say - let me know if I'm wrong.

I could buy a Palm Treo 750 from Ebay or Amazon - an unlocked non-ATT phone. Then I could put my SIM card in it anytime and still not be automatically charged for a data plan. However, I would need to not ever change my data plan or they find out?

However, if I would want to use any of the media/messaging plans for the non-smartphones I would need to have a non-smartphone from ATT to use to activate it?

I do understand what you're saying about what you do, but I do not have a non-smartphone right now. I only have my palm treo 680. I plan to use it until it no longer works, but I'm just trying to decide if it is best to buy a palm treo as a back-up when it conks out or if it will be cost prohibitive because of the required data plan. If I don't, I need to figure out how to best keep track of my data - netbook/phone combination? No matter what, I would want to be able to sync with my PC.

If I don't get another palm treo, then I'm trying to figure out my next best option in non-smartphones. And, as I stated in my post before, I would like to be able to text, keep lists, calendar events, camera, alarms, contacts and pc-sync.

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more info
by Pepe7 / September 30, 2009 3:57 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks

Let me summarize-

With an unlocked non-ATT branded PDA/smartphone all you need to do is pop in your current ATT SIM card and configure the data settings (SMS, MMS, internet). (We can help you with this once you get to this point.) The point of *not* going with an ATT branded phone purchased from them is to avoid the _mandatory_ $30 data plan. This policy changed on Sept.6, 2009. They now detect the ATT phone's IMEI and send you a warning message of the impending charges. They dont' currently care about *non-ATT branded* phones, so you are safe in this regard concerning data plan changes on your behalf. Pop in the SIM to an ATT branded smartphone and all bets are off however. (Subsidy) unlocked handsets allow you to insert a SIM card from a carrier of your choice. Don't let the unlocked term throw you for a loop in this regard.

You should be able to add the data feature as you seee fit given you will be using a non-ATT branded phone. The available features are displayed in the OLAM. If for some odd reason you do not see the correct (=non-smartphone, cheaper) data features for your non-ATT branded smartphone, you can borrow one from a friend or use simple gophone to achieve this. They sell them sometimes for $10 @ Wal mart or Target, etc. It's a prudent backup to a sometimes cumbersome PDA handset IME.

Keep in mind you don't have to limit yourself to a Treo since they are a bit outdated at this point. What sort of prices were you seeing via ebay out of curiosity?


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Love my netbook
by handel50 / September 28, 2009 1:06 PM PDT
In reply to: What do you need...

I really like my netbook. I've taken it with me to hospitals and doctor visits and it's wonderful due to how small it is. It fits in a purse great, even with the power cord. It has about a 2 hour battery life. More would be nice, and sometimes the internet seems a little slow, but for the most part it's really good. I have a mouse with it and a USB CD/DVD drive. I don't need the drive very often, so it works fine. It has a nice big hard drive, too.

The person I bought it from on Ebay got rid of it due to the small keyboard, but I don't find it too small at all.

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Palm Treo on Ebay
by handel50 / September 30, 2009 6:45 AM PDT
In reply to: Love my netbook

I've been seeing Treo 750's for around $150.00 on Ebay. There is one there now that is unlocked and says good on any GSM network, so I'm guessing it would not have an ATT IMEI(?) ID number. I know that they are old technology, but I love the way they work - especially the memos and the way you can search the phone for information.

However, if I could find a phone that had wifi and had most of the treo features - I guess I could live without the search part, but would definitely need to be able to PC sync and would like to have documents and extra scan disk memory.

And if I got an unlocked phone, I would definitely need help with the data aspect.

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Just be certain...
by Pepe7 / September 30, 2009 2:10 PM PDT
In reply to: Palm Treo on Ebay are getting a non-ATT branded version if you do stick with a Treo 750. It very well could be unlocked (ready to use w/ T-Mo, etc.) but still ATT branded per se. AFAIK the ATT version includes tri-band UMTS (850/1900/2100), if that helps you narrow down the choices on ebay a little. I honest don't know all the permutations of the 750, but there is definitely a Verizon compatible (CDMA) version.

Disadvantages of the 750- slower processor, not much built in memory (60MB?), lacks wifi that some of the unlocked HTC PDAs have.

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Thinking outside the box
by nanomatrix / October 9, 2009 4:08 AM PDT
In reply to: More info

Pepe7, just a note to say thanks after reading over this thread. There are obviously a lot of us that don't like being exploited buy the cell phone carriers. This is as bad in the old days of the landlines when you had to pay AT&T a service charge to come into your house to plug in a telephones because you weren't allowed to plug them in yourself.

It appears that the current revenue strategy is to force anyone with a WiFi cellphone onto a Data Plan. Which makes some of the Asian products more interesting.

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what if I lost my sim card?
by shellirichard / November 8, 2009 12:25 PM PST
In reply to: More info

Pepe7, all of your info regarding getting around the data plan make perfect sense. I'm in a different situation because I *LOST* my cell phone, including the SIM, and need a replacement. I want a wi-fi capable phone without having to pay for the data plan.

How do I activate a non-ATT phone on the ATT network and still not pay for the data plan?


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GSM phones aren't activated
by Pepe7 / November 8, 2009 3:12 PM PST

Luckily, you activate the SIM, not the handset. In this sense, to avoid the data plan and use wifi you purchase a non-ATT branded, unlocked & compatible handset via Amazon, such as the E63 or E71. ATT will provide you with a replacement SIM which you activate by calling CS. You don't have to tell them what handset you're using.


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thanks for your help
by shellirichard / November 16, 2009 11:12 AM PST

Thanks! That worked like a charm. I got a Nokia E71 for $230 off ebay. I now have wi-fi capabilities on the phone, but not a data plan.

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by Pepe7 / November 16, 2009 11:46 AM PST
In reply to: thanks for your help

Glad you are enjoying your purchase Wink

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"Non branded phone"?
by jgm377 / December 31, 2009 1:34 PM PST

This thread has been very helpful, and answered most of my questions. I too wish for a quality phone with QWERTY keypad and WI-FI (for occasional use), and no wish (or need) for a data plan. AT&T infuriated me along with everyone else it seems by requiring data plans (even if I paid full price for the phone AND extended my contract for two more years), considering there are no "non-smart" phones with wifi that I am aware of! My one question is does the unlocked phone I purchase from Amazon or Ebay need to be a model AT&T has never carried in order for them to be unable to identify the IMEI? Would an unlocked Samsung Jack or a Nokia E71 (which are both carried by AT&T) from an independent seller be identifiable by AT&T? It would be even more infuriating to purchase an unlocked phone and then get slapped by AT&T with a data plan anyway!

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Your opinion..
by Dcolli04 / January 28, 2010 7:01 AM PST


I am definitly going to follow your advice and purchase a non-ATT phone to by-pass the required data-plan. My sister and I both want blackberries, or something with a great internet capability. What phone would you suggest? I'm a little lost on that aspect!! My sister is wanting a phone with a track-pad instead of the ball, and a full keyboard because we are avid texters.

Your opinion is greatly appreciated!

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pepe7 - help with understanding "unlocked" and "jailbroken"
by dawn6122 / December 4, 2009 3:20 AM PST
In reply to: No worries

Hi. I was searching info regarding the iphones and at&t and all these new charges. My daughter would like an an iphone for Christmas, I do not want her to have access to internet capabilities really - she's on the computer enough.

Going back to your conversation about "unlocked" non-at&t iphones - if looking on ebay and it states unlocked for verizon wireless - does that mean it will work with her at&t sim card without at&t detecting?

What does "unlocked" and "jailbroken" mean exactly?

Thanks for your help!

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by birdmantd Forum moderator / December 4, 2009 6:15 AM PST

Remember that unlocking generally refers to GSM technology phones (such as At&t and T-mobile branded devices in the US). Cannot use Verizon phones (except a few devices that have SIM slots after unlocking) on At&t.

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