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Using unlocked WM phone as PDA only with Wi-Fi

by linbmcd / February 1, 2009 1:15 AM PST

Is it possible to use a WM phone (with Wi-Fi) as a PDA-only, without having to sign up with a carrier and get a data plan? I already have a phone and am looking to replace my PDA. The existing PDA-only Pocket PC's out there do not seem to have either physical or touch qwerty keyboards (for fingers only!), but many of the WM phones do. Thanks for any thoughts on this.

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This is simpler than you imagine.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 1, 2009 6:42 AM PST

Which phone has wifi in it?

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Using unlocked WM phone as PDA-only
by linbmcd / February 1, 2009 7:29 AM PST

Here are just a few unlocked WM phones w/Wi-Fi and keyboard:
HTC Tilt
HTC Touch PRO T7272
LG Incite
HTC Fuze
Samsung Omnia
Samsung Saga

I realize that if I wanted to use one as a phone in the future, a GSM phone would be the best unlocked phone to get for versatility.

I'm intrigued, how is it simpler than I can imagine?

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You simply use it...
by John.Wilkinson / February 2, 2009 6:57 AM PST

There is no trick to it...you just turn on the device, activate the WiFi antenna, launch a web browser, and browse the web, just like you would a PDA, laptop, etc.

John

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Using unlocked WM phone as PDA only with Wi-Fi
by linbmcd / February 2, 2009 7:29 AM PST
In reply to: You simply use it...

I was hoping it was that simple. I was thinking maybe the Wi-Fi availability was tied into having a data plan. However, I guess that's the whole point of "unlocked"......

Now the trick is to find an unlocked WM phone with Wi-Fi and keyboard that won't break the bank!

Thanks for the help.

Lin

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Actually...
by John.Wilkinson / February 2, 2009 1:41 PM PST

Unlocking refers to the ability to use it on the cell phone network of your choice, not the ability to use the phone as a PDA (including WiFi). There have been cases where the manufacturer attempted to prevent its usage at all until activated, but that's a rare situation.

Regards,
John

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Hmmmmm.......
by linbmcd / February 2, 2009 8:46 PM PST
In reply to: Actually...

Thanks John. Of course now I"m wondering which ones fall into the "rare" category. I would hate to spend the money on one and find I couldn't use the Wi-Fi without activating the phone.

I won't start a rant, but I have to say that this wouldn't have even been an issue if Verizon hadn't started their policy of requiring a data plan with all of their PDA phones at the end of last year. I was all set to buy either the Omnia or Saga, and just not buy a data plan. I would have had everything I wanted. I don't know if the other carriers do this, but it really left a sour taste in my mouth.

What I'm considering also is purchasing one of the relatively few PDA-only WM devices, like the iPAQ 210, and purchasing the Spb keyboard add-on app. The keyboard app now offers the option of half or full-screen, in addition to word completion, sound and vibration key-press feedback, etc.

Oh, the choices....

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I know the feeling...
by John.Wilkinson / February 3, 2009 7:20 AM PST
In reply to: Hmmmmm.......

I refuse to accept any plan or deal which requires a data plan as part of the package since I find WiFi more than adequate where I live. It's a shame the way they have chosen to go...

As to the SPB keyboard, it's a great little application. I used to use Resco's virtual keyboard, which has an iPhone-like keyboard skin, but the new half-screen option makes it a powerful alternative.

Regards,
John

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not an issue
by Pepe7 / February 9, 2009 1:50 AM PST
In reply to: Hmmmmm.......

There aren't *any* WM handsets that limit wifi in this regard AFAIK. The reason for this is wifi access is not dependent upon a radio connection with a cell site but something which is under your control, namely, a wireless router in your home or a business w/ free wifi.

You might consider jumping ship and moving to a GSM/UMTS PDA phone. Surely there will be some offerings for new customers porting to ATT from Verizon. You would have access to a heck of a lot more WM devices this way by the virtue of being able to move your SIM card to a device you want to use. Just verify your coverage first I suppose, as that trumps PDA features if you have to rely on the device for voice/EDGE/3G.

-Pedro

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Some have limited usage in general, though...
by John.Wilkinson / February 9, 2009 2:05 AM PST
In reply to: not an issue

While not specifically targeting WiFi, some smartphones have been locked such that they cannot be used at all until they are activated via a service contract. I do not remember the specific models/providers off hand, but the practice was not well received and, as a result, was not widely adopted.

John

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news to me
by Pepe7 / February 11, 2009 10:59 PM PST

They certainly must not have been GSM phones, as the only GSM/UMTS model I'm aware of that involves forced activation is the iPhone via iTunes. The rest are good to go by inserting your active SIM card.

-Pedro

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Carriers without a plan?
by linbmcd / February 9, 2009 9:23 AM PST
In reply to: not an issue

I knowt that Verizon is woefully lacking in the variety of WM phones, but I'm wondering if other carriers, such as ATT also require a data plan in order to be able to purchase their WM (and Wi-Fi enbabled) phones. And of course I just started a new 2-year contract, so I'd be dealing with that famous penalty.....

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Not to purchase, but...
by John.Wilkinson / February 10, 2009 2:26 AM PST

It is a requirement that you sign a new 2-year service contract, which must include a data plan depending on the model selected, in order to get the discount price. AT&T does not usually require a data plan on most service contracts, but a TXT messaging plan of at least $5/month typically is required.

John

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Incorrect regarding messaging plan
by Pepe7 / February 11, 2009 11:20 PM PST

No, a $5 text plan is not required w/ATT with PDA/smartphone purchases. That may have been back in the days of Cingular pre-merger though. For example, my most recent ATT handset only upgrade did not incur an upgrade fee or contract extension. OTOH the one prior to that extended my contract but did not charge an upgrade fee.

To the OP> If you're already with ATT or have a family member who already has service w/ ATT, you could on your own, or have the friend/family member obtain a handset upgrade for you. There may be an option for 'no commitment pricing'. In some cases, depending on how much that person spends each month along with some other criteria, it may not even extend their wireless contract. YMMV. It won't be the fully subsidized price, but you wouldn't have to sign up for any data plans to get the discount. Just prorate the total cost when your throw in 6 mandatory months of data with the subsidized version.

-Pedro

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It may depend on location...
by John.Wilkinson / February 12, 2009 2:57 AM PST

I have AT&T and in this service area, even as recently as last week, in order to receive the discount on most smartphones they require that you choose a 'qualifying' service plan, all of which include a $5+ monthly texting plan. Also, they'll let you upgrade the phone at no charge or lengthening, but do not offer any discount on the purchase.

John

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ATT corp store or independent dealer?
by Pepe7 / February 12, 2009 1:33 PM PST

This sounds like you are getting the shaft from an independent/third party reseller. I'm not aware of *any* market with this $5 text plan policy at an ATT corporate store.

Why the heck aren't you simply shopping online for a new handset, btw? Worth a shot to see what you might be missing.

-Pedro

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Verizon
by promiracle / June 1, 2009 2:11 PM PDT
In reply to: Hmmmmm.......

I am switching providers because of the data plan requirement. It's absolutely ridiculous.

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