(Updated 6/3/2013)

I’ve written before about how I don’t use a ton of talk or text, but I love having a little WiFi/GPS tablet in my pocket, and so to obtain the lowest cost (and avoid wasting pocket space with multiple devices) I bought a used smart-phone, unlocked it, and put it on a dumb prepaid network.

Conventional plan 2-year cost: $1,440 plan ($60/month) + $0 phone (maybe) = $1,440 (and up… and up…)

Prepaid 2-year cost: $200 prepaid service ($25/90 days = about 80 minutes/month) + $200 phone (used) = $400

(Of course, for those who have slightly greater needs than me, a better option might be more like:)

Frugal unlimited plan 2 year: $456 ($19/month) + $249 (phone) = $705 (http://www.republicwireless.com/) Caveats: assuming you already have WiFi at home, and you like the only phone you can buy. But this isn’t my focus…

Last year I got in a huff because AT&T quietly yanked the option of adding data to the prepaid smart-phone plans (presumably following T-Mobile’s lead), I don’t need data often but it comes in rather handy when traveling.

Thankfully, technology has come to my rescue, and so I no longer need to be concerned about AT&T and T-Mobile jerking me around.

Dual-SIM Smart-phones

Now, it isn’t strictly necessary to have a phone that can operate two SIM cards at once, I could manually swap SIM cards. The first would be my regular prepaid phone SIM, the second would be a data-only SIM that I would only fund occasionally.

I’m not willing to do that. Swapping SIM’s around could mean pulling over to fiddle, and missing a call to boot.

For now I still have my single-SIM Galaxy S, but my next phone (for 2014) could be a Xolo Q800 or Samsung Galaxy Grand, or something similar. Since the new phone will support two SIM’s at the same time, I expect to be able to have a second SIM for data-only.

Google SMS Updated

(Update) I’m starting to feel like I’m playing cat-and-mouse with the tech giants. Are they so hell-bent on forcing smart-phone users to shell out for monthly services? I don’t think they can win. The dual-SIM option appears fairly bullet-proof to me. Will AT&T be able to cutoff dual-SIM based data access without also killing the cellular internet market that is used for tablets? I can’t think of a way for them to do it, unless one day the dual-SIM phones become extinct.

The new problem is: Google has ended its SMS web search: Google kills off SMS search Original article:

Even without data cellular service, several some online services support SMS. The AT&T and T-Mobile prepaid services charge $0.20 per SMS, but I can get 200 messages for 30 days for $5 (or $0.025 each) to bridge the gap while traveling.

Send a text message to GOOGLE (466453) to search the web or get step by step directions, amongst other things. For example: “web vehicle air drag coefficient” or “directions 84106 to Salt Lake City International Airport” http://lifehacker.com/5869666/how-to-turn-your-dumbphone-into-a-smartphone-using-nothing-but-sms

I’ve read that I can also set up my gmail account to connect to SMS (see the lifehacker ref above). I feel somewhat disinterested in that feature though, personally.

In 2012 the DMCA was reinterpreted to prohibit unlocking of cell phones without the carrier’s permission, and this took effect in Jan 2013.

I’d expect this situation to be remedied by Congress, considering how unpopular it is and considering how poorly it weighs in legal logic. But it certainly appears the situation is now awaiting an act of Congress. http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-57572492-94/what-the-dmca-cell-phone-un…

I think this is a pretty big deal for anyone who prefers to buy phones used. I wouldn’t mind if a law prohibited the unlocking of brand new phones, but it is both legally and practically senseless and an obstruction for reselling so long as it applies to phones that are long past their contract days.

If Congress doesn’t act I might just write to them.