If you are a cell phone company market researcher, listen up. There is an unserved market of cell phone users today: those of us who would like the benefit from the internet based apps of a smart phone, via Wifi, without paying the cost of an unnecessary (to us) 3G contract.
After all, Wifi is taking over the world! Those of us on budgets, or who can resolve to unplug ourselves from Facebook when outside hotspots, may prefer to limit our cell phone internet use to when we are in Wifi hotspots, and pocket the contract savings.
But as a quick Google search will reveal, there are not a lot of clear cut answers on how to get Wifi features without the 3G contracts. I’ve googled “smart phone Wifi no service contract” dozens of times.
In my searching I’ve found no company openly offering a smart phone, with Wifi capability, that will offer you a talk (and perhaps text plan) without a data package, where the Wifi is left accessible. If I missed it, feel free to link us in that companies direction in the comment section. I did, however, find ONE company offering a great alternative to the data plan issue. See the note at the bottom.
After much searching and taking a small chance I’ve found an alternative that pleases me. I have turned my new Virgin Mobile Optimus V phone into a Wifi capable device with calling capabilities over Wifi.
First, out of the box the Optimus V was Wifi capable, without service. The phone prompted me to active, but I just began to tinker instead. No problem. I went to settings, to wireless to network and set up my home Wifi connection.
I also downloaded an app called KeepWifi that keeps me connected to Wifi even when my phone goes into sleep mode. It alerts every time I get a new message on my Gmail or Yahoo account. I love it!
Free Wifi Calling Without a Phone Plan!
Two easy steps:
1) Sign up for a free Google Voice account on your PC. You can even got to pick your phone number!
2) Invest 4.99 in the purchase of GrooVe IP on the Andriod Market, downloaded to your Optimus V.
You are ready to make free phone calls! I’ve found the call quality to be good. Goodbye magicJack!
So there are limits with this smart phone option I am presenting. You would likely still want to have some level of phone service (landline or cell) with another provider, particularly if you want a mobile phone.
I have a small but very cheap prepaid plan on an entry level Virgin Mobile phone, so that covers me in the rare place where I am not near a landline or at a hotspot. I chose not to port my number from Virgin Mobile to Google Talk (which you can do), as I prefer to keep my main number (which I’ve had for years) portable.
If I ever chose to get a smart phone plan from Virgin Mobile, there is a 300 minute plan with unlimited text and web for 35.00. Not bad! But for now, I’ll pocket the money (that’s 420.00 in a year) and enjoy me newly rigged “hybrid” call phone.
*There is a company that is in beta testing now with an amazing smart phone plan that is aimed at Wifi users. I’ll post about that next. So big name companies, take note! Consumers, be ready for some evolution in the cell phone plan market!