Monday, October 28, 2013

Five Amusing Mobile Things You Missed

I have always been fascinated by phones. My dad worked for the phone company, so some of my earliest memories are of him going to work with his tool belt and tester set hanging from it. Needle nose pliers, punch down tools and four conductor low voltage cable were staples in my house.

Fast forward 40 years, and I am still fascinated by phones. Smartphones to be exact. I've had one of just about everything and I've had several different carriers. Mobile technology is one of my favorite topics. I just recently ran across five interesting mobile technology tidbits you probably missed.

I know, I know, you have heard of them. The carrier that is not a carrier. The service that uses a WiFi network preferentially over a cellular network for calls and data, and uses the Sprint network when no WiFi is available. The $19/month unlimited plan with no caps. What you may not know is that RepublicWireless has announced their second phone on the service: The Motorola X.
Whoa. Back. Up.
The MotoX is a current generation phone, unlike the flagship RepublicWireless phone, the Motorola Defy XT that kept many people away from the service. This may be a game changer for the service. I would have signed up with them 3 months ago when I was switching carriers and phones if the Moto X had been available. Keep your eye on this company:

iPhone 5s
I'm still not sure why anyone would want to upgrade from a 5 to a 5s but apparently lots of you want to. The phones are still in short supply, none to be found in Apple stores or wireless retailers. You can order online for a two week wait.I think there is a good chance that Apple introduced the artificial demand by keeping initial stock levels low. They are too savvy to let this demand (it is in demand, right?) sneak up on them. It is certainly inconvenient for all of us that have spouses with failing 4s models. Just sayin. In the Android universe, I would pick from one of a dozen other equally competent handsets.

TMobile "Hey! Hey! Look at MEEE!"
In the ever expanding quest to get noticed, T Mobile has announced that coming soon you will be able to enjoy unlimited data and text internationally without surcharges. It will be included on the "Simple Plan". T Mobile has a cool new series of ads and social approach to the launch of this: . My wife and I just traveled to London and Paris for a vacation, and I was able to experiment with a couple of carriers. Interestingly enough in London, T Mobile was one of the choices for a SIM card (just upgraded my phone to a sweet GSM handset). If they can make his work, it will be huge for international travelers. Data and text roaming in Europe can be a pain. I had to buy two different SIMs for the countries I was in (UK - 3 Network, France - Orange Network). 4G is sort of an emerging science in Europe, so I guess it makes sense that T Mobile would try to corner the market on data there since they are 4G challenged in the USA as well.

Verizon Dumps 73666
Good Mobile Messaging is a leader in the BYOD mobile software space ( They have a very strong security posture that makes them popular with regulation-intensive verticals like Government, Banking, Insurance, etc. Until recently if you wanted to use Good on your Verizon Android phone, they forced you into the "Corporate" data plan, with a $15/month surcharge. A holdover from the Blackberry corporate BES plan requirement. The code 73666 had to be enabled on your line, and that let the encrypted data flow to the Good application on your Android. No such restrictions on the iPhone, by the way. We just noticed that the 73666 is no longer required, and hence the corporate data plan. Bam. Just saved you $15 a month. Naturally, Verizon is not notifying anyone of this. That would be very unVerizon of them.

It's Good to Switch - You Can Too! 
I finally became irked enough with Verizon (for lots of reasons I won't go into here) to switch carriers. After evaluating coverage for TMobile and AT&T, I landed on AT&T. Then I picked a new phone. I selected the Samsung Galaxy S4 beast of a phone, and I bought it unlocked straight from Google. No bloatware. No SIM restrictions. Just pure GSM tri-band Android love that runs like a scalded dog. I've already had it on four carriers (two international) and received two android updates within days of their release (no carrier testing required). I ported my 15 year old phone number to it and I use the GoPhone prepaid service to get to the AT&T network. For $60 a month I get 2GB of 4G LTE data and unlimited everything else. I buy the GoPhone refill cards at my local supermarket, and the price goes towards fuel points on my reward card. Great phone. Great network. Great flexibility. Happy CIO.

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