Smartphone vs. Dumb Phone

by Karen

I would like to have a phone which is a "hot spot" to itself. I'd like to be able to use it for Internet access on my other computers. If the phone isn't that smart then another less expensive model will work great. The info is so confusing and I don't know enough about this to even ask my question properly. Here's a try: Do all smart phones allow for this type of usage?

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Jul 08, 2010
Prepaid Hotspot Phone - Part 1
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

I completely understand what your objective is! Just to clarify for other visitors to the site, you're looking for a prepaid phone (likely a smartphone) that has a WiFi connection, which enables you to connect other computers that you have in your home/work to the Internet using your phone's cellular connection.

You actually didn't mention specifically that you're looking for a prepaid phone that can do this, however, I'm assuming that's the case ;-). Nonetheless, I'll address all of the options.

On the postpaid front, you have some options. This WiFi hotspot functionality in handsets really started to emerge in 2010, and is currently available on phones like the Palm Pre Plus on Verizon (not sure if the Palm Pixi Plus is supported, but I would assume it would be), as well as the Sprint HTC EVO 4G. They both allow you to connect up to 5 WiFi devices simultaneously. Verizon was initially requiring a special data add-on that was something in the range of $30/month additional, however, after the weak sales of the Palm Pre Plus, they started including it for free as a selling point. It really is a great value!

Also, with the announcement of Google Android 2.2 (a.k.a. Froyo), was included WiFi hotspot functionality. From what I read, my understanding is that any Android 2.2 phone with data access (an Android smartphone without data access would be pretty unlikely/pathetic!) will have this feature included. Though only time will tell exactly how this will play out.

Before I continue onto the bad news, one thing to keep in mind when thinking about using a smartphone as a WiFi hotspot (is that it will severely drain your battery. If you're going to use it as a hotspot for any period of time, you should expect to keep the phone plugged in. I assume/hope that the phone will charge faster than the battery is being depleted by the use of the hotspot feature!

Jul 08, 2010
Prepaid Hotspot Phone - Part 2
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

So onto the bad news, which is that phones with the hotspot feature are not currently available on prepaid. That's not to say that you can't go to a postpaid carrier and buy such a phone outright (i.e. full price) and pay month to month for your plan (i.e. no contract), however, that's going to be an expensive proposition. You can also try a prepaid carrier that allows flashed phones on its network (ex. MetroPCS, Cricket Communications, etc.). The risk here is that data features are often the most common features that DON'T work on flashed phones, though that's not always the case, so you may want to give that a try.

Also keep in mind though that many of the regional carriers don't offer nationwide roaming for data. For example, although Cricket announced earlier this year that they now have nationwide coverage, that's currently only for voice and not data, which means that even if a flashed phone worked properly for data, you would not have data access nationwide.

Page Plus is another prepaid carrier on Verizon's network that is said to allow any Verizon handset that's not on contract. You can always just call them up and ask them whether the smartphone you want to use will work on their plans.

There are those that also have had luck activating Sprint phones on either Boost CDMA or Virgin Mobile, however, my understanding is that they block phones (except for older legacy phones that were on the network before the blocking started), so you may not be successful there either.

Another alternative is to go with a prepaid MiFi Hotspot, like the one that Virgin Mobile announced in June 2010. Note, however, that that would require you to have a completely different plan aside from your phone plan. Though battery life would be much better, and you could talk on your phone while also using this separate MiFi device!

I hope this answers your question. I do expect that this type of feature will become available on prepaid over the next couple of years, particularly as prepaid wireless carriers continue to roll out more Google Android and other smartphones.

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