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Old 04-08-2013, 07:55 PM
 
3 posts, read 7,456 times
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I am looking to get a smartphone, but my needs are very atypical. Basically, I rarely every use a phone or text. Back when I had a cell plan, I used at most 50 minutes a month. However, the cell phone companies kept eliminating the cheap/legacy plans and are now offering crappy prepaid plans instead, so I ditched cell service. I instead switched over to Google Voice and now use it on my computer for free calls and texts. I can't be reached when I'm away from home (kind of like the 1980's with land lines), but I'd like to change that... though not with the over-priced plans the carriers provide. Even the simplest prepaid plans aren't options because I want my smartphone to have a nice camera (~8MP), but these smartphones *require* data plans... which I don't want.

So here's what I want to do:

1) Use Google Voice at home for free calls/texting.
2) Buy a Samsung Galaxy smartphone with a ~8MP camera, but without a plan or carrier
3) Use free wi-fi hotspots for internet access, along with Google Voice and GrooVe IP (or similar) to call/text using VOIP at these hotspots
4) Anywhere else, my phone is just a camera, calendar, clock, MP3 player, emergency (911) phone, etc.

From what I can put together, I just need to buy an unlocked phone... but this is where I get confused and concerned about scams, both on eBay and Amazon. I'm currently looking at a Samsung Galaxy S II 2 i777 and GT-I9100. From what I can tell, the latter is an international phone, but the warranty is sketchy to non-existent for US users. The former may also have a voided warranty because it's unlocked. It would be nice to have an international phone since I sometimes travel internationally, but I also want to plan for the possibility of giving in and joining my parents' family plan (with Verizon)... which adds other complications (CDMA carriers comparability, etc.). From what I can tell, that simply won't be an option...

Anyway, I'm out of my league here and I need help juggling the details in order to pick the right phone and setup. Can someone please talk me through the key differences between those phones (given my intended usage), explain what I should be mindful of when shopping online for unlocked phones, and let me know if my VOIP plans are feasible?

Thanks.
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Old 04-09-2013, 01:19 PM
 
Location: 92037
4,631 posts, read 9,003,577 times
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Hi,

So I am a little confused. You want a WIFI enabled smartphone, but not use any kind of cellular access?

Sorry if this sounds confusing but in short, its just not going to be a straight conversion from PC version of Google voice to the smartphone. You are going to have to make a compromise somewhere and either get a new number from a Skype or Tango type VOIP service, or everyone that you want to be in contact with will have to have the same service so you can speak without a number and it will act like instant messaging but with VOIP characteristics.

Thats pretty simple. For one, you dont need an 'unlocked' phone for this. Any phone will do. SIM unlocking a device or 'unlocking' as its called, is for the cellular networks exclusively. Has nothing to do with anything else except cellular access.

We do what you are talking about at home but with Skype. Keep in mind, Google voice will not work on any smartphone, the way it does from a PC. From a PC, it sounds like you are actually using Google Chat to origiante calls from (the little phone button on the bottom left in Gmail next to the chat list.) THe way it works on a smartphone, is that you have to have a cell number or landline number for Google Voice to connect with. It basically acts as a proxy and the same as when you go to google.com/voice and make a call from there. Its not the same as using Google chat.
This feature doesnt work like this for smartphones yet from Google. There are many reasons why on the business end (not technological.)
AS far as SMS messages, yes you can do this from the phone via the Google Voice app without any strings attached.
As far as FREE, that wont be happening after this year from Google. They are going to be charging fees to use their voice service beginning in 2014.

Ultimately if you want to be connected via WIFI at home with your smartphone, you will need to get a number. Skype charges a small amount for this where you can get calls on the phone. Otherwise if you want free, you wont have a 10 digit number, but a username and only the people in your contacts list will be able to ping you for a voice call.
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Old 04-09-2013, 03:47 PM
 
Location: north of Windsor, ON
1,903 posts, read 4,969,008 times
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If you don't want a plan of any kind whatsoever, Samsung sells a Galaxy Player.
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Old 04-09-2013, 07:11 PM
 
Location: Ocala, FL
3,441 posts, read 6,325,964 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by us66 View Post
If you don't want a plan of any kind whatsoever, Samsung sells a Galaxy Player.
..... or an iPod.
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Old 04-09-2013, 10:23 PM
 
3 posts, read 7,456 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by us66 View Post
If you don't want a plan of any kind whatsoever, Samsung sells a Galaxy Player.
I want the possibility of a plan... preferably prepaid. A friend just explained away a lot of my confusion today by telling me that just because I have a smartphone, it doesn't mean I have to get a prepaid plan for a smartphone. When the rep asks, just tell them you don't have a smart phone. Then you can get a SIM and not be required to have a data plan. I can then use free hotspots for my internet only. No hotspot, no internet, no problem... and no damn over-priced bill. Anyway, I went with the GT-I9100. If I travel international, I should just need a SIM for a prepaid plan. If only such things were as simple and cheap to get in the US... What I've read about Google Voice run through GrooVe IP suggests that it should work. If it doesn't, then oh well. I can always get a super cheap prepaid plan now and use Google Voice as intended. We'll see how it goes.
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Old 04-09-2013, 10:38 PM
 
Location: Ocala, FL
3,441 posts, read 6,325,964 times
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Doesn't quite work like you explained. Cellular carriers can and will detect you are using a smart phone when connected to the network. They will require a data plan with a smart phone and can automatically add the missing billable feature. I worked for a GSM cellular carrier as a CS rep for 7 years so I have a little insight.
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Old 04-10-2013, 09:49 AM
 
Location: 92037
4,631 posts, read 9,003,577 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dontaskwhy View Post
Doesn't quite work like you explained. Cellular carriers can and will detect you are using a smart phone when connected to the network. They will require a data plan with a smart phone and can automatically add the missing billable feature. I worked for a GSM cellular carrier as a CS rep for 7 years so I have a little insight.
BINGO. dontaskywhy nailed it.

The OP was confusing with regards to SIM or cellular access. Sneaking around the system was ok about 6 years ago before the 'smartphone' data plans really kicked off. Now you cant get on a network without being detected with carrier branded devices.

The possible only way around is if you get an factory unlocked device from overseas (so the i900 should work). The network will not understand its IMEI configuration which gives away its 'type' of device and typically carrier 'branded' devices that have been sold in retail stores, went through backend registration with the carrier via IMEI.
I have this problem with prototypes and AT&T many times and usually need to speak with a higher level CS rep due to the technicalities especially during the old SIMs to the newer LTE provisioned SIMs.

That Groove IP app sounds great! Keep in mind that if you do use the network for data heavily, you could risk setting off red flags.
Good luck
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Old 04-10-2013, 10:07 AM
 
Location: Tyler, TX
15,209 posts, read 18,487,531 times
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tracfone
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Old 04-10-2013, 11:07 AM
 
5 posts, read 16,715 times
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hahahahaha your very cheap, but it dos make sense,, why dont you try to put skype on your phone,, you can talk with friends that have skype to for free and if you like you buy $10,- of creddit that will last YOU for months,, i do it like this to ,, but i do have a pre-paid service,, but dont spend the money becouse all gos tru skype hihihihihi,,, xxxxx
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Old 04-10-2013, 11:10 AM
 
5 posts, read 16,715 times
Reputation: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by dontaskwhy View Post
Doesn't quite work like you explained. Cellular carriers can and will detect you are using a smart phone when connected to the network. They will require a data plan with a smart phone and can automatically add the missing billable feature. I worked for a GSM cellular carrier as a CS rep for 7 years so I have a little insight.
WOW i didnt know that,, your amazing for letting us know that,, wont you be shot tomorow by the phone network maffia..... hihihihi
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