Posted by: patenttranslator | August 4, 2014

Smart Phone Is Not Always the Smartest Solution


Only a few years ago I had to pay over 220 dollars a month for my cell phone bill. I think it was about 235 dollars with taxes because I shared a “family plan” with my two sons while they were still in high school and later in college. I needed the maximum data limit, mostly for unlimited texting (for them, of course, I don’t text that much). When the younger one graduated from college last year, I triumphantly cancelled my line. They both have to pay for their own cell phones and car insurance now.

Since 12 x 134 = 2,820, this means that I had to pay to the phone company about 3 thousand dollars only for the cell phone service, in addition to 2 fixed lines (one for my home and one for my business) and a fax line. I almost never use the fax line, but somehow I can’t bring myself to kill it. Oh, and I also have an 800 number which also costs money.

But I did kill my smart phone line and replaced it with a cheap and stupid basic cell phone combined with a smart tablet which has a free data plan. At this point I am just adding 10 dollars or 20 every 3 months to an old Blackberry that I keep in my car and that I almost never use. But just because I “almost” never use it does not mean that it is never used. When I got a flat tire on our trip to Washington DC a couple of months ago, the old Blackberry, hidden and almost forgotten in the glove compartment of my car, suddenly saw a lot of activity. I would have been in trouble big time if I did not have the phone at that time.

My old smart phone, an older iPhone model, still sees a lot of activity, although it officially has no service, at least not from the original phone carrier (Verizon).

I canceled the phone service because neither Verizon nor any other phone carrier company would let me use a smart phone only for the purpose for which the telephone was originally invented, which is to say to call another phone. If you want to use a smart phone, every phone carrier in US will force you to buy an expensive data plan from them, whether you need it, or not (although consumers are apparently not as much in peonage to their phone carriers in other countries, see the comments section).

So that is why I don’t have cell phone service with Verizon anymore. But as I said, I still use my old iPhone a lot. I take it with me when I go for example to my gym or to a restaurant because I can easily find a Wifi connection just about anywhere these days, for free and often even unencrypted so that anyone can use it without having to beg for a password. For example every Barnes & Noble bookstore has free and unencrypted Wifi, and so do donut shops like Dunkin Donuts. This means that I can check my e-mail and things like the latest gossip or the latest outrage du jour on social media and activity on my blog. I can also use it for calling because I can make a call by accessing the number of minutes from my iPhone that I have in my Ooma account anywhere if I am connected to Wifi. And I text my sons mostly on the iPhone, because most of the time I am connected to Wifi.

Sometime I do need a data plan when no free Wifi is avalaible, but for that I only use a data plan which is available from T-Mobile to anyone who has a compatible tablet “for the life of the device”. The free data plan is only 200 Mbytes, but for a translator such as myself who is mostly connected to Wifi at the home office or in a commercial establishment, 200 Mbytes is mostly enough. Although I use my iPad’s free data plan frequently, since I need it outside of my office only for things like checking e-mail and car navigation, so far I had to purchase additional data from T-mobile only once – during another trip to DC, when I was expecting another series of potential emergencies, which fortunately did not take place.

E-mail eats up very little data, something like a hundred Kbytes per message, and car navigation does not really use much data either while the car is moving based on the itinerary which is stored in advance on the iPad. Car navigation applications such as Google Maps use a significant amount of data only when I store an itinerary in my iPad while I am connected to Wifi, before I start driving. After that, data is used only for recalculation of the route if I change the route while driving. But even then, the recalculation does not eat up a lot of data.

I think that companies like Verizon and AT&T are and will be losing increasingly more and more customers who just like me are fed up with having to shell out a lot of money for something that they don’t really need and definitely do not want.

Verizon still has better cell phone coverage in the United States than T-Mobile, which is its main advantage. But since I have not experienced any problems with T-Mobile coverage here in Eastern or Northern Virginia, I see no reason to go back to Verizon for phone service (my dumb phone is also with T-Mobile).

A dumb phone combined with a free or cheap data plan for my iPad (I can purchase additional data when I needed it) is a much smarter solution at this point.


  1. Shame to hear this is the case in the US. In the UK you can have a smartphone on an ordinary contract without any included data plan if you wish.


  2. Thanks, Louisa. I was wondering about that.

    Well, you know, United States was one of the last countries to abolish slavery, or to give the right to vote to women, and although we pay plenty of taxes, we still don’t have access to universal and affordable healthcare (Obamacare is an extremely expensive, completely unaffordable fraud for most people).

    Some things just seem to take about a hundred years longer in the Land of the Free.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You can have this in the US as well. You just have to pay for the unlocked phone, which is approximately $649ish dollars. Then you can pick a carrier as you choose, use them for the phone, and if you want can add data. See unlocked or Contract free:


      • But how do I unlock a Verizon iPhone that is out of contract?
        It’s very complicated and it sounds like a criminal activity.

        Which it is, but the crime is committed by Verizon and other companies.

        Verizon, Microsoft and other companies try very hard to lock us up in their jail so that we would never be able to get out of their corporate jail.

        It’s best not to buy anything that requires you to have a contract (like a cell phone) or a yearly payment for a piece of software in perpetuity (MS Office).


  3. Just wondering, how much is unlimited data package for mobile in the US? Here in Indonesia, it’s about USD5 per month.


  4. Hi Mulyadi:

    Unlimited data package is 80 USD with T-Mobile here in US. A substantial amount of taxes will be added on top of that.
    So that is more than 16 times more than what you pay in Indonesia, see the link below. I wish I could charge 16 times more for my work. But as they put it in ancient Rome, quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi.


  5. When I moved back to Europe, my cellphone bill dropped dramatically–from about $160 per month to EUR 25-35 (or so) per month, with comparable service including call, text, and data. Sure, the US is much bigger, requires far more cell towers and such, but they also have far more (potential) paying customers. Crazy!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sounds like competitive effect of your (free) market economy is a myth promoted by those who benefit the most from crapitalism (the 0.01% :-).
    My Samsung mobile costs me AUD22.00 ( US$20.50) a month (including calls, data, tax and the cost of the handset over 24 months.
    I don’t use it much though, because Skype is the better solution for regular calls.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. @Kbb & Louis

    So in Asia they charge customers for the same (or probably better) service about 16 times less, and in Europe and Australia about 6 times less than what they can get away here in United States.

    I had no idea when I was writing my silly post. I thought this was true only about healthcare.

    I should have voted for Democrats last time, I mean Republicans … I mean, why the hell should I still bother voting?


    • Don’t feel bad. Cmiiw, on average, Asian translators get lower rate than their colleagues in Europe and US.


  8. “Asian translators get lower rate than their colleagues in Europe and US.”

    Believe it or not, that does not make me feel any better.


  9. Btw, do you guys actually work on smartphone and/or tablet? I do most of my works on laptop. But, I did use my phone for work when doing the recent World Cup project. The time difference required me to wake up a few times in the wee hours, and because I was too lazy to get out of the bed and turn on the laptop, I did the work on the phone instead.


  10. I usually have to look up a lot of things online, including in German and Japanese, so I only work on one of my PCs.

    Once in a long while when I am tired of sitting in the same chair and the same room I work on a laptop in a different room mostly just to break the tediousness. I could not work on a tablet, but I check my e-mail and do a lot of reading and watch TV and movies on my tablet.


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