Your daily technology class with Professor Randy!!

Randy The Tech Professor

December 21, 2009 at 12:09 am

The Cell Phone Scenario Demystified (Part 1)

Motorola W260-4Hello everyone,

I must admit that even though I’m a “tech geek”, the present day mobile phone scenario can be quite confusing! Personally I don’t even like to TALK on the phone, and my “dumbphone” of choice is the TracFone Motorola W260-4 (a basic bare bones $20 phone – no internet, no camera, no additional ringtones, no applications, etc.). But the phone is great for what it is intended to do: it makes great phone calls and texts!! And in my part of the country I have great coverage (signal strength) from the TracFone network (also with TracFone there are no bills, no contracts, I buy only the airtime minutes that I actually need). No smartphone for me!!

So with all of the confusion out there (and since you may be in the market for a smartphone this Christmas), I thought that today I would give you a basic “primer part 1” on mobile phones and mobile phone carriers. You’ll have to concentrate somewhat because as I said before – this is kind of confusing! Today I’ll just give you the facts and in my next post I’ll give you more facts plus my opinion.

1) “Smart Phone”

A mobile phone which has computer like software (applications) on it, digital camera, full keyboard, color display, plus internet and e-mail capabilities for efficient communication. The CPU on many smartphones is more powerful than the desktop computers of five years ago!

2) “Dumb Phone”

Opposite of smartphone. A cellphone which has little or no advanced features such as a large, bright screen, or applications such as email and web browsing. Basically just makes phone calls (like my Motorola W260-4). I love it!

3) “Service Providers (Mobile Phone Carriers)”

If you’re going to buy a mobile phone you have to choose a mobile phone carrier. There are many, but here are the top five carriers in the United States (and a very popular smartphone for each carrier).

#1) Verizon Wireless …… (HTC Droid Incredible).
#2)  AT&T ….. (Apple iPhone 3GS).
#3) Sprint ….. (Sprint EVO 4G).
#4) T-Mobile….. (Google Nexus One).
#5) U.S. Cellular….. (HTC Touch Pro 2).

4) “Locked or Unlocked?”

A locked mobile phone is one that has been altered in order to use only one particular cellular network. If a carrier “subsidizes” (provides you with a free or cheap phone when you sign a two year service contract) they will “lock it” to their network. Locked phones (the “lock” is a software setting that keeps the phone “loyal” to one carrier), will not work with any other carrier.

An unlocked mobile phone can be used on any mobile phone carrier. Unlocked phones cost more up front but all software restrictions have been removed and you will be able to use the phone with whichever carrier you so desire. Many third party vendors sell unlocked phones and there are also many third party services that offer to unlock your mobile phone for a fee (something I don’t recommend).

In my next post (part 2), I’ll continue to “demystify” the confusing mobile phone scenario.

Professor Randy says: Sure, the mobile phone scenario can be confusing but don’t despair! With a little examination and investigation of the facts you’ll be fully aware of what you’re up against and fully prepared to handle it “head on”!



RSS feed for comments on this post | TrackBack URI