Internet Access on Your Cell Phone

After about two years of heavy use, I recently replaced my beloved cell phone. As part of the Sprint PCS handset upgrade program, I was able to get a $150 mail-in rebate to defer the cost but, in order to take advantage of the rebate, I had to sign up for a free trial of PCS Vision (this is their internet access plan). Since you have to keep the service active until they approve your rebate (which is actually pretty quick), I’ve had a bit of time to play with it and I must say that it’s pretty cool.

I can check weather reports, read the news from a variety of sources, download games, check e-mail, look up phone numbers without calling directory assistance, etc. And if you’re willing to upgrade the service beyond basic Vision, you can e-mail pictures (if you have a picture phone) or even small videos (if you have a video phone). All very cool. The main problem is the cost. Unlimited Vision access is $10/month, picture mail is $5/month, and video mail is another $5/month. While I found the news reading capability to be nice when I was traveling this week, it’s no easier than picking up an actual newspaper, and much more expensive. Also, I can pull pictures/videos off the phone with a USB cable. Thus, while it’s more convenient (and gadgety) to send pictures directly from my phone, it’s hard to justify paying the price to do so.

One intriguing possibility that I haven’t explored is using your cell phone as a modem — apparently you can ‘tether’ it to your laptop to get internet access anywhere you can get a cell signal. While this is against Sprint’s TOS, it seems to be doable as long as you don’t abuse it. Probably the best use of this technology for me would be Mapquest Mobile. Unfortunately, that something like $3.95/month. All in all, I’ve come to the conclusion that internet-enabled cell phones are the proverbial solution in search of a problem. That being said, I’d probably go for it if I could get the Vision access plus picture and video mail for ten bucks a month. But that’s just because I’m weak and I love gadgets. I’ll probably ask for this when it’s time to cancel.

4 Responses to “Internet Access on Your Cell Phone”

  1. Anonymous

    Just because you have Sprint Vision internet access does NOT mean you can use your phone as a modem. I fooled around with that and got a big bill for very little use and no value. Also, after I stepped on my phone and bought a cheap used replacement I got a big bill for internet access even though I was paying for Vision because the new old phone wasn’t “Vision-enabled” and its internet access function was out-of-plan.

  2. Anonymous

    Watch out. Put a note on your calendar to cancel it when the trial is over. It has always IRKED me that Sprint makes you use their “extra” services and then require that you cancel the service once the trial is up. They are counting on a percentage of people forgetting and then just paying the bill every month.

    Once it’s off, make sure it stays off. I had the charge magically start appearing a few months after I canceled it.

    If you decide you like it and want to keep the service, please pretend you didn’t read this…. 🙂


  3. Yeah, it really only works for sites designed with WAP in mind. But there are a number of sites that it works well for, including a variety of news sites that have a WAP version. Regarding speed, Vision is surprisingly fast. That being said, the sites that are optimized for WAP are very text-heavy, with virtually no graphics.

  4. Anonymous

    I find cell phone internet is slow and clunky, especially if you look at a site that doesn’t really care about how it looks on a cell (i.e. 99.99% of sites). I looked at my blog once from a Sidekick and it looked awful and a Sidekick has a bigger screen than any old cellie.

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