My New Samsung Captivate
How to use a smartphone for only about $25.00 a month
Below are some tips and tricks . . . Security info and the like.
The Samsung Captivate is AT&T's Galaxy S phone. Other Galaxy S phones are sold by T-Mobile as the Vibrant; Sprint as the Epic 4G and Verizon as the Fascinate.
I chose the Captivate because I thought it was a nice looking phone and because I was already with AT&T as a pay-as-you-go (GoPhone) customer. And, so, this is where the fun began.
I make very few phone calls so when I chose a phone and plan a few years back, I went with the pay-as-you-go ten cent a minute plan. I purchased the phone (refurbished) for $10.00 and received $10.00 in minutes, so the phone was essentially free. On the ten cent plan, all I had to do was have my account automatically debited every 3 months for $25.00. By so doing, the minutes would rollover and accumulate. So, for a few years I'd been paying $8.33 a month. Since I seldom used the phone, I had accumulated about $230.00 in unused roll-over minutes. Little did I know that this was going to be just like money in the bank.
Enter the Smartphone.
I didn't want to pay $70.00 or more each month for phone service I hardly use but I did want to have the smartphone capabilities, so—what to do? I knew the smartphone would automatically switch to wireless networks as long as I was within range, and since I'm often in range of a wireless network, I figured I didn't even need to purchase a data plan. I learned, however, that AT&T required a data plan just to use a smartphone. (Evidently, once you make a call, data about your phone type is sent to AT&T so if you put your dumb phone SIM card into a smartphone, AT&T knows this and requires you to purchase a data plan in order to keep using this phone.)
The GoPhone data plan was priced at $19.99 per month for 100 MB of data service. This didn't seem outrageous to me so I went online and added the data plan to my GoPhone account. In-turn they informed me that I had to switch to a .25 cent a minute call plan in order to make this purchase. I Okay'd this change and they deleted $19.99 from my $230.00 minute bank and the deal was done. I proceeded down the the AT&T store and purchased the Samsung Captivate outright. I slipped the SIM card out of my old phone and put it in the Smartphone. I set it to hook-up via wifi first (before looking for the cellular signal that would eat-up my 100 MB of data), whenever wireless networks are available.
*UPDATE* I still have to pay in at least 3 month increments ($25.00 for 3 months) on an autopay plan in order to keep my rollover minutes. Doing it this way, I think AT&T will keep taking the data payment out of my minute plan.
But wait, there's more! My unused data bytes roll over too.
Now, this plan isn't for everybody. My wife makes many calls and uses over the air data, rather than wifi data, so her $67.00 a month with T-Mobil is well spent. But for me, this program "fits the bill".
Let's see, there are about 102,400 KB in 100 MB. This month I only used 12,500 KB of my 102,400 KB. Now, be advised, I seldom search the Internet without a wifi connection so this usage amounts to checking my e-mail from time to time and checking a few maps for directions. But since my unused data rolls-over, I can be comfortable knowing it will be there when I need it.
Even though I had to pay an "outright" price for the phone, when you consider the average plan has you buy the phone for $350.00 and then commit for 2 years of service at $70.00 or more per month, that's around $2,000.00 over 2 years compared to about $1,000.00 over the same period, doing it my way.
I like the Android phone but here are a few things you might want to think about:
If you make credit card purchases on your phone through Google Checkout, Amazon and the like. Consider security. What if you lost your phone? Anybody can use it and access your information.
First of all, adjust your browser settings. Don't let it remember passwords or form information.
Now, Android asks you to swipe the screen to unlock but you can also add a special pattern that adds a measure of security. To add to this security, I list a few free apps here that can help too.
DEStrongs' Security Manager is a free download that allows you to put password/gesture protection on specific applications such as Android Market, Google Shopper, Amazon etc... I would recommend protectiing this program itself. There is no need to use task killers; Android is pretty smart itself.
Here's another hint: Remember to hit the back button to fully back out of any protected programs—otherwise no password/gesture will be required to get back in (Your phone remembers your last folder.).
So far, however, I've found a few ways around this security, and constant gesturing might turn you off but you either work for greater security or not. None of this is a cure-all but it might deter some people from getting into too your sensitive stuff. EStrongs also includes an app to remotely lock your phone if it's lost.
The search for security continues.
On the subject of lost phones, there's a free app to track a lost phone called Anti Droid Theft that you might want. Track your phone through their website from any computer. Your phone's GPS will help you find your lost phone as long as it's on and the battery isn't dead.
And since Antidroid Theft will send you a forgotten password, you probably shouldn't provide an e-mail address that can be accessed from your phone.
***April 2013 revision:
I purchased my Galaxy S in 2010. Samsung updates haven't kept up with the times. Android versions have since gone from Eclair to Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, and now, Jelly Bean.
Samsung over the air updates started and ended with Eclair.
Finding myself bored lately with my phone and its capabilities, I unlocked my phone, rooted it, and installed the latest Android Jelly Bean operating system: 4.2.2; free courtesy of CyanogenMod. Thanks for the great work guys. A donation went your way.
Although Samsung claims the hardware specs are a bit too low for the newest Android flavors, it now runs faster and smoother than ever. The phone now has more capabilities too. Among other things, it is now a wireless mobil hotspot. I look forward to using Key Lime (Android 5) when it arrives.