If you use very few voice minutes (or can leverage VOIP solutions; see
below) you can save a metric truckload of money by using a prepaid plan
that charges by the minute. My favorite is T-Mobile's Pay As You Go
plan, because after you add $100 (1000 minutes) to the plan you get 1yr
expirations on your minutes. This $100 will last you a year if you use
~83mins/month or fewer. It also means your cellular bill is $8.30/month
instead of $30 or $50 or $80 like the high-rollers are spending.
In the last year I have averaged 8mins/month (yes, eight! see below). At
this rate at the $100 card would last 10yrs (!) and the monthly cost
would be $1.25 (!), but since the mins expire you have to add more.
The smallest increment is $10, which extends the expiry another year
(and also adds more mins, but will ignore that for now). Over the 10yrs
the total cost would be $190, or a cost of $1.58/month.
Think you couldn't get your own minutes down to that level? Here are some techniques to minimize your use of minutes:
Place calls from landline or other free number when possible.
Hide your "real" number behind Google Voice. You can take and place free calls from the browser or using the GrooVe IP app for android for free.
Dump all unknown callers to voicemail; this costs you nothing.
Dump known-but-chatty callers to voicemail; this costs you nothing. Call them back with VOIP or landline.
If your phone has a "alert every minute" option, use it. This will buzz or chirp at the 45-50sec mark of each minute, reminding you of the passage of time. It also gives you enough time to back out of the call before the next minute rolls over.
Pick up your voicemail from a landline; this also costs you nothing. Call your own number and dump your own call; you will go to voicemail where you can get your messages. Or use Google Voice to dial the voicemail number, enter your phone number/pass and do it that way.
Set up your voicemail from a landline or VOIP. Yes, you are getting charged at all times you are in your voicemail...
Incoming SMS: SMS is dangerous for the frugalista since you can't avoid getting charged for it the way you can with voicemails.
You are only giving out your Google Voice number so that SMS is free. But spammers will wardial phone numbers to SMS spam. TMO will block ALL messages (SMS, including that "originating from computers" (ie, the tmo email-to-sms gateway). Use your
Outgoing SMS via Google Voice: Send your text from Google Voice for free; this also has the benefit of hiding your "real" number.
disable mobile data, even if you don't have a data plan.
figure out when you are near usable wifi
when you are familiar with the hotspots: use Tasker to identify when you are close (by cell tower) and turn on wifi only then. Battery saver.
leave on wifi and use WeFi or similar to tell you what's open. Battery drainer.
leave on wifi and pray for open wifi. Battery drainer.
turn on sync when connected
reverse the process when you lose the signal
How I use the Android platform
phone. (Duh). But I don't use it much, relying mainly on Google Voice (via SIP) when at home.
PIM/PDA, linked to Google.
This is critical to me. I need calendar, contacts, tasks editable from a PC or phone, syncing both ways over wifi.
Apps: Dato gtasks (free), Pure Calendar widget ($2), Tasker (~$5).
Podcast listening over normal bluetooth earpiece (not bluetooth headphones, though the phone does have the a2dp profile). For years I used hpodder to dl 'casts and then sent them to the phone. I have converted to Pocket Casts: responsive (and funny!) devs.
Apps: BTmono, built-in Music app, Tasker, pocket casts ($3).
reading Apps: FBreader, Pocket
FBreader is a an opensource reader for linux, so I already knew it.
I grab books in .epub format from Project Gutenberg.
Pocket (ie, Read it Later) works well, syncing web content to the phone for offline reading.
Connectivity, wifi only, no data (see below).
Start with wifi off. Tasker turns on wifi when certain celltowers are "visible" and starts looking for known open WIFI APs. If wifi found, connect and start to auto sync. Load a small webpage to flush out any login pages that might be required at the access point (as with the Richardson CORNET system). Vibrate briefly so I know there's a connection. When leaving the AP turn everything back off.
GPS for backup purposes and tracking.
Tools used: GPS Status, Tasker (turn on location tracking by SMS!), CoPilot for offline/cached maps. GPS Essentials.
Use case: lost phone in house. Use Google voice to SMS a predefined message to the phone. Tasker cranks the volume, turns off bluetooth, and starts playing whatever's queued up in my Music app.
Use case: lost phone somewhere else. Use google voice to SMS a different predefined message to the phone. Tasker turns on GPS, gets a lock, and sends an SMS back to Google voice with various bits of info including Lat/Long coordinates.
Note: GeoBeagle is really a caching app but does fine with non-caching .gpx files. Responsive author who cares about his freeware.
Navigation without data ATK Copilot v8 USA. Astounding value for $5, but no longer offered.
recommended apps discussed above
Details on use below.
Tasker. Awesome automation/customization tool. See this page before buying; it's available through a direct channel and the market channel.
Dato gTasks. Freeware task thingy. Why doesn't Google have this integrated into Android?
CoPilot Live USA offline mapping. Stupidly good for $5. I don't have a mobile data plan so this is great for me, or for folks out in the middle of nowhere who have no mobile data connection. Interface is a little wonky, but I'm getting used to it.
official Google apps like Sky and Voice.
Zeam launcher, a lightweight and tidy app launcher (ie, homescreen).
SetCPU for underclocking, overclocking, whatever. Requires root. (not needed with CyanogenMod)
Ericsson r520m, Treo 270, Treo 600, SDA, MDA, Dash, Treo 650, HTC G1.
If the 650 had a2dp bluetooth and WIFI I'd probably still be using it.
I love desktop syncing, the perfect task/notes functionality.
Close second: Dash, if it had a touchscreen.