A Smart Phone Without The Expensive Plan
We all depend on our smart phones: they give us directions, translate words, find facts, play music, let us update social media and even, heaven forbid, let us call people. But do we really need a yearly or month to month contract to access these features? Can we, as a society, get by with just a Wi-Fi enabled device, sans phone plan?
Those are the questions a few of my friends inadvertently set out to answer. Strapped for money and with only an iPhone, iTouch, or other smart device without a monthly data, call, or texting plan, they drift around free Wi-Fi networks in the hopes that they can get by without the bill. From what Ive observed and what they have experienced, they seem to get by really well.
But how do you do it? What about emergency situations? And, most importantly, how can I get by with the same principles? Here are the tips they gave me:
Calling Without A Phone
The most obvious problem in not having a working phone is not being able to call friends and family. But with technology nowadays, that is a problem of the past. Skype is at the forefront of this revolution, offering video chat, call, and IM for free using Wi-Fi. The Skype app even lets you connect to people internationally for free and also allows you to have group voice calls. But Skype isn't the only app you can use for getting in touch with people.
Take, for example, Talkatone, an app that lets you call and text for free when you are connected to Wi-Fi, 3G, or 4G. Better yet, the app also allows you to merge contacts from your phones contact list so you can access all the contacts you already have without having to look them up. To call and text, the app accesses your Gmail account and connects you with Google Voice. This not only lets you text and call from Google, but also allows you to have your own phone number for free.
Kakao Talk is another great option. This app lets you call and text for free with Wi-Fi. But that's not all it does; it also allows you to schedule events with friends and family and poll your contacts to decide on a time and place. This all-in-one app is a great substitute for the frugal-minded, who want the most they can get for free.
Messaging Without Fees
The biggest name in free text messaging has to be WhatsApp, the app recently acquired by Facebook for $19 billion. With a growth of one million users per day, WhatsApp is a great way to connect people from across the world, across the country, or even just on the other side of the room. My favorite [messaging app] is WhatsApp, one of my close friends who does not have a cellular plan said, it's what most of my international friends use.
On top of being a cross-platform application (an iPhone user can message someone on a Windows Phone and vice versa), WhatsApp doesnt promote ads, which is one of its many draws for users. Unfortunately, WhatsApp doesn't enable voice conversations in the same way Talkatone does. It does, however, allow its users to leave voice-recorded messages to each other.
Other messaging apps are affiliated with bigger organizations. For example, the Facebook Messenger app can also be used as a texting app, but it connects with your Facebook messages. So can Google Hangouts, another instant messaging application. In this day and age, finding a messaging app to suit your needs is not a difficult task.
SEE ALSO: Beating Long Distance With Skype
But living in a 3G or 4G free world isnt always easy. Without a Wi-Fi connection, none of these apps will work. So, if you are just driving around and your car breaks down, you may find yourself up a creek without Wi-Fi and no way to contact help (unless you have OnStar or something similar). The big question, then, is whether or not youre willing to take that risk.
A good alternative option is to keep your Wi-Fi enabled device and supplement it with a cheap pay-as-you-go plan. That way, you can use your phone for emergencies, but not be charged an arm and a leg for data.