Friday, October 8, 2010


Almost all Android-based phones have now received an important update from the manufacturers that improve speed, functionality, and battery life. One of the coolest additions is the ability to view Flash videos. Translated, that means I can now watch live football games while I’m driving. Some of you should keep that in mind as you are tailgating me on Florence Blvd. The update is called Android 2.2 and is an update to version 2.1. Get it by clicking “Settings” on your phone then “About Phone” then “System Updates.” Your phone will check for updates and install them if they are available.

Some of you may recall my frustration with AT&T for not living up to their “coming soon” promise of fast 3G data coverage for my iPhone. The dismal data speeds offered locally by AT&T turn the iPhone into simply “a phone.” That failed promise recently propelled me to switch to an Android phone from Verizon 30 seconds after my AT&T contract expired. If it weren’t for AT&T’s lack of 3G coverage the iPhone would be a slightly superior phone. The aforementioned Android update has almost closed that gap, though.

Those who love their iPhone but frustrated with AT&T might be interested in recent development in a long-standing rumor concerning the iPhone coming to Verizon. A recent Wallstreet Journal quoted some credible sources who confirmed that negotiations between Apple and Verizon are currently underway and that the iPhone would be available through Verizon in “early 2011.” Don’t hold your breath, though. It’s just a rumor for now.

If your contract is expiring soon, you may want to evaluate your current provider. Shoals data junkies can save over $300 per year if you do your homework. Nice guy that I am, I’ve done some of the homework for you by comparing high speed data/voice plans, offered by the 4 companies who offer cellular services here in the Shoals: Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T. Comprehensive comparisons are a little difficult to fit into this tiny column so I will focus on basic, individual smart phone plans with 400 or so minutes of talk time and unlimited data packages. These comparisons do not include the purchase price of the phone itself.

Verizon is the king of high speed data coverage with nearly 100% 3G coverage of the populated areas of the US. But you will pay for that access. Smart phones with 450 minutes of talk time, limited texting plan and unlimited data plan will set you back $90/month. T-Mobile has a comparable plan and their data coverage is almost the same as Verizon’s at the local level. They offer a plan comparable to Verizon’s for $79/month.

Sprint’s data coverage maps aligns with most major highways and provides good coverage to all major cities and most smaller cities in the nation. They have a plan that gives you unlimited everything (data, text, talk) for just $70/month. AT&T has . . . well, they offer no high speed data coverage locally yet you still have to pay for it. But with so many other choices, why would you?

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