Today's mobile phones are capable of so much more than mere phone calls. Almost every new release phone, and many mid- to high-end handhelds from the past several years, is capable of at least rudimentary Email and Web browsing.
The trick to using your cell to stay connected to the Internet is doing it without wasting your time or breaking the bank. Email and Web on handhelds is getting better every day, but can still be a painfully slow and expensive proposition. Depending on your phone and provider, these tips can help you make the most of the mobile internet to fit your schedule and your budget:
1. Light User? Get EDGE
While not as fast as a broadband or "3G" data connection, EDGE makes for faster downloads on GSM cellular networks like Cingular and T-Mobile. If you use GSM for data services, make sure that your phone supports EDGE and check with your carrier to make sure their network includes EDGE coverage where you use your phone. Though not nearly as fast as Sprint or Verizon's EV-DO networks, EDGE makes for decent Email and basic Web browsing on the cheap.
2. Heavy User? Get EV-DO
EV-DO networks are currently the fastest and most reliable solutions for cellular data in the United States. While Cingular's HSPDA may up the ante, it's too new to provide widespread and reliable coverage. Verizon's data plans aren't cheap, but if you rely on mobile Email and Web, they'll likely save you time in the long run. And as the old adage goes, time is money.
3. Checking Email? Get Headers Only
When using your cell phone to retrieve Email, make sure your preferences are set to "get headers only." This means that when syncing your Inbox, your phone will only download the "From" and "Subject" lines of messages to your phone. After reviewing this header information, download the contents of Emails you really need to deal with while on the go and save the others for when you're again at your computer. This will save you time and potentially expensive data charges.
4. Bargain Hunter? Get the $5.99 TMobileWeb Plan
If you can live with less than broadband speed, T-Mobile's six dollar a month TMobileWeb plan is your best bet for mobile Net access. Though not as heavily promoted as their $19.99 Total Internet package, this $5.99/month package will get you all the TZones, WAP content, and Email you can handle. Certain users with certain phones in certain areas have even reported being able to access most any Website out there using this plan. It's a steal for basic mobile Email and information retrieval usage.
5. Cutting Edge? Get a WiFI Phone
Want the best of all possible worlds? Get yourself one of the new breed of cell phones with a built-in WiFi antenna and support for VoIP calling (like Skype). The best of these devices, like Nokia's E70, seamlessly switch between cellular and available WiFi networks saving you on data charges by routing voice and Email/Web usage over the Net. But any phone with a WiFi antenna can save you time and money by enabling access to broadband Web connections when you're within range of an open wireless network. Of course, if you've got an unlimited data plan on a speedy network like Verizon's EV-DO, a WiFi phone might just be overkill. Maybe.