Best cell phone / provider for data?
June 23, 2006 9:57 PM   Subscribe

What is the best cell phone / provider for DATA / email services?

I want a cell phone (hopefully a PDA type) that I can do data stuff with.. and also use to connect my laptop to for Internet connectivity.

Which provider has the best deal on this? What phone is the best?
posted by cowmix to Technology (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You'll be looking at one of the HTC made phones.

If you're on a budget you'll want a subsidized PDA phone, of course, so you'll probably want to look at T-Mo's MDA, Cingular's 8125, and Verizon's Vx6700. If you're willing to give up touch screen functionality for a smaller form factor with just as much power go with either T-Mo's SDA, or Cingulars 2125 smartphone.
All three of the PDAs I listed above have the same specs, as they are all made by the same Manuf. - HTC in Taiwan. Same thing goes for the smartphones - same shit, different package.

As far as plans go... that's a whole other story.

Here is my personal (can't please everyone) list of pro's and con's about the carriers in the current US market.

Verizon= Runs on a CDMA network, which means your phone won't have a SIM card (GSM only) and that basically means you're ridden to buying the phone from Verizon. If something happens within two years you're SOL because you have to buy another phone through Verizon at retail price. Sure you can try to buy a phone off of e-bay, but there's risk involved because someone else's data was embedded into that phone... blah blah blah.

-Verizon shares the top spot of having the best service (with Cingular)
-Voice plans are on par with everyone, except Cingular (no roll over)
-Data is pretty quick. It's 3G, EV-DO, so you'll get about 240-400 kbs (slow DSL)
-Data is expensive -- $40-50+

GSM Network -- Break your phone, buy another off of ebay, and you won't have to worry. Just pop your GSM card in and you're good to go.

-Voice coverage sucks (at least in the NE USA)
-Data is slow as hell 45kbs avg.
-There are no plans to build on the GPRS network anytime soon
-Plans are decent and data pricing is pretty cheap

Cingular: I was skeptical about Cingular at first because I was previously an AT&T customer, and I was pleasantly surprised when we switched over and had no issues. When I used to use my mobile device just for calling, Cingular was great. When I got into data and upgrading the plan and all, Cingular got even better!

-Voice network is on par with Verizon. You'll also get better coverage in buildings because the 850 GSM band it runs on has better penetration through structures
-Data is pretty good. 14 markets (or so) throughout the US have upgraded to the similar 3G data coverage, most places in the US are still on the 2.5G (EDGE) Networks where people get 100kbs-220kbs. It's no big deal because the PPCs with 3G ability won't be released until the fall.
-Data costs $20/month if you sign up on their website (you just have to add the "smartphone unlimited medianet" to your plan --->>> Don't get the data plan when you get the phone!!! They'll try to hit you with the identical, but more expensive $50 data plan)
-Calling plans are just about the same as everyone else, except Cingular offers Roll-Over. I can't tell you how incredible roll over minutes are. If you use the phone less than 3/4 of your plan -- you'll end up having unlimited minutes with the roll over system.

Sprint: I wouldn't even touch them with a 40ft pole. Their voice coverage is absolutely horrendous in the metro areas and along the costs (even up into PA where I live). Their data is comparable to Verizon. But, the deal breaker is really the lack of voice coverage -- what good is a phone if you can't talk on it!

Anyway.. All of those phones will hook up to your laptop and work as a modem without any problems. They all ever support push mail, if you were interested in that. You can get a free pushmail server from It's 3:45am and my brain is fried, so if you want more info --- Visit:

Good luck!
posted by drkrdglo at 12:45 AM on June 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

Sprint has unlimited data for $20/month though.
posted by k8t at 7:43 AM on June 24, 2006

Its important to differentiate between "unlimited data to the handset" and "unlimited data to a tethered PC." The latter is the holy grail of mobile data and you'll get charged absurd amounts for it, from my understanding.

I don't currently have a celphone, but for the past month or so I've been researching. It looks like there is no "best option" for data service, just the "least bad option," when it comes to speed, coverage, and cost. IE, Verizon and Sprint have EvDO/CDMA data, which is fast(er than EDGE, but laggier than wired broadband), only available in metro markets for the most part, and costs $40-ish per month for tethered access. Cingular and T-Mobile have EDGE data, which is slow, as in, barely 2x faster than dialup and costs about $20/month.

If you figure out a way to get tethered data that Doesn't Suck, I'll be glad to hear about it. :)
posted by Alterscape at 7:53 AM on June 24, 2006

Just get one of these.
posted by purephase at 8:05 AM on June 24, 2006

go buy any smart phone, cingular or Verizon, and use "pdanet" software. I've been using it with my Verizon Treo650 for a couple of weeks now and it works as advertised.
posted by matty at 8:58 AM on June 24, 2006

Sprint coverage does kind of suck, but you really can't beat $30/month for 500 minutes and unlimited data. You can also use the hacks mentioned above (PdaNet, etc.) to tether without being billed extra., enter as the email address. Then click > More Sprint PCS ® Phones and scroll down to get the PDAs.

No, that address is not mine, no, Mr. Lapitski does not get anything, research that email address before bitching, etc., etc.

Or just web search (heh, generic) "sprint sero" for lots of info on the subject.
posted by trevyn at 10:46 AM on June 24, 2006

I disagree with drkrdglo's information regarding T-Mobile. T-Mobile has great voice coverage in my area (Indianapolis), as long as you aren't out in the sticks somewhere. In the city, it's great. They support EDGE, just like Cingular, and their data plans are significantly cheaper than Cingular. I have a T-Mobile MDA with the $29.99 data plan, and that's unlimited EDGE and GPRS, and it also supports tethering to a PC.

Cingular has a broader network, but, you pay for that. If you live in a city with T-Mobile, I'd check them out. Verizon and Sprint offer faster connections, but boy do you pay for it.
posted by jeversol at 12:49 PM on June 24, 2006

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