The Complete Newbie's Guide to Mobiles

RahnalH102RahnalH102 the Green Devout, Veteran Monster Hunter, Creature EnthusiastNew Mexico
edited April 2012 in Science & Tech
Straight up, I don't know !@#$ about mobiles. I've never really needed a personal phone for not much other then emergencies and necessity. That dropped to just emergencies once I was able to drive. Even now, hundreds of miles away from family and friends, I still barely use my cell.

However the times be a-changing and the valid reasons for me to upgrade keep piling up. So I want to adapt or at least be ready to adapt to this change.

I have questions for just about every aspect of "deh mobile" and would greatly appreciate any answers.

Info on me: I'm a digital artist in training. I'll likely being using the phone to test apps/designs/layouts/communicate with co-workers/bosses/clients. Social needs ... not so much. Can it call home and friends? That's all I need. Starving artist can also be thrown in there so the cheaper the plan the better.


Providers: Since I want to be more independent and not such a burden on my parents (as far as I'm concerned I owe them a !@#$-ton o' cash,) I want a provider of my own. I'll worry about exact prices. Mainly just want to know typical plans available? Which devices are supported? Which do you prefer?

Models and OSs: Not even sure where to begin here. I know there is iOS for Apple related products. Android for Google related products. Blackberries and Windows. I'm not too sure of the differences, price ranges, capabilities and limitations. I guess a good question would just be which do you prefer and why?

General Mobile Knowledge: i.e. the technical terms (da heck does 4g mean,) typical scams/"pay us more" tactics providers may pull, how do hotspots work, etc.

I throw myself at your feet, so that you may make a responsible and informed mobile user out of me, and hopefully help out any future readers.


  • SnarkasmSnarkasm Madison, WI
    Providers depend entirely on region. Verizon might be great in NYC, but shit in Kansas. Typical plans tend to be along the lines of x minutes/x texts/x MB data usage, with heavy overage fees if you overrun it. I use voice much less than anything else, so my plans typically skimp on the minutes, and load up on the texts and data. In the US, T-Mo and AT&T (and many others) use GSM frequencies; you can typically identify these providers by the fact that they require a SIM card. Verizon still uses CDMA, which does not require SIM cards. This is changing.

    Asking for opinions on mobile OSes is baiting for a flamewar, but it depends what you want. Are you a tinkerer? Do you like a controlled/curated experience? Do you want to experiment/early adopt? You're not a corporate user or a sadist, so Blackberry is probably right out. What are YOU looking for in a phone?

    4G is, theoretically, the fourth generation high-speed data access protocol. This is a nebulous term, as companies have used it for everything from essentially 3G (third gen) to HSDPA to HSPA+ to LTE. LTE (Long Term Evolution) is what most people consider to be true 4G. GSM and CDMA were roughly discussed above. Scams? Generally speaking, data via wireless providers is a scam. Text prices are a scam. If you can sign up for Google Voice or Whatsapp, you can skip the text message packages entirely and do it entirely via data, but that also tends to be more expensive than is necessary. Hotspots/tethering is just a way of sending your wireless data connection to a device that doesn't have access to that wireless connection. Android phones can mostly do this by default, but phone providers hate it, and try to charge you extra for tethering plans if they think you're doing it.

    What else ya got? :)
  • RahnalH102RahnalH102 the Green Devout, Veteran Monster Hunter, Creature Enthusiast New Mexico
    Mmk let me see my notes here.

    Providers: research the provider to see how well they perform in your typical area of existence.

    Plans: Know how you are likely gonna use your device before hand then pick the plan that best supports that.
    Asking for opinions on mobile OSes is baiting for a flamewar, but it depends what you want.
    Asking for opinions ... is baiting for a flamewar,

    I hold Icrontic to a higher standard, but I suppose that even here it is possible. After all I was told there were almost fist fights over prizes at Expo one year. :shrug: Anyway that's continued at the end of the list.

    Hotspot/tethering: what I thought. Just don't use it for another phone as a work around.

    Like most tech there are many work arounds.

    "G" = Generation and is kinda flung around apparently.
    HSDPA = Didn't say, Google it.
    HSPA+ = Likely an advanced form of ^. Again Google it.
    LTE = Long Term Evolution = I guess literal ... but tech, hmm.
    GSM =frequency type. Requires SIM card.
    SIM card = ?. Google
    CDMA = Older frequency type.

    Question: Do I even need to know more about these to really understand my device/plan so I know the limits/scams?

    Going with my Digital Artist occupation, something that is app appropriate and customizable so that I can have another medium to practice and develop on would be nice. You don't just take your friends already used canvas, paint all over it in a new technique, mess up, and then give it back to said friend (must be a good friend.) I'm pretty sure that leaves me at mainly iOS and Android.

    As for actual uses I'll probably stick around convenience apps and functions. Authenticator for example. Other then that maybe music but not much else entertainment or use wise. I've got plenty of hand-helds to occupy my time in that regard.

    Humor aside, thank you for such a quick response. Skimped a little but really only on things that may not even matter in the end so I'm good with that.
  • SnarkasmSnarkasm Madison, WI
    The only thing you really need to know is that if you're buying a phone away from your carrier, make sure its tech matches your carrier of choice. In other words, if you're going to want to use T-Mo wherever you are, make sure the phone you buy is GSM, and preferably intended for American use (there are multiple bands of GSM, and the US carriers don't use all of them). Your phone will still work even if it's not, but it will likely not get the best speed available from the network. If you're buying a phone on contract, then you won't have to worry about that. Post up when you think you know the network you want and the phones you're looking at and we'll be able to tell you compatibility.

    I left most of the acronyms alone because it's more important to know what they are than what they mean. Data protocols: E (Edge) < 3G < HSDPA < HSPA+ < LTE in terms of speed. Wireless frequencies: GSM (SIM card, pretty much used globally), CDMA (no SIM, used sparsely on few carriers). A SIM card is just a small chip that tells the phone who you are and where it can connect. You can swap them between phones that take SIMs easily, and thereby swap out the phone you're using if yours breaks, you go to another country, etc. For example, when I come to the US, I take my Galaxy Nexus, swap in a US AT&T SIM card, and go on my way.

    There are drawing and creativity apps on both sides of the Android/iOS aisle, but from what I've seen, an iOS device right now has slightly better tracking and smoothness if you're really going to be drawing on it. That said, we're talking a 3.5" screen at 960x540; some Android phones are available at 4, 4.3, 4.7", up to 1280x720 right now, and higher on the horizon. iPhone 5 might improve on that front, but we've no idea right now. If you're really focused on drawing, it might just be better to go with an iPad for the larger canvas.

    I am as enthralled with Android as anyone I know (I have a Galaxy Tab and have owned at least 7 Android phones, including my current GNex), but if you're really looking to sketch, etc, fluidity on iOS may trump what I see as Android's strengths.

    If I've misunderstood what you meant regarding digital art, please correct me, as it may change some of this information.
  • RahnalH102RahnalH102 the Green Devout, Veteran Monster Hunter, Creature Enthusiast New Mexico
    I could have explained it better. heh What I mean for the digital art bit is not to use the device as a tool to make graphics etc. Heck no for drawing. My Wacom tablet's interactive zone is 6in. x 4in. and I find it barely acceptable for drawing.

    The field I'm going into is VERY broad. I could be doing animation for a cartoon/game, concept art, layout design, web design, etc. The latter two will require me to logically have a mobile version of the website or whatever media applicable. So namely I would need the device to test out my creations first hand. Also creating stuff for apps, whether it be layout, game art, etc, also falls into the same need.

    And thank you for clarifying the acronyms. I knew you mentioned them due to some importance but as to why I couldn't make the connection.

    I'll start looking around a bit to see if any devices in particular catch my eye.
  • RahnalH102RahnalH102 the Green Devout, Veteran Monster Hunter, Creature Enthusiast New Mexico
    Mmk at first I realized that it may be a tad early for me to upgrade for the main reasons since said reasons weren't applicable just yet. However, my old phone just so happens to start dying for good so I do indeed need to get a new one.

    Taking a visit to the local store I toke note of the devices they had available: iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy, Droid RAZZR (however they spell it) and an HTC that I can't remember the exact name to. They all had their differences but none particularly called to me or scared me. Service from the store couldn't help being that the lone girl working at the time had like 5 people ahead of me in line so I'd drop by again later.

    Verizon and Virgin seem to be the services I'll shoot for in this area. The store was Verizon also.
  • Straight_ManStraight_Man Geeky, in my own way Naples, FL
    edited April 2012
    Some folk here like Verizon a lot for broad 4G LTE in their areas, and the same folks seem to like the Samsung Galaxy series more than some others. The trick will be, to see what Verizon's coverage around your area is...

    If their coverage is good, you might find them economical compared to the competition. I was priciing them vs. Sprint in my area, but I do not need a phone that surfs yet (got a Sprint 3G/4G data dongle for my laptop with a 12GB monthly plan for $79.99 per month on Sprint's network). So I went with a phone-only kind of service,and got a cheap phone also.

    Just some perspective. HTH and YMMV from mine-- probably WILL vary. :D
  • Straight_ManStraight_Man Geeky, in my own way Naples, FL
    edited April 2012
    I was surfing Virgin Mobile's site. They use Sprint's 3G network and resell airtime for much more than Sprint does.
  • SnarkasmSnarkasm Madison, WI
    If Verizon is good in your area and carries the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, that'd be the setup I'd recommend for Android, if that's the way you're leaning.
  • RahnalH102RahnalH102 the Green Devout, Veteran Monster Hunter, Creature Enthusiast New Mexico
    Verizon does have good coverage over here. I think it is also the dominate service provider in this state in general. *shrug*
    I was leaning towards a buy something big cause, theoretically, it should be of good quality and last awhile. That way it should be good when I do get around to working on media associated with mobiles, and should still be fairly relevant.

    Thank you!
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