[PLUG-TALK] Android, Chapter 2, Happy, Happy

John Jason Jordan johnxj at comcast.net
Wed Mar 16 21:34:45 PDT 2011

After returning the Atrix 4G (see Chapter 1, previous message), I went
back to using my ancient Razr V3 on my AT&T account of ten years
standing, and spent the next several days shopping and researching.

All the carriers are into rape. They corner you with locked in
technology so you can't just take your expensive phone and change to
another carrier. Even the T-Mobile / AT&T interchangeable SIM card
system is going away - you can still trade SIM cards, but if it's a 3G
or 4G phone you'll generally only get 2G on the other carrier. 

They're also heavily into lying. The carrier equivalent of "I'll
respect you in the morning" means telling all the great things about
their service and remaining quiet about the negative points. Sometimes
they outright lie, like the AT&T guy who told me with a straight face
that T-Mobile doesn't own any of their own towers.

And for a lie that I personally felt the effects of, AT&T has throttled
the bandwidth on the Atrix and Inspire until their HSUPA is available
nationwide, at some unspecified time in the future.

Eventually I decided that T-Mobile had bandwidth more or less equal to
AT&T, and would probably remain competitive in bandwidth. At the
same time, Sprint uses 2.3 GHz, which kills their bandwidth inside
buildings. Verizon will probably be pretty good, but it's going to take
them a couple of years to catch up to the others. T-Mobile is not as
good inside buildings as AT&T, or as Verizon will likely be, but good
enough for me.

If I stay with AT&T I cannot get unlimited bandwidth. The max I can get
is 4GB, for a price of $45 a month. Add $40 for the basic talk time and
another $10 for texting, and it comes to $95 a month. T-Mobile will
give me unlimited voice, text, and data for $80 a month, and knock off
15% as a student discount. That's a better package than AT&T for $27 a
month less. Plus, AT&T still thinks they're the phone company.

So I decided to give T-Mobile a shot. I signed up for a prepaid plan
for one month with no contract and no phone, for a price of $70. I kept
the AT&T account while I check them out. If I like them I'll port the
AT&T number over and close the AT&T account.

After setting up the T-Mobile account I went phone shopping. I scored
a used MyTouch 3G in perfect condition for $80 on Craigslist. I took it
home, did a factory reset, and started configuring it the way I wanted
it. One of the first things I did was install Tune-In Radio for
listening to streaming internet radio stations. Today I took it and my
bluetooth headphones with me hiking. I never lost the signal once,
whereas the Atrix would lose the signal every few minutes and the phone
would say "buffering."

In fact, while I had the Atrix I used Speedtest.net for a total of nine
tests throughout a day. My average down speed was 0.97 Mbps, average
up speed was 0.28 Mbps, and average ping time was 317 ms. Today I ran
nine random tests on the MyTouch 3G phone and got an average of 1.71
Mbps down, 0.57 Mbps up, and average ping time of 135 ms. Even though
it's only 3G, I get roughly twice the bandwidth with the MyTouch on
T-Mobile as I did with the throttled Atrix 4G on AT&T. And those
figures are on the ground floor in the middle of my house. 

So now I have a decent Android phone (Froyo 2.2.1) that is mine without
obligations to anyone. Eventually I'll want something better, but this
will hold me for a long time. At least until the rumored HTC Pyramid
comes to T-Mobile this May.

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