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caje

Using the Palm Pre WITHOUT a data plan

I passed by the Bell store today to check out the Palm Pre. AMAZING phone; TERRIBLE plans. I'm not in the market for spending 80$-100$/month for a phone. That's just crazy.

I wanted to know if anyone's purchased the Palm Pre sans contract or without a data plan, and if so, is it still usable?

Does the Pre still try to connect to 3G all the time, which I assume would result in some form of extra charge, or will it quiet down and only use wi-fi when it's available?

I'd really like to get this phone, but I'd really like to avoid the costly monthly data plan charges.

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27 replies
PatW

There is no way to turn off the phone or data separately from "Airplane Mode" which turns off all radios, including WiFi & bluetooth. The Pre doesn't make much sense without data. There are all sorts of useful automatic background features (e.g. "Synergy") that wouldn't happen just on WiFi.

The system is call WebOS after all! Everything's connected all the time.
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caje

I understand webos and synergy are designed to always be connected and always have access to the network. Nevertheless, I'm still curious about how the Pre would behave if I didn't sign up for a data plan.

Would it still try to connect to the network, or just wait until wifi pops up? I don't mind waiting until I get to a hotspot for all my stuff to sync up - I don't need my facebook contact photos to be updated every minute ;) If anyone has a concrete answer to this question, I'd like to know the details.
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aklee

I thought Bell's plans were much better than Rogers. I was paying over $80 for my iphone plan. I get much more for my pre for only $60.
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caje

before or after taxes and fees?
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aklee

It includes fee but not taxes. It was a little over $60 ( I don't remember exactly and haven't got a bill yet). It was unlimited data and text, included voicemail and 200 voice minutes.
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caje

Hey it seems as though webOS 1.2 has the option I've been hoping for - a slider to turn off data usage. See the screenshot at Precentral.net: www.precentral.net­/webos­-12­-accidentally­-leaked .

When it gets released officially and starts to trickle out, maybe some of my Canadian comrades can confirm this option is available on Bell's network? If so, Palm Pre here I come :)
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stridermt2k

It makes zero sense to buy a web-connected phone whose very operating system is called "Web OS" and then not have a data plan. -that is if you can even manage to activate it without it being detected as a smartphone.

So much work to completely take away the very thing the phone was built around? -ridiculous.


Do yourself a favor, just go steal a non-functional demo from a store and pretend to use THAT instead.
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caje

Newsflash - it has Wi-Fi. And where I happen to be most of the time, I have Wi-Fi available. Last time I checked WEbOS works just fine with it. Hence, I have little need for the data plan that would simply result in a large bill at the end of the month.

But feel free to allow the phone company to gouge you for exorbitant amounts of cash each month :)
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floosack

@caje

I don't have an answer for you in terms of if you can or cannot limit data usage to Wifi, but i did notice that to get the $199 price for the phone, you need to sign up for 3-year contract for both a voice AND a data plan.
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caje

I noticed that. I'm the type of guy that spends more up front to save in the long run. Bell's charging something like 350-450$ for the phone sans data plan, and more if you skip on the 3 year contract, but considering the (almost multi-) thousand dollar savings, it's worth it.
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stridermt2k

-That and limping from hotspot to hotspot to feed your gimped smartphone is bound to get old after a time.
(Unless you are fortunate enough to have abundant available wifi saturation where you typically go)

One way to deal with the cost of a data plan is to squeeze it for every drop of data every month.
Check of there is a data usage cap on that smartphone plan. -if not, (and if your data coverage exists everywhere you'd typically need it) then leverage it hard and make it WORTH the extra money.

As soon as I found out there weren't any restrictions on my data plan I found out how to tether my phone to my computers using 3rd party programs (Windows Mobile) and now I utilize it constantly. If it wasn't for gaming (and my wife) I could probably ditch my land connection entirely.

I know that does nothing to take care of your cost concerns, but getting more and better utilization out of it could make a data plan worth it.

From what I've read and seen the Pre is worth using to it's fullest potential and can give great service when allowed to do so.
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caje

As far as I know, there aren't any unlimited data plans in Canada, but I'll keep that in mind. It would be really nice to cancel the land line connection (mind you, I've got the same significant other problem :).

I'll keep looking and see if I can find something that suits my spending/usage habits.
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jhoff80

In the leaked 1.2 that should arrive probably next week, you can turn off Data Usage and only connect via Wifi.

The only issue is you'll need a data connection for the initial activation / setup of the Palm Profile if you don't want to hack your device.
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Darnitol

To be blunt:

If you think you're paying $80 to $100 a month for a phone when you buy a Pre (or iPhone, or WinMo device), then you completely, totally, and utterly just don't get what the device is.

Yes, you'd be dumb to pay $80 a month to talk on the phone. But that's not what a Pre is. It's an internet-connected handheld computer. Most of what you do on the device is data related. It just so happens that one of the cool programs that runs on that handheld computer is also a phone application.

Even limiting the use of the device to whenever you are near a WiFi hotspot is a gross under-use of the thing. For example, not too long ago I was on a road trip when one of my kids desperately needed to stop for a restroom break. There were no gas stations or restaurants in sight, so I opened up an app to find the nearest gas station. It turned out that turning around got us to a station in about four miles, while continuing on would have resulted in at least a half hour wait to get to the next station. (I'm an iPhone owner, but with the Palm App store ramping up, the same capability will be available soon on Pre, if it's not already.) Sure, that scenario may never happen to you, but the point is that a week never goes by when I don't end up needing to access data for something when there's no hotspot around.

(Another example: try using Google Maps to find your way out of getting lost when you don't have a data plan to load the maps.)

I've never known anyone who moved up to a smartphone who regretted the cost of the data plan once they actually started using it. The key is to stop looking at it as "a phone." The phone may be the primary function of the device, but trust me, it's the least of what makes the Pre a device that will change many aspects of how you conduct your life.
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caje

I completely hear what you're saying. However, just to entertain your argument, you could have called someone for directions as well you know ;). All is not lost without a data plan.

I have a couple friends with an Iphone as well, and they're perfectly happy paying 50$/month for the phone functionality alone.

Anyhow, I noticed that the recently released 1.2 update has an option to turn off WAN usage. I think I'll go for a contract without it, and in cases of emergency, bite the bullet and use data at whatever absurd rate they charge.

Thanks for the feedback nonetheless Darnitol!
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harken

Hi, just to add what the original poster has been saying... I agree with the idea. I am considering doing the same thing as I would like a device that is basically an iPod touch with phone capabilities. All this banter about how the Pre is fundamentally designed to use data does not fly with me. 95%+ of the time, I am either at work (have full internet and phone access), with my wife (has an iPhone with unlimited data), or am in a hotspot (i.e. home). I am not going to pay $40 a month for data that I only really might need 1-5% of the time.

Without data, I still have a device with excellent contact management, scheduling, apps, etc...and guess what, also works as a cell phone. It seems pretty logical to me...
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caje

Thanks for backing me up - I thought for a minute i was alone out here :)
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Alp

I'm quite surprised at the narrow view of some people on this thread. So what if it's meant to be online everyhwere if it doesn't fit his needs ? So what if you're not using the phone at its full capacity ?

I personally love to have data everywhere, but my girlfriend for instance uses a prepay and spends something like 50 dollars every six months on phone calls. She doesn't need a data plan and multiply by 6 her phone bills just for the sake of reading her email in the bus. But she likes the convenience and interface that the iPhone offers. So yes, she's using an iPhone with a prepay sim with no data plan. Is she missing out a lot? Probably. Does she care ? No. Is she spending her money smartly ? Absolutely.

Just keep in mind, there are other scenarios and needs than yours. So Caje, I think you're doing the smart thing in finding a way that fits you better and salute you for it :)
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prelover

As a recent owner of the Pre, I can confirm that this phone works excellently without a data plan. This phone is worth every penny.. With my touch pro, if I left the wifi on, 100% chance that my battery was dead in less then 12 hours. (including standby time).. With the Pre, my battery consumption doesnt change that much with wifi on at all times, I have a wifi router set up at work and one at home so all I do is turn on the phone (or take it out of standby if you prefer) for 2 minutes when I get home/work and it syncs my mail/calendar.. The only downside I've found so far without a data plan is the same downside as most other smartphones without a data plan: google maps, or data based gps apps. Aside from that, this phone works great..

Couple other notes, webOS does not imply that the phone is based on some sort of concept or being connected at all times, its a concept of the entire phone interface being browser based and all apps running within that browser.. Genius actually.

One last note, you DO need a data plan to activate this phone.. But as my company was not willing to pay the monthly data plan, they got bell to add data for 24 hours so I could activate the phone and then remove the plan. So if anyone else gets a NO from Bell, I am confirming that they can do this with some persuasion.
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carlyTKO

this really helps me out.
i'm a student and around wireless ALWAYS. at home, at school, at the cafes!
this is amazing. i'm going to try to get persuade them because the phone is gorgeous.
it would make emailing easier without carrying a laptop.
a data plan doesn't really fit my budget. but one student offer does.
so let's help it does.

thanks prelover for giving us a little bit of hope.
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drparty

I'm in the same boat as you, I literally live under wifi 99% of the time, I have better wifi signal at school than I do cellphone coverage. So paying $30 a month for data for 1% utilization is retarded.

I'm probably going to have to do an ESN change to get this to work on verizon because they don't allow activations without a data plan, but if I can manage that I'll definitely be using this without a data plan.

Right now I carry around a regular phone and an ipod touch, this would allow me to combine devices which would totally rock.
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boardnbrad

How can you turn off the 3g and just use it as a phone and use wifi hotspots?
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boardnbrad

if this solution works with the palm pre would it work with the other version the pal pre pixie?
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Jedinate

Without a data plan, this phone is just a pretty candy bar, most of the apps/games run off the data plan. Not to be rude, but I'm not sure why this phone is even on your radar, if you don't want to pay for data.
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stridermt2k

Good to see you can't be swayed by things like logic, reason or the ongoing policies of the major carriers.

Best of luck with that.
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leftkidney

I would like to know how to use my car without tires, they cost to much and I would rather not have them if there is an alternative
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harken

You obviously haven't read this thread.

If you only need your car to listen to music, warm yourself up, make love in the back seat, and store stuff in the trunk, the answer would be - don't waste your money on tires. That would be the proper analogy.

What you are saying would make sense if the discussion was "I want to use a Palm Pre without a battery".

Nice try though.
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16 users following this discussion, including:

  • PatW
  • aklee
  • stridermt2k
  • leftkidney
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  • floosack
  • caje
  • Darnitol
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