So for all you T-Mobile owners out there, I’ve found a few fun ways to give your device a new lease on life. It’s true that we are all getting tired of the lack of 3G service by T-Mobile, or maybe the “long in the tooth” look & feel of Windows Mobile 5 and the ridiculous T-Mobile theme that shipped with the MDA.
It’s a good thing too, because right now there is simply too much turmoil in the mobile market to pick a good successor to our trusty little devices. What are the options? Go back to a “dumb” phone? Switch to a non-touch screen Smartphone? Go the Nokia N-series route? Spend upwards of $800 on an HTC unlocked device? Bite the bullet and jump to AT&T and the iPhone?
Well I’ve got some great ideas and news for you that will help pass the time waiting for new devices, and answers to some questions that will make that aging phone more productive and fun.
First, lets start with the one thing that we simply can’t change: 3G. No, there is no way at all to fix that. But there are workarounds: T-Mobile Internet & WiFi HotSpots. I’ve had the full unfiltered Internet & HotSpot service from T-Mobile for nearly two years and have used it extensively. Mostly I’ve used the WiFi with my laptop and really like knowing that I can hit any Starbucks Coffee location and enjoy decent connectivity. It used to be $30/mo. but they changed the pricing on that a few months ago to $20/mo. for customers with a voice plan. If you combine that, T-Mobiles GPRS/EDGEand some free WiFi spots, it’ll cover a lot of a person’s daily stomping ground.
Second, we’ll talk a bit about the user interface. It’s tired, it’s old, it’s boring. The iPhone sure has a great UI. But have you noticed the various 3rd party solutions to this problem? There is the PointUI Home interface, HTC’s “Touch Cube” interface for select HTC devices only, and recently SPB Software House’s Mobile Shell. I’ve chosen this piece of software because of the simple elegance of it, the functionality, and the fact that it’s really darn stable and doesn’t slow down the device. In addition I’ve picked up SPB Pocket Plus which, among other things, adds a touch-based scrolling action to the native applications in Windows Mobile. Too cool! These simple additions make the device much easier to use, easier to look at and FUN!
Third on the list has to be tunes. For this I was recently surprised that the Rhapsody Music Service recognizes Windows Mobile devices as “Play’s For Sure” devices. That means that it can sync any of their DRM’d content to the phone. Sure.. I’ve been an advocate of non-DRM for years – still am actually. However, I’m just not willing to part with the thousands of dollars that I’d have to spend to get all the music I want to choose from. With Rhapsody, I can spend $15(US) and be able to sync any track from their over 4 million strong selection to my MDA. Slip in a larger 2GB (maybe a 4GB…?) miniSD card and I’m pretty darn happy on this front.
So, no it’s not a new phone, nor does it bring a ton of new functionality. But with these hacks, tweaks, and upgrades, it doesn’t compare badly with newer phones. After all, it’s really the services and experiences we’re after. And these darn things aren’t cheap! I made a $400(US) investment in this phone over two years ago – and to think that I still am getting value from it is amazing. What’s more, I keep finding ways to answer my immediate needs demonstrates that the HTC Wizard will long be remembered as one of the most flexible and adaptable phones in mobile device history.
Come on! Share some of your hacks and upgrades in the comments below. What else makes this device still viable in the face of recent competition?