For at least the past 2 years now, I’ve been trying to find a good cell phone that has WIFI capabilities, but does not require a data plan for a “reasonable” price. I really thought that this would not be difficult thing to accomplish. However, I still haven’t found this cell phone yet.

To give you some more insight as to why I’m searching for this device, here is some more information that I think would best explain why I’m looking for this functionality in particular: Many have asked me, “Why don’t you want the data plan?” Simple, data plans for cell phones are too expensive (in my opinion), and I’m too cheap to pay for it. A standard everything data plan costs approximately $30 / month for every major carrier that I have seen. That’s $360 per year. I spent less than that on the last desktop and laptop that I purchased (individually, not combined). $360 is probably my tech budget for entire year. As I said, I’m cheap…

Currently, I use Sprint and I have a $150 credit toward a new phone if I sign up to a new 2 year contract with them . So, I called them and asked them if they have a phone that has WIFI capabilities but does not require a data plan. This was my only requirement for a phone. They came back with only one phone, the Samsung Intrepid. The price tag after discounts and rebates, $150. I asked if they had one cheaper, and they said no. So, I called AT&T. According to the customer service rep, AT&T does not carry a phone with WIFI capabilities that does not require a data plan.  I called Verizon and received the same answer.  After some google searching to just make sure, I found that Verizon and AT&T both have an official stance on this, that they require a data plan for smartphone capable devices that they sell through the respective carriers.  US Cellular also has the same policy.

My last hope was T-Mobile.  They currently have 1 phone that has this capability, the Blackberry Pearl.  One problem: According to the user forums, if you don’t hook up the data plan, the Blackberry functions can not be used.  Apparently, they are not programmed to allow usage of these services with a WIFI connection.  WTF…  I understand why there is no push to fix this, because it’s more incentive to force users into paying for a data plan.  But, let’s look at this logically.

Blackberry provides web services for anyone that purchases Blackberry phones right?  By requiring that I pay for a data plan in order to access the service, you are basically imposing a monthly service fee on me.  How come your competitors don’t do this?  If I purchase an Apple iPhone or Apple iPod Touch, all the built-in applications (the app store, itunes, email apps, etc.) all work with a WIFI connection.  They do not require an additional data plan in order to operate them.  I get these services for free as a complement for purchasing the phone that works with these services.   It’s just one more thing that I think will eventually be part of Blackberry’s demise.

To break into my theory about the future of Smartphones, here’s a review (as I see it) of the current companies in the marketplace.  Palm once ruled the smartphone market.  They were the 900 lb. gorilla in the room.  Blackberry comes along with a slick services platform to complement their phone and swiftly start taking away the market share and became the king of the smartphone market.  Then comes along Apple that has an even slicker services platform and starts cleaning up from a different angle: target consumers first and eventually work your way into the businesses.  Now enters Google, with the slickest services platform to date.  As I see it, Apple and Google Android will be the leaders in the marketplace, with Google Android eventually becoming king (unless Apple is smart enough to extend on their services offering to compete with Google).  Palm is dead and Blackberry is quickly bleeding.  Blackberry still has a chance to rebound, but they are making all the wrong decisions.

In addition to the WIFI with no data plan issue, if I want to develop for the Blackberry and have my application in the marketplace, I have to pay an upfront application fee of $250 which is good to publish 5 applications.  Apple charges $99 per year, Android’s is $25, and Palm is free (if you open source the code, $99 otherwise).  Not to mention that Apple and Google Android allow you to price applications for $0.99 (an impulse buy), where Blackberry requires a minimum app amount of $2.99.

Recently on an episode of Diggnation, Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht talked about how Blackberry is the “battle tested tank” and that most business people prefer it to the Droid or iPhone.  They’re right…  However, this “tank” still releases new models each year that amount to a new coat of paint (buy our new “blue tank”, it’s pre-waxed!).  All the while, the competition is releasing a tank that can fly.  So, the competing tank doesn’t have as heavy armor, and the main turret isn’t as powerful, but it can fly!  The issue is that Blackberry is releasing the same device in a new shell without any innovation (not on the phones or the services as far as I have seen).  Apple and Google Android on the other hand are innovating, with their devices, OS, and services offering.  This is why Blackberry needs to innovate…  or they will die in this battle.

Back to my original issue, for now I’m confined to using 2 separate devices for this WIFI/Smartphone functions and cellular phone services.  grr….  Interestingly enough, from doing research on this topic, it appears I’m not the only one looking for this functionality in a single device.  Which goes into another theory of mine, eventually data plans will become obsolete because there will be WIFI hotspots everywhere.

UPDATE 04/01/2010

I moved the article links and my rants/predictions about the future of the smartphone market to this page: Cell phones with WIFI, no data plan required on Page Plus – and more.  On that page, I’ve also added some links on phones that will work on Page Plus if you decide to go with them for cellular service.

UPDATE 03/31/2010

I decided to go with Page Plus.  Page Plus is a prepaid cell phone card service that runs on the Verizon Wireless network.  The customer service isn’t the best, but the cell service paired with a VERY competitive price makes it a deal that you can’t pass up.  You can get 1,200 Talk minutes +1,200 Texts for $29.95 per month.  If you decide to go with them, I have to recommend Festoons.  Tony at Festoons is very prompt and will port your phone number from your existing carrier for $0.99.  You can also buy prepaid cards through him at a discount.  He was even able to activate a phone for me that Page Plus customer service told me wouldn’t work.  I now have a GPS-enabled, WIFI smartphone and the monthly cell service payment is under $30 /month.  If you need an unlimited plan, they have an unlimited Talk and Text plan for $39.95 / month.

UPDATE 03/15/2011

Festoons no longer offers the discounted prepaid cards.

UPDATE 09/25/2011

I’m now using a Motorola Droid with Page Plus.  I published a post about my experience thus far.


134 Responses to Cell phones with WIFI, no data plan required

  1. basia says:

    therefore for internet use you need about 1 G processor and 1/2 G RAM, capacitive touch screen is much better, bigger screen 4, 41/2 inch. It will cost cost around 200 – 240$ on Chinese website. These phones are 2g/3g network, no 4g. I like these phones because I can use them in other countries, I just buy prepaid sim card when I travel (the phones have 2 sim cards slots). You can also buy unlocked brand name phones from ebay (Samsung Galaxy II would be good choice for you).

  2. amy says:

    I have Samsung flash phone unlocked. It was an at&t phone originally. Now on Tmobile. I have been using it with WiFi only and cell phone service just fine.

  3. horselady says:

    try a kin twom. I just got one and it is great. had to buy it on ebay. it is hard to find.

  4. horselady says:

    I just got a kin twom by verizon. had to buy it on ebay but no data plann and does have wifi. works great!

  5. volmarstein says:

    I have a Samsung GT-B7722i dual SIM smartphone. I can access internet through wifi with no SIM in it. I can also access my email by using a different SIM as the primary SIM and my email provider’s SIM (VM) as a dormant secondary SIM. In fact I asked them to switch the roaming off.

    So I am getting internet and email with no data plan i.e. no data charge on top of my wifi. I resolved to do this – there is NO WAY that I will ever be willing to be ripped off with these data plan charges.

  6. Andy says:

    This is what the next cell phone comapny does since wifi is now free in many places with a computer the cell phone company that want to make a killing designs a phone that can access the wifi services and act like a small basic PC one uses the phone to talk to people and the internet to email and surf charge a minimum price for the phone service and you would make a killing the cell service are very inexpense People paying hugh amount for dat plans they rarely use would flock to this company

  7. Andy says:

    This is what the next cell phone comapny does since wifi is now free in many places with a computer the cell phone company that want to make a killing designs a phone that can access the wifi services and act like a small basic PC one uses the phone to talk to people and the internet to email and surf charge a minimum price for the phone service and you would make a killing the cell service are very inexpense People paying hugh amount for dat plans they rarely use would flock to this company whAT DO YOU THINK

  8. Amy says:

    Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro :)

  9. Dvp25 says:

    I know how u feel. If there was a descent phone on the world with no data plans, I would hurry and buy it cuz I play sports so I could check calendars in case I forgot.

  10. FruGal says:

    volmarstein – What carrier do you have with the Samsung GT-B7722i dual SIM smartphone?

    I too do not have the money in my tech budget to pay $99 a month for a phone/data plan. At first I though I could buy a used phone that has WIFI but Verizon said they require the data plan if the phone is a smart phone. I told them I only wanted to use WIFI where it free to customers like at coffee shops or at home where I have my own WIFI. Its all about the money. I can’t believe how much money people pay each month for a phone then add Internet at home etc.

  11. Tre' says:

    Honestly the best thing to do is to get an IPOD TOUCH and put it in your other pocket thats what I do. It works and has a fast browser on the WIFI.

  12. Tom says:

    A foster child of mine gets the 30$ prepaid card from AT&T. he put the sim card in my old iphone 3 and he has wifi, phone, and unlimited text. works good

  13. MikeNYC says:

    I’m with Tre’, I’ve got a flip phone, and an ipod touch.
    It’s all that you need. Why pay the money when there are tons of WiFi hotspots.Instead of giving Verizon the money I’ll put that $30 bucks a month into a college fund for my kid.

  14. BillC says:

    Tre’ and MikeNYC, you guys are missing the point. Anybody can concede and carry 2 devices, but that is a pain. I would like the PDA function in the same device as my cell phone, period. I only need to be connected via telephone 24 / 7. I don’t need full time internet connectivity. I understand the industry is moving to make the cell phone the single device that people have for connectivity, but that doesn’t work for everybody. I want a phone that I can take pictures with, text with, play mp3s with and can also sync e-mail and calendar functions with my work and home PCs. That’s it. No need for full time internet. I still have my Nokia flip phone I had with T-Mobile. Nokia’s software for the PC was great because it interfaced with Microsoft Outlook for e-mail, calendar, contacts and notes. I could also send and receive text messages on my PC through my phone. It all happened through Bluetooth so as soon as I was within range of my PC it connected. Sweet setup. I assumed Samsung would have something equivalent but am sadly disappointed and Verizon’s software is garbage as well.

  15. KerryH says:

    I used to use a jailbreak first-gen iPhone and just turned off the edge. Someone AT&T never forced me to have the data plan and yet they my husband to have a data plan with his HTC. Eventually the reception on my iPhone got so bad I had to stop using it. Now I’m looking for a nice replacement smart phone minus the data plan. I have the money, but I also don’t care about having a data plan. I have internet at home and work. I’ve used all the money I’ve saved to buy my dad and husband iPads. I think I will switch to T-Mobile prepaid plan as they allow you to not have a data plan with a smartphone. Still I’d rather have a phone that is made to be used with wifi only. It makes me angry that the phone companies are trying to force people to use data plans. They have the lame excuse that some people are accidentally using data and getting huge bills and therefore they have to force people to have a data plan. Such a dumb lie. They could easily add software to fix that issue, but of course they really just want to make more money. I don’t know why more folks aren’t angry about their greed.

  16. Tom says:

    The solution to your dilemma is the Samsung SCH-i760. It is a pocket PC with wifi and does NOT require a data plan. It was one of those few “smart” phones that came out before Verizon became data Nazis. The i760 is not the best phone in the world, but it has the features you are asking for. I’ve used this phone for 2 years now and I don’t plan on giving it up any time soon. No way I’m going to pay for 3g data when there is free wifi almost everywhere you go. Good luck.

  17. Melody says:

    I have had the KinOnem for about a year now, and it has wifi , the data plan is an can..but its not required. I dropped this phone SOOO many times, I even dropped it in water..completely subbed for about 5-6 seconds..and it still works..great phone, great feautures..

  18. tyler says:

    i have the lg android silver and i dont have a data plan and it works with wifi

  19. Susan says:

    I so agree with everthing said above. My 2year plan is up now with Verizon and I refuse to get a phone with a data plan. So true about using an ipod where wifi is available. I thought I was the only who felt this way!

  20. Kristin says:

    I so agree to all the comments above also. Why pay for a data plan when WiFi is all I need? We really need and have Verizon for talk and text in our area but do NOT want to add data. I am due for a new phone and would LOVE a Smartphone that I could connect to WIFI on, but no data on VERIZON. Is there one???

  21. Pacersouth says:

    I too have a samsung i760 which can be used without a data plan..they are relaible when new although in my use as they age the screen becomes sensitve and while using a stylus it sometimes does not recognise the cammand. A good phone and text tool with good reception, however the wifi is slow..have also looked extensivly for a newer edition with the same features but so far no luck..verizon sales said that it is the last smart phone you can use without a data package.Up for a good sugestion.

  22. nick says:

    This phone does not exist buddy

  23. Rachelray says:

    I completely agree with all these comments. My previous phone was the Kin One. I loved that phone. It did not require a data plan, same with the kin two. My kin one did break. I don’t know what it did, but it kept going in this loop of “updating”. well, Verizon supplied me with The Samsung Brightside. I’m trying to find another Kin now. The Brightside is so weird. I wish they had good variety of basic phones now. It seems all carriers care only about smartphones.

  24. sue says:

    I wish these cell phone companies would get with it and make some decent no data plan phones. I too refuse to pay for data each month with the hot spots all over, computer at work and home . Really I don’t need to even attempt to look on the web while i am driving.

  25. Tiffu says:

    Whenever you adopt a brand,
    you have to deal with a learning curve.

    As time goes on your device is tested.

    Blackberries are durable.

    If there is NO water damage, and the device
    has NO electrical defects,
    all external defects will take 18 mo. or more to
    be rendered undesireable

    You want something for free but don’t want
    to invest in another contract.

    Retail cost of a device printed inside of a sprint
    store isn’t some kind of joke.

    That’s their retail cost to keep
    the metals of the retail facility,
    chairs, keep their lights on,

  26. Carol says:

    Carriers finally realized most people dropped the data plans to use WIFI and and the companies were losing money. That’s why the carriers are making getting a new phone more difficult. If you get a basic phone then you can’t use WIFI as before unless you pay the min. data fee. If you get a smart phone, which if you want something updated you have to do, you have to get the data package plan of at least $20.00 per month. Either way you’ll get screwed until someone puts a stop to it.

  27. Lucky says:

    If you buy unlocked iphone, on T-Mobile you can use without cell phone plan. This way you can use Wi-Fi without needing a data plan. I had this plan on iPhone4 a couple months ago. I wanted iPhone5, then I switched to ATT to get discounted price.

    The minimum plan they offer is $30 for 1500 minutes/texts, no data plan… That’s it.

  28. A.T.N. says:

    Has anyone tried republic wireless, they count on a person using wifi and thus their costs are low since the hope is that your data usage will be lower? You do have to buy “their” phone… but.. still… I was just wondering if anyone had tried this. I learned about it in an article posted by Clark Howard.

  29. David says:

    To Chris: You are not cheap, you are frugal. Regretfully, most people in this country allow greedy corporations rob them to the bone and are too lazy to raise their voice. That is why our government is so corrupt but people, like sheep, follow what their talk-show shepherd tells them, rather than thinking for themselves.

  30. Peter says:

    Verizon did have one phone the Kin Two WiFi and didn’t require the $ 30 per month data plan I owned the phone for bout 8 months then it stopped working was the first Windows based os I think it was killed by Verizon and Microsoft on purpose

  31. Elvia says:

    Havent finished , yet, reading your article…but just fyi. You are NOT cheap…You are wise with your money.
    I hope that all the big phone companys will get enough complaints from all of us disatisfied customers… I WAS grandfathered in , I love my smartphone, that had no data plan. I m older and dont NEED texting or internet ON my phone…but I like the big screen, and large read out for my aging eyes…we all need to keep complaining..I sent in my complaint …lets hope they change it…in a quick five years , if I succumb to their monopoly, they will have $ 2500 of our hard earned dollars for service I WONT EVEN BE USING…

  32. Char says:

    Sounds like collusion among the major carriers to force consumers to have a data plan with a wifi-capable phone. Would think law firms would jump at the chance for a large class-action antitrust lawsuit.

  33. Storm says:

    I am also one of the ” grandfathered ” in (bought smartphones and signed up without data requirement. they are blocking data on my account and I also locked up and plugged any possible data leaks. I am still paranoid and use flight mode with WiFi turned back on just in case . Was looking for wifi+ good camera phone without data for mom. he smartphone is acting out lately. what I am finding is railroading of customers towards expense of data plans and discrimination against customers who are older bit still should have an opportunity to own a semi decent phone with usable feature

  34. Throssel says:

    U.S. Cellular and Virgin Mobile carries an android smartphone that doesn’t require a mobile data plan, but let’s you use WiFi and the regular texting/calling features. The Alcatel One Touch Premiere / Alcatel Venture.

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