Unfortunately, this seems like an odd juncture for cell phones and mobile phone companies. Now that I can get current cell phone releases on the best cell phone plan for business owners, it would seem that all I need do is pick one that would be the best cell phone for a freelance writer. Too bad it isn’t that easy.
The latest and greatest cell phones like the HTC EVO 4G and the Samsung Epic 4G are, not surprisingly, 4G phones and thus come with an unacceptable $10 per month premium. (That’s $120 per year extra per line, or $240 per year for our home business.)
The tricky part is that the older phones are not necessarily that much cheaper than the top-of the line mobile phones which makes it less appealing to take their “last-year’s model” status as a good thing. And, with Microsoft rolling out both Office 2010 Mobile and Office Web Apps, there is always the possibility that, as a professional writer, what doesn’t matter to me today, might be a critical issue in a year or two when clients start requesting me to do the kinds of things that are only possible using those tools and a nice speedy 4G network.
Lastly, while technology writers are quick to criticize Microsoft’s late arrival to the power cell phone movement with Windows Mobile 7, the truth is that I haven’t needed an upgrade to my WinMo 6.1 operating system and therefore can’t wonder how “late” WinMo7 really is. But, that means waiting another six months, and as everyone who has experience in technology knows, you never buy version 1.0 of a Microsoft product. And yes, the upgrade to Windows Mobile 7 is so substantial that the rule applies.
Right now, the options are not appealing, which is why I am investigating the alternative on a Sunday afternoon instead of working on building my freelance writing business pipeline.
There are mobile phone forums out there where savvy cell phone users create custom ROMs which are basically user created upgrades to the software that comes standard on cell phones from the manufacturer. These custom operating systems for mobile phones can enable new features, make older phones compatible with newer software, and even offer upgrades that the companies won’t release at all. For example, Microsoft is not offering, and does not plan to offer, upgrades to Windows Mobile 6.1 to Windows Mobile 6.5 (and probably not to Windows Mobile 7) for existing phone owners, and since some software will only run on WinMo 6.5 or — eventually — WinMo 7 that can be a show stopper. But, there are TONS of custom ROMs out there for the HTC Touch and other phones that will make them Windows Mobile 6.5 and more.
The catch is that installing them is not a simple process. It requires flashing the ROM in the phone, which is similar in concept to upgrading the firmware of something if you are familiar with that process. If you do it wrong, it can mess up your phone. They call it “bricking,” an allusion to the fact that if you ruin your phone’s system badly enough, it won’t be able to do anything, rendering a nice, rounded, rubberized brick.
What’s a small business owner to do?
What is your small business doing? Are the programs or applications running on your cell phone today so indispensable for your business success that you would gladly pay for 4G or more?
Let me know. (Relevant, useful, helpful, comments will be given links that have following on them. Others will be trashed or marked spam.)