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Samsung S390G via Tracfone

As a means to reduce telephony costs, I recently bought a refurbished Samsung s390G from Tracfone. The cost was the same as the 60 minute card that came with it. Since the phone is a ‘triple minutes for life’ and there was a sign-up bonus, the $20 paid for 200 minutes or 150 days of service whichever comes up first. 5 months (150 days) with the old landline cost more than $175. Porting the number and adding a year of service to the Tracfone for about a hundred dollars would get me a bonus 100 minutes. That comes to a year and a half and 1400 minutes for about $120 vs $600 for the landline. If you don’t do a lot of telephone yacking, this is a good way to keep costs down. The Tracfone provides many features and free long distance that the landline does not, too.

The S390G uses the ATT GSM network with a SIM card. You can also plug a micro SD card into it for videos, music, or other data. The card needs to be formatted as FAT32. A 32GB card I got on sale a while back works just fine. Until I find my micro USB cable, I’ll have to use sneaker net to move files to the card for the phone, though.

A major gripe with the S390G, a ‘candy bar’ style phone, is that it will dial 911 when bounced around in a pocket with the keyboard unprotected. It seems that hitting “000” and the OK button will call for SOS when the keypad is locked. Nice idea for emergencies but maybe too convenient? One solution is to get a case to protect the keyboard. Another is to keep the keypad unlocked.

It seems counter-intuitive to leave the keypad unlocked to avoid improper calls but the odds seem stacked. The ‘0’ key is near the edge of the device and the OK button is a big one near the middle. The ‘000’ macro doesn’t reset with improper keying. If you unlock the keypad, the macro is no longer in effect and you have to enter a proper number and then hit send to dial out. The numbers are in the middle of the keypad so the odds of getting a properly formed telephone number to dial are not that high. The speed dial numbers require one button press to get out of sleep and then a long push on a single number to dial. That’s higher odds than dialing a complete number followed by send that needs proper consideration. It is still a good idea to get a case to protect the phone.

The phone runs Java which means that there are a lot of apps that can be run on it. I have Opera mobile as a secondary browser, for instance. Google Maps runs but seems to have some problems. A key for I’net access programs is to use wifi so you don’t run up telephone minutes. Out of wifi range, I’net access is billed at half time.

Techie Buzz has a report about how Opera Mini and Mobile Continue Growing, Web Pass Gets off to a Good Start.

Wap Review has links to a number of sites with mobile apps. Some sites may not know about the S390G so you might need to use S5270 or other Samsung phone as an ID to help find an appropriate listing.

Other parts of this telephony cost reduction effort included getting an Obi ATA (analog telephone adapter — Amazon affiliate link)) connected to the Google Voice services. That provides VOIP with no additional costs. E911 service can be obtained, if desired, from one of many VOIP providers. The Obi device can be configured to work with many such providers and isn’t restricted to just one like MagicJack, NetTalk, Ooma, or whatever. More sometime …!

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