Cheap plan for Mobile AIM

My contract is up and I’m looking to get a phone that’s good for mobile AIM (I’ve always wanted one, but never had it). I want full QWERTY. Hopefully PDA features/smartphone.

I’ll shell out for the phone, but I don’t want a contract. Preferably pre-paid.

So I look into the sidekick… and they’re not selling it anymore! (Jesus Christ, what a monster fuckup at Microsoft it was.) When will the sidekick be back? What are my other options? I’d love to get a smartphone sans data plan, but my current carrier won’t let me. I’ve read that I can just hook up a smartphone to a regular pre-paid if I turn off data (I do not need, or want, websites), but how can I get that to work with mobile AIM? And is mobile aim data or text messages? Oh, and what is the best AIM client, and what platform does it run on?

Hey! I think I found something.

Page Plus “Talk n Text 1200” It’s $30 a month, has 1200 voice minutes, 1200 texts, and 50 MB of data. Additional data is $0.60 a megabyte.

But I still need my question answered… is AIM on a Windows phone charged as text or data?

AOL instant messenger is data.

It actually depends on the app you use. The OZ IM client included in some vendor’s ROM images for example, uses text messages.

The non-smartphone I looked at in the Verizon store was said to use text messages for IMs. It does make sense though that an app running on a smartphone would be using data.

On Windows Mobile, you can do it either way. I would not, however, recommend using a Windows Mobile phone without a data plan. WM phones are only really good if you’re interested in various data-intensive apps, like Exchange email / calendar support, mobile web browsing, and remote PC control apps. As a basic PDA phone, they’re clunky and inelegant. Admittedly, you could rely on wifi for the data part.

Then again, I’d say most smartphones are hard to recommend without a data plan. I think most phones sold with a full QWERTY keyboard have some sort of AIM support now.

The Windows phone I wanted is this: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmobile/en-us/devices/details.mspx?id=89&backUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.microsoft.com%2Fwindowsmobile%2Fen-us%2Fdevices%2Fsmartphones.mspx%3f13%3d8%2614%3d%2636%3d1%2640%3d1%2641%3d1 It is the smallest, at 4.0 x 2.0 x 0.7". You’re right, I don’t want a big phone. What’s a QWERTY phone you’d recommend that’s significantly smaller?

I figure a smartphone would have the biggest choice of AIM clients (so I’m not stuck with some dinky built-in version), plus I could run all sorts of other programs.

The Touch Pro is a darn solid phone, but, again, it’s probably overkill without the data plan – especially since you’re basically looking at $400+ for the phone itself.

For whatever it’s worth, you might want to reconsider your aversion to a contract. Believe me, I realize how skeezy it feels being “contracted,” but the fact they they subsidize your phone so much can REALLY make it worthwhile. Especially now that companies all prorate the early termination fees, and it’s actually possible to get out of ETFs altogether if you’re willing to put up a fight on the phone.

If you’re at all willing to consider a contract and data plan, I highly recommend checking out the new Motorola Droid with Verizon – it’s one of the most capable devices I’ve ever seen and it has some seriously impressive features. Keep in mind that “data plan” doesn’t just mean web browsing. It also gets you email, movie showtimes, restaurant finders, calender sync, driving directions, etc. Some of that stuff can be pretty worthwhile.

The Touch Pro is $200 on Ebay. (This is version 1, not 2.) The contract doesn’t make sense to me. Even the “big” subsidies come out to just $10 a month. Plus, part of the reason I don’t want an unlimited data plan is that I’m sort of fighting my internet addiction at the moment (which just boils down to a Dope addiction, actually). The Page Plus comes with 50MB data and a “low” data overage charge, which I figure should be enough for AIM, email (set to not dl all the spam), and occasional websites viewed through Opera Turbo (ie compression). I’m open to phones besides windows, but I don’t want an Android. As much as I dislike Linux, I downright despise Google.

Here’s my new problem: the guy at the Page Plus store said that he had trouble putting Sprint phones onto the network. Can someone explain this whole ESN bs to me? There is also an Alltel version which is claimed by its seller to be compatible with Verizon (and by extension, Page Plus). (There’s also a Verizon version of the touch pro, but by god it’s ugly. I HATE how Verizon phones look).