Question for smart phone users

When you are in a location that provides free wifi, do you switch to wifi from broadband to minimize data usage? Does it even make sense to do so?

Whether it’s worth it depends on the plan. I’m on a pay-by-the-day plan (self-employed; work at home; rarely use the phone), so if I’m out with it I’ll look for an open hotspot to do any data transfers–saves me the measly few bucks to go online for the day.

If someone has a capped data plan and just wanted to check their calendar for updates or email for new text items, I can see the minimal data amounts as being not worth the effort to turn off data/turn on and connect to wifi. But if they’re going to watch a video or do any other data-intensive action, saving the plan’s allocation for when they’re out of wifi-range would make sense. Particularly if you’re, say, waiting in a doctor’s office and have no idea whether you’ve time to just check email or will look to browze Reddit or whatnot.

Lastly, consider speed. The various Gs out there may be faster than what was available before, but as a general rule (IME), wifi speeds are almost always much, much faster than any data plan.

I don’t, but I am grandfathered in on AT&T’s old unlimited data plan.
When I am home I switch to wi-fi because it’s faster.

I usually do, but I only have 3G on my iPhone 4s, so it makes a big difference.

iPhones switch more or less automatically, unless you disable it. It will seek out wi-fi and pop up a screen asking if you want to connect. If it’s a wi-fi network you’ve connected to before, it doesn’t even ask. So yeah, I do it. I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t - it’s fast, easy, potentially saves me money, and is faster than cell data.

WiFi at home only. I’ve never had the need to use free Wifi elsewhere.

I do if it’s convenient, or if I know I want to make a big download like a video or something. Otherwise, I don’t really bother. HSPDA+ 4g is plenty fast enough for me.

I use my phone to do actual work/even tether sometimes. I rarely hit 2gigs/month.

There are also apps you can download which you can train to automatically log into free hotspots like Starbucks and Mcdonalds which makes it even more seamless.

I’m on the old unlimited data plan too…so I don’t switch to WiFi.

At home, I switch to my laptop instead. It’s better at surfing the web than my phone. Bigger screen, real keyboard…

I generally don’t bother. I’ve disabled the “Automatically Ask to Join WiFi Networks” feature, because I got sick of it obnoxiously popping up whenever I walked or drove by a place with a WiFi network.

Lots of free WiFi networks are a pain in the ass. They’re either slow, or require you to accept some kind of terms and conditions page before using them, or unreliable.

Also, the iPhone has an annoying habit of trying to cling to the last WiFi network it connected to long after it has gone out of range, and refusing to use the cellular network until it is absolutely sure the WiFi network is not responding.

This leads to the following behavior: I walk into a Starbucks and wait in line. I kill some time reading news on my phone while in line, then am interrupted by paying for my coffee. Then I leave, walk a block away, and pull out my phone again to check my email while waiting for the light to change so I can cross the street. My phone shows a 1-bar WiFi connection, but nothing is happening. After about 30 seconds, it finally realizes it is out of range, and I get my email.

To avoid the hassle, I pretty much only use WiFi at home and at the office. I don’t use my 3G connection to watch movies or download large files, and despite heavy email and internet use, I’ve never had a problem with my 2 GB cap.

I always switch to wifi whenever possible.

I always switch whenever possible, and I always use WiFi at home and other places I go often. But I pay for the lowest possible amount of data: 250 Mb per month. I’ve never exceeded it.

If the network details are stored in my phone, it will switch automatically (home, work, a few places I frequent with free public wi-fi - not many) but if not I will hardly ever bother to do it manually. I have unlimited 4G so the only times I will manually choose Wifi over this is if the cellular connection drops back to 3G or if I don’t have very good signal.

Y’all should be using something like Locale, one of the features is that it’ll use GPS and only turn wifi at your house or wherever you choose.

I have an LTE phone and an unlimited plan. Depending on the location, it may be faster than WiFi–sometimes by a lot (fastest I’ve seen is 31 Mbps down/15 up). But that’s not the case everywhere and so sometimes WiFi is the best bet.

This. Turning off wifi when its not in use saves on battery.

There’s also the consideration that there are security concerns with using public/open wifi, so if you’re just connecting to any and all open connections willy-nilly you might not even be aware when and where you’re vulnerable. Sure, the chances might be slim that you’ll be transmitting sensitive data while you happen to be on an open connection that is being actively exploited, but if you’re not even conscious of it, you’ll never know. An ounce of prevention and all that…

Mine switches automatically, so I don’t usually think about it. then again, I’m almost always either at home or at work or in between, so I’m not tapping into all sorts of WiFi networks every day. I do wait until I’m home to download new apps, even though I’m on an unlimited data plan.

I have it set to automatically join ones it knows, but usually I will use cellular and not search out new WIFI networks unless the cellular service is poor/nonexistant. Slowly more automatic ones are added this way.

That popup screen I find very annoying so I disabled it.

I never use Wi-Fi, public or otherwise, with my phone. I rarely use more than 20% of my monthly bandwidth, and part of the reason I got a smartphone is for the security of having my own connection.

I’m with the group that will switch to public WiFi only if I need to do something high-bandwidth and low-security, like watching movies. If I’m checking e-mail or something of that sort, I stick with my 4G connection.

Of course, I do everything by WiFi at home and at the office.

I do this fairly often, because I get paranoid about running over my data plan, though it’s never happened. On the other hand, I don’t have the ‘automatically connect to wifi’ setting on - so I only do it somewhere that I know there’s free wifi that’s not a pain to connect to. Luckily the phone is good at remembering which networks I’ve connected to before and automatically reconnecting. :slight_smile: