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Best Phone For a Wi-Fi-Only Location?

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the cutting-the-tower dept.

Cellphones 289

bendodge writes "I am planning on heading to a university in a remote area with very poor cellular service (the only signal is spotty Verizon voice, no data). However, the entire campus is thoroughly blanketed in Wi-Fi. I am trying to find the best and most economical 'Wi-Fi phone' or else hack one together. Belkin/Netgear sell what is essentially a portable Skype device for $180. These folks recommend outfitting an iPod Touch with a mic and VoIP apps. I am looking for something that can make and receive calls to and from landlines with incoming call notification. What experiences have Slashdot readers had and what would you recommend?"

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Android (5, Informative)

SausageOfDoom (930370) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714250)

It may be a bit more expensive, but you could get any android phone and run sipdroid through a SIP provider of your choice, then forward your mobile number to your SIP line. Then you have the advantage that you can seamlessly switch to a mobile network when you go off-campus.

Re:Android (5, Informative)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714302)

Another vote for Sipdroid here.

Works flawlessly on WiFi as well as 3G, and the call quality through PBXes.org is landline-crystal-clear.

Re:Android (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714656)

What would be a good choice for a non-3G Android device?

Re:Android (3, Informative)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714742)

Are there any? The nice thing is that, as far as I know, they ALL have WiFi, and models like the HTC Magic and Dream should be dirt-cheap by now - so cheap that getting a full-blown Android smartphone is just a bonus... :)

Re:Android (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714760)

Forgot to add "excluding tablets" in the first sentence ;)

Re:Android (1)

Super Jamie (779597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714414)

You can also use Fring on Android to make Skype VoIP calls for free.

Re:Android (2, Informative)

SenseiLeNoir (699164) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714680)

OR if you can get hold of a second hand Nokia N95 (and some other series 60 phones which have WiFi), they can usually run SKype, and often have SIP built in, and can run without a SIM card, if you have that requirement.

Re:Android (3, Informative)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714798)

Hell, I don't know what this Sipdroid is at all. All I do is hit the "use wifi" checkbox on my vanilla G1 phone and it works fairly well (though I've had a few times I've had to turn the phone off and back on when moving repeatedly between cell and wifi zones).

Go G1 and hit the checkmark if you don't have the time to spend on customization. G1s should probably also be somewhat cheap now too, I would think.
...
Oh, I should note that I only use one wifi zone (my house - with authentication and encryption). I don't just hop around easily from Starbucks to the mall to wherever. I'd imagine that type of thing would involve config for each individual location. Assuming your campus has the same network name/config, I'd imagine a one time config would also do for you.

Re:Android (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714864)

One of these Andriod PDA would do. 7 inch screen, WiFi, microphone, $100. http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.39169

Nokia options (4, Informative)

SpzToid (869795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714916)

I refer to the Nokia VOIP compatibility list a lot for times like these, and the URL that has always worked is (I hope the pages works again, soon):

VoIP support in Nokia devices - Forum Nokia Wiki
http://www.forum.nokia.com/main/resources/technologies/voice_over_IP/voip_support_in_nokia_devices.html [nokia.com]

For clients, family, & friends, I always pointed out any Nokia phone on that list handled SIP natively. However it seems today Nokia is updating their site, and that URL is unavailable. I really hope the page comes back!

My own 'ancient' N95 with a 2nd forward-facing camera (needs Fring, but then I'm making skype-compatible video calls) does pretty everything the recent 2 generations of iPhone do. Only the newer iPhone shoots in higher resolution is all. But multitasking, SIP, tethering, and A2DP bluetooth (wireless phone/music headset), I've been enjoying all that stuff for several years earlier than Apple said I could.

My favorite app is SportTracker, which allows voice-enabled AGPS, or sans-data-plan then GPS navigation (that's 2 map apps, multitasking nicely). I can ride my bike, listen to tunes, a computer lady tells me when to turn, the music fades out softly for incoming-headset SIP calls. And I can upload my trip to Nokia's SportsTracker server, for social networking/exercise, w/ Gmaps, etc. Nokia is even coming out with a 15-20 euro bike-powered-charger; I can't wait. GPS wants juice. The N79 even records Polar heart tracking data, and uploads it along with any auto-geo-tagged MP3 playlist to SportsTracker.

The N900 _IS_ a linux computer, and I'll upgrade to it, or its successor, once my N95 dies, but so far, so very good. Nokia does great with software updates too; (over the ownership of this device, Nokia has impressed me this way; it is so much better than when it was new)

Please Be Advised:

Forum Nokia’s websites will be offline for a few hours today while we complete website enhancements.
All Forum Nokia sites will be unavailable during this time, including:

Forum.Nokia.com
Forum Nokia Community (Discussion Boards, Wiki, & Blogs)
Forum Nokia Developer Programs, including PRO, PRO Accelerator, and Launchpad
Forum Nokia Champion
Please come back soon as we will be up and running again shortly.

Use a specialized device (2, Interesting)

b34n (1754344) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714264)

The Belkin WiFi phone sounds like a good idea. The trouble with using an iPod touch would be the battery life with WiFi on. I've tried to browse for an hour so on my iPod Touch and it severely drains the battery. Why get a music player/gaming device if what you really need is a phone? Yup. Get the Belkin phone and subscribe to SkypeOut. I've been pretty satisfied with the call experience even when I've made international calls. Safest way to go IMO.

Re:Use a specialized device (5, Informative)

Ford Prefect (8777) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714390)

The Belkin WiFi phone sounds like a good idea.

No, it's not - I've got that exact one and it's shitting terrible. 'Unstable' is an understatement - it'll randomly lock-up and not take calls whenever it feels like it, refuses to connect to random WiFi devices that work perfectly with everything else, run out of battery after not really doing anything, crash whenever it feels like it, suffer from poor audio quality (and, until a firmware update vaguely fixed it, terrible echo), you name it...

Wondering if it was a new model, or at least the old model with updated firmware - I checked the downloads. The latest firmware's from 2007, and from experience I can tell you is still as buggy as anything.

My second-generation iPod Touch running Skype felt like a wondrous device from the distant future in comparison - that is, until I left it on a bus. Also, it wouldn't really act as a phone - no Skype running in the background, and so on...

I make do with a laptop these days.

Re:Use a specialized device (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714462)

with jailbroken ipod touch u can do it.

Re:Use a specialized device (2, Informative)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714476)

Actually nowadays you CAN run Skype(and other VOIP software) in the background.

Re:Use a specialized device (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714930)

I 2nd this. I bought it too and it's pretty bad. It's big, the paint chips off the buttons from day 1 and the general connection reliability is really bad.

Pay the extra hundred or so and get a netbook or a higher quality general purpose smartphone that can handle skype.

Re:Use a specialized device (2, Informative)

nyctopterus (717502) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714510)

Can's say how it would perform as a phone, but my experience of the battery life on an iPod Touch is very good. I get hours (~6) of more or less continuous browsing on mine, and that's with the screen on and actively rendering pages every few minutes as well as WiFi (obviously).

E-Series Nokia or other WiFi-capable Symbian phone (5, Informative)

rxmd (205533) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714266)

When I was in a similar situation I simply got a used Symbian phone (in my case a Nokia E60 for some 50 EUR, the most important thing is there to get one with the S60 operating system.). You should be able to use that with Skype for Symbian, or alternatively with fring if your phone is not supported directly. Works well.

The E-series Nokias had the advantage is that they also included a SIP client out of the box so you weren't limited to Skype. Also there is a Python programming environment if you're into that sort of thing.

Unlike the iPod Touch it also has the advantage that it works as a phone when you're somewhere where there actually is cellular reception, or when you go abroad.

Re:E-Series Nokia or other WiFi-capable Symbian ph (4, Interesting)

Apotekaren (904220) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714272)

The E-series is a great solution, or if you want a more geeky toy, the N900. Prepare to charge the phone daily though, if you keep the WiFi active with Skype online all day.

Re:E-Series Nokia or other WiFi-capable Symbian ph (5, Informative)

AVee (557523) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714426)

IF you have the cash I would definitely go for the N900. Both skype and sip work perfectly over wifi (and 3g for that matter) without the need for separate apps. The phone just works identical for Skype, SIP and normal GSM. (Leading to weird situations where you pick up the phone never realizing it's a Skype call, while the other party assumes you're at home behind a PC...)

Re:E-Series Nokia or other WiFi-capable Symbian ph (3, Informative)

dr00p (56154) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714438)

My N95 is an amazing SIP device. The native SIP implementation means that a SIP call behaves exactly like a normal call. Just dial the number as usual, just choose internet call instead of voice call. It works over wifi and 3G, almost seamless.
As for NAT, I never had any problems with it. It has NAT transversal support.

As for cheap, you can always buy one second hand.

Re:E-Series Nokia or other WiFi-capable Symbian ph (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714500)

The Nokia N900 is an amazing phone, although the battery life is pretty meh. It comes with Skype capabilities built into it.

Re:E-Series Nokia or other WiFi-capable Symbian ph (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714524)

I'll second this. Got my n900 a few months back for the exact same reason as the OP. Now I am connected continously to a number of VOIP and other services receiving calls and starting them without hardly knowing the difference. It all just works.

Re:E-Series Nokia or other WiFi-capable Symbian ph (4, Informative)

zyzko (6739) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714682)

Another metoo here - the way N900 handles Skype and VOIP is very nice.

But seriously, be aware of the battery drain. N900 lasts for a day with WiFi on and with moderate Skype use (always signed in, max. ~2h talktime). And what's annoying it still can't use all the power-saving thingies in WiFi with certain access points so you might have a surprise in some locations with hot phone draining the battery in full speed. The good thing is that it still gets fixes and matures and wifi-related bugs are still being closed.

And it is still quite expensive. If the only requirement was the wifi and SIP/Skype I would definitely google around for the Nokia E-series (S60 3rd edition, do not bother with older ones) - they tend to have good battery life and Skype and VOIP works - and you don't get the power drain of the N900's large touchscreen and Linux kernel which frankly isn't as mature on the N900 as the Symbian equivelant is regarding to power management.

Re:E-Series Nokia or other WiFi-capable Symbian ph (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714312)

A Nokia N95 is probably still the best as a small SIP based Wifi phone - I still miss mine (it died after getting wet). You should be able to get a second hand one very cheap.
You must be careful new nokia phones now as Nokia has removed the Client front end from most of their new phones which means the Sip engine can't be used. I have tried a couple of alternative clients but they are nowhere near as good as the original nokia client. (Boo Hiss Nokia - put it back). You also can't rely on sales agents knowing what you are talking about so research very carefully and beware of update versions.

On any system you chose you will find that you will need a power supply handy - wifi sucks batteries dry in a couple of hours, even if your not talking (obviously you need to be connected to recieve calls)

Re:E-Series Nokia or other WiFi-capable Symbian ph (2, Informative)

parim (1783676) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714374)

I have to agree with rxmd, the nokia N-series and the E-series have a an amazing sip stack. one more thing, sip has a lot of issues behind a NAT.one more opting is the nokia n900, it has a front facing webcam and has complete Skype integration.

Re:E-Series Nokia or other WiFi-capable Symbian ph (1)

Tx (96709) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714436)

Another Nokia option to consider - I have the Nokia XpressMusic 5530, while it doesn't have the SIP client, Skype runs great on it, and it's actually a great little budget touchscreen phone. No 3G or GPS (that's why it's cheap), but Google maps works with cell-tower location pretty well, and the screen is just about big enough for usable web browsing. Battery life sucks with wifi on continuously though.

Re:E-Series Nokia or other WiFi-capable Symbian ph (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714630)

I agree, I have an E65 and it's fantastic. Lots of connectivity options (Wifi, Bluetooth, 3G) and it's rather cheap as well these days.

Re:E-Series Nokia or other WiFi-capable Symbian ph (1)

horza (87255) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714784)

Another vote for the Nokia (in my case E71). I wouldn't use the mobile Skype app as last time I checked they charged for pure VoIP calls. However you can use any SIP provider and there are numerous VoIP apps. Fring [fring.com] is worth checking out, does things like Skype, MSN Messenger, ICQ, Google Talk, SIP and Twitter all in one go. I used to use Gizmo5 until it was bought out by Google and they withdrew it from the public. Truphone [truphone.com] is also not bad, but voice calls only.

Phillip.

iPod Touch (3, Informative)

Manip (656104) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714270)

The iPod Touch ships with a microphone on the 3GS and above. It is built into the Apple earphones. You can download Skype for free. I would use that but only if you need an iPod / MP3 player anyway. If you don't then you could pick up a Netbook for the same price that can do a lot more...

Re:iPod Touch (1)

bestadvocate (816742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714342)

I found this webpage http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/voice/thread?tid=22622a539146aeed&hl=en [google.com] It describes how to set this up using Gizmo5 (no longer available for signup) with ether GVdialer(also no longer available) or Nimbuzz IM. Theoretically you could set up sipgate or another service to work just as well. This seems like the most cost effective option. You can keep your regular low cost phone on a low rate plan for when you're on the road.

Re:iPod Touch (2, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714412)

If you want to lug around a netbook anyway I would get a MacBook or at least something with excellent Bluetooth support. Then you can use a good bluetooth earpiece (I use a JawBone) to make calls, just as you would on a regular phone.

iPod Touch (32/64 Gb) (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714896)

And that's the problem there. That only applies to the 32 Gb or better model. The 8 Gb is really second generation, and Apple curiously doesn't have a 16 Gb flash model.

Nokia N900 (5, Informative)

rocketpants (1095431) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714274)

Comes pre-installed with Skype, and it's trivial to set up any other SIP provider. A little on the expensive side perhaps, but you get an excellent Debian-based computer with it.

Re:Nokia N900 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714424)

Only if you install Debian on it. The people who designed Maemo decided to throw away all the Debian best practices and as a result Maemo is riddled with dependency problems and nearly always requires you to do a wipe and reinstall whenever there are updates from Nokia. And with Meego, rather than see these problems for what they are and fix them, they decided to make all the same mistakes all over again but with rpm instead of deb.

Re:Nokia N900 (4, Informative)

SpazmodeusG (1334705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714504)

The Maemo package manage system is the Debian package management system. They are the same. They both use dpkg and apt.
So your criticism makes no sense. If you are having trouble with dependencies on Maemo you'd have the same problem on Debian.

Re:Nokia N900 (2, Interesting)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714640)

That doesn't hold true with other distros - I've tried multiple Debian and Ubuntu derivatives and they've had dependencies problems, unlike Debian itself.

The system might be the same, but I'm willing to bet they have their own repository, and that's important for a safe upgrade path.

Re:Nokia N900 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714534)

Only problem I've had with updating is that some apps from extras-testing (has to be enabled manually) installed them selfs to rootfs so 1.2 update did not have enough room. Just moved MicroB browser to /home/opt and that was that.

Not a trivial thing for a "normal" user of course, but then again normal user does not enable extras-testing since it's command line stuff to install applications from it anyway.

Re:Nokia N900 (1)

tdobson (1391501) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714516)

YES.

Re:Nokia N900 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714706)

n810 is a cheaper alternative n900 for just wifi usage

T-Mobile UMA (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714278)

Get a T-Mobile UMA capable phone. Most of their blackberry line is compatible with UMA calling. UMA makes phone calls over WiFi

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unlicensed_Mobile_Access

Re:T-Mobile UMA (2, Interesting)

BBCWatcher (900486) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714606)

T-Mobile's UMA-enabled phones do look like good choices. Their current line-up of UMA phones includes the BlackBerry Bold 9700, Curve 8520, and the Nokia E73 Mode. Shop around at T-Mobile directly (including any campus discounts), Wirefly.com, Amazon.com, etc.

Re:T-Mobile UMA (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714812)

T-Mobile's UMA-enabled phones do look like good choices. Their current line-up of UMA phones includes the BlackBerry Bold 9700, Curve 8520, and the Nokia E73 Mode. Shop around at T-Mobile directly (including any campus discounts), Wirefly.com, Amazon.com, etc.

I use my T-Mobile Blackberry all over the world, anywhere there is wifi. The UMA works well, no dropped calls.

Seriously? (-1, Flamebait)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714286)

There's a university with a campus, and yet it doesn't have cell phone coverage? I guess it's just that here in Norway there's about 7 universities, obviously all with coverage. I don't even recall hearing of a college that didn't have it. This sounds like more of a remote outpost than a university to me, but kudos for an overinflated name.

Re:Seriously? (-1, Offtopic)

yyxx (1812612) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714314)

Norway is an oil-rich country with about twice the per-capita GNP of most of the rest of Europe (and per-capita energy waste to match). What happens in Norway is about as typical for the rest of the world as Dubai or the UAE.

Re:Seriously? (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714360)

No problems in Belgium either.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714420)

And Dubai is broke... spent all their capital like every day was Christmas.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714428)

Haha... um, no religious inferences meant there. They spent their money like they were constantly on holiday.

Re:Seriously? (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714542)

If there's good competition between mobile networks then it's in their interest to stick up a mast near a remote university. Many people at that university will switch to that network, if it's the only option.

There's 2G coverage almost everywhere [coveragemaps.com] , but not necessarily on all networks.

If you do live in an area with no coverage you could get something like this [vodafone.co.uk] , which claims to give you 2G and 3G signal in your home using your broadband connection. It's a shame that's only for Vodafone (UK), as everyone would benefit if the networks cooperated on this.

There are also temporary GSM towers [demon.co.uk] at major (remote) events (music festivals, races etc).

Re:Seriously? (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714340)

I have adequate cell phone coverage at my university, but making calls via WiFi (Sipdroid) is just nicer, because the quality is so much better... so it's even relevant for people who don't take their classes at a backwoods "University" at the North Pole... :D

Re:Seriously? (1)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714454)

I can believe it; you get some oddball universities that have a campus near nothing much at all.

It's worth noting, the US has a bit more than 7 universities, so more variation (and getting an outlier in student population and remoteness that's extreme enough that this happens is therefore more likely): http://www.utexas.edu/world/univ/state/ [utexas.edu]

Re:Seriously? (1)

kthreadd (1558445) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714626)

There's a university with a campus, and yet it doesn't have cell phone coverage? I guess it's just that here in Norway there's about 7 universities, obviously all with coverage. I don't even recall hearing of a college that didn't have it. This sounds like more of a remote outpost than a university to me, but kudos for an overinflated name.

Actually, the word "university" has slightly different meaning around the world. You pointed out Norway and over there the term is protected by law. No one can start their own university, that's why there aren't that many of them. The ones that exists also tend to be quite large.

In the U.S. there is a difference between private and state universities, compared to Norway which only have the equivalence of state universities. Someone may fund their own relatively small private university in a remote location, that would be impossible in Norway due to the law.

Nokia n900 if you can afford it (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714288)

I've had one for almost half a year and have used it for Skype calls quite a bit. VoIP is integrated in a nice way and it's a really great device in general.

Re:Nokia n900 if you can afford it (1)

Engeekneer (1564917) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714796)

If one needs wifi only, one can probably pick up a N810 for pretty cheaply nowadays. Skype works nicely on it, and in my experience one can even get decent battery life.

Re:Nokia n900 if you can afford it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714850)

good phone, but anyone carrying devices of such value around unprotected is stupid.

Google "UDP" (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714296)

The google search term you're looking for is "UDP". That's one industry term for wifi calling. Most blackberries sold for tmobile since 2008 have UDP. An older BB curve (8300?) is less than $100 new and ~$70 used, and is easily unlocked, and readily accepts SIM cards.
 
Bonus: It also works as a regular cell phone off campus!

Re:Google "UDP" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714318)

The term is UMA "Unlicensed Mobile Access"

Re:Google "UDP" (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714320)

So... these "UDP Phones" magically convert WiFi into cell signals? Or why else would you need the SIM?

Or are you talking about SIP via UDP?

Re:Google "UDP" (2, Informative)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714346)

Ah, see further down... guess you mean UMA...

Android, Nokia, iPod Touch (4, Informative)

yyxx (1812612) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714300)

The dedicated Skype or VoIP phones are junk in my experience: hard to configure, unreliable, etc. They usually can't deal with browser-based configuration, limit your choice of VoIP providers, etc.

My recommendation: get an Android phone, Nokia Symbian phone, or an iPod touch. All of them support VoIP, including Skype. The Android phone is the better choice but a bit more expensive; it will also allow you to make phone calls when you travel. Nokia phones with WiFi are cheaper, have better battery life, and also have great browsers, but the UI is bit clunky. The iPod Touch has a good screen and lots of apps, but the only way you can call is with a headset.

(I've used all of them myself.)

You're on the right track... (2, Insightful)

Sodakar (205398) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714310)

Have you considered getting a T-Mobile phone with UMA? It's certainly not the cheapest option with standard mobile pricing of ~$30/mo and ~$5 of various taxes, but you have the added advantage of being able to have a "normal" phone when you're outside of Wi-Fi coverage.

If you're looking for the best value, you can get an Ipevo Wi-Fi Skype phone for ~$140 (a bit less than Netgear/Belkin; works fine). Add $3/mo unlimited US calling and $30 for SkypeIn so landlines can call you, and your total cost is $66/yr... That's tough to beat, and what I would do if I were you. The only downside is that the batteries for these devices may be a challenge to source, and as far as the phone, it's certainly no-frills.

The iPod Touch is not a solution I can recommend due to the lack of on-device microphone -- not to mention its battery on Wi-Fi being rather poor.

Good luck, and way to go on saving some cash! ;)

Anything with SIP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714326)

Especially most Nokia's (and also Android, to a bit lesser degree) have excellent SIP support, and this is what you're looking for. You will only need to have a reliable SIP provider, but that should be arrangable.

Any T-Mobile phone with UMA ... (3, Informative)

Sonic McTails (700139) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714328)

I recommend any T-Mobile phone that is UMA (Wifi calling) enabled. UMA phones essentially do GSM-over-IP, so when the phone has a wifi signal, your normal phone number encoded on the SIM card will ring, and you can send and receive calls and texts normally. Most T-Mobile BlackBerries, and a few other phones can do this, its listed as Wifi Calling on the spec sheets. You can also take your phone and use it as normal on T-Mobile network, and then have it hop on wifi when you move into range seemlessly.

(UMA is not SIP, it works very well over low bandwidth links, and I've had little trouble with it)

If T-Mobile doesn't work for you, a Symbian or Android phone with a VoIP client using something like sipgate might be a good choice.

Re:Any T-Mobile phone with UMA ... (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714352)

Why, for the love of God, is this not a feature on every WiFi enabled phone available on the market today? Sounds wonderful...

Re:Any T-Mobile phone with UMA ... (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714446)

Not to kibitz... only intending constructive criticism. But the word is "seamless". "Seemless" means something else altogether.

HTC XV6800 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714332)

I use an HTC XV6800 on verizon on my voice + 300 text plan with no data plan and a data block to ensure it doesn't accidentally download in the background. It's a windows mobile phone on which I run version 6.5. The phone is also known as the HTC Mogul, but I believe that is the Sprint version.

I am also a college student on a campus with full wifi and I love the phone. I use Opera to surf the web, droppboxx (3rd party dropbox client for windows mobile 6.5) to transfer files, GPS with NaviComputer to help find my location on a map, and many other useful apps. The only problem is the 40MB of RAM which quickly gets eaten by the OS and 1 app so it's very difficult to multi-task if at all.

As for Skype, I haven't found an app that will make Skype calls, but the phone makes landline calls just like any other phone. I use Fring to chat on Skype, AIM, Twitter, Google Talk... etc when I'm on wifi. I also found a few google voice apps, but haven't used them much.

Finally if you're looking into a place to find this phone. I got mine off Ebay for $150 new. Keep in mind the very, very low RAM, if this phone had 512MB of ram it would have everything I need.

What about a small tablet? (1)

enter to exit (1049190) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714334)

The Dell Streak is an example.

Sip phone (1)

goobenet (756437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714338)

The problem with wifi phones is battery life. Most retail ones suck. Cisco made a cordless wifi sip phone that works rather well, about 100 bucks on the bay. Even the suggestion of an android phone is bad because of this same problem, if not worse.

Re:Sip phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714644)

There was the "iPhone" that Linksys made (prior to Cisco), I have one.

This is how it works. The "Skype" program is actually on the base station, which is also a DECT base station (so you can plug in a landline.) When you answer the cordless phone it seemlessly treats landline and skype phones as the same to the handset.

It was actually a rather nice device, but had the tradeoff of all cordless phones... must be within range of the base station.

Now a WiFi type of device swaps out the landline for the mobile phone carrier. Because Skype has to keep running and query the servers every few seconds for contact list updates and crap like that, the battery life is going to be sucked up pretty fast. This is opposed to a SIP model which is pretty much stateless.

The best hybrid system for a cellphone-like system is to use the UMA if it's available, as it will let you use it anywhere there is decent Wifi (like the university.) And when you're not near Wifi you can use the cell phone as a cell phone.

Failing this, get a cell phone that supports SIP and have all the SIP/Skype activity occur on a device that's permanently connected to the internet, and only have the mobile device be queried that a call is coming in or you're placing a call, not constantly pinging it for activity.

What the nerds don't understand, is that "Configuring a SIP..." isn't something you can do for non-nerds. It's pretty much UMA or shitty cell service.

tmobile hotspot phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714344)

TMobile has a HotSpot cell phone that can use WiFi. I have a prepaid one, that's probably your cheapest path through. Works great.

I'll add a vote for T-Mobile and UMA (1)

solmssen (9448) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714362)

Long time T-mobile user, and I do love the UMA. Supported by most Blackberries with TMO branding. WiFi does hurt battery life, but you have a real cell phone that also works anywhere you can get on WiFi, and uses the same number for both cell and wifi calling.

I own a Belkin (2, Interesting)

Dee Ann_1 (1731324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714388)

I own a Belkin WIFI Skype phone, I used it as a home phone with Skype in/out and in general it's pretty neat BUT, it drops calls, a lot. It drops calls almost as bad as AT&T.

I have a good solid WIFI system and Skype on my iPhone via my WIFI works without flaw. I do not have WIFI issues.

The Belkin randomly drops calls even when I am within 6 feet of the base and it also randomly locks up and randomly reboots.

If you can put up with that, it's neat. If you require flawless service, skip the Belkin. They have not updated the firmware in it since it was first made available.

If you google the device you will see many other complaining of the same problems.



Disclaimer: That is MY personal experience with the Belkin WIFI Skype phone.

Re:I own a Belkin (1)

Dee Ann_1 (1731324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714404)

Oh and BTW, you can get the Belkin on Amazon.com for like a lot less.

One thing I must give it praise for is good battery life. We could talk on it for hours on end. When it wanted to work, it was great.

rectal speakerphone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714398)

can phones which fit inside the rectum cause cancer if you only use speakerphone?

Any phone with UMA (1)

benwiggy (1262536) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714444)

I'll add my voice to those recommending UMA. (Not just T-mobile, though. It works on Orange, too.)

My Nokia 6301 has it, and I recently spent a week in a cottage in the middle of nowhere.

No mobile signal from Orange, but the cottage had WiFi, and I could make and receive calls using that.

Re:Any phone with UMA (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714670)

UMA, definitely. Then you're not stuck with a Wi-Fi only device if you ever move location, or god forbid, take the phone off campus.

Not an exhaustive list, but here's some phones with UMA in the description [gsmarena.com]

Part of the decision... (1)

bwcbwc (601780) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714470)

Needs to involve checking with the school's IT department to see if they block SIP or Skype traffic, and whether that blocking is within campus or just on the boundary with the internet.

It'd be a shame to buy a nice new android phone and then be limited to the phone in your room because the traffic is blocked. (Or - have to tunnel your SIP traffic in violation of the TOS and get suspended from school)

Cisco Unified Wireless IP Phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714472)

This baby: Cisco 7925G-EX [cisco.com] is pure awesome except for the fact that it uses SCCP (Skinny Call Control Protocol) rather then SIP. But there's (limited) support for it in FreeSWITCH and Asterisk. I cite (emphasis added):

The Cisco Unified Wireless IP Phone 7925G-EX delivers all of the capabilities of the Cisco Unified Wireless IP Phone 7925G with the ruggedness and resiliency that is certified for deployment in potentially explosive environments such as chemical and manufacturing plants, utilities, and oil refineries.

I found this while looking for a WLAN IP phone with SRTP support. Oh well.

Ipevo SO-20 (2, Informative)

Bitmanhome (254112) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714480)

Weird name, but works well. Round $130 normally.

http://www.frys.com/product/5859653 [frys.com]

Reviewers seem to find the Belkin and Linksys units flaky, but the Ipevo gets good reviews. We have one. Don't use it much, but it's worked everywhere we've tried.

You could also hack together something with an old Windows CE unit (i.e. Dell Axim x51v has the power, but Wifi it a bit weak.)

Or maybe get a tablet PC (Fujitsu U810, Oqo) with a headset, optionally bluetooth. They use a normal OS (Windows, Linux, even Mac OS) not the wacky cut-down ones on those other machines.

Finally, a question I am expert on! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714484)

1. Belkin WiFi Phone... I got one of these a few years ago. The sound quality is not too bad, but the battery doesn't last terribly long, and more importantly, the sound volume was too quiet. I had to use a headset with it most of the time (and it doesn't support bluetooth).
2. iPod Touch. You need a iPod Touch 3G (the older ones don't support microphones), and then you will have to use a headset. I have one of these, and I use it some of the time. If you want to use it only for outgoing calls, it's fine. If you want to receive incoming calls, then you'd better leave skype running, in the foreground, and make sure the screen doesn't lock (not very realistic). Some of this may be improving with OS 4, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Alternatively, you can get an iPhone, and just use Skype or your favorite app on there, since it has the mike built in.
3. UCCom (Starcom?) WiFi SIP phone. This was like #1, except it wasn't skype specific, it was locked to uhm.. Vonage. It sucked in most every way. The volume was quiet, the battery life was short, and the display and menus were primitive.
4. Sony Mylo 2 - This is billed as a "personal communicator", but it if really a glorified Skype phone. They are pricey new, but you can probably get a used one cheap these days... It can auto-connect to WiFi (of course), and auto-launch skype, and auto-log in (of course). It has a touch-screen, and you can dial normally with Skype-Out. The volume is reasonable, and it comes with a headset as well. The battery life is pretty good, and it has some other apps (like Google talk) as well. Most importantly, it comes with a cradle (or if not, you can buy one separately), so you can put it somewhere and have it charge and wait for calls when you're not using it - like a normal phone. Mo more fishing for USB charging adapters, etc. I have one and it's been hooked up and in constant use for about 2 years. It does a good job of staying signed into Skype and reconnecting WiFi/Skype automatically when there's an issue. Most reviews of the Mylo say it sucks, but that's because they were rating the web browser or other features which, frankly, do suck. (Or because the reviewer didn't know it was WiFi only and wondered why it wouldn't work when there was no signal). As a Skype phone, I haven't seen better. I also take it with me when I go overseas, so I can use it at friend's houses and random places like Starbucks.

Note: First, I am not making an account just to post this (hence the AC), but since I am a heavy user of this type of thing he is asking for, please mod this up to help the OP.

Use your browser (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714498)

You can initiate / receive VoIP calls using just your browser.
There are many flash based softphones and there is a few based on java.
Check this for example:
http://www.mizu-voip.com/Products/WebPhone.aspx

Get an iPhone 4. (3, Funny)

richy freeway (623503) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714544)

Ideal for Wifi use, cos they don't work on the cell networks properly

Any Android... (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714548)

...preferably rooted (HTC G1/Dream is fine), plus Sipdroid [sipdroid.org] .

Re:Any Android... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714854)

I'd recommend an 8GB Archos 5.- cheaper and more powerful than the comparable ipod, with either Android or your flavour of mobile linux - thanks to their dev firmware that thing is unbelievably moddable.

Ebay Smashed Iphone + cheap screen = AU 200 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714560)

Im still amazed at how wonderfully engineered and servicable (unlike the software) the first gen iphone is.

Voip is the last thing you want, A phone must be always on and reliable + Wifi always on will chew far more power than GSM for voice.

If you are reading this, ie. on slashdot you should have the skills to do a screen swap (lots of walkthroughs)

Getiing to know the internals of the original iphone is one of the best decisions i have ever made, i aquired a phone, fixed it, smashed it again, fixed it, dropped it into a pool and fixed it again all for minimal cost

Im alot more carefull thesedays but just think about how much that would have cost a typical apple fanboi !

Nokia N800/N810/N900 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714638)

The Nokia N8xx line is a general purpose small Linux computer, that also happens to run Skype. Pay $2.95/month and get a skype-out plan. My N800 is over 2 yrs old and I'm still relatively happy. It cost $219 in late 2007. I'd buy an N810 today.

The N900 adds a quad-band GSM cell phone and $300 in cost, so it is probably not realistic. I'll have to wait until it get less than $200.

Or go with a small netbook.

Why complicate things? Just run it on a laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714712)

I have been using my fanless netbook as a phone for quite some time and it works out pretty well... Free calls for me, battery lasts ~5hr and I just plug it in wherever I go to keep it topped up. Great on a campus, especially with a bluetooth headset, but earphones work just as well. Just my 2c. I run google voice to a free sip provider to qutecom and my quality is better than on my 1st gen iphone.

Windows Mobile is also an option (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714720)

Most of these phones aren't all that great, but it's sometimes possible to get them for cheap. Skype no longer has the WM version for download (but if you can find it elsewhere, it will work), but fring does work on it.

Consider UMA + WiFi phone (4, Informative)

Cato (8296) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714732)

See http://nokiaexperts.com/tmobile-nokia-e73-mode-uma-wifi-calling-killer-functionality/ [nokiaexperts.com] for an example - UMA is a way of having 'standard cellular voice' (GSM based) delivered over WiFi - it's a bit like VoIP in that your GSM voice call goes over IP, but unlike VoIP in that it is not using SIP or Skype, and instead you roam between WiFi and GSM areas seamlessly (useful when off campus).

UMA WiFi phones are mostly for people who go between WiFi and GSM - one huge advantage is that the phone can automatically turn off the radio it's not using i.e. turn off GSM when WiFi is used. This saves a lot of battery life. Another big advantage is that you have one phone number and one phone service across GSM and WiFi, which is useful when you are off campus, and of course GSM mode will use less battery. T-Mobile offer this in the US, see link above. http://www.umatoday.com/ [umatoday.com] has general info.

UMA phones are thin on the ground but it's a useful feature - quite a few Blackberries support this. If you don't need UMA, almost any Nokia E-series phone with Symbian S60 would be fine. The Nokia phones are not the highest tech but they are very reliable, which is good if this is your only phone on campus - the E71 also includes GPS and other nice things, and I got it free with a great $40/month package. The N-series are more consumer oriented and also run Symbian, apart from the N900 which is Maemo.

Re:Consider UMA + WiFi phone (2, Interesting)

Cato (8296) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714758)

However, do check the quality of T-Mobile's UMA implementation and how UMA works in practice - some don't seem so good: http://www.orangeproblems.co.uk/mobiles/viewtopic.php?p=1409 [orangeproblems.co.uk]

Re:Consider UMA + WiFi phone (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714848)

You are a faggot.

Re:Consider UMA + WiFi phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714880)

See http://nokiaexperts.com/tmobile-nokia-e73-mode-uma-wifi-calling-killer-functionality/ [nokiaexperts.com] for an example - UMA is a way of having 'standard cellular voice' (GSM based) delivered over WiFi - it's a bit like VoIP in that your GSM voice call goes over IP, but unlike VoIP in that it is not using SIP or Skype, and instead you roam between WiFi and GSM areas seamlessly (useful when off campus).

UMA WiFi phones are mostly for people who go between WiFi and GSM - one huge advantage is that the phone can automatically turn off the radio it's not using i.e. turn off GSM when WiFi is used. This saves a lot of battery life. Another big advantage is that you have one phone number and one phone service across GSM and WiFi, which is useful when you are off campus, and of course GSM mode will use less battery. T-Mobile offer this in the US, see link above. http://www.umatoday.com/ [umatoday.com] has general info.

UMA phones are thin on the ground but it's a useful feature - quite a few Blackberries support this. If you don't need UMA, almost any Nokia E-series phone with Symbian S60 would be fine. The Nokia phones are not the highest tech but they are very reliable, which is good if this is your only phone on campus - the E71 also includes GPS and other nice things, and I got it free with a great $40/month package. The N-series are more consumer oriented and also run Symbian, apart from the N900 which is Maemo.

I personally have the Curve2 with UMA support. It comes in quite handy as I do a lot of international travel and am able to avoid all roaming charges by simply turning the cellular portion off and utilizing only wifi. The call quality is identical to that of a regular cellular call in most cases, sometimes on congested networks or low signal areas there will be a bit of distortion (similar to GSM based service as well).

Re:Consider UMA + WiFi phone (1)

quetwo (1203948) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714976)

I would second the UMA option. On our campus we have OK cell reception, but if you go into any basements or the center of the buildings, very rarely is there any good reception. Kicking on UMA with my BlackBerry allows me to continue my conversations. What is really nice is it will 'roam' between the WiFi and Cell, choosing whichever has the strongest signal. It does this automatically.

If you have a newer BlackBerry (with OS5 or better), you can 'train' the device to login to a captive portal, if your school uses one. You login once, it asks if you want to store the credentials, and away you go.

As far as quality goes, it really matters on your school's WiFi and internet access. Of course, this will affect any VoIP provider and solution, so that shouldn't make a different. Quality-wise, I can't tell if I'm on UMA or Cellular service at my place -- but then again they have awesome internet access :)

old nokia (1)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714806)

get a second hand nokia e71. do not insert sim card. download skype app from ovi store. log in with your skype id. pay some money to skype to get credit. it works perfectly like a phone, just that it works only over wifi.

anon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714878)

Blackberry UMA, it's pretty much the best thing, at work we are using it, in the plant we are not able to get any cellphone signal and cordless phone does not work properly, with wifi and blackberry phone (8900) everything work perfect.

Blackberry Running Skype? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32714904)

I haven't tried it, but I believe blackberries, especially since they support multitasking, can run skype over wi-fi.

I'm unaware if it needs an obnoxious data plan though just to function

Otherwise, I'd imagine either an android or nokia device is likely the best bet if not better than a blackberry (which, while I don't like their policies, they do have some of the best designers out there in terms of hardware and UI)

Perfect application for MJ (1)

QuickBible (1143641) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714934)

Assuming that you will have a laptop you could use a majicJack. I know it seems gimmicky but based on your requirements it is a perfect application. I think it would be cheaper as well if all you have to buy is the MJ. Just a thought...

Nokia 5800 music with symbian and skype or sip (1)

viking80 (697716) | more than 4 years ago | (#32714954)

This setup works flawlessly in most settings.
Pros:
Works like a normal cellphone with dialing options etc.
Use your phone lists etc
Synchronizes with PC apps
Good range

Cons:
Have to preconfigure all hotspots.
Will not hop between hotspots during same conversation
Not intuitive network configuration. Phone jumps to 3G unless you dig down to the setting to force it to wifi only.

A simple Wifi SIP phone a SIP provider? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32715004)

I am looking for something that can make and receive calls to and from landlines with incoming call notification.

You'll have problems tunneling thru the marketing, which in the telecom industry is slathered on very thickly with a spatula, kind of like paint on a Chinese made machine tool. A WIFI phone? Oh you mean a Skype phone. Or do you mean UMA or UBA or whatever the heck? Its more formally known as a confuse-opoly, where the market colludes to confuse the customers into being ripped off. Be careful, those guys aren't much above used car salesmen when it comes to ethics and marketing.

That said:

I've bought stuff from voipsupply and they're a reputable dealer. They have an entire freaking category for WIFI sip phones, I'm sure you'll like one of them. Eventually I'll buy one of them for my asterisk PBX at home. I've been saying that for at least half a decade now, but I will eventually buy one, I promise.

http://www.voipsupply.com/ip-phones/wi-fi [voipsupply.com]

And the upstream SIP provider my asterisk PBX connects to is voicepulse. I would assume any "SIP wifi phone" could connect to voicepulse.

http://voicepulse.com/ [voicepulse.com]

Voicepulse's antifraud techniques are a bit of a pain to deal with, even a simple credit card change requires signed FAXes, etc. And their porting process required documentation reminded me of when I got my passport. Their dumbed down residential service did not seem to meet my needs, so I signed up as a "small business", where they just give me SIP trunks and otherwise leave me alone, which is exactly what I wanted. Also, speaking of SIP, those bastards lured me in by providing IAX which worked great over my NAT and firewall, and then promptly discontinued IAX and forced conversion to SIP which is a huge pain to NAT and firewall. The main (only?) reason I chose them over their competitors was IAX support, so I was quite pissed off. Other than that, I have nothing else to complain about, they're a reliable provider, it "just works", etc. The only reason I didn't dump them like a hot potato when they dropped IAX was their service has been reliable. God help me if I so much as have the smallest excuse I'm off to an IAX provider. But so far so good.

One big problem is my "pay as you go" cellphone provider nickel and dimes me, but it ends up only being about $10/month long term average. So, replacing my cellphone with a decent industrial/commercial grade wifi sip phone, costs around 2 or 3 years of cellphone service. So its hard to justify, except in the original poster's situation (or mine) where there is poor cell service at home. Also quite frankly, if I'm at home, I have my wired and cordless SIP phones, and if I'm at work I have work phones, and if I'm in my car I'm not supposed to be talking, and most places I go I'm not supposed to be talking on the phone (movie theater, etc) so paying hundreds of dollars to add another 9 to 99.9% coverage is a total waste for me.

if its more than $200 (1)

Uzik2 (679490) | more than 4 years ago | (#32715008)

If you're really after low cost after about $200 use a landline. $24/month * 9 months. The phone is under $10 in the drug store electronics isle

I've used Skype phones. (1)

pacergh (882705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32715022)

They worked fairly well. An iPod Touch would be cool, but you'd have to keep the Skype (or whatever VOIP app) up all the time. (Until they are able to possibly change it for the new iOS4.)

Good luck with it.

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