Monday, August 4, 2008

Can YOUR Cell Phone Carrier Run Opera Mini?

So as I have proceded in my research on the possibility of getting a new cell phone, I've decided I probably ought to concentrate on web browsing.

Now, back a couple of years ago, Cingular (now "AT&T Mobility") was really after me to relinquish my tri-mode, tri-band phone. Of course plans were in place for the analog and TDMA networks to go dark in February of 2008, but despite the fact that I had a phone with a PRIMARY GSM mode, they seemed downright upset I had a phone with TDMA and analog capabilities.

Of course back then there was something of a competition going on between Nate Livingston and myself to see if we could find the "Ultimate Mobile Blogging Appliance". Could one actually come up with something in the form factor of a cell phone that one could use to cover a City Council meeting or a Town Hall with Mean Jean Schmidt or something of the sort?

The short answer to that question is "No" - but you could get awfully close - even back then.

What I found was this little item called the Nokia 6682 that was just about to be discontinued at AT&T. That was cool because it let me grandfather my really cheap Spiderman I calling plan. However, those S.O.B.'s did eventually make me surrender the 100 text messages/month that came with that plan to pick up their $20/mo plan that had unlimited web and 200 text messages/mo. Now they've split up that plan - $15/mo. for unlimited web and $5/mo. for 200 text messages.

Well, along the way I decided it was really cool having an "open standards" phone. At first I could download Yahoo Go! 1.0 and actually have contact synchronization - oh ... and semi-push email. That was cool as all get-out. Of course the *ssh*les at Yahoo decided to discontinue the Yahoo Go! 1.0 software. The current Yahoo Go! application doesn't look very useful at all.

However, along the way I discovered a few other things that WERE quite useful - the Mobile GMail client and the Google Maps application to be sure, but, most importantly, Opera Mini.

Opera Mini ROCKS. It was out quite a while before the iPhone and pretty much only the iPhone and maybe the Motorola Q has ever come up with a half-way decent mobile surfing application.

So the Illustrious KenDiesel tells me last night that he has downloaded Opera Mini on his Sprint phone. I got all charged up. Sprint is on CDMA the same as Verizon. A little bit of digging seems to indicate that Sprint DOES have a semi-open network when it comes to J2ME apps and whatnot, but, apparently, despite a few news stories from a few months ago to the contrary, Verizon DOES NOT.

In fact, from what I have been able to figure out, they are running some sort of off-brand Qualcomm BREW platform that's not compatible with much.

In fact, I read that Opera went ahead and ported Opera Mini to BREW but Verizon still refused to certify it.

From what little I have been able to dig up, it also appears T-Mobile may or may not run Opera Mini.

Oh what a complicated mess this is turning into.

But, yes, for now I think I'm leaning towards staying on AT&T somehow.

I'm also REAL seriously starting to think about unlocked phones.

Anyone have any experience with unlocked 3G phones on AT&T?

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