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Lesson Learned: When is a Phone a Smartphone under PrePaid?


Lesson Learned: When is a Phone a Smartphone under PrePaid?

After some close review, I think I found the answer to: "When is a Phone a Smartphone under Prepaid (relative to the mandated, extra-cost, data feature plans)?"


Is it one of:

  1. 3G capability?
  2. 3.5G HSPDA+?
  3. QWERTY keypad (full or virtual)?
  4. Touch Screen?
  5. WiFi capability?
  6. GPS capability, either assisted (A-GPS) or standard?
  7. Any combo of the above?

The answer is no.  It is not.


Guess again:  The answer is the Operating System. 


  1. If it is one of Android, iOS, Blackberry, Microsoft Windows Mobile 7, then the answer is YES, it is a smartphone, relative to the mandated data feature plans.
  2. Otherwise it is not a smartphone, and it is covered by the unlimited $50-month talk/text/data plan.

All the examples I looked at validate this conclusion.  There might be some stragglers that do not fit perfectly. like HTC phones that are double boot:  Windows Mobile 6.1, originally, and Android on a second boot ROM.


A perfect example of this is shown by the Samsung phones marketed by AT&T (pre-paid or post-paid):

  1. The Samsung Strive, Samsung Solistice II, Samsung Eternity II, and Samsung Flight all have proprietary OSes and all are not smartphones for the purpose of the extra-cost data feature plans.
  2. However, the Samsung Captivate which is an Android 2.1 phone is a smartphone relative to the data feature plan.

And this distinction is really an artificial one, as the Developer Forum for AT&T phones ( ) assumes all these Samsung phones to be Smartphones, even though all but one in this list have proprietary kernels.


I think this artificial distinction is what has many folks super confused.  It had me for a while.



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