Which cell phone should I get?

Hi all!

I’m new to Taiwan (Week 2 and first Forumosa post!) and am going to stay in Taipei for a while. I want to get a cell phone but don’t know which one to get. I’d like to eventually purchase VIBE’s mobile plan since they have some good prices with international calling and I have some friends who are using VIBE as well. Unfortunately VIBE doesn’t have an extensive collection of phones. I am looking for a phone that can do the following:

  1. Making and receiving phone calls (duh!)
  2. Texting
  3. Browsing the internet, including gmail, hotmail, Facebook, and YouTube
  4. Accessing Skype and Google Voice so I can make even cheapter international calls and other out-of-network calls since VIBE’s network coverage is small
  5. GPS or Google Map so I don’t get lost :slight_smile:
  6. Not too expensive

I’ve been thinking about a Nokia N97 Mini since I really like its side-slide keyboard, or an HTC Touch2 which is cheaper, but I’m not sure if they can do #4 above…I’m open to other alternatives though.

Your suggestions are much appreciated!

As far as phones, I am out of the loop it seems as I just use them for calling and texting. I find big screens drive me mad because I have to charge them all the time anyway I spend so long on them.

I can however recommend that if you travel much outside the city then use Taiwan Cellular (Taiwan Da Gu Da). It has by far the greatest number of masts on the island and so provides the greatest blanket coverage.

If you are using heavy broadband, then I suppose as with land line connections then Chunghwa will always be the best. All lines lead to Chunhwa anyway and so having a contract directly through them would result in bandwidth priority and you should get a more stable connection. I don’t know for sure whether thats the case with telephone 3G, but it certainly is with land-line broadband. Perhaps others may comment better on their mobile bandwidth quality.

hi, welcome to taipei! hope you enjoy it here! been here for a few months now, and it was hard at first meeting people but the forum board folks are usually pretty friendly.

if your friends abroad are on skype and/or gtalk, just get an android or an iphone and patch that into your home/work/public wifi. both of these phone platforms you can get free apps that aggregate your skype/gtalk buddy list and let you do voip using the phone data connection.

the data over 3g here is blisteringly fast down, but it’s relatively slow up, so voip calls over 3g are downright frustrating at best, if they work at all (they are ok i guess if you can see the tower and stand next to it).

taiwan mobile 台灣大哥大 (myfone branded stores) for wireless is good as is chunghwa telecom 中華電信 (senao branded stores).

one issue that you will run into is it may be hard or impossible to get a contract for your phone & sim card without an arc card. and no contract pretty much rules out getting a real data plan.

if you won’t have an arc and have a hard time getting a contract, your best bet is to get a pre-paid sim with no data and then use wifi for data. this is what i did for about a month until my arc got processed. there are a good number of free-wifi spots around town.

there is also a city-wide wifi in taipei called wifly and/or hinet that is fairly good in terms of coverage in coffee shops and whatnot. i have no experience acutally paying to use this, but the paywall looks like any pay-for-time-period wifi setup where you pay with a credit card for a certain number of hours, days or months at a time.

Are there any others who have had issues with phones and contracts? It used to be the case that they wouldn’t refuse people with passports only as long as they placed a deposit.

they specifically asked for an arc before they would let me sign a contract. i told them i would pay the full deposit. they still asked for the arc. i think one store said it had to be valid for the life of the contract or something like that. i dunno maybe i look like a hoodlum.

Thank you for the inputs, sulavaca and mabagal! They do require 2 IDs so both passport and ARC. I will get my ARC soon so I’ll be able to get a contract. However, last time I talked to the staff at VIBE, they said that if I bring in my own phone and get their plan, I don’t need to be binded by a 2-year contract since I’m not buying a phone from them.

I was considering Chunghwa since they have the largest network, but my friend HIGHLY recommended VIBE since it’s cheaper and has the best rate for calling internationally, and most importantly, my friend is using VIBE so we can talk for however long we want :slight_smile: That was why I thought I’d enroll in VIBE and see if I can use other methods such as Skype or gtalk to make out-of-network calls. Do you think it’s doable?

I agree with you, sulavaca, a big screen phone with all those features are going to eat up the battery time real fast. I can’t send personal emails at work or connect to wi-fi, so I need to pay for my phone to have internet access if I want to take care of personal things.

I’d love to get an iPhone but it’s too expensive, so I’m gonna check out some HTC Android phones like mabagal suggested, along with Nokia N97 Mini :slight_smile: See which one can meet my requirements the best.

Keep the discussions going! I’ll let you know which one I eventually end up getting. And I’d love to meet up sometimes!

Chunghwa certainly have the largest land-line network, but the cellular network is dominated by Taiwan Cellular (Da Gu Da)

It really depends on up and down speeds through 3G as well as ground coverage that will be the overall clincher.

I think you mean Vibo by the way and not VIBE right?

I used to have their number and took advantage of the free calls for my business between partners. It was okay in some areas, but overall coverage and service was really shit a lot of the time. It certainly wasn’t viable to use as a number to receive customers. I still used Taiwan Cellular for that as I continue to do now. I no longer have a Vibo contract. Perhaps it won’t matter if you don’t roam much and if your local signal is sound. The only blanc spots I have with Taiwan Cellular are elevators and the occasional basement. The signal is so strong I sometimes worry if my brain isn’t half cooked already. I’m sure my nether regions are already broiled. Personally I prefer paying more for a better, more reliable signal which is why I have Chunghwa for land-line and broadband and Taiwan Cellular for mobile.

have not heard of vibe, but it seems from the way you describe it that this “friend” is your girlfriend/boyfriend? or maybe bff? if so, and they are out and about more often than they are at a place that will allow you to skype/gtalk, then going with vibe may be worth it.

the one thing to consider is that with a contract and a real data plan (ie: all you can eat) you can get pretty well subsidized phones with any of the big three carriers. as an example, you can get an iphone, android or even n97mini for pretty cheap with a contract vs a sim-only plan when basing the calculation on total-cost-of-ownership of the contract for the 2 years.

the other thing to consider is that the “big screen” phones can be an unbelievably good resource for learning taipei and even more so, learning chinese.

not sure how proficient you are with chinese, but i had zero when i got here and the phones have helped me a ton. i use my phones, for example, to insta-translate stuff i need to say using google translate, hangpingdict and plecodict. or to practice handwriting chinese characters. both android and iphones sold here have chinese handwriting input, so you can force yourself to practice or to learn a random character you see on the street. i have a pdf of the practical audio video chinese book and the audio on my phones so i can read and listen where-ever i am whether it’s a coffee shop, at the mrt, etc.

i also use them to find a great place to eat that is not obvious (using layars and foursquare).

being in a new place far away from a large chunk of your friends for me is also made easier with stuff like facebook, twitter, gtalk and even games like words-with-friends.

btw, all these phones apps were free.

one of the inexpensive android phones might be a great bet for you. examples include the htc tattoo and the taiwan mobile t1. with a well worked out contract and TCO calculation, you might be able to even get one of the higher-end android phones for a great price as well.

also, i should note, i have a prepaid sim on chunghwa (senao) and a iphone+sim contract with taiwan mobile (myfone) and i will say that the coverage and download speeds on taiwan mobile are pretty damn good. if you get an all-you-can-eat data plan, and get a phone you can tether to your laptop (android is easier for this), and you don’t do stuff like torrents, you may even be able to get away without land internet.

i have actually NEVER been ANYWHERE in taipei where the phone didn’t work, including MRTs, the middle of big concrete buildings, etc. i also have chunghwa for my land internet but i have forgotten what a land-line is. :slight_smile:

my 0.64NT

Actually something may of just occurred to me too.
My monthly rental is NT$1,000 .
Does that mean that if I wanted to then I might as well get a free big screen phone thrown in or something? What deals are there at present?

I think you meant Vibo Telecom (www.vibo.com.tw) instead of Vibe. At any rate, Nokia N97 Mini runs Symbian S60 operating system and you can make Skype calls with either the official Skype app or via Fring.

I think HTC Touch 2 is a Windows Mobile phone? If you have trouble reading Chinese you might have trouble navigating through WM’s unnecessary complex menus since I believe WM phones sold in Taiwan only have traditional Chinese as the language option.

How long are you going to be around? A year? 3 years? Vibo has an Android 1.6 phone known as A688 and it is free with their $799/mo plan. There is a 30-month contract though. However, with the plan you do get unlimited 3G internet, unlimited in-network calling, and 30 minutes of out-network calls a month.

vibo.com.tw/CWS/Consumer_Pro … 47,.html

Where in Taipei are you going to be in? Vibo should be more than fine in terms of coverage, although signals can be weak in the hills.

Chunghwa certainly have the largest land-line network, but the cellular network is dominated by Taiwan Cellular (Da Gu Da)[/quote]

Actually Chunghwa Telecom (CHT) also has the largest mobile network in Taiwan. Out of nearly 23 million subscribers, they have over 9 million (40% of the market). Taiwan Mobile has 6.4 (28%), according to Q3 2009 results.

Obviously when it comes to cell reception and overall experience it’s always YMMV depending on where you are. In Neihu & Nangang my old TW Mobile line would from time to time drop its 3G signal and go to 2G, which kind of sucked for me since their 2G network only has GPRS and data speeds are unbearably slow. Chunghwa Telecom seems to hold 3G signals a lot better in this area and has EDGE overlay with their 2G network.

Zhonghua certainly have the largest land-line network, but the cellular network is dominated by Taiwan Cellular (Da Gu Da)[/quote]

Actually Zhonghua Telecom (CHT) also has the largest mobile network in Taiwan. Out of nearly 23 million subscribers, they have over 9 million (40% of the market). Taiwan Mobile has 6.4 (28%), according to Q3 2009 results.[/quote]

I was referring to the hardware network coverage, not subscribers. I don’t recall the numbers but Taiwan Cellular had about three times as many masts as anyone else on the island last time I checked.

Arrrrr my internet connection was so slow that I could never submit my replies!

Anyways, thanks a lot for all the input! I was indeed talking about vibo not vibe. Sorry for the confusion.

The “friend” is a bff so we’ll be calling each other quite often. I’m planning to stay for a couple of years so a 24 months contract should be fine. I checked out vibo’s 799 plan but they also have a 992 plan which is an upgrade from the 799 one. I’m not sure how long of a contract it requires, though.

The place that I’ll be staying in already has internet, but I have to pay a hefty monthly fee (NT800) for it. So I’m thinking of checking out how fast the internet connection will be if I connect it using my cellphone’s internet service once I get a cellphone. Maybe also buy a mobile internet card if necessary. We’ll see.

Alright, hope everyone’s enjoying their weekend!

I finally got my cell phone! I decided to go to with VIBO because it’s cheaper and of course talking with my bff will be free. I also got their VIBO A688 Android phone together with a 30-month plan. It looks like a pretty nice phone, but it only came with a Quick Guide, no Manual, so still playing with it to figure out exactly how to use all its functions.

Thanks again for all the comments and suggestions! Have a nice long weekend!

[quote=“Evenstar”]I finally got my cell phone! I decided to go to with VIBO because it’s cheaper and of course talking with my bff will be free. I also got their VIBO A688 Android phone together with a 30-month plan. It looks like a pretty nice phone, but it only came with a Quick Guide, no Manual, so still playing with it to figure out exactly how to use all its functions.

Thanks again for all the comments and suggestions! Have a nice long weekend![/quote]
Nice. If English is not entered by default as a locale in the system settings, grab “More Locales” from Android Market. You can get some other app recommendations by looking at the long Android thread sticky.

Congrats. You can download Fring from the Android Market then make Skype calls and chat on IM with it.