Wi-Fi calling app means T-Mobile Android phones are best choice for travel

Starting with their new G2 and myTouch 4G handsets, T-Mobile is bringing Wi-Fi calling to Android phones. Wi-Fi calling allows you to access the T-Mobile network using Wi-Fi instead of a cellular connection. Once connected to Wi-Fi, you can make and receive calls without any noticeable difference.

Now, using the Internet to make phone calls is by no means anything special – Skype has been doing this for years – what makes this new feature so handy is that you don’t need to configure anything, you don’t need an account and calls are made using your own phone number.

Once you turn the app on, it instantly searches for Wi-Fi, and you can make and receive calls. The technology is called UMA, and it was first introduced on T-Mobile Blackberry devices back in 2007. It took some time for the service to reach Android devices, but the wait was well worth it.

The advantages of Wi-Fi calling are especially convenient for travelers – instead of spending upwards of $2/minute for a call, you simply find a Wi-Fi hotspot, and you’ll be able to call back home using nothing more than the minutes from your regular calling plan.

I’ve tested the new app extensively on the G2 and the myTouch 4G, and it works absolutely flawlessly. One feature missing from the Android flavor of UMA is the ability to do a “seamless handoff” between cellular and Wi-Fi. This means your phone call will drop as soon as you are out of range of the Wi-Fi hotspot.

Despite this minor issue, if you are regularly abroad and in need of a cheap and reliable way to make phone calls, the new handsets with the T-Mobile Wi-Fi calling app are definitely worth checking out. For more on the new Wi-Fi calling app, mozy on over to the T-Mobile support pages.

T-Mobile announces the Samsung Galaxy Tab Android tablet for $399.99

Well that was fast – a few hours after we discussed the upcoming wave of mobile broadband enabled tablets, T-Mobile sent out a press release announcing that they’ll be the first network in the country to offer the new Samsung Galaxy Tab.

The Tab is an Android powered 7″ tablet. On T-Mobile, it will support their expanding HSDPA+ network, which offers speeds much faster than current generation devices – and in my tests, they really do keep their promise when they claim it is fast.

On the Tab, T-Mobile and Samsung installed Slacker Radio, the Amazon Kindle reader and Qik video chat. These apps mean this compact tablet really is perfect for travelers. It is quite a bit smaller than the Apple iPad – which is either a blessing or a curse, depending on your needs.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab launches on November 10 at T-Mobile.com and T-Mobile retail stores. The tablet is priced at $399.99 after a $50 mail in rebate. Of course, this price only applies when you activate on a new two year agreement.

We hope to bring you a full review of this impressive device as soon as we can get our hands on our pre-order.

If you want to learn more about the Tab on T-Mobile, head on over to their product page and sign up for more information.

New T-Mobile prepaid voice and data plans especially interesting for tourists

The U.S. prepaid mobile phone market is finally playing catch-up with the rest of the world. For years, prepaid options over here were lousy at best.

In recent months, we’ve already seen operators like Virgin Mobile and Verizon reduce their prices and offer better products for people looking for a prepaid way to make calls and get online.

Starting October 18, T-Mobile will be the next big operator to improve their prepaid plans, changing every aspect of what they have to offer.

Of course, the real advantage of prepaid voice and data is that you don’t lock yourself into a contract, and you don’t need to pass a credit check – making the plans ideal for short term use or tourists who can’t provide a Social Security Number.

The biggest change in the new plans is that prepaid customers can buy much larger bundles of minutes, messages and data – with a plan starting at just $1/day offering 1500 texts/minutes and 30MB of data. Even heavy users are taken care of, with a $70 unlimited talk/text plan that offers a generous 2GB of data.
The new plans:

New T-Mobile Prepaid Monthly Phone Data Plans:

  • $70/month Unlimited Talk and Text with 2 GB of Data
  • $50/month Unlimited Talk and Text with 100 MB of Data
  • $30/month 1,500 Talk and Text (mix and match voice and text messages) with 30 MB of Data
  • Unlimited Text and $0.10/minute
  • $1.49/day Web DayPass

New T-Mobile 3G mobile broadband data packages:

  • $10 week pass (100 MB)
  • $30 month pass (300 MB)
  • $50 month pass (1 GB)

Along with the launch of the new data plan, T-Mobile will also introduce a new prepaid USB modem, complete with a SIM card and online connection manager.

T-Mobile makes it easier (and more expensive) to get online without a data plan

Starting today, T-Mobile is offering its “pay monthly” customers a easy way to get online – normally, getting online requires a data plan, but with their new “Mobile Web Pay Per Use Plan”, you can add a data option, and pay only for what you use. Getting online is as simple as going to to any web page using your mobile browser, and accepting the terms and conditions. At the end of the billing cycle, T-Mobile will round up your usage to the nearest megabyte, and add the cost to your bill.

So far so good – the bad news is that this data plan is not available on phones that require a monthly web plan – which rules out any smartphone. The really bad news – the plan costs $1.99 per megabyte of data.

While this is quite a bit cheaper than international roaming data, two bucks per megabyte is a lot – the main page on Gadling is 320KB, so refreshing this three times will cost you two dollars. Downloading an MP3 song will cost about $10, plus the cost of the song itself.

So, while I’m glad mobile operators are starting to embrace pay as you go data, I’m not entirely sure this is the right direction. One day, I hope we can copy Europe, and buy $40 3G adapters with $4/daily unlimited data at the local grocery store.

Win free Inflight Internet for a year from T-Mobile and Gogo Inflight

Back in February, we mentioned a neat promotion between T-Mobile and Gogo Inflight where buyers of the new T-Mobile HTC HD2 get 6 months of free access to the Gogo service.

Now the two have teamed up again to promote this new Windows Powered smartphone.

Sure, the grand prize may be a trip for four to L.A., but to me, the free year of Gogo Inflight Internet access is the prize that stands out. In total, you’ll get 200 free sessions, and honestly, if you fly more than that in a year you are insane (or well on your way to it).

This is over $2,500 in free Internet access – and more than enough for a ton of inflight Tweets about how awesome inflight Internet is.

To enter the contest, you’ll need to hand over some personal information, and extra entries can be won if you link things to your Facebook account.

Other prizes include an HTC HD2 smartphone, TV box sets, DVD’s and more. So, head on over to the contest page and try your luck.