02 12 / 2013
Back in October T-Mobile announced Simple Choice unlimited global data roaming, which provides free global data/text roaming (and 20c/min voice) in most foreign countries.
After purchasing an unlocked iPhone 5s for wife, and Nexus 5 for myself, we terminated AT&T contract ($130 ETF), and then merged my T-Mobile prepaid into now family shared Simple Choice that makes us eligible for the free roaming.
We’ve been traveling Europe for the past 2 weeks, in Denmark, Germany and then UK. For each country, after getting off an airplane, all I need to do is to turn off the airplane mode, and the phone starts to roam. It just works.
The network can be chosen automatically by default, but if you have a specific network you want to connect in mind, you can do so in the settings of your mobile OS. I chose 3 (Three Hutchison) in Denmark and T-Mobile in both Germany and UK.
If you’re on AT&T or Verizon, you might have used a similar way of roaming with the data package. But that’s expensive, like $30 for 300MB. And then it will be prorated and you have to do the math every time you use data. With T-Mobile, it’s unlimited.
The only catch with this free roaming is that the data is capped at 120kbps both up and down. You might wonder what it is like to use that slow network in the age of LTE. The answer is, it doesn’t bother me at all. It’s definitely slow when you want to render bunch of photos, like foursquare photo page or Google image search and playing youtube videos is a no-no, but otherwise, for Google Maps, Twitter, Instagram, checking in on foursquare or looking for wi-fi password of the cafe - all shows up pretty fast. And it works reliably, albeit slow, which is far better than fast but unreliable.
For the 12 days, I used 900MB of data in total, most of them from Google Maps, Foursquare and Falcon Pro (Twitter client). Before this free roaming package, T-Mobile used to charge $15/MB, which is absurd. If i used 900MB with that rate, that would have been a $15k bill! Now it’s free.
I’ve been a big fan of unlocked phones, and buying a local SIM would make a lot of sense if you stay longer and want a decent connection and/or tethering. But for 4-5 day stay, getting to mobile shops for a SIM card is such a time waster, especially when your flight arrives late at night. And some countries put a huge burden for foreigners to get a prepaid data SIM (France and Japan in mind), or a big activation fee ($20 in Canada). Some carriers require a few hours before your SIM card gets activated to be able to use data. And you will receive an SMS with non-English language that you have to google translate, etc.
It makes me feel so liberated that I don’t need to worry about all these things. Your phone just works when you get off the plane, no need to pull out a SIM.
UPDATE: there is a question whether the used data contributes to the domestic data cap of your Simple Choice plan (500MB for minimum, $10 for 2GB, $20 for unlimited). It doesn’t seem so, because we used 1.5GB during the trip, and T-Mobile site doesn’t show that usage in my current activity.
Permalink 4 notes
07 11 / 2013
Received this on this Tuesday, and been using it for 2 days on T-Mobile LTE.
I love this phone. It is so much better than the previous phone, Nexus 4.
The screen is gorgeous and crisp, and never fails to enlighten me when I turn on the screen. This is the first experience I’ve ever had since the retina iPad 3.
The screen is sometimes too bright, when used in the dark. I heard it is a bug in the auto brightness detector, and could be fixed in the OS update later.
Camera quality has been criticized on some reviews, but for me it takes decent, sometimes great, photos. Look at the result of Nexus 5 vs iPhone 5s photo polls. I don’t consider the quality as good as 5s, but the fact is that it could take as good photos.
The camera app is wacky and slow, but hopefully it could be improved in the future software updates.
The hardware is pretty big, but not that big if you’ve already used 4+ inch devices such as Nexus 4. It is a little longer than Nexus 4, but it’s thinner and actually lighter. The back is made of matte, not glass like Nexus 4, which makes it easy to not slip on my hand, and will not crack even when you drop it.
The matte back also fixes the problem with Qi charging with RAVPower wireless battery, when Nexus 4’s glass back keeps slipping off from the battery. Nexus 5 does not.
Speaking of wireless charging, Nexus 5 makes the wireless charging seemingly much more stable. The positioning of charging point is a little above what was on Nexus 4. Nexus 5 has almost in the middle of the body, whereas Nexus 4 had in in the bottom. This requires some getting used to, but overall it makes it more steady.
It supports variety of LTE bands and runs T-Mobile LTE with no problems.
Here’s the comparison between T-Mobile HSPA+ and LTE in my home, SOMA area in San Francisco. Downstream is not much different at the speed test, but in reality, LTE download is much more steady and fast. Also, the upstream makes a huge difference.
Yesterday I tried to download a couple of podcast episodes with T-Mobile LTE - it downloaded 50MB file in 20 seconds. Guess 200MB free data for tablets is a real deal, that can be consumed in one minute :)
There’s a report that Nexus 5 (even with D821, International model) doesn’t support NTT DoCoMo’s 3G/WCDMA SIM card. You should get the SIM that supports their LTE network. I do have b-mobile (MVNO of docomo) that only runs on 3G, and guess it’s time to upgrade to their LTE version. But i could probably live with T-Mobile’s free EDGE global roaming when everything fails.
I’ve been only using it for 2 days and it’s too early to judge on battery life, but so far it isn’t that impressive, and mostly the same level as Nexus 4. With the heavy use it could run out before 8 hours of use, but with a regular use, turning off background battery heavy apps like Moves, and then always on WiFi, could lead to a whole day use.
I’ll update after a week of use.
The google experience launcher (GEL as they call it in the Android devsphere) looks nice especially the translucent toolbar. Although the icon size is a little too big to my taste, and i switched to Action Launcher Pro which 4.4 support is still in the works. I also installed DynamicNotifications and Dashclock for lock screen immediately like I did with Nexus 4, which feels like de-nexusing my phone :)
Anyway 4.4 update is welcoming in most places - the toaster notification looks so better.
Japanese Text Rendering
It is still puzzling when the app displays Japanese characters in Japanese fonts (or CJK unified fonts).
Prior to 4.4, it depended on the system settings - if you set your locale to Japanese, most texts are shown in Japanese fonts. Otherwise it will be in CJK font. With 4.4, it seems like the renderer tries to figure out whether the text is in Japanese or Chinese. When I look at mostly Japanese email on Gmail or articles on Pocket, it will render in Japanese fonts, but not all. It is still puzzling, and i hope it will get more robust.
- Typing passwords twice for the first time because i enable 2-factor authentication is annoying. Why can i just do the 2FA for the first time.
- Now you could transfer authenticator code from one device to another without disabling it. Good update.
- Google Voice app feels really outdated. Needs the whole refresh.
- Lockscreen widget is disabled by default. You have to dive into settings to enable it
- The keyboard responds so much better than Nexus 4. I’m assuming this is an improvement in Android 4.4, combined with Nexus 5 specific touchscreen optimization.
- New file chooser looks interesting. I used that to upload my photo from Dropbox to my Square account avatar. the UI looked a bit odd, but the whole experience was like magic. Something iOS needs to support with its puzzling iCloud document stuff.
- Android really needs Do-not-Disturb like iOS, i.e. turning off vibration and LED flash during the night. Yes, I know I can do it with Tasker etc., but nope, it should be done in the system.
Overall i love this phone. It’s the best phone available for $349 without doubt on the market, and despite some initial issues, Android 4.4 looks like a big leap from 4.3.
Permalink 3 notes
07 11 / 2013
Rebuild.fm Podcast は、もちろんブラウザの埋め込みプレイヤーで聴いたり、ファイルをダウンロードしても聴けますが、一番便利なのはポッドキャストクライアントで購読する方法です。
またほとんどのクライアントが 1.5倍速再生などをサポートしているので、時間が〜という人にも安心（早口でしゃべっている回はつらいかも :))
1. iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch
Podcasts アプリの場合、Safari で iTunes リンク を開くと Podcasts.app が開き、そこから登録できます。
うまくいかない場合は、RSS リンク をクリックするか、ストアのメニューから “Rebuild miyagawa” などで検索してみてください。Pocket Casts や Downcast などでも同様です。
Pocket Casts は再生スピードのコントロールが細かく、また Android との同期も可能なので、複数デバイス持っている人にはおすすめです。
RSS フィード をクリックするか、URLをコピーしてPodcastクライアントに登録してください。
Pocket Casts は Discover メニューから “Rebuild miyagawa” で検索してもOK。
再生しながら Show Notes を見れて便利。
3. iTunes (Mac/PC)
iTunes Directory から「iTunes で見る」→「購読」で登録できます。
Permalink 7 notes