Prepaid talk and text SIM + data-only SIM = the ultimate hacked plan?

Posted by amcink June 15, 2016 3 Comments 2639 views

Some phones allow you to insert not one but two SIM cards.

Typically targeted at the traveling set, these “dual-SIM” phones also come in very handy when you’re looking to hack your cell phone plan.

We’ve talked at some length about data-only cell phone plans. Paired with Fongo (which we’ve talked about at length too) a data-only plan lets you pare down your phone plan and gives some of the power back to you, the customer.

Dual SIM card slots let plan hackers take it a step further. In one SIM card slot, you’ve got your data-only SIM card. In the other, you’ve got whatever inexpensive pre-paid or talk and text plan most appeals to you. You get nationwide data coverage plus a better talk and text solution than a service like Fongo (or Hangouts or TextNow or What’s App) can provide.

See also: Canadian data-only plans compared

There really is no match for having a dedicated talk and text solution as part of the phone, as great as the phone and text as service solutions we’ve talked about can be.

How it works

This solution is Android-only. There are no dual-SIM iPhones.

Here’s the high-level how-to:

  1. Get a dual-SIM capable phone
  2. Get a data-only cell phone plan (often called a tablet plan)
  3. Get an inexpensive prepaid or postpaid talk and text only plan
  4. In the Android settings menu, select your tablet plan SIM as your primary data connection.
  5. In the same menu, assign voice and SMS to your talk and text only SIM.

Having a dedicated voice and text plan associated with your phone isn’t strictly necessary, but it’s definitely a nice to have. Plan hackers using a data-only plan and something like Fongo for calls and text messages miss out on the deep integration of voice and text into the phone experience.

With two SIM cards, one dedicated to voice and text and one just for data, you get the best of both worlds.

In other words, you will be able to do stuff like using Google Now to place a call or send a text, use the Bluetooth setup in your car properly and so on. Other benefits are more app-specific; an example of a frustration I’ve faced that would be fixed with a dual-SIM setup: Trying to communicate with an Uber driver that’s en route made more difficult because the app (understandably) only knows how to make a call or send a text from the native Android phone and messaging apps… which don’t work if you’ve gone strictly data-only.

There are 3 Comments

  1. Pear
    - November 17, 2016
      -   Reply

    Just curious — since most smartphones support SIP/VOIP configurations — is it worthwhile to ditch the fongo app, and instead pay the one time $79 fee for the config file from Fongo?

    Guessing it’s not worth the effort but just curious to hear your thoughts

    • amcink
      - November 18, 2016
        -   Reply

      I’m not quite sure what the benefit would be, I confess. Deeper on-device integration than the app can offer? If I were going for an on-device SIP solution, I’d look at voip.ms instead. No SMS in that case though.

      I searched around the Fongo KB but I couldn’t find any reference to this $79 config file. Still, in my opinion, the config would have to offer up a lot of value to be worth $79. There’s a lot you can do for little or no cost with Fongo in the app.

  2. Jeremy
    - December 27, 2016
      -   Reply

    Fongo doesn’t support using your own SIP/ATA device. However, freephoneline.ca, which uses Fongo, does support using your own SIP/ATA. You have to buy the SIP credentials for $80.
    See https://www.freephoneline.ca/optionalServices# and click the red “VOIP Unlock Key” icon.
    I have Fongo Home Phone ($5/month) and I’m happy with it. I’m looking into cheaper options — such as Fongo with a data-only plan — for my cell phone, since my contract will end in a few months.

Write Your Comment