Tuesday, October 30, 2012

An Added Bonus For Solavei WP Users?


In an accidental discovery, we found that the Windows Phone Internet Sharing feature worked perfectly on our HTC Titan with Solavei service. Remarkably cool, and the only MVNO where it hasn’t told us to call *611 to enable the feature! The $49 Solavei plan just got more attractive with this little nugget!

Simply press: Settings > Internet Sharing > On and within seconds you will see your active hotspot address and password. As you can see above, the speeds are great even on an AT&T compatible handset.

The True Test: Solavei Social Cellular Service

It’s time for a better look at Solavei’s actual service offering. Before we go too far in to things though, we need to clarify that we do indeed have a member of the Social Commerce Network on our staff and he is testing this not only for our site, but also is seeing how well Solavei treats their users and commission program. We will start with the basics and move forward from there.

Call Quality:

We live in the the MVNO’s yard here in the Seattle area, so we would expect coverage to be good for voice calls here. Since fairing, not so well in call quality during our 2012 Best Value in Wireless survey, Solavei’s home network has undergone some dramatic reinforcement in our area. With the roll out of the 1900mhz bands throughout the area, voice quality is now very strong and dropped calls are few and far between. As a matter of fact, it rivals even the best voice services in the area for quality of sound.

Data Speed:

The data speeds using our AT&T Titan are quite good, actually, downright fantastic. With peak download speeds of 9.85 Mbps, the 6.5 Mbps average was more than adequate for most users. Using a fully compatible AWS device, users should easily top those numbers. The best part of the network speed is the consistency. In our 12 speed tests, only one dropped below 6 Mbps, with most of them settling in the 6.5 Mbps range.

Customer Service:

There isn’t much more to say than epic fail in this department. Solavei has you enter your device IMEI number before you have your phone approved for network use. We entered the number for our Nokia Lumia 900 and watched it say “Fully Compatible” with the network. We waited a few days for our Micro SIM to show up and when the package finally arrived, it had a normal SIM. Fortunately for them, AT&T didn’t get an unlock code for our Lumia to us yet, so in to our Titan it went. They get a pass on that one for now, but serious issue for the average Joe.


Solavei is quickly passing the 50,000 member mark, making them a solid MVNO carrier with a legitimate presence in the US. If they are able to offer some of the additional features soon, and manage to stay out of the ‘retail’ format that some members are taking them to, there is a good possibility of them being a major player in the game for a long time. The performance is definitely there and the price is extremely aggressive for the level of service that is offered. Overall, Solavei, gets a solid recommendation from us, as long as you live in a good coverage area.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Game Time: Texas Holdem Poker

Killing time with mobile games is always a great way to use your mobile device. Finding the right games to kill the most time, with the smallest expense is the perfect solution. For poker fans, Texas Holdem Poker is a great way to beat the boredom and take care of those cravings between the weekly poker night get together.

Game play is wonderful, although if you get stuck at a slow table, it can be a bit tedious. The basics of play are you join a table, buy-in, then wait to play your first hand until the current hand is done. Waiting for that first hand can be a bit slow, depending on how the timing works out for joining it. Once you are in, you'll see you first two cards that you are dealt, then a round of betting occurs. After everyone's initial bets, the flop happens and another round of betting occurs. After the checks and raises, the turn card comes down and finally the river.

The low cost tables are great for learning, just don't be afraid to fold those bad hands. Betting on those bad hands will lose your money pretty quickly and recharging your chips means sitting out a turn. Also, make sure you stop in daily for the 'bonus chips' which can really start to rack up quickly.

Texas Holdem Poker is free at the Windows Marketplace and requires a data connection to play.

Online Special: Get the Anker SlimTalk 3200mAh External Battery for only $26.99

Friday, October 26, 2012

Focus On Solavei

There has been a ton of press about the new "startup" wireless provider Solavei, and more importantly, their flat rate $49 unlimited plan. So let's start on the basics of this one and work into how this applies to your Windows Phone experience.

The Solavei system is rather simple. They provide a $49 a month, non-contract service that includes unlimited minutes, texting, 4GB of 4G data and unlimited 2G data when that cap is exceeded. Solavei is running off the T-Mobile network, which recently started running out their update to their 1900mhz spectrum in many markets. This will allow many popular AT&T devices to be able to cross over to T-Mobile and in-turn, Solavei.

While Android devices will give users a bit more of the 'social experience', Windows Phones are still up and running on the network with flying colors. The best option for using a Windows Phone on Solavei (at the moment) is the T-Mobile Nokia Lumia 710. The nice part about the 710 is that you have access to the majority of Nokia's specialty software and the ability to change the MMS APN to Solavei's for full functionality. The HTC Radar is also a good choice, although the MMS APN doesn't always activate correctly and requires a bit of 'editing' at times.

As for those powerhouse devices from AT&T, a Lumia 900 is definitely the best choice if you are able to get those elusive unlock codes from Ma Bell. The next best option in my opinion is an unlocked Samsung Focus S. It will run the 1900mhz frequencies and allow the MMS APN to be properly adjusted. The rest of the Focus family will also work quite well as long as they are unlocked as well. The Focus family also has a quick one click debranding process that will allow Windows Phone updates to continue to flow for some time. The devices we have a tough time recommending are the Titan and the Titan II, which do not have an APN adjustment for the MMS settings and data settings simultaneously., You get one or the other, not both.

Overall, Solavei offers a great option for the sub-$50 bill phone plan. Add this with the opportunity to earn $20 every month for every 3 people you bring in to the network, it's a clear winner. If you'd like more information, visit Solavei online and check it out. Feel free to request more information on it by entering your name and email on the front page.

UPDATE 8/13/14 - Although this post is almost 2 years old, it is still getting a fair amount of traffic. I wanted to update it so it reflected some changes to the Solavei program and had the latest news about the company. First off, the payment structure has changed to be $5 for each member that you bring on board rather than almost $7 each. Also many of the bonus tiers have changed as well. Please visit Solavei.com for more information on these changes.

Finally, the bigger news is that Solavei filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Washington state in June of 2014. A Chapter 11 filing is a reorganization of debt, not a walking away and folding up the company bankruptcy, but the numbers don't look good. It appears that Solavei has somewhere between $60-100 million in liabilities and $5 million in assets. This filing will put them in a horrible position to work with T-Mobile on a new deal next month and will more than likely signal the end of the social commerce revolution. More as it develops.

For now, feel free to check out the great deals from Simple Mobile and Red Pocket Mobile at www.4gfastdata.com. RPM has extended new T-Mobile compatible plans at some great prices that many users will find attractive.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Data Saver: Navigation: Turn By Turn

If you have a Nokia Lumia handset in your pocket, you can stop reading this and just replace the "Navigation" word with Nokia Drive, but if you don't, you need to make your way to the market soon and check out the Navigation: Turn By Turn GPS system for Windows Phone. In a market where an offline navigation program will set you back $29.99 to $59.99, Navigation: Turn By Turn has a limited edition (US Maps Only) for only $4.99.

We did a full feature review on Navigation in the past, but as data limits become harder and harder to comply with, Apps like it deserve another look. For those bringing their older Windows Phones to third party or MVNO's like Red Pocket Mobile or Straight Talk, the offline mapping that is available will really save quite a chunk of the limited data on those plans.

To access this great feature, click the options menu, highlight the area of the map that you use the most and download it for offline use. Then simply check the box that says not to use your mobile data connection for mapping and you are off. It will use the maps you have downloaded as much as it can, but if you forget, you can always re-engage the online mapping when you are in a strange area that you don't have stored on your device.

Overall, the $4.99 price tag for Navigation: Turn By Turn is well worth it. The fact that the maps are available offline not only makes Navigation a great deal, but also makes it an amazing addition to your data saving Apps.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Is Windows Phone 8 For Me?

Let me start off by saying that Windows Phone 7.5 is the best "phone" software I've ever used. I'll follow that up with, it isn't the best organizer/mapping/music/camera software I've ever used. So, to fix this, Microsoft is rolling out Windows Phone 7.8 for my old HTC Titan (if AT&T actually approves an update for a one year old phone), my Samsung Focus S and my Nokia Lumia 900. Since I'm in love with different aspects of each of these devices, Most people ask me which one ends up in my pocket daily, well the Nokia does, but only for the fact that you can't set up simultaneous MMS and MSN services on the Titan.

So now that we have the fact that I love to have Windows Phone on my device, and I do have a few devices, I have to look at why or what are the reasons for someone to "upgrade" to a Windows Phone 8 device?

Looking at the first miscue from my Windows Phone 7 devices is the lack of open updating. My Titan, Focus S and Lumia all have different versions of Windows Phone on board. Now keep in mind, these are all second generation AT&T devices, so it's not like trying to cram a new feature set on to an older phone. It simply comes down to the fact that Microsoft is letting the carriers control their software releases.

The fix for this was announced in Windows Phone 8's direct OTA updates. This will leave the updates to Microsoft's end and allow the user to dictate when they get the update - to some degree. Even with the direct push updates, it may take Samsung more time to prepare their update than Nokia, meaning the Lumia 920 should get it before the ATIV. Still not a great scenario, but much better, if the carriers allow it to happen.

The next annoyance is having to have the latest and greatest versions of software across 2 platforms. Just so you understand, Windows Phone comes with Office built in. In order to properly edit these documents over SkyDrive, I need to install Office 2010 on my PC. Well, I usually use Word and a little Excel and it is not worth the $400 to me every time a new Office suite is released to update. I also use my computer for quite a bit of graphics and film work, which Windows Phone could handle, but it doesn't have the right software available.

Enter Windows Phone 8, which now features Office 2010 and well, that's it. Office 2013 is going to be a free upgrade for those that purchase 2010 now, but again, Windows Phone 8 isn't going to solve the need an update soon scenario. Now, when news of the new core for Windows Phone 8 came out and revealed that it was the same core as Windows 8, I had a silent party in my head. This means I can run all my PC software on my phone! Or not... Same core does not equal same Apps or programs. We are right back to where we started with limited Application support and special versions that aren't available yet, but are already on platforms like iOS and Android.

Music... Yes, I love to use my phone as my mp3 player when I workout. This is reason #2 for making the Lumia my daily driver. Nokia's Music App with its offline streaming mode wins my music vote hands down. When you think about limited data plans, overages and throttling, offline music is the way to go. Unfortunately, the other options, Spotify, XBox Music, Slacker Radio, all require anywhere from $4 to $10 a month for offline listening. For now, I'll stick to my free Nokia deal and pray that someone will find a way to easily install it on my other devices in the future.

How does Win Phone 8 address this? Well, many of the devices are including removable memory, so storing music won't be quite as selective of a task any longer. Also, for an additional $10 monthly fee, that XBox music subscription can be off loaded to your device, again space dependent, for listening where you don't have coverage or when you don't want to use up that valuable data. Not a great solution, but far from the worst.

The camera on all three of my devices have areas where they shine, and others where they fail miserably. Taking a look at the good, all three take fantastic photos as a point and shoot. The best camera in my eye is the Titan. The clarity, saturation and quality is just a touch better than the other 2. That said, the Focus S has built in digital image stabilization, which is great for the shaky handed among us. Again, despite having the weakest hardware in the bunch, the Lumia comes through on the software end to finish in second place behind the Titan in the photo department.

Win Phone 8 has some amazing cameras coming to it this fall. I'm not sure if any of them will be as good as the samples I've seen or if they will once again fall flat. Hopefully the cameras will step up and all be better than the Titan's and not need additional software to be installed for the basics like panoramic shooting.

User experience is probably the most important aspect of Windows Phone 8. How much better will an HTC 8x be than my HTC Titan? Honestly, I'm very much hoping to find out, but until I have one in hand, I doubt I'll look very hard. Between my Titan and Lumia, I have a hard enough time deciding what phone to head out the door with every day. If HTC updated their connection setup program to allow for MVNO setups, I think the Titan would win the daily battle. Unfortunately, that isn't going to happen and for now, I will keep my Lumia in my hand for now, and patiently wait for the early reports on the bugs, issues and hopefully great reports on Windows Phone 8.

Sent from my Nokia Lumia 900 powered by GetSmartphones.Info

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Setting Up Your Nokia Lumia For Red Pocket Mobile

Red Pocket Mobile is one of my favorite carriers. Running off the AT&T network, RPM offers users unlimited talk, text and 3GB of data for $59.99 a month. They also have plans from $29.99 a month that include unlimited talk and text only. These prices drop a bit when you purchase discount refills from online sources like TMI Wireless. Red Pocket Mobile service works perfectly on any unlocked GSM handset and also performs flawlessly on locked AT&T handsets. Those AT&T branded Samsung Focus', that HTC 8X or even the newest carrier locked Nokia Lumia devices work amazingly well, even without their unlock codes.

To set up your Nokia Lumia for Red Pocket Mobile, simply download the Network Setup App from the Marketplace and press the (+) icon at the bottom of the screen and enter the following settings. If you do not have an edit option in your device's APN menu or under the cellular settings, you can grab a download of Nokia's Access Point App here. Once you have downloaded this, make sure you enter a new APN for Red Pocket Mobile and enable it for use.

Connection Name: Red Pocket
Check the box that says "Make this my current APN"

Internet APN
Access point name: att.mvno

Proxy address: - blank -
Proxy port: - blank -
Username: - blank -
Password: - blank -

MMS access point name: att.mvno
Proxy address:
Proxy port: 80
Username: - blank -
Password: - blank -
MMSC address: http://mmsc.cingular.com

Make sure you try setting up your Windows Phone 7, 8 or 8.1 device with these settings and feel free to visit Red Pocket Mobile online and order your discounted Red Pocket Mobile SIM card and instant refill code

UPDATE 8/14/14: Many people have been wondering about finding the APN setup program for their Lumia devices. Fortunately, the capabilities have been built in to most of the line now. You can access it by selecting Settings > Access Point. If you do not have this option on your Lumia, you can download the App here - http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store/app/access-point/ce3895c7-01d0-4daf-a4c3-25c10463942d

UPDATE 1/31/15: Certain network locked phones may not have access to editing APN's any longer. Check your phone for what settings are able to be changed before attempting to configure your handset.

Buy Office 2010 - Get Office 2013 Free


In a brilliant move to increase sales of their 2010 Office packages, Microsoft is now offering a free upgrade to the 2013 Office Suite when it becomes available. While many Windows Phone users are happy with their current setup with Office 2010, the additional touch friendly features of Office 2013 should prove to be a very enticing offer for those looking to purchase a Surface tablet or that new Windows Phone 8 device in the near future.

Currently the 2010 Office for Home and Students is carrying an upgrade price of $149 and the Small Business pack is $279. Both of these are upgradable to the newest Office 2013 package when it becomes available. The 2013 upgrade comes in the form of a download from Microsoft and will be made available to every license purchased.

Order your copy today and make sure to stay current with the latest versions of Microsoft's Office programs.

Source: Microsoft Office Home


Visit www.getsmartphones.info for great devices for T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and many popular prepaid services.

What To Do When Your Phone Stops Syncing

It is a problem that will drive most users insane. When you connect your phone to your PC and the Zune software opens... then the 24 items failed to sync notice comes up. You delete some images, videos and pray, but still nothing. As scary as it is, you don't need to hard reset your device or even delete any content, you just need to check two things to make sure you are ready to resume that syncing relationship.

First, if you are in an area with multiple WiFi signals, double check to make sure the computer and phone are on the same one. It won't happen every time, but sometimes the competing security measures will keep you from obtaining the proper security keys to send data between the device and the computer, even over that USB connection.

Second, the issue is usually caused by the .jpg or .jpeg file format being assigned to a different default program setting. This is quickly fixed by hitting the start button and typing, without the quotes, "regedit". A quick click of the Yes button to allow the computer to open the editor will reveal some interesting menus for many, but only the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT folder is of interest to you. Click on the folder and scroll down until you see .jpg in the list. Single click it and you will see a file called Default in the pane to the right. Double click "Default" and it will open a window with one editable line that is filled with a program name. Erase the program from the box and click OK. Repeat this for the .jpeg entry as well.

Close out of the editor by clicking the x in the upper right corner and try syncing again. As soon as your Windows Phone is reconnected to the computer, syncing should resume and all the errors should clear immediately. Happy syncing!

Sent from my Nokia Lumia 900 powered by GetSmartphones.Info

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Protect Your Nokia Lumia Device

When you spend that hard earned cash on that new phone, especially when you go the route of paying full retail for a device and using it on a monthly prepaid service. When you lay out $300-500 for that new phone, it's a good idea to consider some serious protection for it. Today we look at the Incipio Ngp Nokia Lumia 900 Case.

The case is a solidly constructed and provides total protection around the entire device. It does add a bit of bulk, but not as much as many of the hard plastic cases that can be found for less. The Incipio Ngp Nokia Lumia 900 Case provides an amazing amount of protection for a very small investment. We do admit that the solid black coloring does work best with the Black Lumia 900, but it also offers a nice contrast to the other three available colors. The gray and pink colors are also nice options, but they do not match the OEM colors as well as the black.

The Incipio Ngp Nokia Lumia 710 Case is also available for $19.99 as well. This provides an equal amount of security for your T-Mobile Lumia 710. For more information on either case, simply click the links above.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Windows Phone For $45 A Month

We're always looking for ways to get a bang for our buck - and even save a few when we can. Right now is a prime time for those first and some second generation Windows Phones to be sent to prepaid land - and there are some screaming deals to be had.

First off, we do recommend going Samsung or Nokia for this, simply due to the fact that HTC's Connection Setup App is so lacking in options. Nokia's Network Setup App allows for reconfiguration of all three major APN's as does Samsung's Network Setup App. Both are available in the Marketplace for a free download.

So, there are a few great options running off the 'dual-network' setups for your prepaid devices. The problem is, you might need that device before you can get started. Below are a few great options that are in the under $300 new and unlocked group.

The Nokia Lumia 800, unlocked and ready to go at $299.99. - AT&T networks
The Nokia Lumia 900 locked to AT&T at $284,99. - AT&T networks only
The Samsung Focus, the original AT&T Model for $178,91. - AT&T networks

The Nokia Lumia 710, ready for T-Mobile based networks at $199.99. - T-Mobile networks

You can even pick up the Lumia 900 on a refurbished deal without contract from AT&T's website for a low price of $349.99 or $399.99 for a new in box model.

As you can see, there are quite a few deals to be had on new Windows Phones online, without having to pay an arm and a leg for the new devices. At $300 to buy in, and $45 a month, your 2 year pricing will work out to only $1380. This is equal to about 10 months and that $200 "new" Windows Device you grab from AT&T or T-Mobile today.

So, now that you have that AT&T compatible handset, which plan do you choose? Well, here's the easy part - there are quite a few options.

Net10 - $50 Unlimited Voice, Text, Data - and a $5 discount for signing up for auto pay.
Straight Talk - $45 Unlimited Voice, Text and Data - capped at 2GB or 100MB per day - no streaming allowed.
Red Pocket Mobile - $54.99 for Unlimited Voice, Text and 1GB data.
H2O Wireless - $60 for Unlimited Voice, Text and 2GB data.
AT&T GoPhone - $75 for Unlimited Voice, Text and 1GB data.

T-Mobile phones can be run on a few different prepaid providers as well.

Net10 - $50 Unlimited Voice, Text, Data - and a $5 discount for signing up for auto pay.
Straight Talk - $45 Unlimited Voice, Text and Data - capped at 2GB or 100MB per day - no streaming allowed.
SimpleMobile - $40 Unlimited Voice, Text and Data - capped at 2GB of 3G data or $60 Unlimited Voice, Text and Data - capped at 2GB of 4G data.
 Solavei - $49 Unlimited Voice, Text, and Data - capped at 4GB of 4G data then throttled to 2G.

Overall, you can easily take that $100 smartphone bill and cut it in half or better by switching to a prepaid service. If you are near the end of you contract, shop for options on the carrier you have now. If you are looking at being under contract for another 20 months, look at the savings verses your termination fee and see how long it would take to start saving. You might be surprised by how much you can actually save the first year by terming now, rather than waiting.

As for the SIM that ended up in our Nokia Lumia 900, we chose the Net10 Autio-Pay program due to the faster data speeds and excellent coverage options. The Auto-Pay plan makes the monthly bill $45 a month, or $75 a month cheaper than our AT&T equivalent, plus it remains unlimited for now. Plans are always subject to change, but for now, we will enjoy the freedom and flexibility of prepaid wireless.

If you are interested picking up a discounted Net10, Red Pocket Mobile, Simple Mobile or H20 Wireless SIM card, please email our friends at smartphonedeals@gmail.com for a great deal. Let them know you heard about them from Focus on Windows Phone and we'd appreciate it!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Update Your Office For Best Results

Getting more out of your Windows Phone device means having the right software on your PC as well. All Windows Phone devices are equipped with the latest versions of Microsoft Office, which sync beautifully with your Microsoft SkyDrive account for access to your important documents where ever you are. Unfortunately, if you are running an older version of Microsoft Office, you may not be able to edit those documents from your computer as easily as if you were running Office 2010.

If you are a student or using your Office products for non-commercial usage, the Microsoft Office 2010 PC Home And Student Edition is where you would start your search. Your edition of Office includes Word 2010, Excel 2010, Powerpoint 2010 and OneNote 2010. These tools will give you everything you need to produce the highest quality projects without investing $100's in specialty software.

The more business oriented user might want to consider the Microsoft Office 2010 PC Home And Business Edition of Office. The Business edition includes users wanting to produce commercial documents with Word, Excel and Powerpoint. It also features the OneNote 2010 software which syncs seamlessly with your device. There is also the addition of Microsoft's powerful Outlook 2010 software for use with email and calendars. Outlook delivers powerful organization features while keeping your phone streamlined with calendar and email sync.

Will your Windows Phone work without these amazing PC software additions, of course, but will you start to get more out of your Windows devices with this software on board? Of course!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Why Nokia Has A Strong Advantage For Windows Phone 8

Everyone knows that the new Windows Phone 8 devices are coming soon, but the biggest question on most user's minds is which one should be at the top of their list. Without making it sound too simple, there shouldn't be much else to consider, at this moment, than the Nokia 820/920 lines of devices. This isn't due to the lack of specs from others, or even the fact that Nokia has better hardware than the others. This is due simply to Nokia having more development in the software department.

Nokia is light years ahead of any of the other manufacturers in terms of offering exclusive Apps, modification software and the ability to run new updates out faster than anyone else. Exclusive software like Nokia Drive, Nokia Maps and Nokia Music just push Nokia's hardware further ahead than anyone else. So if you are holding out on a new Windows Phone 8 device, shop carefully and check out all the 'stuff' your phone will come with before committing to that new hardware package. The software is really what will make your next device the best it can be, not just a great camera or bigger screen.