Many cellular phone companies provide a service called a smartphone data plan for customers who have smartphones. Smartphone plans differ from basic cell phone plans. Cell phone plans offer voice and text messaging services. A smartphone data plan offers a voice plan and text messaging service with an additional Web access plan, also known as a data plan. The data plan allows the user to access email, browse the Internet, access global positioning satellite (GPS) service and more.
More sophisticated than a mobile phone, a smartphone is a small, handheld electronic device that gives the user the ability to send and receive phone calls and access the Internet. The smartphone might have a touchscreen or small textual buttons that the user can use to manage the various Internet applications, such as a web browser or email program. To access the Internet, the smartphone is equipped with a small data chip that accesses data from an Internet-connected cellular network.
Travelers and commuters can benefit from smartphone data plans because the plans are extremely convenient for mobile web browsing, real-time location mapping and emailing. Cell phone carriers advertise data plan terms on a price tier organized into bandwidth allowances. For example, a carrier might offer 2-megabyte, 1-gigabyte and 2-gigabyte data plans, each at a different price. Customers usually subscribe to data plans that are best suited for their mobile needs. Should a customer use more bandwidth than his or her subscription allows, he or she typically receives an overage penalty and is charged accordingly.
A smartphone data plan cost might be an additional fee added to normal mobile phone service charges. To reduce overage penalty charges, which can be quite costly, the user often can download email and other Web material while connected to a wireless network, such as a home network or a free public Wi-Fi hotspot. Smartphone Internet activity on a wireless network, when it is possible, might not count toward the data plan usage. Therefore, connecting to a wireless network can save money.
When choosing a data plan, one should consider the various plans and overage charges carefully. A frequent traveler might prefer a larger, more expensive data plan that will allow him or her carefree Internet service without worrying about costly overage fees. A casual user who checks his or her email or who infrequently browses the Web might benefit from a smaller data plan with its lower cost. Cell phone carriers usually are more than happy to help prospective customers sift through the various types and tiers of smartphone data plans.