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Mobile Internet & Mobile Apps

Mobile broadband guide

"Hmm, lovely little phone in the shop window. Have to have it. Comes with 'mobile broadband', you know. Nice package. Could use it to watch movies and listen to streaming music and take pictures and even make phone calls!"

Hold on right there. Before purchasing that "nice little phone in the shop window," consider what you can and cannot use it for, in the real world. In the world of pamphlets and TV ads, everything's as smooth as a baby's bottom. In the real world, there's fine print.

We've compiled a short but sweet little article to help you understand the do's and don'ts of mobile broadband, in other words: accessing the world wide web while on the go, from your laptop or smartphone.

Mobile apps to save you money

Nimbuzz messaging appIf you have smart phone or mobile internet and better still unlimited data in your contract, there are a number of mobile apps that can save you a great deal of money. Using Skype or any other voip app on your mobile means that you can make free wi-fi calls when in a wi-fi zone, or cheap voip calls rather than mobile network calls.

By using a mobile messaging app, such as Whatsapp or Nimbuzz or Skype, you can send free chat messages rather than costly SMS. Mobile message apps let you send free messages to any other mobile with the same app installed, anywhere in the world.

Many of these messaging apps, such as Nimbuzz also let you combine all of your social networking logins in the one place. So when you login to Nimbuzz, you also login it Facebook, Twitter, etc. and can chat with your Facebook friends on Facebook using Nimbuzz – all for free from your mobile.

Read our reviews of the most popular mobile messaging apps.

If you want to make use of mobile broadband on your laptop, then you'd need a special mobile broadband dongle. You can purchase one of these at any mobile provider. It looks like a USB memory stick, which makes it a very handy little device. They come available in a variety of packages, so there's bound to be one to suit your pocket.

Make sure you know the limitations

Your mobile broadband access point, whether a laptop or smartphone, is not a pocket-sized movie theatre that should deliver high quality movies, streaming music and TV shows on demand, when you demand it.

Although mobile broadband speeds have come a long way since a few years ago, speeds on-the-go tend to be a lot slower than fixed line broadband. Keep that in mind before complaining with your service provider that the phone didn't deliver when you tried watching Ben-Hur.

Using your phone for emailing and general surfing works fantastic, but anything more than that could slow it down considerably.

Internet enabled mobile or Smartphone

Be aware of costs involved with using your smartphone

So, you took off for a Europe-wide holiday tour, smartphone in hand, snapping away at everything that moves and everything made by something that moves, and uploading images and videos to Facebook and Twitter and all sorts of other social sites. "Oh, what a holiday!" You called friends while leaning against the tower of Pisa; you uploaded that 15 minute video clip of surfers in Spain. To top it off, you spent tired evenings in hotel rooms browsing your smartphone for funny clips on Youtube. And then you got home with a smile on the face, until the bill arrived.

Yes, it is that bad. Using your smartphone abroad as you do back home is not advisable, unless you can strike a deal with your mobile phone provider to lessen costs somewhat. Be aware that roaming costs can put you back quite a bit.

The bottom line is that you make sure you understand what the limitations are to using mobile broadband. Ask your mobile provider to explain the limitations to you in detail, if you're not sure of anything. This will ensure that you're not disappointed with the product if it cannot bring you the world on a platter.

Saving money on phone calls when overseas

When abroad be smart and have some apps installed that let you make free wi-fi calls, and only make calls from a wi-fi zone.

Use a messaging app to send free messages – don't forget to tell your friends and family to use the same apps. Even if they don't have a smartphone they can still use a desktop version in many cases.

Finally, if you don't have a smartphone, set up a Localphone account and make very cheap international calls directly from your mobile.

Localphone is one of the best cheap call services I've discovered and I can't recommend it highly enough. Learn more about Localphone and making cheap international calls here: Localphone.

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