Since I've been house-wifing for quite a while, I haven't felt the need to spend the money on a smartphone - especially with the expensive data plans. I learned about some people using their smartphones at home, using only their wifi, which was intriguing, but I also needed a phone, since we have no landline. I considered using companies like Virgin Phones, but I read such bad reviews of their phones, and the reviews of their tricky payment schemes sounded daunting. I also read that cellphone companies like AT&T/Verizon automatically charged for data plans if their systems sensed a smartphone was in use.
Then I read that T-Mobile doesn't force smartphones to use a data plan, like the rest of US cellphone companies do. And I could change to a T-Mobile pay-as-you-go setup so I could have a real cellphone while I'm away from my home network, and out-of-range from public/AT&T hotspots. But the price of non-contract smartphones were too expensive until recently. Now I'm the proud owner of a Samsung Dart SGH-T499 with Android 2.2.2 - brand-new (sealed box) too!
Ever since DH's desktop went down, I haven't fiddled with the network other than to plug the ethernet cable into my laptop as a quickfix. I'm sure there's more elegant ways to manage networks, but Network Magic+Connectify was how I was able to get the smartphone on our network - this is WITHOUT any phone plan, although we did put the T-Mobile Sim into it, just haven't done anything else with T-Mobile yet. I haven't tested it with a public hotspot, or an AT&T hotspot away from our home yet, but I'll be getting my haircut tomorrow, so I'll probably test it out then.
So far I've synced my phone to my Google account, and have used GMail, Google Calendar, Google Reader, and YouTube. I've also installed Facebook, updated my status and read my wall. But I'm going to postpone installing other apps until I research them using my laptop, since surfing with the smartphone is still somewhat challenging, especially Swyping (digital keyboard only).
I also want to setup VOIP so I can save all my pay-as-you-go minutes for when I'm out and about. I think I'll be studying a while before I can VOIP though LOL