How to save cost on mobile charges?

Mobile usage includes mobile internet usage, SMS and voice calls and every one of us has different usage pattern. I am sure everyone here faces challenge on selecting a contract that suits your needs but very often, people will choose the mid-range mobile plan which works out to be about $50 per month and bind you for a good 24 months. Given the condition that you are going to be bind by the contract, might as well change to a new iPhone which is selling at a discount (probably you will be paying at close to $600 for the iPhone on such contract)

You feel good at the start of renewed contract but often, you start to realise that you have always been under-utilising your SMS or voice call and on some occasion, you run the risk of breaching your mobile data monthly limit.

I am going to share with you some general tips on managing your mobile usage. It will be relevant to most people but for those power users (I will call them the “outliners”), it may not apply but nonetheless, some parts of this post could serve as a good reference when comes to signing up a new plan.

Rule 1: Dump your contract!!!

Telcos is selling discounted handsets as a sweetener to lock you down for a good 2 years. Bear in mind that Telco’s cost per unit usage is almost zero, the contract plan serves as a good, steady stream of income which from the business’s point of view, is a good revenue model.

Unfortunately, there is no way you could avoid Telcos from earning $ from you. They invested huge amount on infrastructure and they need to get returns somehow or another.

Rule 2: Say good bye to your iPhone

iPhone is an expensive device and sometimes you are wondering, “Is it really necessary to spend so much on a mobile phone?” There are many value-for-money Android phones in the market which could perform tasks almost as well as an iPhone but sold at a fraction of the price. ASUS Zenfone Selfie’s hardware, for instance, is comparable to iPhone 6S Plus (some specs are even better!) but it is selling less than $400 without contract!

With about 1.8 millions of apps in Google’s Play store, the Zenfone Selfie could offer the same level of entertainment and productivity that iPhone could provide but at a much lower price.

The Zenfone Selfie armed with 13MP front camera

Below are the photo samples I shot with the ASUS Zenfone Selfie.

Photo shot by ASUS Zenfone Selfie. Source: Instagram user @weewu
Selfie shot by Zenfone Selfie. Source: Instagram user @weewu

Performance-wise is very comparable to iPhone. The Zenfone Selfie pretty much functions almost as well as (if not, better than) the iPhone.

Rule 3: Choose a data-only plan with no contract obligation (SIM-Only Plan)

This is by far the most important aspect when comes to cost-saving. With 4G connection, I really don’t think that mobile plan bundled with voice call and SMS is required in the current market environment. We don’t use SMS except for receiving notification from your bank informing you on the fund transfer and payment. We might still use voice call for business conversation and chatting with close-friends. However, VOIP technology has matured over the years and there are lots of IM apps in the market that offers free call over internet. I will elaborate more in Rule 4 on how you could get unlimited free minutes even you don’t have a mobile plan!

In my opinion, I think the most cost-effective plan is to choose SIM-only plan. All 3 Telcos in Singapore have realised the need of such services and have rolled up various plans in the hope to protect their market positions. Each telco has different terms but personally, I think Singtel has one that is most flexible and affordable. For instance, a 3GB plan from Singtel works out to be only $20 per month and on top of that, you are also given a 2GB of Singtel WiFi that covers most part of Singapore. This is something that other Telcos could not offer.

To most users, 3GB data limit per month should be sufficient. However, for whatsoever reasons, you need more. Singtel allows you to add-on based on your needs. Typically, additional charge is approx. $5 per GB.

Rule 4: Find an app to make free call – Try pfingo

You might be thinking of WhatsApp call when you are reading this part of the article. You are partially correct. WhatsApp is indeed a good app that allows you to make free call. However, you must understand that WhatsApp still requires internet connection for you to make a call which means it still requires mobile data connection. Does it sound free to you? The call will only be “free” if you are connected to WiFi.

Furthermore, WhatsApp call is only possible provided that both caller and recipient have the app installed on their phones.

I am going to recommend another app that could bypass such limitation that WhatsApp users are facing. It is called pfingo.

Unlike WhatsApp, pfingo user could make free call to non-pfingo user. With its callback feature and its proprietary VOIP technology, there is no need for the recipient to install the app to receive such call. pfingo user could also make call to landlines as well (for free of course).

Interested in their technology? Take a look at the below video for better understanding.


Let’s sum up!

The key take-away is flexibility. If you followed the plan that I’ve just shared, you could have saved close to 50% if not more. Judging from the market trend in Singapore, voice and SMS will likely to be completely phased out in the next 5 years. (I can’t remember when is the last time I utilize my “free” SMS and call time that comes along with my contract). In fact, Singtel has foreseen that is coming and they launched their own version of WhatsApp (check up the post here). Bottom-line, 4G network has made voice and SMS services redundant. There are apps that could help users to save cost. For instance, Whatsapp and pfingo which are basically free to users.


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