Let me mention this up front.  NEVER, never, never, EVER select a phone and then choose the service.  First, pick your service provider based upon where the phone will be used.  Pick the carrier that works best where the phone needs to operate.  That said, let me tell you about a new phone and service I have been testing that, if appropriate for your recipient, will make a fabulous Father’s Day gift.

The service provider is AT&T Wireless and their new mMode, AT&T’s name for their advanced, higher-speed data and voice network.  With mMode, users can take advantage of new and enhanced features, products and services, such as downloading games and other applications, as well as multimedia messaging and lots of other fun things for the new phones and network.


Among the most exciting and useful of these is wireless picture messaging, which, on the phone I have been testing, the Nokia 3650, means sending still and video messages!  Sure the $149 Nokia 3650 is a stunning and different looking mobile phone with a camera, but with its additional internal memory card, there is lots of room for the 11-second video clips the camera can take beyond the still images it can take and store.

For dad, no longer will he have to take out that overstuffed wallet with ancient family photos. With the 3650, he can take and keep current pictures to share.  Just pull out the phone and show off the family’s NEWEST images, taken with the phone itself.  Of course, images can be emailed anywhere.

The 3650 also features a built-in speakerphone and can get dad’s email, too.  It’s great for games, video and messaging, and fun to use.  If dad’s nuts for gadgets, this is the phone he’s going to want.  Take the tour and see it all for yourself HERE.

mMode is a range of services starting at $3 per month plus usage. Learn more HERE.

One of the most interesting and useful new functions is a brand new application I’ve been playing with called FastChat from FastMobile, which turns your mobile phone into a world-wide walkie-talkie.  Imagine, chatting back and forth, walkie-talkie style, with a compatible phone ANYWHERE in the world.  I really like this service.  I can voice chat with family and friends on my buddy-like list, even within groups at the same time, and even send photos and videos.  I can carry on these activities across network providers, for example from my AT&T Nokia 3650 to another user with a compatible phone on any GPRS network worldwide.  How does it work?

FastChat uses the text messaging facilities of the network.  The application converts voice, images, text and anything to be sent into data packets and sends it on its way.  The recipient’s end decodes it all, combines the packets and reassembles the voice or whatever is sent into its original form.

This fabulous new functionality is in its relative infancy.  As such, it can be a bit pricey if used extensively AT THIS TIME.  For example, the service runs about $10 per month to as low as about $6 if a year is paid.  The carriers charge for the GPRS services, that is, the data sent from this application and potentially others.  Each carrier sets its own charges so you will have to check with AT&T Wireless, for example, to learn the charges for the level of service you would want to have.  Potentially, charges AT THIS TIME would fun from about $10 per month to as much as $20 or a bit more.  As carriers gain experience in the new market with new equipment with new capabilities, industry watchers have indicated to me that this service, for example, should start to come down to a total lf $10 per month, or loss, possibly as early as the end of this year, or, as late as the end of next year.  In the meantime, I say, get to know this possibly killer app.  It one of the most inventive and potentially useful and fun options for your new phone.

mMode even has a location service that can automatically provide driving directions  – so if you’re frustrated that dad won’t pull over for directions on a family trip, you can take his phone and it will help you find your way.  This could change the dynamics of family road trips forever.  This is the ultimate phone for the ultimate dad!

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