A member of the team was at one of the outlets of one of our GSM network operators (this is so embarassing that we are

Using your phone as modem will destroy it. Really?

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A member of the team was at one of the outlets of one of our GSM network operators (this is so embarassing that we are withholding the name) to have her line activated for mobile internet service.

Here is what the representative who handled her issue said to her:

Don’t use your phone as a modem. It will spoil it.

phone as modem
Breaking News: Using your phone as modem will destroy it!

There. That’s official from one of our GSM networks. Using this built-in functionality on your mobile phone will destroy it. Any representatives from Nokia, Samsung, LG, Sony Ericsson, HTC or Motorola want to chip in on this?

Somehow, something must be wrong with the phones we have been using since GSM arrived on these shores – we have used almost every single one of them as modems extensively (sometimes for over a year each), and not one of them ever got destroyed.

We want to ask, What are these guys smoking? But we understand that what the representative didn’t say was that they would prefer if she purchased one of their own USB modems for use instead.

Did we hit the nail on the head or not?


  1. I don’t see any reason why you should be covering for them. We all know that the network operators in Nigeria are talented in hiring “blondes” as customer care peeps.

  2. What amazes me sometimes, is the so-called engineers in the telecom outfts, especially in the cdma part is that because you know how to name program a phone does not make you a engineer by no means.

    Quite a few of the reps at these outfits are not well versed in their own products and technology as well.

  3. Do not mind them. It is either they are ignorant or deliberately misinforming their customers in order to sell their some times vary poor quality usb modem or data cards.

    I use my good old sony ericsson k750i as modem with my zain line for a long time and it has not spoilt my phone. Probably they think everybody in nigeria is a novice or uninformed that is all crap.

  4. A matter of putting round pegs in TRI-ANGULAR holes – some of these underqualified CROs!

    The statement is better ignored.

    I asked this question before. Did not get a satisfactory answer. If most phones have inbuilt modems, why does anybody need to buy USB modems? (i.e, apart from the inconvenience of the cables (in non bluetooth internet_ phone_ connection).

    Any disadvantage(s) of using a phone as modem, as against using a USB modem.

    Can we say the Usb modem is an ‘unnecessary’ or (at best) a ‘non-essential’ gadget (just like a wristwatch, now)?

  5. USB modems are essential in small group settings: a small office or a family. for example.

    Office staff don’t have to wait for the boss to return with his internet-enabled phone before they can go online. Madam and the kids don’t have to wait for daddy too.

    Wherever internet access needs to be shared, or dependence on the availability of a person needs to be avoided, the USB modem has its use.

  6. The representative is either undertrained or unqualified for the job. This is what happens when telecoms operators hired square pegs for a round hole.

  7. @Alireta, if you will indulge me further, please.

    Isn’t ANY internet connection SHARE-able?
    If I DEDICATE a dirt-cheap phone (with inbuilt MODEM) for internet connection, would I be losing anything (as against using the USB modem)?

  8. EyeBeeKay,

    Our years of experience in mobility teaches that a dirt-cheap phone will generate performance issues. The dirt cheap phone does not have the processing power of more advanced phones and so performance drops are inevitable.

    We try to tell clients this at times, but they don’t listen. They buy the dirt cheap phone for use as a modem but they eventually come back to complain that it disconnects often or some other issues.

    You can use a dirt cheap phone as a music player too, but we all know that its not the same as listening to music on a Nokia N95 or SonyEricsson W890i.

    As a rule, reliability cannot be guaranteed when you patronise dirt cheap.

    With a USB modem, you also don’t have to worry about charging a battery.

    Yes; a dirt cheap phone will work, but not as well as you would want. You are likely to end up replacing it soon.

  9. I wouldnt blame the poor customer care rep. He/she was probably following orders from the management. In all my years of mobile internet usage, I ve never purchase a stand-alone usb modem, talkless of getting one from the networks. It is a sales gimmick: ‘discourage the customers from using their phone modems, encourage them to buy our usb modems’.

  10. Been using my phone as a modem for long now. No stress or loss of life. To be honest I see no reason to buy a modem if your phone can do the job. U are most likely to change your phone within 18 months anyway so if using the phone as a modem will damage it, does it matter? Anyway, I prefer to hook the phone to a charger before using Bluetooth or tether it to my laptop to save battery life.

    A big advantage of using my phone to connect to the net is flexibility. i can use the phone alone to do a quick browse, check email or use IM all when i am mobile. Another is that its easier to keep an eye on my subscriptions as my modem can easily be “borrowed” by friends without my knowledge and before you know… zap… zero credit.

    So, I am putting my E90 through its paces for as long as I own it.

  11. i prefer a USB modem anytime. can’t stand the heat the phone battery generates when they are used as modems. these days we have laptops with built-in modems, go for them!

    This is nothing but a marketing gimmick on the part of the sales person, i don’t think it would do anything like spoiling it the phone. I have been using my nokia phones as a gprs modem for a very long time without any problems,

  13. Experience has shown me that using a phone as a modem discharges the battery faster and then one has to charge it more often eventually causing the battery to discharge faster. Eventually, the phone battery packs up. So, methinks it damages phones. I will rather stick to USB modems

  14. Metamba,

    1. making voice calls with a phone discharges the battery faster (yes; much faster than if you don’t make any calls with it)
    2. using bluetooth on a phone discharges the battery faster
    3. using infrared on a phone discharges the battery faster
    4. using 3G on a phone (voice or data) discharges the battery faster
    5. browsing the mobile web on a phone’s built-in browser discharges the battery faster
    6. playing music on a phone discharges the battery faster
    7. playing video on a phone discharges the battery faster
    8. using the camera on a phone discharges the battery faster
    9. listening to FM radio on a phone discharges the battery faster
    10. using a phone as a torchlight discharges the battery faster

    Perhaps we should just do away with all the above? 🙂

    You said:

    Eventually, the phone battery packs up. So, methinks it damages phones

    All phone batteries eventually pack up. No; it doesn’t damage the phone. The battery packing up only requires a replacement battery, not a phone repair.

  15. In Nigeria, a phone battery packing up is similar to the whole phone packing up because one never gets to buy originals. Or do U know anywhere where only Original phone batteries are sold?

  16. Metamba,

    No; we do not know of any retailer of only original batteries.

    That brings us back to the points we addressed in our last comment: in order to preserve your batteries, you need to stop using all those functions we listed out.

    If you are really as concerned about battery life as you are making out, ditch Bluetooth, infrared, video playback, audio playback, mobile web browsing, 3G, torchlight, and FM radio (let’s add Wi-fi) as well. Why single out modem functionality only?

    But we are betting that you aren’t going to drop many of those features. Yet, they all contribute to your battery dying out earlier too.

    Anyway, members of our team (and others) have used their phones as modems for lengthy periods without the batteries packing up as you claim.

  17. @Metamba: You can get Original Nokia Accessories from Nokia Care. I know the one at Ikeja near computer village at the foot of the overhead bridge, sells.

    Omegatron International also claims to sell original Nokia batteries but I can’t vouch for them.

  18. I have been using m nokia 3110c as a modem for over 6 months, i have been enjoying it. I started by using bluetooth, but its like the strength of the bluetooth is been affected, because it no longer sees the service bar on the pc suite,cant connect anymore, and can hardly transfer data between phones, so i now use my usb cable. Therefore ill say, its better to use a network modem. No charging,and its easy to use.

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