Locked and Unlocked Phones

We landed in Vietnam yesterday and immediately got a text from TMobile that they don’t offer data roaming in Vietnam. They do offer basic voice and SMS.

So we bought two 10GB data only SIM cards in the airport for 300,000 dong (about $13 US) each.

I took out my TMobile SIM of my Google Pixel and inserted the 10GB SIM and was good to go. I can use data for voice and messaging so the data only thing is no big deal to me.

I did the same on the Gotham Gal’s iPhone and after going through a restart of some sort it reported that the SIM card was not supported on the phone. I suspect her iPhone, which she got from TMobile a couple years ago, is locked.

So she’s doing the voice and SMS only thing and I’m roaming on a super cheap data plan.

I know I’ve written about this issue dozens of times here at AVC but I find the idea that the phone provider can somehow dictate what SIM you put into it is nuts.

I also know that it’s easy to buy an unlocked iPhone these days and it is easy to get an iPhone unlocked post purchase. But even so, it seems crazy that this is how the phone market works in this day and age.

Our friends who we are traveling with are on a different carrier, either ATT or Verizon I suspect, and they too are not getting data roaming in Vietnam from their provider.

So if you plan to travel to Vietnam from the US, bring an unlocked phone and buy a SIM card at the airport. The coverage and speed on my data only SIM is great so far and it seems like a bargain, like most everything here in Vietnam which is an amazing country.

#Blogging On The Road

Comments (Archived):

  1. Nikhil Raj

    Completely agree – this is the hot setup. The next problem I’ve had to face is that if you have 2FA setup on any of your accounts, you won’t get the unlock password given your number is “offline” with the local SIM. So, make sure you the 2FA app based setup for whichever service you use that allows it, or use the unlock code like some of them do.

    1. john

      you can still use 2FA, but instead of text coming to cell phone, you have to use back up codes, with gmail anyway

  2. Thinking_it_through

    Should you have checked to see if your wife’s phone was unlocked before traveling abroad? Yes.Mobile phone subsidy locks are not new. Should they be legal? Perhaps not. Based on the US constitution, I see strong arguments on each side. Saying it is ridiculous that subsidy locks exist seems like an emotional reaction more than calm intellectual consideration. If a carrier gives a customer a “free” phone, they want to make sure the customer pays their monthly fee for a two year contract or pays to get out early.Instead of addressing the smaller issue of subsidy locks, why not address the bigger issue of who can own certain types of resources. If I am not mistaken, in countries such as Norway and Saudi Arabia the state owns oil and gas reserves. Here in the USA we have wealthy California and Texas oilmen (with concomitant deep ties throughout all levels of government).Should Verizon, AT&T, T-mobile, etc be able to license “spectrum” (the radio frequencies used for wireless communication) and resell it at huge profits? I think not. Public utilities here in the USA end up acting like quasi-governmental organizations. That is they use their power in a manner that is similar to a tax. No, they do not usually actually tax users. But what they do lies somewhere between “normal” pricing and taxation because they are gatekeepers for valuable or often vital services.In the USA last I checked Verizon (and Sprint) ran on CDMA which is not supported in most countries. Most countries use GSM (which is what AT&T and T-Mobile ran on in the USA, last I checked). But not all countries reserve the same “band” (radio frequency) for GSM (and CDMA). When I last looked into this about 10 years ago, “world phones” were GSM phones that ran on four different frequencies.It’s not a tower of babel, but there are some “linguistic differences” when it comes to mobile phones.There are even bigger issues that underpin these issues discussed above. I think it is worth questioning the philosophical foundation upon which Western liberal democracies rest. The assumption that Western liberal democracies are inherently just and proper way is not merely misguided but dangerous.Those who loathe an elected political official de jure often mistakenly believe that in the “good old days” in the USA politicians were better. For example, is President Donald Trump worse than President Andrew Jackson? Was President Ronald Reagan worse than President Warren Harding? Also, the presidents of the USA during the Gilded Age were remarkably corrupt and incompetent.Merely venting, “I have a problem! And I a unhappy about it! Change things more to my liking!” does not usually lead to positive results.

  3. john

    Try the Grab app for taxis very good.Thao Dien in District 2 go for Breakfast at the Mekong Merchant, it is 20 mins for downtown very nice. http://www.mekongmerchant.com/Try http://quan-bui.com/ for probably best Vietnamese food in Saigon ask to be seated on the roof topcu chi tunnels are very interesting for Vietnam war, this is were a lot of the fighting was and tunnels.I live in Vietnam you will only have a good experinece, ping me here I will give you my cell.

    1. Marcosardi

      For best food in Saigon, eat in the streets. You can’t beat people who have been doing the same recipe for years and will stop making a living if it’s not good.

      1. fredwilson

        that is what we did the first night here, helped by a local who took us to his favorite spots. it was eye opening in many ways

        1. Marcosardi

          I’m not surprised. I went to Vietnam twenty years ago, and spent time near the engineering university. It changed my perception of the world.

        2. mplsvbhvr

          Did you use a guide service or just have a local friend? Trying to figure out the best way to get around when I’m there later this year…

          1. fredwilson

            Guide. His name was Tu. Not sure how we found him though

          2. mplsvbhvr

            Looks like I’ll have to find my own Tu since it feels like a safe assumption that there’s more than one in Saigon. Thanks Fred 🙂

      2. john

        I live here and I never eat in the streets it is simply not clean the chances of worms, food poisoning, etc is high, not thanks for me, but yes many do.

  4. Rwh

    Probably this is a SIM lock issue but I would delete other carrier profiles just in case.

  5. Marshall Taplits

    In Hong Kong it’s illegal to sell locked phones. However in the USA the reason they lock the phones (or one of the reasons) is that they sell you a very subsidized phone and then make their money over the contract period. In Hong Kong for contrast, you buy the phone at full price and get a credit to your bill each month for the contract period. In the end it’s the same, but requires more money up front. I prefer this method as then the phone is unlocked and you don’t owe them anything. At this point I only use phones with dual sim so I can keep my main voice number on roaming for important incoming calls and I use the 2nd SIM for 4g data on a local card wherever I go. 95% of what I need is data driven and voice is only for emergencies when people need to reach me.

    1. creative group

      Marshall Taplits:Are we wrong to think that dual SIMS allow the user only to use one SIM at a time?Dual SIM card operation:Dual SIM Single Standby (Passive) – it is the worst implementation of the Dual SIM technology and it is usually used in affordable phones, not in smartphones.A Dual SIM Passive phone is capable of using two different SIM cards, but only one of them can be active at any time.(We own Smartphones only and have dual SIM cards)

      1. Marshall Taplits

        The phones I buy have Dual SIM active… both can be on at the same time. You do specify which one for data though (local number) and the other is on voice mode only.

  6. sigmaalgebra

    When my HP B&W laser printer finally got sick again and wouldn’t get well, I gave up on it and got a Brother B&W printer. It’s terrific in all respects, better than the HP, except its version of the HP graphics language (HP/GL) is not really HP/GL, that is, is not compatible.Then I learned that the Brother printer is made in Viet Nam.Good for Viet Nam. They can be proud of the work they did on that printer, hardware, software, documentation, ease of installation, ease of use, etc.Yes, yes, yes, I know; I know’; I know: In the first half of the 1940s, the US did nearly the impossible and beat the Axis of Germany, Japan, and Italy.Then in the 1950s we were convinced, John Foster Dullas, George F. Keenan, etc., lots of the worst and the dumbest, lots of the dumb men, were all convinced that Moscow, Peking, and Hanoi were same song, second verse of Germany, Japan, and Italy, ah, for parallel construction, Berlin, Tokyo, and Rome. Convinced. Down to the center of the cells at the center of their bone marrow convinced. All agreed; no doubt at all. Big threat. Must be stopped or dominoes would fall from Viet Nam to the west to India and to the east to Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia, Taiwan, Japan, Midway, Hawaii, and land on the beaches of San Diego. Dean Rusk assured us. LBJ was convinced. Nixon had no doubtAnd the evidence: Uh, there was a dishwasher in Paris. He was from Viet Nam and somehow got passage to Hanoi. Then he had some free lunches in Moscow and Peking. DONE! Axis2 threatens the world from the beaches of San Diego west to India. They’ve gotta be stopped! Walt Whitman Rostow was totally sure. Robert Strange McNamara, no doubt at all. The US must draw a line in the jungle and stop the spread right there in Viet Nam!So, the US got going: Sent 500,000 troops. Helicopters by the thousands. Every jet plane we had or could think of. B-52 bombers from Guam with more bomb weight than was dropped on Germany. Killed about 50,000 US soliders. Killed 1+ million soldiers and peasants, men, women, children in Viet Nam along with cats, dogs, water buffalo monkeys, etc. Poisoned huge tracks of jungle. Laid waste to peasant villages and farm lands. About the only good to that is that when the people died, they quit screaming. Dumped Norodom Sihanouk from Cambodia and replaced him with Lon Nol who was replaced by Pol Pot a good candidate for the bloodiest monster in all of human history.We burned enough oil to enable OPEC — we had been pumping them at 25 cents a barrel. We massively inflated the US economy, caused the LBO craze and the S&L crisis. We got ruinous 22% interest rates which ruined a lot of US families.But we were sure we were stamping out pure evil.Early on I got informed and concluded that we should stay the heck out of Viet Nam and let the Hanoi government run the place as planned for the 1956 elections. Later I guessed that we should go into Viet Nam to join with the Hanoi government and help them drive out the corrupt, brutal, incompetent, military thugs running Saigon. Later I thought we should not go because our influence would be so bad Hanoi would lose and Saigon would win.We couldn’t have lost any worse than we did. And what bad happened? Well, right, Viet Nam did invade Cambodia: They dumped Pol Pot, put Sihanouk back in power, and left. Dominoes? Nope. Not even of one little island in the South China Sea.Later we got some good evidence of just how bad, grotesquely, outrageously, arrogantly incompetent, blind, brain-dead and brutal was Robert Strange McNamara: Just before Gulf War I, Mc testified that “It will be bloody. There will be thousands and thousands and thousands of casualties.” Well, he was right, for the Saddam side. But on our side, with Schwarzkopf, it was, yes, too many, especially for the families, too darned many, a few hundred, total, dead for the US and all the coalition. Supposedly the US got more injuries from recreational softball than enemy action. Schwarzkopf smart; Mc DUMB, the worst and the dumbest.Lesson: Look deeply and objectively, become well informed, and be darned skeptical.I’ve thought from the beginning when I first investigated our role in Viet Nam and to the present that what we did there was one of the dumbest, most arrogant, and ugliest chapters in all of human history.The only fault I can find for the Viet Nam side is that Ho Chi Minh did seem to like to tweak the US, maybe from the US support of the French to return to Viet Nam as their colony after WWII. And, oh yes, maybe the worst he did — get some free meals in Moscow and Peking.For what the US spent in Viet Nam, we could have rebuilt all the buildings with solid gold.I’m ashamed, profoundly ashamed, of what the US did in Viet Nam. My trust of people like those involved in DC who did that is well below zero.For US citizens, all I can recommend is tough as boot leather, brilliant as Einstein, solid as iron insight and skepticism.I would be totally ashamed to set foot in Viet Nam.No apology could hope to be even a drop in the Pacific Ocean.

    1. pointsnfigures

      Ken Burns documentary was very good. My friend, a Medal of Honor recipient in Vietnam, found it very difficult to watch. He was bracing himself for a biased telling of the story, but found the documentary to be very good in the information it conveyed.Vietnam is not a pretty part of American history. We are supposed to learn lessons from history.Eventually, I think Vietnam will become a capitalist society. The trick will be individual property rights. Get that, and they will be on their way with no turning back.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Lesson: A dishwasher from Paris and his buddies made the US reach for the biggest Darwin Award in all of history.So, I’m reluctant to tell Viet Nam how to run their country or their economy.Our economy has 94 million people out of the labor force: That’s not good evidence that we know much about running an economy. We had crashes in 1929 (that essentially caused WWII), 1987, 2000, and 2008. So, we shouldn’t be lecturing on economics.The world has seen a lot of really, super bad ways to run an economy, and the US has done some of the best at running an economy. Still, I don’t want us to give lectures on economics to Viet Nam. If they want to borrow from us, then fine. If they want to buy our machine tools and computers, sell us Brother printers, frozen shrimp, fish sauce, fine.For the US in Viet Nam, given the track record, I’d say follow the old “First, do no harm.”.Yes, I downloaded two of the Ken Burns episodes as MP4 files. Then my computer boot partitions were ruined by Microsoft’s NTBACKUP, and it’s going to take about a month to rebuild everything and get a good backup/restore solution. Only a few days ago did I get back to being able to play MP4 files again. So, maybe soon I’ll download some more of the Burns episodes. For the two episodes I did get, I already knew about all, maybe more, than was in the episodes. The two I got were from the crucial times when LBJ was going bonkers, for a “coonskin cap nailed to the wall” or some such nonsense. LBJ — picture of a perfect fool. Supposedly when he retired in Texas he felt guilty and suffered. I doubt that, all things considered, he suffered nearly enough.Now that I can download and play MP4s again, just to be a good citizen, I’ll try the rest of the Burns episodes, but I already know how the story ends and nearly everything Burns will say about how it evolved.I’m proud to say that my position, e.g., as in letters to Congress in those days, were right right from the beginning and to the end and for the right reasons.Yes, I have a lot of sympathies to pass out, of course, most of all to the 1+ million peasants in Viet Nam killed, often with especially ugly deaths, by our actions. And I have full US citizen sympathies and respect for the US military who did do very well just what the heck they were asked by the people I did name, LBJ, Nixon, etc.Think of it: LBJ and Nixon were willing to kill 50,000 US soldiers and 1+ million peasants in Viet Nam mostly just so that fewer people in the US would scream that they had “lost” Viet Nam. So, they didn’t “lose” Viet Nam but passed the problem on to the next administration. Finally Congress told Ford — not only no but hell no. Done.The US citizens voted for the war, over and over, for Members of Congress, for a second term for LBJ, for Nixon, etc. Yes, Nixon had a “secret plan to end the war”. It was “secret” alright — not even Nixon knew what it was. Big secret: Can end the war in one word, OUT. There were plenty of peace candidates, e.g., George McGovern — flawed in various ways but, still, just on Viet Nam, absolutely correct, just one word, OUT. Just what was it about OUT that LBJ, Nixon, and Ford couldn’t understand. In the end, that’s just what we did, we left, just left, we got OUT.Once I was in the audience of a talk by General Maxwell Taylor. Maybe in WWII he did great things with big patches of silk. To explain why the US was not doing well in Viet Nam, Taylor claimed that the soldiers were not very good. I asked a question: It seemed that there were a lot of really good soldiers in Viet Nam but too many of them were fighting on the side of Hanoi. He didn’t have a good answer.Maybe Ho Chi Minh’s communism or Communism for Viet Nam was a big mistake, but it was their mistake and no threat to us. So, we should leave them ALONE. One word — ALONE. We wrecked our economy and devastated Viet Nam from failing to understand ALONE. Apparently eventually, in the end, somehow, one way or another, Viet Nam made communism feed most of their people most of the time or some such. Whatever, it was their problem and not ours.I can understand how any US soldier who went to Viet Nam has bad memories, often much worse than bad memories, about their time in Viet Nam. I honor their service: As I wrote long ago on a blog about Mc’s horrible book of lies and distortions, the US asked that they go, and they went and did well at what they were asked to do. And, of course, there were CMH winners, as no doubt there should have been.We HAD to have had a terrific message, handshake, for Ho Chi Minh and all his top people: They all had suffered in WWII as the Japanese took over their country. And who beat the Japanese? Sure, the US.Then we just tell Ho and Co.: “Our concern now is just that Moscow, Peking, and you will be another Berlin, Tokyo, and Rome. That’s our only concern about Viet Nam. In particular, we don’t want you under the thumb of Moscow or Peking or invading your neighbors and putting them under the thumb of Moscow or Peking.And, we brought our checkbook: Whatever deal Moscow and Peking want to make for you, multiply it by 10. Nope, cancel that. Multiply that by 100. To us, that’s chump change; you can have much more if you can use it. We’re talking medical care, roads, bridges, hospitals, universities, industrial infrastructure, water projects, electric power projects, better versions of rice and wheat, lots of trade, tourism, etc. We’re offering you all the parts of a land of milk and honey; you can select the parts you want one at a time, however you want, on a silver platter. Just don’t try to take over your neighbors. Done deal?”In the end, that’s just what we got — they didn’t take over their neighbors and are not under the thumb of Moscow or Peking. We could have had it in the 1960s, the 1950s, or the 1940s.Maybe now in Hanoi, Saigon, etc. some of the food is really good, maybe some of it left over from the French, a lot of the young women really pretty, a lot of the scenery just gorgeous, the jungle growing back, the Mekong river in great shape, and, hopefully, the whole country healing and doing really well. At least the ones with napalm burning on their backs aren’t screaming anymore.

      2. sigmaalgebra

        During dinner, I just watched part 3 of the Burns series again:Over and over, Mc, LBJ, etc. totally failed to “get it”. It was well known at the time, and they ignored it. What was it?The government in Saigon flatly didn’t have the support of very many of the people of South Viet Nam. So, the Saigon leaders could mostly keep Saigon under their thumb but rarely were welcome anywhere else in South Viet Nam.So, when the Viet Cong wanted help of the peasants in the countryside, to recruit, etc., they got it. The Saigon government couldn’t get that support, and the Viet Cong did. Simple. It was a strange form of democracy, but it was basically correct — the Viet Cong could be the leaders of the peasants and Saigon couldn’t.Nowhere in the Burns show I just watched was there much mention of that. They did give a hint: 1000 VC gathered in an area 40 miles SE of Saigon with none of the Saigon leadership knowing anything about it. So, lots of peasants knew, but Saigon didn’t. The show did say something like “That tells you something about this war.”.For more, the show gave a listing of the numbers of regiments of VC and NVA. Okay. We should have had intel to tell us where those regiments were. It should be tough to hide a whole regiment, it’s logistics, fires at night, etc. Apparently mostly we didn’t have the intel.For more, the show covered a big battle in the central highlands. Well, the US went in, walked up the side of the hills, etc. but had no clue that 3000 NVA were waiting. Dumb. Dumb intel. So the NVA had marched 3000 soldiers down from NVN and had them on some hills, and we didn’t have a clue. Dumb.We had lots of airplanes for recon, and still we didn’t know. Dumb.But the biggie was that nearly all the SVN peasants were happier with the VC and NVA than with Saigon. We would have had to have occupied the whole country, ran it, in all respects top down to the village level, and we didn’t do that. And we would have had to have cut a trail east to west from the coast well into Laos and build a wall to keep out the NVA and logistics to the VC — we didn’t do that.

  7. Grace Schroeder

    If you’re in Hanoi, the Metropole has a chocolate bar every day at 330.

  8. OurielOhayon

    Contact Tmobile, ask them to unlock it. Done.

    1. creative group

      OurielOhayon:Try purchasing unlocked phones only. Getting on the $20 per month extra plan for a first generation phone that is old at the end of your service cycle is like leasing a vehicle to see the new model come out when your finish returning the lease. Like never owning it. But the salesman will put you in the new vehicle lease for the same payment if you turn in the phone you just thought you owned to the new lease you don’t.You might not get this analogy or you would never rent your phone. Always purchased your unlocked phone cash. Like a vehicle. (Dave Ramsey’s advice)

    2. jamiew

      This. I purchased my phone but I had to actually request it be unlocked (…)

  9. B12N

    I think the fact that you even need to take out and put in SIM cards is a tad ridiculous. This stuff should all be handled via software (land in a country, pick a plan on your phone, pay, done)… Especially frustrating travelling in Southeast Asia (I have a bag full of various countries’ SIM cards). Do enjoy your time in Vietnam! Noodles for breakfast!

    1. creative group

      B12N:You actually just provided a reason for a VC to invest in a seed on a new Technology Company.With all the ambitious and confidant Contributors this company could be developed right here in this space.The company then could be purchased by another established company via an accuhire with the same VC’s brokering the sale. Each of us could increase our accounts by 100M or so.

  10. creative group

    FRED:We would only purchase phones that are unlocked.We have several phones. We are second generation users. We wait at least the second iteration. We are currently everything Lenovo. Lenovo Phab 2 Pro.Where are the beautiful photos?A birdie whispered and said this may be a good place for fish. Health wise Vietnamese foods rely upon less oils or fried foods.Chả Cá Thăng Long19 – 21 – 31 Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem, Cửa Đông, Hanoi, Hà Nội Hoàn Kiếm, Vietnam

  11. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:Speaking of Vietnam. A birdie whispered that the banking is considered one of the best parks in Asia for business.

  12. Sergiy Kyrylkov

    Or get a worldwide 4G LTE Mobile WiFi http://amzn.to/2xrd1ay with 25 hour battery life (also acting as a power bank) and don’t bother with your phone SIM card at all.

  13. kenberger

    Got your main point, but:Unlocking a non-new T-mobile iPhone is pretty much a snap (in T-mo’s defense). https://support.t-mobile.co…I’ve seen it done online, by email, or by phone (in that descending order of slight annoyance). ATT and VZN have this too, but Tmo tends to give the least hassle.Also: in Hanoi (old quarter) and in Saigon (Pham Ngu Lao), you’ll see small mobile shops all over, offering services like this. Much less advisable security-wise perhaps then the above though, particularly for a high-profile investor like GG.

    1. kenberger

      or failing the above: another quick (if inelegant) solution is:You keep your working sim android phone with “hotspot” on while you all wander, she and others wifi connect to you. Better bring a power backup, and expect a hot phone!This fails as soon as you split up, leaving (at least) a “find me” problem, but they can always text as to where they are.

  14. William Mougayar

    If only you had a dual-SIM phone, then you’d be even happier to keep your original number too.Getting a local SIM is what I always do. The roaming plans are a rip off anyways. Actually, I have 3 extra SIMs with permanent numbers outside of Canada.

    1. jason wright


  15. William Mougayar

    Another annoying thing about switching out of your home mobile number is that Apps like Uber require the original number if you want to Contact your driver. It will detect you are using another number, and for security reasons, won’t let you use it. There is a way to Edit that number, but it’s a bit annoying and doesn’t always work well. Same for other potential situations. Suppose you need to call your bank, and they have your mobile number on the approved list, and you’re calling from this other number, the security identification threshold will be higher.

    1. Vasudev Ram

      Good info.

    2. Marshall Taplits

      Another reason not to use your carrier’s number as your main number for apps. Better to use an app that lets you buy a phone number and as long as you have data you have access to that number.

      1. William Mougayar

        Like what example?

        1. Sebastian Gonzalez

          Google Voice

    3. ErikSchwartz

      I had no trouble in France with my French SFR sim using Uber. Of course Uber may have my GV number (which is US only) so who knows.

  16. awaldstein

    While the concept of a ‘phone company’ doesn’t really exist any longer, the disdain–yes hate–that we feel for the monopolies of the providers sticks with us as a legacy.As someone who spent the first decade 50% internationally for the decade after cell phones came out, the primitive crap in pricing and availability we put up with was beyond belief.So much better.So unacceptable as they are.We will despise the carriers for as long as they are in control.It’s our nature and they do really suck in so many ways.

  17. jason wright

    dual eSIM will end this nuttery.had any suspicious gmail activity since posting?

  18. Barry Houldsworth

    This is one of the reasons I have not bought a phone from a carrier since the iPhone 4S.It drives me crazy when the carriers say “But you can have ‘x’ phone for free”. Well, free, as long as you don’t mind paying $25 a month for two years. And I guess that is the point. Until you have paid for the phone in full, it really isn’t yours, is it?My current dual SIM phone was half the price of the carrier’s equivalent phone and worked perfectly in South Africa without losing the ability to receive calls on my regular number. For anyone planning on traveling it’s a simple and effective tool to stay connected.

  19. Guillaume Taglang

    There is an alternative: portable WiFi hot-spots.A few years ago. while traveling in south Africa, I was looking at getting some SIM card for data and wondering about the prospect of having to switch SIMs a few times per day for calls. In the airport shop, they were offering WiFi hot-spots to rent. A few bucks more and the ability to have multiple devices share the connection.

  20. pointsnfigures

    I was in Italy, have Verizon. The only reason I have it is because no carrier works in one area of the US I go, except Verizon. Tried T-Mobile because I like their ethos. Didn’t work unfortunately.At some point, will there be an independent manufacturer of a phone that allows me to have power and control over my own data/hardware? Is there a potential for a blockchain grid?

  21. Chuck Shotton

    You can go into any phone store in Vietnam and get that iPhone unlocked in 30 minutes for about $10. They will have a “friend” inside the cell phone company send the necessary carrier unlock signal and then you’re good to go.

    1. fredwilson

      awesome tip.

    1. LE

      Interesting. I just read about half way through (then stopped).how smartphones ruin our brains!To prove it’s point the article references several studies that involve college students.It’s pretty obvious that college students use of smartphones is entirely different than other age groups. They are typically dating, mating and more social and care a great deal about what others think of them. They use a higher amount of (and spend more time on) social apps (facebook, snapchat, texting) than other groups. As a result the device is going to have an impact on them that is much different than other age groups. For sure the FOMO is high (for that group) and that will drive this potential downside. But it’s a stretch for the article title to say “How Smartphones Hijack Our Minds” as if this happens with everyone or that the problem is the smartphone. I use no social media apps on my smartphone (and next to none on desktop) and the only texts that I get are from a very small group and occasionally for business purposes.Obviously anything that beeps or buzzes in the middle of a task is going to distract you. Could be a desktop phone or a door bell or the lawn mower guys out side.I think I have to conclude that the ‘problem’ with smartphones is not the smartphone rather primarily the social media apps that are on the smartphone. [1][1] And also the native ability to text and also have group texts which are very interuptive.

      1. Vasudev Ram

        >I think I have to conclude that the ‘problem’ with smartphones is not the smartphone rather primarily the social media apps that are on the smartphone. [1]True. And also the people who use them inappropriately or excessively.But I think the article does have a point (about the “problem” with smartphones). I think part of the reason for it, is that they are small (pocketable) devices – smaller than PCs or even laptops, so we can carry them with us almost anywhere, which increases the chances of and the temptation to use them.

        1. LE

          In a sense it’s a case of what I always rail about in reverse. That people focus on the upside w/o considering the downside of various actions, rules, laws or behavior. In the case of this article though the focus is on the downside and not the gain [1] from having that type of device at your fingertips all the time.[1] One of my ideas is rationalizing the upside of pot smoking. I have never tried it. But I think the upside may be that the way it impacts (‘chills’) the brain that may be good as I theorize it makes certain groups of people (not everyone of course) more content and able to lead a simple life which is probably more necessary given the competition and lack of work opportunities going forward in our world.

        1. LE

          Thanks. Quite funny though since nothing is going to stop independent actors from maximizing profit. My saying for that is “….” that I won’t repeat. And not going to be any government regulation for a soft issue like that either, right? So where does this all go? Nowhere. If I was running a business that made money I wouldn’t stop making money doing any of this. There are to many businesses to count making money off of people’s weaknesses. Let’s all decide at the same time (food business, liquor, cigarettes, pot endless list).I also love all the ‘last man over the bridge’ make the world a better place crap. So the guys talking about this stuff have a nice life and now they feel bad for what they did. As if they can take a great deal of credit for all of this when they were just a bit player. “I’m a better person now” they say. Because they can afford to say that. I am sure if they had to put food on the table they’d do what they had to do to earn a living and continue designing the slot machines at the casino (what all of this is based on by the way) to stay addictive.And what’s this shit?Rosenstein purchased a new iPhone and instructed his assistant to set up a parental-control feature to prevent him from downloading any apps.Why so helpless? Why such little will power? Can’t even just do it yourself you have to ‘instruct your assistant’ to do it for you? Would you want a person like that as your parent? Either technically ignorant (not likely) or simply likes others to do simple tasks and feel superior.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            Ah, the many convenience stores supply the demanded quantities of the main food groups — sugar, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, chocolate! Finally we are getting rid of the nicotine.

      2. sigmaalgebra

        > “How Smartphones Hijack Our Minds”The poetic license of headline writers, or they try to grab you by the heart, the gut, and below the belt, always below the shoulders, never between the ears.Maybe someday we will have an aerosol spray to eradicate all grabber headlines!!!

        1. Vasudev Ram

          >Maybe someday we will have an aerosol spray to eradicate all grabber headlines!!!Creative 🙂

    2. sigmaalgebra

      SO, then THAT’S why the world has gone bonkers — brains ruined by smartphones! Call them brain-deadPhones? And then THAT’S why I’m so pissed at the bonkers stuff — I do not now nor have I ever owned or used a smartphone!For my startup, when I see people, say, in line at a gas-convenience store, with a smartphone, I ask them if it has a Web browser and if they use it. I get “Yes” on both. Well, the screens for my startup are so dirt simple, with such large fonts and high contrast, nearly no use of JavaScript and that usage optional, I then get satisfied that so far I know enough about smartphones for my startup! Ah, the KISS principle of product design — Keep it Simple, Silly!Sure, when my startup works, I’ll get three high end Corvettes, one for each of red, white, and blue, and, if they are safe, a smartphone, say, in case one of the Corvettes breaks down!Ah, smartphones handled!One more pesky piece of silly nonsense out of the way!

    3. awaldstein

      They are both our brains and the market.1.9B people watch 45 minutes of video on their phones every day.Why Katzenberg is actually going to raise $2B basically on an idea with my structure.Katzenberg’s $2B bet to redefine mobile TV http://arnoldwaldstein.com/…Is distraction a problem. Hell yes.Controlling it is the difference between wasting life and getting shit done.I’ve made a conscious and so far successful project to take control of my day by compartmentalizing activities and that include phone usage.

  22. Matt Zagaja

    When I was in Portugal last week, after I landed, I realized that Sprint’s “international roaming” which provides voice, text, and only 2G (EDGE!) data was not adequate for this vacation. I did a bunch of research online but could not find a definitive way to figure out if my iPhone was actually unlocked or not (is it worth trying this?). I called Apple and told them I bought it from them on their upgrade plan and they told me unequivocally yes it is unlocked. The next morning walked into a MEO store with my friend and for 15 euro I was given a prepaid card that had 6GB of data on it for the week, plus would recharge with 3GB every week thereafter for 4 euro (deducted from the 15 euro on the card) with each 250MB overage being 2 euro. In Faro, the beach town I was in the first couple days, the LTE connection was as fast as my home Comcast connection. I tethered my iPad to my phone and didn’t even bother with the hotel’s overpriced WiFi. This was a bargain compared to Sprint offering that I pay $25/week to access the data pool i already paid for.As others mentioned losing your original US number is a challenge with some things. Make sure not to tell iMessage to load in your new number if you have an iPhone or everyone else that was talking to you gets cut off. I also changed my iMessage setting to start conversations from my email instead of my mobile number. Changing my number in Uber was easy, but you have to remember to do it.Finally from the department of unforced errors, I left my American SIM card in my checked bag when I was flying home. After landing my checked bag was MIA at Logan airport. My shit was lost and there was no way to contact me but email (the Portugese SIM did not work on US soil). It was a rough day but the next afternoon I returned to Logan and managed to extricate my baggage from the swiss port folks (whom do not answer their phone but had emailed me saying they had the luggage and claiming it might get delivered at some point).https://uploads.disquscdn.c

  23. BillMcNeely

    you should checkout Patriot Boot Camp and Techstars company Candl. its an app that helps you shop for service overseas without the sim https://candl.com/

  24. Dan G

    newer VZW smartphones are sold unlockedalso, good to carry gear that connect to inmarsat and iridium

    1. creative group

      Dan G:Iridium started by former Motorola Engineers. Nice company and satellite phones.

  25. Murat Aktihanoglu

    I am surprised nobody mentioned Google’s Project Fi yet.I travel a lot to many different countries and Project Fi works everywhere at the same rates as the US. You just turn it on when you land and it just works, no switching SIM cards, etc. I have been using it since the service started couple of years ago and love it.

    1. mplsvbhvr

      Very excited to be travelling outside the U.S. with Project Fi for the first time this year 🙂 Thanks for reminding me why I signed up!

  26. Toby Bryce

    Jealous. I was in Vietnam a couple months ago and – telecoms aside – there are a few things I feel strongly about. Have a great trip.HCM:- bun bo hue at https://goo.gl/maps/o6wDgLj…- bo la lot (https://migrationology.com/… at https://goo.gl/maps/5kciwig…(- Pho Le [multiple locations] down the block was best southern pho we had – https://goo.gl/maps/W33W9bK… – but I think I’m a northern pho guy)- weird mollusks and beer at https://goo.gl/maps/d2CHRTG… (hard to find, go during afternoon)Hanoi:- pho tai nam at https://goo.gl/maps/pV9cPN6… (best I’ve ever had)- many great bun options- also pho ga- fave banh mi of trip was https://goo.gl/maps/tpHSj1B… (homemade duck pate)- sitting on rickety plastic stools drinking “fresh” beer eating weird snacks with old men at https://goo.gl/maps/g5tQton…Off chance you’re going to Phu Quoc- go ca trich on the pier at Ham Ninh

    1. fredwilson

      thanks for those tips. some were on our list. but the beer place was not.

  27. bashaman

    In the USA , we also don’t have the concept of DUAL sim . Ideally, I use my Dual SIM Xiaomi phone when I travel. I can still keep my USA number to receive emergency calls and texts if someone wants to reach me and use the other sim slot for the data package which I obtained locally. Two birds , one stone.

  28. Salt Shaker

    The Ken Burns doc series on Vietnam is chilling and an embarrassment to our country’s history and legacy. Every U.S. citizen should watch this incredibly well done portrayal, as challenging as it is to see how our “leaders” continually put our soldiers in harms way in a war they knew could not be won, increasingly to save face and “avoid humiliation” (all acknowledged in the doc). Sure, historical context matters, and avoiding the spread of communism at the time seemed like a worthy cause, but the astonishing part isn’t that it occurred, but rather that the lessons to be learned there weren’t followed in Iraq/Afghanistan as there are parallels on many fronts. We literally destroyed a country (Vietnam) and slaughtered many of its inhabitants, all allegedly in the name of world order. Prayers for the brave soldiers and their families that sacrificed so much, both here and in Vietnam.

    1. someone

      just starting the final (10th) episode. chilling indeed.

    2. JLM

      .The Vietnam War was a complex series of engagements which differed greatly dependent upon where one’s vantage point was located.I was at VMI during the height of the war. Every so often there was a moment of silence for a grad who had been killed. All the tac officers were handpicked because of their combat records.My last year, suddenly things got real. I remember one of the sergeants in tactics class saying, “Pay attention, you little shits, because in six months y’all are going to be doing this for a living.”You have never seen a bigger jug fuck until you see the first time a bunch of cadets execute “platoon in the attack” and storm a hill.Vietnam was a stupid war executed in an even stupider manner. The ROE (rules of engagement) and the sanctuaries north of the DMZ and in Cambodia were silly.It is hard to believe it really happened.On 1 May 1975, I was at West Point teaching a class whereafter we watched the US Embassy being evacuated and overrun. It was a hard day. The company grade officers, most of whom had served, were particularly hard hit, feeling betrayed.If you think the USA is divisive today, it is nothing compared to the Vietnam War Era wherein we had violent riots in the streets and people being killed.I am not all that high on the Ken Burns series. Feels like it’s got an edge to it.We lost 58,220 men KIA.It was a stupid war, fought in a stupid manner, with no clear objective.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Salt Shaker

        I hear what you’re saying JLM w/ respect to the Burns series. No doubt a different Producer, say someone w/ a military background like yourself, would present the narrative in a different light, but also no doubt there were serious blunders in Vietnam spread over numerous decades, including as far back as the French occupation. In their day, Westmoreland/Abrams were prob thought off as highly as Mattis/Kelly are today. That freightens me just a wee bit. I knew one person who was killed in Vietnam and I honor his legacy when I go visit family in DC. https://uploads.disquscdn.c

        1. JLM

          .The French withdrew their officers, many of their senior non-coms, and much equipment from the French Indochina Army at the beginning of WWII. They did not defend the colony against the Japs who, subsequently, overran it.The Viet Minh drove out the Japs at the end of WWII with no help from the Allies or the French.At Yalta, the Powers said, “If you had a colony before the war, you get it back after the war.”Ho Chi Minh’s (a lawyer by training) argument was that the French had abandoned French Indochina BEFORE the war and that when the Viet Minh drove out the Japs, they became a sovereign nation as the French had failed to defend them.Since they were not a “colony” they were not to be returned to French rule.It was an argument that would, likely, have prevailed in a court of law today.When the American Jedburgh teams went into French Indochina, they met the Viet Minh and heard their argument. One of the Americans was a young officer named William Colby, one day to be the head of the CIA.Pretty much everything after that was a mistake.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. sigmaalgebra

            Better history than I knew.Yet again, as in the Burns pieces and from many other sources, the fighting we did in Viet Nam was on the wrong side.We needed just a tiny drop of insight: No way was Viet Nam to be a puppet of either Moscow or Peking.

      2. scottythebody

        Completely changed my Dad’s life. If it hadn’t happened; I wouldn’t exist. Hard to not have very mixed feelings about that 😉 My Dad lost his deferment by doing something kind of stupid (but good-hearted) and getting suspended from his college. This also meant he lost his spot in the St Louis Cardinal’s baseball org that had recruited him as a pitcher and, instead, got shipped of to war.

        1. JLM

          .Before I got out in the mid-1970s, the war was over but we still had draftees. I used to like talking to the draftees. I had a combat engineer company with more than two-three times the normal number of combat engineers — all waiting for their final discharge.My company clerk was a tenured prof of English who had beaten the draft for a decade until the lottery numbers came along and he got a bad number.I used to stand charge-of-quarters through the night at my unit because the other officers were married. We would talk late into the night. I was reading Kipling and, guess what, he used to teach Kipling. I think I received about 6 credit hours and he really was a great teacher.I remember him telling me how his life was turned over by being drafted. It was a heartrending story — his girlfriend dumped him. Lost his job.There was a lot of heartache caused by the draft and the war. OTOH, there were some good things — like Scott the Body.We were a much closer knit people when we had the draft. More of a shared burden.I made all my draftees learn a trade (lots of bricklayers and carpenters) and get a GED if they were high school dropouts. I used to work them so hard — 5-10 mile runs in the morning, hard work all day, lots of team sports — we were the Army “combat football” champs which is soccer played with four balls, you can use your hands, and no rules.We beat the snot out of the 82nd Abn Div champs to win the Army championship. My guys were vicious and in incredible physical condition.Tell your Dad that I thank him for his service.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      3. sigmaalgebra

        Just from a low level military point of view, as in Episode 4 in the Burns series with the big efforts in the Central Highlands, it seemed that the top brass, i.e., Westmorland & Brass, were willing just to send a company or some such into a landing zone and ask them to handle whatever VCs/NVA were there. Good way to lose a war.So, apparently the US brass didn’t know how many enemy there were or where they were. E.g., the program said that there were so many VC regiments and so many NVA regiments. Okay. Should be tough to hide a regiment from our airplanes with cameras. So, where the heck were the regiments?In the episode in the Central Highlands, there were far too many VC/NVA, and the US soldiers were getting shot at, e.g., by some Chinese machine guns firing 900 rounds a minute, just getting off their helicopters. Helicopters are fragile and don’t “behave well” under such gun fire. The soldiers, with just GI cloth, are even more fragile. Clearly, the US soldiers were being used much like in WWI being asked to “go over the top”. No wonder a lot of US soldiers died.Another case was when a company or some such was asked to charge up a hill when they didn’t know 3000 NVA were on the other side of the hill. If believe the Burns video, then the US soldiers were being asked to walk up the hill, in broad daylight, in thin woods, and just wait to be shot, “draw fire”.How the heck did Westmorland, etc. justify such tactics?I’ll let you go draw fire. Be my guest. I’ll be with Kevlar armor, on the ground, behind this big tree, on the radio looking for intel and calling in air strikes and artillery.If we knew where 3000 VC/NVA were, then we should have bombed them, not walked toward them on the ground. If we were walking on the ground, then we should have had solid information that there were no 3000 enemy close at hand.And this stuff about walking through dense jungle along a well worn trail — that definitely deserves a Darwin Award with Oak Leaf Clusters hung by a wide blue ribbon around the neck. Maybe that was just part of the drama of the Burns episode.I always thought that the US had a really easy solution: Sit down with Ho and say:(1) What we want for Viet Nam is to be unified and independent. By independent, we mean not the puppet of any other country, not France, Japan, the USSR, China, or even the US. Indeed, as you very well remember, the US drove the Japanese out of Viet Nam; it was our country, the US, that did that for you and your country Viet Nam. Instead of a puppet, we want Viet Nam, all of it, unified, independent. We could shout we want you to be independent a million times loud enough to be heard on Mars, but that’s what we want.(2) We want Viet Nam not to invade anyone else, not Laos, not Cambodia, not Thailand, not Indonesia, not the small islands in the South East Pacific, not the Philippines, etc.(3) We want Viet Nam to be healthy, strong, and prosperous. To this end, we brought our checkbook. Whatever the USSR and China have promised you in aid, multiply that by 10. No, we just changed our mind, call that 100. And if you can make good use of it, there’s more. It’s all just chump change to us. We’re talking massive water resource projects, electric power, fully modern roads, gorgeous bridges, high volume, deep, safe harbors, long, gorgeous tunnels, world class airports, some of the world’s best schools, universities, hospitals, new strains of rice and wheat, how to do really well raising chickens, hogs, sheep, goats, fish, and cattle, tourism, and trade, lots of trade. You have some highlands that might be suitable for growing wine you might sell, e.g., to the French. Well at UC Davis we have a world class wine program, and we can get some of your good students admitted and help you set up a wine industry.We want to be the world’s best friends of a unified Viet Nam.Whatever economic theories or policies you want to follow are fine with us. Same for your form of government. If you want to borrow from the US, England, France, fine with us. And fine if you don’t. We’ll advise you against that Karl Marx stuff, but if you want to try it, then go for it. But be ready for a lot of starving people. But if you can make that stuff work, then fine with us.And we still want to be friends of Viet Nam: E.g., you might get hit by a Pacific Cyclone or Ring of Fire earthquake. In that case, we will help you.If China tries to invade you, then we will help you.With (1)-(3), if you and Hanoi want to run the unified Viet Nam and can get the support of a simple majority in both NVN and SVN, which apparently you can do, then fine with us. The war can end just NOW; you can have the check TODAY, right after lunch; and you can be fully unified and at peace by dawn tomorrow. Done deal?That’s all we wanted or needed and all we had to do.

  29. Jud Waite

    Fred, have you had a chance to try Project Fi on your Pixel? Highly recommend for international travel – SIM is free, $10/GB anywhere, and service can be paused at any time (most of the time).

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, i was in the betaprobably tried it before its time

  30. sfrancis

    someone might mistakenly believe this is an android vs. iphone issue – it is more likely just a “when and who did you buy your phone from” issue. if you bought from Apple in the last two years, it is likely unlocked. If you bought from a service provider… then it is likely locked. I haven’t had any trouble unlocking old phones – but current phone is also unlocked, which is nicer!

  31. B12N

    For traditional Vietnamese food in super nice traditional but more up-scale setting, try Cuc Gach Quan (always a hit with guests I bring there): http://www.cucgachquan.com…. – in District 1.

  32. lorenzo viscanti

    Why do the US lag behind in terms of mobile networks & carriers? Every EU carrier offers data roaming (almost) anywhere in the world….Obviously prices are not cheap, but at least you can use data anywhere

  33. scottythebody

    If you make it to HCMC, definitely go to the War Museum and the Women’s History Museum. These are two great and contrasting experiences. For sure it is interesting to see a museum in which the victors wrote a history that is quite contrary to the one I grew up with.They have photos of GIs waterboarding suspected VC and all sorts of things they don’t teach you about in history class in the States.

  34. David Parker

    Google Fi (I know, not for her phone… but for yours.)?

  35. mplsvbhvr

    Actually planning a Vietnam trip later this year – thanks for the tip Fred!However… I’m quite sure that being the only person with a phone that can use data on the trip is going to leave me quite flustered by the end…Maybe this will convince my cohorts to switch to Android – but I doubt it 🙂

  36. Wendy

    Late to the discussion – but I had the same issue when I was there in May. My friend’s phone was unlocked (he lives in SG) – mine locked. He created a personal hotspot on his phone that I connected to when I needed data. I hope you are visiting Hoi Ann – one of my favorite spots on my trip!

  37. creative group

    Josh Habdas:Lenovo phones.

  38. Pointsandfigures

    The article is worth your time. A professor that I took in MBA school did they research. Ayelet Fishbach from USD.

  39. sigmaalgebra

    I tried to leave LinkedIn. Everything I could do on-line with my Web browser started to work but never did. I went to the SEC information site Edgar, found their company phone number, called it, and got only a message.Finally, with the information at Edgar, I just wrote and sent them them a very pointed letter, on paper, that I wanted OUT, OFF, the END, KAPUT, OVER with, mentioned the FCC and FTC, used words “cease and desist”, etc. Then I got a response, via e-mail, that was both nice and effective. Now I’m OFF LinkedIn.LinkedIn? A way for me to give up my privacy and anonymity so that their plump founder, what’s his name, can make money. No thanks.

  40. BillMcNeely

    thanks so much!

  41. creative group

    Josh Habdas:The Lenovo Phab 2 Pro is the only phone in the Lenovo line worth using everyday.http://gadgets.ndtv.com/len