As I continue to get ready for my trip to Europe (and research the details of the Apple iPhone international plans, and how to avoid being surprised with a thousand dollar bill upon return), I am finding out more about the "visual voice mail" capability that the Apple iPhone offers.
According to Apple, we can disable the visual voice mail feature--which seems to be quite costly during an international trip as explained below, but still have the basic voice mail service. However the AT&T customer service rep today mentioned that I would have to completely disable voice mail in order to turn off the visual voice mail feature.
Visual voice mail is a nice feature in the Apple iPhone. It basically displays your voice mail messages as a list, which you can then scroll through and tap on the desired voice mail message to listen to it. When you listen to a message, you see a visual indictor which you can slide forward or backward to quickly jump to a certain point within the voice mail message.
The visual voice mail feature makes voice mail almost like e-mail, which means more easily trackable, and retrievable, instead of having to sequentially listen to all messages to get to the desired message.
However, to provide the visual voice mail capabilities, the iPhone downloads the voice mail messages as data files, which means a lot of data is being transferred to the device. This is not a problem when you are in the U.S. knowing that the data plan provides unlimited data, but when traveling, the 2 cents per kilobyte can make visual voice mail quite expensive. If my calculations are correct, the number would add up as follows:
1 MB message will cost $20
10 MB worth of messages will end up costing $200
And 50 MG worth of meesages will end up costing $1000
So what is the solution? If the Apple customer service rep is right, then I should be able to disable visual voice mail and keep the basic voice mail service during my trip. If the AT&T customer rep is right, then I would need to completely disable voice mail, and be without voice mail to avoid the extra voice mail charges at the 2 cents per kilobyte.
I am still searching for the answer, and hopefully my next call to the AT&T technical support will lead me to the answer!
Helpful resources and reminders
The Smartphone Experiment book: The Apple iPhone and 11 other smartphones were reviewed in The Smartphone Experiment book--how to select your smartphone in 5 easy steps. If you are looking for a smartphone, the book offers a comprehensive review of the most popular models as well as the worksheets that can help you assess your needs and make an informed decision.
Please use your smartphone safetly and "don't type and drive". If you have friends and family who are smartphone users, please send them the "don't type and drive" greeting card.
Finally, check out the "don't type and drive" video, and help us spread the word about the "don't type and drive" campaign.