Using laptop as cellphone

Not sure what category to put this in. I rarely use my cellphone and when I do it’s mostly for looking stuff up on internet when I’m away from home or in the rare instance of the power going out at home. I was thinking I could get by quite nicely with a laptop with a cellular modem. If I went that way, I don’t think there’s anyway I could use a SIM card, but I could use something like Google Voice to make calls? I’ll soon be getting Kirkland KS9 so that could handle the microphone and earpiece part of the equation. Anybody done this? Issues?

There are lots of voip apps out there. You likely have a home internet connection. Wifi your phone to it. Bluetooth your HA’s to the phone. Use one of these apps. Hear and talk through the HA’s.
Do the same thing anywhere with a wifi connection.
Or use cell data if you have it.
No need for the laptop. You have the phone anyway.

I didn’t explain well. I don’t really need a cellphone if I could turn a laptop into a cellphone equivalent. I don’t care about taking pictures and I’d rather spend money on a nice laptop than a cellphone. Yes, I have both currently, but the longterm plan would be to just go with small laptop. (It’s a just a logical extension of the trend towards bigger phones and folding phones. :slight_smile:

That’s a big phone! :slight_smile:
There are tablets that are cell-enabled. Many have an attached keyboard. Gives you the flexibility of touch and type.

1 Like

You could turn the laptop into a large and portable landline phone using something like Zoiper. It’s been more than a few years since I’ve mucked around with sort of thing so I’m not much good for specific help. Basically, you find a third party VOIP provider, get the appropriate settings from them, and plug those settings into Zoiper or whatever equivalent software you’re using.

The other thing you might explore is an esim. I have no knowledge of this whatsoever. Let us know how you go!

Edit: Then you’ve got things like Skype which will (for a fee) give you a dial-in number and allow you to phone out.

Edit2: Well, the esim thing is totally irrelevant, 'cause you’d presumably already have a physical data sim in there. If you’re asking if you could just put a phone sim in your computer and give that computer that sim’s number to dial out on and take calls on, I think the answer is no.

I’d be curious to know a little bit more about your imagined setup. When you say “cellular modem,” is that just for phone calls or do you imagine Internet connectivity through that? And what OS? Windows or Linux? Also, what will you use your laptop for? Just a bigger screen? (you can use a BT keyboard with a phone-works great-I’ve done it with both Android and Windows Phone) Tech journalist seem to think that app development for PC’s is dead and that most new apps are going to be for iOS and Android. So you could be painting yourself into a corner by just going with a PC, whether it runs Windows or Linux. Apple moving Macs to ARM and iOS means iOS apps should someday run on ~all iOS devices so you might be less constrained there on the choice between phone and laptop but for the cost of an Apple computer you could probably buy both a decent Windows/Linux laptop or Chromebook and an Android phone, too! :slightly_smiling_face:.

Why not make do with an OK laptop of old and just run a newer Android phone through Your Phone on your computer? That way you will get the latest and greatest phone apps as they come along. Or a new phone and a Chromebook?

None of us will probably be around in “The Future” but according to the seers on Windows Weekly, it’s all going to be thin clients and smartphones someday. They were predicting someday that “rich computing devices” were pretty much going to go away “but don’t worry! It’s all going to happen very gradually over many, many years.” They said corporations would love that because it facilitates device management and security for employees and Microsoft will love it because they’d get an annual subscription fee out of every client. And consumers are already making that choice by putting their money into smartphones instead of computers.

Except for screen size, it won’t be too long before smartphones are as powerful as laptops. Last year’s iPhone was already approaching that ballpark. Isn’t it a requirement now that cars have dashboard displays to support back-up cams, etc., and ~every car comes with Apple Car Play and Google Auto connectivity built in. That sort of interaction with your car would be much harder to come by if you only try to carry a laptop along in your car.

I also think that it will be not too many years before heads-up displays in the form of Apple AR glasses or Google Glasses (revised) come back in a more socially acceptable way. Those sorts of devices would probably depend on a smartphone and maybe not even work from a computer(?).

The final obvious point would be that all hearing aid control apps are smartphone apps. How will you manage the routine settings for hearing aid programs and control them in routine everyday use from your laptop? Perhaps someday an iOS or Android hearing aid app can run directly on a Mac (or a PC or Chromebook even now) but who’s going to whip out their laptop to switch listening programs or sound volume? There are adjustments for ReSound Quattro’s, for example, that are easy to make in the Smart 3D phone app but not really practical to do on the fly in the fitting software (you’d have to whip out your Noahlink Wireless, too!).

For me the biggest argument against a smartphone is that it will only last 3 or 4 years or thereabouts before its manufacturer stops supporting it and stops providing security updates, etc. Don’t know if Microsoft will keep it up forever but I have an 11-yearold laptop that still runs the latest version of Windows 10. But I think you could easily afford both laptop and phone if you skated on thin ice a bit with an old phone no longer receiving updates for a few years and kept your laptop about a decade. A new phone every 5 or 6 years, a laptop about once a decade if you don’t have heavy duty computing needs. I guess if you’re doing professional level photography or heavy duty video editing, I could see where a new computer could easily outweigh a new phone.

Thanks for great questions and thoughts. This isn’t well thought by any means–more in the frame of mind of creating a mental “proof of concept.” On to your questions:
1)By cellular modem, I was imagining either a plug in USB modem or perhaps a built in modem. Definitely thinking both internet connectivity (data) and calls. The thing I really don’t have a handle on is whether a computer could be setup with a sim card (or esim) and have a number assigned by cell provider or if one would just have a data plan and need to use something like Google Voice.
2)OS–most likely a Chromebook, which often gives one the option of adding Linux
3)My laptop is used for internet browsing and email. I really like the bigger screen and keyboard, all in one package. It’s basically for "playing.’ For focused work on the computer, I still prefer my desktop. 4)The app development part is a good point. However, my current Chromebook has access to the Google Play Store and handles apps pretty well. 5) Not imagining going Apple in that my tech philosophy is to buy inexpensive stuff and replace fairly often–in my mind seems a better way to stay current. 6)Running the phone on the Chromebook is a very interesting idea that I was unaware of. I need to look into that more. 7) Regarding computing power. My current 2 year old midrange (most would say budget) phone (Nokia 6.1) is already more powerful than my Chromebook. Computing power is definitely not an issue. 8) The car issue is a great point. Wondering if Android Auto would work with a Chromebook and an appropriate app? 9)Hearing aid app. It is possible that they create an app that is a must have, but so far I ignore my app and just use hearing aid buttons. Perhaps if they ever manage to use the AI abilities of a phone to provide the computer power for hearing aids, a phone would be a must have. Further thinking: the only thing I use phone for currently that would not work with this idea is my running app. Definitely not going to go on runs with my 2.5 pound Chromebook! The app, although fun is definitely not a necessity. If I really decided I needed it I imagine I could get some sort of wrist based fitness tracker that would be compatible with a Chromebook. Oh, and just to give you an idea of how little I use my phone. I use about 500mb data monthly (T-Mobile 2GB plan for $15 a month) Other than the running app, I can go close to a week without using my phone. (I have a message on the phone that says not to leave a message unless I was expecting your call–please use my landline (VOIP–OOMA) Thanks again! Lots of interesting thoughts.

Oh and as far as how I often I thought I’d update. My Chromebook (purchased 2017) for $150 gets Chrome updates until 2022 if it lasts that long. Recently had issues with track pad, but I switched to wireless mouse and I guess my track pad got lonely as it fixed itself! :slight_smile: 2 year old Nokia 6.1 is on Android 10 and will get security updates until April of next year.

1 Like

Since Chromebooks are thin clients, you’re already helping to foment the revolution! (actually, a pretty slow evolution, IMHO). I think Google with its Chromebooks is a little behind what Microsoft is trying to do with the interaction between Android and Windows. Looking at Google’s Chromebook support, besides running Android apps directly on a Chromebook, you can use an Android phone as an Internet connection for a Chromebook and send and receive SMS messages via the phone. Don’t think you can yet directly run your phone from a Chromebook as you can do with an Android device connected to a Windows PC -you’d have to use Google Voice on your Chromebook to make and receive phone calls thru VoiP whereas with Your Phone on a Windows computer you can now make straight phone calls thru your phone - but since Microsoft is actually using the GOOGLE ANDROID 2-screen device interface in its Surface Duo, I would think, when Google gets around to it, that they could implement the same functionality for Chromebooks that’s now available by running Microsoft’s Your Phone on a Windows computer - basically turning your computer into a device for running your Android phone on a big screen with a keyboard and mouse in which apps that are designed to take advantage of Google’s folding (dual screen) interface can turn into big screen apps. The Windows Weekly crowd points out that the one area where Google and Android are very weak compared to Apple is in the tablet department, in part because Android developers have been very lazy about making apps that change from phone to tablet interface according to what you are running the app on but the commentators think the move of Android to two-screen/folding screen devices may create more developer effort to making Android apps in general adapt appropriately to the availability of more screen real estate when encountered…

I’m all for taking advantage of as many computing form factors as possible to adapt to different living environments indoors, outdoors, walking, running, walking, in the car, in the train, subway, and airplane, etc. I can appreciate economics is a concern. The latest and greatest technology is usually outrageously expensive: no Galaxy Fold or Surface Duo for me (particularly since Microsoft has a very bad track record of failing and/or abandoning consumer experiments in recent years that didn’t take off very quickly). But if money were no object, I’d have a Surface Duo (or similar device) and a Surface Studio as shown at this timepoint in a Microsoft “hype” video on the Surface Duo:

Somewhere in the video it says that Microsoft is now trying to offer you computing that adapts to the environment you’re in. That’s what I’d be for, and I’d be willing to pay a little, but not too much extra, for it. I think that implicitly means that one is not going to shoehorn all one’s computing onto one device. But one can still try to do that if one wants and probably have a lot of fun and learn a lot of things trying to do it! Good Luck! :+1:

Edit_Update: To counter any apparent “infomercialism” in offering a link to a Microsoft Surface Duo video, here’s an absolutely scathing review of the device from Venture Beat - the reviewer does think that two-screen devices have a big future, though - just not the current Surface Duo:

I’ve been kinda eyeing the LG V60. Or the older G8X and V50.
I decided on a mid-range Samsung in the meantime. It’s been sitting going nowhere for over 2 weeks now according to tracking.

I’m still liking the cell-enabled tablet idea for MDB. Some can have a keyboard and a nice folding case. I have a non-cell one for travel (what’s that now).
I use an app called TextNow for travel when on wifi somewhere with my phone. Talk and text.

1 Like

I doubt we will see fall of fast computers in our lifetime.

That would mean that we implemented everything that’s possible and manufactured everything imaginable.

Yes, we shouldn’t need powerhorses for looking websites. I hope we’ll see new revolution there and remove all that bloatware that runs in browser, mostly for ads.

However while gaming industry is strong, and internet isn’t fast enough to support first person shooters going smoothly without any computation done on your part, we’ll definitely have power computers.
Then for developing those games. And other stuff.
Then for various scientists.

Phones might have fast processors but they seriously lack RAM. Again usually not a problem since you can see only one screen at a time.
However for developing something, it’s not uncommon that development environment eats several GB of RAM, then other programs then your browser.
I have 16 GB since 2012 and I managed (once) to bring it to a halt. Usually it is enough.
Phones are what, 3 to 4 at best, mostly 2. Not to mention that they’re currently not designed to run external monitors.

Mouse works fine on phone :joy: but a bit clumsy.

But there’s definitely strong market for powerful machines and won’t go away that fast. What I do expect is that those dev/gaming machines will become expensive as our use cases shift that majority of nondev/nongaming/nonscience people won’t need powerful computers to surf the pages and similar things.

I think skype way could be good solution. There are also other providers.
But if you don’t need a cellphone, why not just ditch it? People will reach you through the landline anyway.

I mean, I didn’t quite get why you’d want to turn laptop into a phone if main reason for cellphone, mobility, isn’t of your concern?

Thanks for the thoughts! You’re way off on your estimate of Smartphone RAM. My inexpensive phone has 3GB of RAM. Many flagships have up to 12 GB of RAM. You’re numbers are about right for iPhones though.

Good question! I don’t need a cellphone most of the time. However very handy when our power or internet goes out. Also very handy on a trip to town.

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has 16 Gb of RAM, up to 512 Gb of Storage with provision to up to a 1 Tb microSD card (that would be ~1.5 Tb of storage). I presume since it’s from Samsung the storage is very fast. Didn’t see the specs I read that for the Surface Duo the storage is UFS 3.0, which means 23.2 Gbps, pretty fast.

Curious where you see Note 20 Ultra having 16 GB of RAM. I see 12 on GSMArena and Samsung’s site.

I’m late to the party :joy:
I don’t check flagship phones in last 2 generations since they’re IMO insanely expensive so I’m not in the loop. Have S8 bought when s10 just came out. Didn’t check out the market afterwards.

That being said, majority of people don’t have latest flagship phones, nor even old flagships. So I wouldn’t expect phones substitute laptops completely any time soon.

But also, in laptops you usually get 8gb, even 4. Checked last week on some models. Was seriously disappointed :joy:

On your topic, I’d just keep it for myself then. Like, give number to no one. Maybe change number to be sure no one has it :joy: and just give landline one.

And have it when I need it. If someone asks me ‘I just bought some temporary throwaway to call you since it was important’. Or just say ‘it’s useless, turned off unless I need it’.
Which could be your use case also, just keep it off. People will learn not to call you there.

When I don’t want to give my number, I just don’t give it, no guilty consciousness :joy:

Maybe that’s easier solution than reinventing phone on laptop :joy:

Sorry. I was looking at the Galaxy S20 Ultra in a Best Buy spec table with a lot of Note’s over on one side. (scroll down the page):

Hah! I’d just discovered that too. Seems odd that they wouldn’t put 16 GB in the Note version too. That’s a flaw of mine–I expect things to make sense! :slight_smile:

1 Like

Thanks for all the useful thoughts. Although the idea still holds some appeal, realistically it’s likely better to have both. The cellphone is certainly more convenient to bring along and if I really want to use the laptop on a cell network, I can set up the phone as a hotspot. Looking at specs, it seems like phones are much more likely to get current bluetooth than laptops. There are exceptions of course. Barring current devices failure, I like the idea of replacing phone with something like a Pixel 5a that I’d guess would come out in about a year and something akin to a Pixel Go for a Chromebook laptop in a year or two.

1 Like

Imitation is the best form of flattery:

I hope as the electronics get smaller, they get cooler. Right now, they can pack a lot of storage and a lot of processing power into a very small space with a big battery. But at least for Android, as soon as I start to do anything really computationally intensive, my phone gets blazingly hot. I think that’s one advantage Apple has - for about the same or greater processing power, its chips are better designed, run a bit cooler, and consume a bit less power for the same (or greater) output. Hope we do get powerful phone computers in our hands - but ones that don’t burn!

1 Like

Have no idea if iPhones suffer less overheating, but a quick Google search reveals that it definitely happens, most often due to battery issues. iPhone does seem to consistently lead the performance race though and seemingly get more done with less RAM. Tangentially, just saw today that Samsung is promising 3 OS updates for S10 series and beyond.