You can find many kinds of cell phones in the Philippines, but I can’t tell you what’s used where, other than what I’ve seen here in Olongapo City. I can’t tell you exactly what’s used in Manila, although I’ve heard they support the Apple iPhone there along with every other major brand. Here in Olongapo City, I’ve only seen three brands of cell phones and no Apple anything (iPods don’t count).
Motorola and Smart Communications
My wife sent me a Motorola cell phone last year and I can’t tell you the model without taking it apart and I really don’t feel like doing that. It’s an older flip phone with a lousy camera.
I didn’t find out until AFTER I changed the SIM card to be compatible with Globe Telecom that Motorola cell phones work better with Smart Communications. I don’t know why that is, but it’s true.
Since I don’t use the cell phone, it sits fully-charged without any service. In a few days, my wife will be bringing me a Motorola RAZR V3 – the cell phone she’s been using for a year. She recently bought another, later version of the Motorola RAZR V3 for a second year with her cell phone service provider. The cell phone she’s bringing me takes excellent pictures and I plan to use it for local picture taking instead of lugging around my video camera.
Nokia and Globe Telecom
From what I’ve seen, all of the Nokia models of cell phones work better with Globe Telecom. Again, I don’t know why that is.
Most of my in-laws have Nokia cell phones. They don’t have regular jobs, but they have cell phones! Text messaging is dirt cheap “in network” and costs one peso per message unless they get unlimited text messaging for X number of days, in which event it’s even cheaper. One peso is a little over 2 cents (in US dollars) right now.
Sony Erickson and What?
I have an in-law of an in-law (but not my in-law) that uses a Sony Erickson model of some kind. I don’t know what service she uses, but I suspect it’s Smart Communications.
It’s the only one I’ve ever seen here, so I can’t say any more about it.
Monthly Service Versus Prepaid “Loads”
Most people in the Philippines, not counting the businesses, use prepaid “loads” instead of having monthly service. Monthly service requires a monthly income. While I could get a monthly service, the area I live in doesn’t support text messaging well enough to justify the cost.
Loads can be purchased in increments of 20, 50, 100 or more pesos. I don’t recommend the large purchases because loads get “zapped” sometimes for no apparent reason. I hate to see people waste money, no matter how little they spend.
Voice loads can be purchased as well as text loads, but I can’t tell you tell you the cost. I’ve never attempted voice service with any cell phones here. I use a residential telephone line and DSL (using Skype and Yahoo Instant Messenger) for my voice needs.
Update, April 2011
I’m starting to see a lot more Motorola cell phones and a few Samsung cell phones now.
Update, December 2011
The last update was referring to here in Olongapo City. I don’t observe what people are using in places like Manila unless I happen to be stuck waiting at one of the Manila airport terminals or at the US Embassy. I actually do observe people using smartphones at those places, but I’ve never been close enough to see what make or model of smartphone they’re using.
As we quickly approach 2012, I want to point out a few things. A lot of people, non-Filipinos of course and only outside of the Philippines, seem to subconsciously think that metro Manila is the Philippines. Nothing could be further from the truth, but the vast majority of areas outside of Manila don’t get much attention in the mass media unless something devastating happens.
While it’s true that a lot of the population is concentrated in the Manila area (like concentrations in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, etc.) and that Manila is technologically up-to-date, it’s not true for many of the areas outside of Manila. Even in areas where it appears to be the case, the services are oversubscribed and the people affected end up paying for poor quality service. Since I’ve seen firsthand what happens to Globe and Smart subscribers, I know this to be the case in Olongapo City (not the Subic Bay Freeport Zone). In fact, the only people outside of the freeport zone that seem to get decent service is those that live in the “downtown” area and that’s simply due to the proximity to the former naval base and how long it’s been there.
In the end, I think what’s really going on is that a lot of people believe they’re getting something they’re not and then they get offended when I tell them they’re not getting what they think they’re getting. In other words… just because you’re being told you’re getting a particular service doesn’t mean you’re getting the best of that service (it usually means the opposite). This doesn’t apply only to cell phone service in the Philippines, by the way, because I have relatives in suburban areas in the US getting screwed in much the same way.