I REMEMBER GETTING A LOT of slagging for carrying a brick for a phone because most of the critics didn't understand the phone's wifi and keyboard let it replace my laptop.
Today, it's hard to get a smartphone without a wifi antenna inside. I use my Lumia's wifi to make Skype calls to mobile phones in other countries for as little as two euro cents a minute. I use Viber on iOS to ring people for free. And yet I still pay nearly 80 year a month for my mobile phone service so the wifi hasn't actually reduced my phone bills.
When I first started carrying a Wifi phone (the Nokia 9500), I wondered about the viability of 3G in the age of inexpensive Wi-Fi connectivity. Why use the over-the-air network if you could do everything for free via Wifi? Then I saw the issues.
My early Wi-Fi devices drained my laptop battery within 20 minutes of starting use. I'll easily drain my Lumia and Xperia's batteries into the automatic power-savings mode if I sit on wifi and play video for more than a 60 consecutive minutes.
But the most surprising thing for me is voice quality. I get better quality calls using wifi into areas of weak reception than I do with standard mobile voice circuitry. We have made progress in those intervening eight years.
Previously -- "Wifi phones around the bend", August 8, 2004 on my blog.
Bernie Goldbach curates links about wifi and shares tips on Foursquare about free and open wifi.