Walt Mossberg

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Using Phones Globally

Q:

My Motorola Android phone does not work outside of the U.S. Does the Samsung Galaxy have the same problem? Will the forthcoming Verizon iPhone work in Europe?

A:

I combined two reader questions here, because they both touch on a common source of confusion. I presume that the Motorola Android phone that only works in the U.S. is sold by either Verizon or Sprint, because they use network technology that is primarily found in the U.S., and not, say, in Europe. Thus, phone makers like Motorola and Samsung tailor their Verizon and Sprint models to this U.S.-centric technology, called CDMA.

However, both Motorola and Samsung also make Android phones for AT&T and T-Mobile, which use a network technology called GSM that is standard in most of the rest of the world. These models should work outside of the U.S. There are a few “world phones” sold by Verizon and Sprint, which include both network technologies. For instance, Verizon sells two Android phones, the Droid Pro and the Droid 2 Global, which fall into that category.

As for the reported forthcoming Verizon iPhone, I don’t know if it will be limited to CDMA, which would make it essentially a U.S.-only device, or whether it will also be compatible with GSM, which would make it a world phone.

Q:

I live in South Africa, and want to buy the Samsung Tab to make my job easier, but to do that I must be able to work with Microsoft Excel documents. Editing and using dropdown boxes is essential. Can this be done?

A:

The Tab, and other Android devices, can view and edit Excel documents using either a built-in mobile office suite (ThinkFree was pre-installed on the Tab I tested) or one you can obtain through the Android Market, like Quickoffice. You can also use online spreadsheet apps.

However, as with the same or similar apps for the iPad, these are limited compared to using Excel on a PC or Mac, and I cannot say whether they’d have the features and two-way document fidelity you personally might require. I didn’t test editing Excel documents on the Tab.

Q:

I am considering purchasing the iPad but have learned that it does not allow users to create folders in which documents can be stored. This would be incredibly useful for me for business purposes while I travel (i.e., separate client folders with client-specific documents in each). I have heard that Apple’s new operating system upgrade might make this possible, but I haven’t been able to confirm it. Do you happen to know whether that is the case?

A:

The new folder feature coming to the iPad is meant for grouping apps, not documents. Apple’s operating system for its mobile devices, called iOS, doesn’t have a global document folder capability.

However, individual iPad apps, such as the very powerful GoodReader, do allow you to create folders that can hold all manner of documents, and you can name and organize these folders as you wish. But these folders are only accessible from within the app that creates them.

You can find Mossberg’s Mailbox, and my other columns at the All Things Digital website, http://walt.allthingsd.com.


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