I did a bit of research trying to find the right cell phone plan for myself in Malaysia. I actually was looking at different options. One was for a fancy smart phone (iPhone or Android) largely to use when I travel and to be able to stay up with some business. Both looking at the phone options and the plan options. And the also looking at a cheap phone with a cheap plan. The truth is it was quite hard to get to a decision with so many options. I used the soon to be iPhone 4s as a good enough excuse to wait on the fancy phone option.
I really don’t use a phone much. Frankly the biggest use I have for it is in getting taxis and ordering food – plus other errands but what I can do by email, I do. It is also convenient when you are meeting people somewhere to catch up with each other. Mainly I prefer email and other internet communication and don’t find most cell phone conversation of much value (it just seems like people think they have to talk since they can or some people seem to think they seem important if they ignore whoever they are with to talk on the phone). I would rather take in where I am, talk to who I am with, think, or just relax.
So I keep looking for the best plan for someone that hardly uses a phone at all. It wasn’t easy to find. Partially, I imagine you don’t make much money off such cheapskates so the service providers don’t waste much time marketing to them. Anyway I thought I found something good with Digi. And when I was talking with the person to buy my phone I thought I had it clear I could get the phone and pay some minimal amount and then just top it up and be charged for use.
But once I bought it they seemed to not understand such an option. Oh well, I sometimes seem to not quite communicate perfectly so I guessed I mis-remembered and didn’t understand what they said at first. So then essentially I needed to pay RM 30 a month for service and that amount would be charged against as I talked (or IMed). But I needed to pay RM 1 everyday to maintain the ability to make calls. This was annoying but seemed to be the only option. So I just kept piling on the RM balance since I don’t use close to 1 RM a day on average.
Well I found the offer again earlier this week and it is perfect if you hardly use the phone, like me. You pay just RM 30 for a year. Then you still get charged for all your calls but it isn’t much at all.
So if you want a low use, cheap, cell phone plan option in Malaysia, get the Digi Super Long Life plan: a feature where you can extend your talktime validity to 1 year for just RM30. That means your phone number stays valid, you can make and receive calls and texts (to make outgoing calls and texts you also need a balance, but you can add to your balance whenever you want). Remember the plan name, so when you go to buy your plan you can make sure you can get it setup right from the start. It is really a fantastic option for someone like me, that uses the phone very little. My guess is if you use it less than an hour a week, on average, this is a good option. I am really not sure the exact breakpoint, whatever it is, I am nowhere near it.
If you use it more than that just getting a real plan or just buying a bunch of time on topup makes sense. The Toping up work is kind of annoying. You get 1 day for each RM you top up. But it only goes from the day you top up (it doesn’t just extend from the date you are currently valid until). So if you were valid through January 21st today, and you topped up with 30 RM you gain no extra days (because you only get 30 days from today). If you wait until you only have 0 days left, or any time after it expires, then you get the number of days for each RM. But that means you can run out and not be able to make outgoing calls. All this is to say you are likely best served by getting a very large topup at the start, if you put down 180 you would have nearly half a year before it became an issue (of course if you use more than your balance you have to top up the balance).
I’m not sure what the period is but I think it is if you don’t topup your plan after 30 days then you lose your phone number (and any balance)? But that might not be right.
It is a good option if you are traveling back and forth and only in Malaysia occasionally. It might just be my inability to figure it out, but they don’t seem to have the ability to pick up your voice mail over the internet (which is annoying). This would be especially useful if you travel alot.
I have found people in Malaysia like to use text messages. So just keep that in mind. If you get a cheapo phone, like I did, reading the text messages is fine, but writing them is a bit of a pain. I might end up getting an iPhone eventually (the internet abilities and being able to use things like trip advisor and mapping when I am traveling could be extremely useful). But for now the Digi Super Long Life plan is a great buy.
2013 update: The website is super pitiful at providing details. One legalistic page with tons of fine print says: 6. Super Long Life is still available for subscription at RM30 for 1 year active line. Subscriber from old plans needs to upgrade to New DiGi Best Prepaid plan prior to subscribing to Super Long Life.
Related: Android Mobile Phone Options in Malaysia – P1 Broadband Internet Provider in Johor Bahru (my connection has been pretty decent the last 2 months – it really seems like the bandwidth traffic is overestimated – my totals seem substantially over what I would think they should be, but I’ll take a bit of extra charges for a decent connection, I would still prefer Unify but they don’t offer it in my building)