I use a Pantech C150 mobile phone from AT&T. It’s a moderately well designed, sleek piece of hardware, but the UI is terribly clunky. I could rattle off a laundry list of gripes, but my biggest is that pressing the joystick button launches the web browser and requires furious pressing of the “End” button to avoid data charges and exit to some more useful function. The prominence of this button makes it very easy to suddenly find yourself in the browser:

  • during normal use, when using the joystick for navigation;
  • when you’ve finished using the phone and stuck it in your pocket, but it hasn’t automatically locked yet (starting a data session prevents automatic locking, of course); or
  • while on a call.

Unfortunately, Pantech and AT&T have decided that being able to change this button’s behavior is not a useful option to include on the phone. So much for the obvious answer.

I guess you get what you pay for.

Looks like we have to go to Plan B. Fortunately, there is a way to save the situation – Google to the rescue.

This AT&T forum thread and this review’s comments tell the secret: create a new browsing profile with bogus settings, and the browser won’t go anywhere. Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Navigate to Menu > MEdia Net > Profiles and select an empty slot.
  2. Click Add to create a new profile and give it a name. (I called mine “Offline”.)
  3. When you get back to the profile list, press OK to select the new profile as the default. A message will pop up confirming your selection, and the bullet next to the profile name will turn red.
  4. Edit the new profile, and enter http://1 as the Home URL.
  5. Enter as the Proxy IP.

You really only need to perform steps 1-3 to get the desired effect; the last two are just optimization. The first time I tried steps 1-3, I didn’t have any luck – the phone still transferred 13KB each time. (Someone on the aforementioned AT&T forum seems to have had the same problem, but I can no longer reproduce it.) So when that didn’t work, I tried playing around with other URLs, including loopback IP addresses. An excessive amount of time experimenting with these settings unearthed a number of data-transfer-free combinations, and eventually led me to discover that it takes half as long to abort the browser session using the End key (five seconds instead of ten) if you set both an invalid URL and a loopback proxy, which makes the occasional accidental joystick press much less annoying. Other settings might achieve equal or better results; this is the best combination I found.