Monday, May 24, 2004

Wild unlocked goose chase

Spent a considerable amount of my spare time today looking at the Motorola V400 cell phone.
"Why the Motorola V400 when you've already decided that the Motorola V600 is the cell phone you want", you may ask.

Well, two reasons
1. The Motorola V400 is the less flashy sibling of the V600, and has all the features except Bluetooth and Video Playback
2. I could get an unlocked Motorola V400 for not much more than V600.

There is an excellent article in this month's MobilePC Magazine about GSM handsets being locked. Briefly, Cellular carriers put a lock on their GSM phones so that you cannot use a SIM card (which contains the number and carrier connection information) from another carrier in the phone. If a cell phone is unlocked, then you can put in any SIM card from any carrier. This also depends on the frequencies at which the carriers networks run - in the US it is usually 1900MHz or 800Mhz, in Europe and the rest of the world it is 900MHz or 1800Mhz. So theoretically, if you have an unlocked quad band (800/900/1800/1900MHz) GSM phone you should be able to use it anywhere in the world where there is cellular service.

Of course, my wild unlocked goose chase was that although I could get an unlocked Motorola V400 cell phone, in the NY area I can only use it on one other carrier, T-Mobile. (I'm deliberately excluding Cingular, which is acquiring AT&T Wireless.) Anyway, on my other T-Mobile cell phone my reception around where I live varies from not good to non-existent, so what's the point of getting an unlocked GSM phone? I already have an old Ericsson T28 World phone which is unlocked and which I use on overseas trips.

Footnote: Other than the above complaint about reception I'm satisfied, even impressed with T-Mobile, since there customer service is quite good. Also, if you have had a phone with them for a certain period of time, you can phone their Customer Service and ask for the phone to be "SIM unlocked". AT&T Wireless and Cingular need to learn that this is more likely to keep customers rather than drive them away.

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