unlocking Treo 600, an exploration
I’ve been having occasional problems with the Treo 600’s cell phone function (loud buzzing heard only by the person I’m calling, and usually during the most important calls), and want to find a reliable way to use my current cell phone number under the constraints of my contract (which does not end until December 2006). The Treo 600 is out of warranty, and has no insurance on it.
After a conversation with a gadget guy yesterday, and my friend said I could get my phone unlocked, which will get it a higher resale value. So I went searching and exploring on the Web, and here’s some things I’ve found, and observed:
I can unlock my Treo 600 by finding a no-name cell phone store, and get it unlocked by a professional (as my friend suggested), or I can install unlock software for $99.99 or or $65 or $25 or $7 or free.
SIM Lock is the notion of locking a GSM mobile phone to a specific brand of wireless network as a competitive practice by many wireless providers. It’s designed as a cost-recovery concept to provide cell phones at a perceived lower cost b/c that phone hardware is tied into a long-term contract.
For world travelers who often exchange SIM cards in their phone when going from country to country, or calling plan to calling plan, they’ve informally found a way to manage multiple SIM cards and their cell phone hardware. One friend’s dad keeps his SIM cards in a ziplok bag, and does the SIM card switching ritual upon arrival at a new airport. (I’m not a world traveler, and I’m not consumer savvy.)
2 conclusions: I still love the Treo 600, faults and all. The single unit combo of Palm OS softwares, PDA, and cell phone is very handy. (The investment in Palm softwares prevents me from switching over to Blackberry or Pocket PC based smartphones) What I need is not so much to unlock my Treo 600, what I need is to get a reliable, unlocked, cell phone hardware that can handle my SIM card and either tri-band or quad-band, to use as a backup when the person I’m calling says they’re hearing buzzing on my Treo. On those occasions, switch out and continue the conversation. Until my contract runs out… a long wait.
What would happen if the competitive business landscape in US mobile telephony were to be changed, and the cell phone hardware and calling plans were to be decoupled, and marketed as such. It’s your phone, buy it outright with no long-term contract. It’s your calling plan, no long-term contract. Allow people (and encourage and promote it) to get multiple calling plans via multiple SIM cards, so they can make calls “in-network” and get more coverage everywhere (for places that only have signal from one company but not another, they can switch the SIM card and get onto another network). Other creative possibilities are yours to dream. Serve the customers better, not only the companies.
[update 6/19/05] This article, Using Your Cellphone Anywhere in the World, shows up the New York Times a day later.