On planet Earth there are two types of cell phone service: CDMA and GSM. For me it made much more sense to give up on the former and go GSM. This type of cell phone service uses a small chip called a SIM which identifies your phone number and carrier.
A friend of mine found a Samsung Intercept Touch using GSM used (and in excellent condition) somewhere and shipped to me as a gift. Originally it was sold by T-Mobile. The not so delightful news was the phone was locked so can only be used on T-Mobile’s network. For me, that was a bummer because I wanted AT&T.
Your carrier of choice may vary based on the wireless coverage in the areas you visit. AT&T has put up some new towers recently so it made the best choice for me. Additionally having a GSM-based phone means you can get a chip for a local phone number in other countries such as Mexico or Germany.
Certainly, I was disappointed when my SIM was rejected. However through the magic of the Internet I found a solution at cellunlocker.net
Their instructions were easy to follow. They wanted me to get a unique number out of my Samsung Intercept. At first I was little confused because the unique ID number had a / one character to the left of the last digit. That possibility was not mentioned on the website.
However when I entered the entire string complete with the /, the site stripped that out and said everything looks good.
I paid them for an unlock code via PayPal. I was not sure how long I would have to wait. It turned out, not very long at all. I got back I unique unlock code in about an hour in my email.
Their instructions for unlocking a Samsung were very clear. Unfortunately the Samsung Intercept was not. Their instructions said to putting the SIM and turn the phone on. That I would be presented with a screen declaring something to the effect of invalid network.
No such luck for me. I did get a screen that simply said: “Confirm”. Along with a small data entry window and numeric keypad. I had some trepidation because incorrectly entering an unlock code after a certain amount of attempts a phone becomes ‘frozen’ (sometimes called bricking the device). However cellunlocker.net does have some solution for that.
Fortunately for me the cryptic screen was indeed waiting for the unlock code. I entered the unique ID and voilà. I can now use any GSM carrier in the world I want.
The only downside is I am getting a painful reminder that smartphones drain the battery much faster than a dumb flip phone. However having a real slide out keyboard and being able to get Google maps is a trade-off I’m willing to take.
Even though I was done in an hour I am impressed with how cellunlocker.net sent a follow-up email expressing the point that they have a great customer satisfaction team and they are there if I need them.