The PhoneBoy Blog

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Finding a Mobile Phone for my Wife

I have been wanting to get my wife a new mobile phone for quite some time. The main reason: her existing phone, a Nokia 3650, only has one usable frequency in the US: GSM 1900. Cingular now employs both GSM 850 and GSM 1900 in many markets, including where we live. Because most of the phones I use have both GSM 850 and GSM 1900, I tend to get reception in places my wife is unable to.

My wife is basically happy with her phone, though if she were to get a new one, it should be a flip phone. Unlike me, my wife wants her phone to be just that–a phone. She doesn’t care about bluetooth, MP3 ringtones, or even Internet access. She just wants something that makes and receives calls, and maybe send a text message once in a while. Nothing fancy. Being a bit of a Nokia fanboy, I wanted to get her a Nokia one. I’m not buying her a flip phone unless it’s got GSM 850.

While Nokia flip phones with GSM 850 exist, Cingular doesn’t carry them yet. The Nokia 6102 is supposedly coming this month, which is a relatively nice flip phone. The no-contract price is supposedly about $200. It would be overkill both in terms of price and in features.

I remember seeing the Nokia 2650, which is a relatively low-end flip-phone. However, it is a European phone, only supporting GSM 900 and GSM 1800. What I was surprised to find out was that an Americas model of this phone was also made, the Nokia 2651. Only one carrier in the US sells this model, at least according to Nokia’s site: Edge Wireless (which is 40% owned by Cingular).

The cool thing about GSM–the technology Cingular is using along with about 70% of the world’s mobile phone users–is that you can use any compatible, unlocked handset with any GSM network. Your identity on the mobile network is defined by the SIM card, not the handset as is the case with North American CDMA provders like Sprint and Verizon. Due to the diverging technological standards in North America, and the fact that most non-GSM carriers won’t allow you to use a phone whose serial number is “not in their database,” shops that cell mobile phones that aren’t “blessed” by carriers are few and far between. The Internet, however, makes it possible to locate businesses that sell GSM phones not tied to specific carriers. There’s also the ever-popular eBay.

It so happens that a new Nokia 2651 can be obtained without a carrier subsidy for around $100 from two different stores, not to mention a few eBay sellers. The phones are unlocked (i.e. you’re not restricted to a specific carrier) and, while not 100% certain, are likely to not include any carrier-specific branding. That’s a bonus.

Even though this is a relatively good deal, convincing my wife of that is a different story. She would prefer the “free phone” to paying any sum of money for a phone, especially when her existing phone still works.

#Cybersecurity Evangelist, Podcaster, #noagenda Producer, Frequenter of shiny metal tubes, Expressor of personal opinions, and of course, a coffee achiever.