Senior Editor Joni Blecher, a.k.a. the cell phone diva, wants to answer all your questions about cell phones, service plans, and wireless connectivity. Send her a question!
All in the family
Q: My wife and I are looking for cell phones that can share a pool of minutes in the Atlanta area. Basically, all of our calls would be made between the two phones. What is your best bet for an economical solution?
A: The type of plan that you are looking for is called Family Plan or FamilyTalk. Both Cingular Wireless and Sprint PCS offer such plans in your local calling area. Overall, while these plans are a good idea for groups of people, they seem like an expensive option for just two people. But here are some details of two plans in your area and how to get the most for your money.
It's raining ring tones
- Cingular's FamilyTalk plan for two people includes 250 minutes for about $50. You get a choice of either Family Mobile-to-Mobile (you can talk to other members on your plan and it doesn't deduct from your total minutes), unlimited nights and weekends, or nationwide long distance. If you're going to be calling your wife only, select the Family Mobile-to-Mobile to get the most out of the plan. As for phones, if you're not in the market for anything fancy, you should be able to find a deal on two older models.
- Sprint PCS has a similar option called Family Plans. This option is more expensive than Cingular's: about $70 for two phones and 4,000 minutes. However, Sprint often promotes deals on its Web site that might be a better solution for you and your wife. For example, the company is currently offering 3,000 minutes for $30, plus a $100 rebate when you purchase two phones. If you want to save money, purchase the bulk plan and share it with your wife for an extra $10 per month. That should bring your total up to $40 before fees and taxes.
Q: What Sprint phones can download ring tones?
A: There are five mobiles in Sprint's current line-up that will accept downloadable ring tones: Kyocera's QCP-3035, Sanyo's SCP-5000 and SCP-6000, and Denso's TP2100 and TP2200.
The catch is that you can't download ring tones from the Sprint PCS Web site. You'll need to go directly to the phone manufacturer. In order to download ring tones to the QCP-3035, you'll need the Connectivity Toolkit ($44) and get ring tones from the Kyocera site.
The two Sanyo cell phones can accept MIDI ring tones. As with the Kyocera phone, you'll need a connection kit. Owners of the SCP-5000 already have the cable and software needed to download MIDI ring tones to the phone. However, SCP-6000 users will need to purchase the Wireless Web Connection Kit ($60) from Sprint in order to download ring tones.
Sprint's TP2100 and TP2200 phones are manufactured by Denso Wireless. In order to download ring tones to those two models, you'll need to visit the company's Web site, but ring tones were unavailable at the time of this writing.
Q: I just bought the new Nokia 3360 for AT&T Wireless, and the phone is great, but I cannot change its cover. Have any tips?
A: I admit changing the faceplate on a Nokia phone isn't an intuitive process. The first time I tried, I broke two nails. But once you do it a couple of times, it's actually pretty painless. Here's the best way:
- Hold the 3360 in both hands with the phone's screen facing toward the ground.
- Place your left thumb on the Nokia name and push forward.
- Simultaneously, place your right thumb on the gray (rectangular) button; push down and toward your left thumb. The back cover should release. Then just pop it off.
- To get the front faceplate off, you'll need to find the teethlike indentions located on the lower left of the phone.
- Gently pull the teeth away from the phone; the front faceplate should be loose enough to pop off.
- To put on new face covers, replace the front cover first. Simply place the new cover over the naked phone and snap it into place.
- Next, to replace the back cover, you'll need to locate the two permanent hinges near the bottom of the faceplate.
- The two hinges are what will ensure that the faceplate is on correctly. Just line up the back faceplate with the back of the phone, slide the hinges into place, and the faceplate will snap in.
These procedures will also work for the Nokia 3390 and 3395.