, CNET's cell phone guru, wants to answer your questions about cell phones, services, and accessories. Send him a question!
I want a newer cell phone, but I am afraid Sprint won't let me keep my old number. Also, will buying a new phone affect or alter my contract?
A: You absolutely can keep the same phone number if you buy a new Sprint phone. In fact, number portability has now made it possible to keep your number when switching between carriers, but it's even easier for customers staying within a carrier. And don't worry about having to manually program your contacts into the new handset. Although Sprint cell phones don't use a SIM card, you can ask representatives at your local Sprint store to transfer your information using a special machine.
Buying a new phone will only alter your contract if you accept the rebates that come with signing a new contract. In your case, if you want Sprint's discounts on Sprint phones, your contract will begin anew, and you'll be stuck with Sprint for the contract length. If you don't want to sign a contract, you always can forgo the rebates and buy the phone at full price. In either case, check our list of our top Sprint cell phones, such as the LG MM-535.
Motorola Razr V3c
I'd like to buy a cell phone on eBay as a holiday gift. Is this a good idea? Also, if this will be for Alltel service, can I buy any CDMA phone?
A: I always tell readers to use extreme caution when buying a phone from an auction site such as eBay. Since you're not able to see the phone, you never know what condition it actually will be in when you get it. Also, it's important to know whether you're buying from a retailer who buys and resells phones or from a private seller. If it's a private seller, you should make sure there is no outstanding balance tied to the phone number. If there is, the carrier won't activate the phone unless you first pay the balance.
Also, while you technically could use any CDMA phone with Alltel, you should buy a handset that Alltel officially carries. If you go the other route, the carrier will most likely decline to activate it. Alltel has improved its selection greatly in the past year, and it's the first U.S. carrier to offer the Motorola Razr V3c.
I know about the lawsuit
over the Motorola V710
, but now that Verizon Wireless offers other Bluetooth phones, I'm unclear as to what their limitations are. Do you have any insight into whether Verizon still limits Bluetooth on its phones and whether the carrier is planning on lifting the limits in the near future? Or is it time for me to suck up the switching fee and switch to Cingular?
A: Verizon won no friends when it limited the Bluetooth profiles on the Motorola V710. While you could use Bluetooth to connect to a headset, you could not use it to sync with a PC or to transfer pictures, MP3s, your contacts, or any applications. Although Verizon cited security concerns as the reason behind the restrictions, it was a disappointing move, since at the time, the V710 was the carrier's Bluetooth cell phone.
Verizon has since improved the situation but not by much. You can now transfer contacts and sync with a PC on Verizon's other Bluetooth phones--the Motorola E815, the LG VX8100, the LG VX9800, and the Samsung SCH-A970--but they still don't support wireless transfer of most files. If you're pining for full Bluetooth, which would let you transfer such things as pictures and ring tones, Cingular does offer that with its Bluetooth phones. Alternatively, reportedly there are hacks available to "fix" Verizon's limited Bluetooth offering, but I can't recommend anything specific. Q:
What's the deal with some carriers offering only demo versions on their cell phones?
Are you a cell phone gamer?
The answer is quite simple: It all involves money. Game downloads are a source of revenue for carriers, and if they simply tease you with demo versions, you're forced to pay for the real thing if you want it. Verizon Wireless and Sprint are the worst offenders, while Cingular and T-Mobile usually give you at least a couple games for free.