, CNET's cell phone guru, wants to answer your questions about cell phones, services, and accessories. Send him a question!
I am changing cell phones from a Nokia to an old AT&T Wireless Siemens handset. After changing the SIM card
, how do I transfer the stored contacts on to my phone?
A: The command for transferring contacts from your SIM card to your phone varies by make and model of phone. Although I don't know which Siemens mobile you have, the following commands should work for most Siemens models, including the SL56, a handset that the former AT&T Wireless supported. When you insert the SIM card, open the contacts list. Next, highlight the contacts you want to transfer, then choose the Copy to Phone command; you'll see a phone icon. If you can't find those exact steps in your phone, look for a command in the Settings menu of your phone book or consult the phone book section of your manual.
I liked that in your review of the Samsung MM-A940
, you noticed the camera phone pictures were blurry. The problem is also reflected online by Samsung
users, and it seems to be affecting the Verizon's Samsung SCH-A970
as well. I was just curious if you have heard anything regarding Samsung fixing this issue, and if so, would it be a firmware fix, or are hardware changes required?
A: We definitely noticed the problem of the blurry photos on both the Samsung MM-A940 and the Samsung SCH-A970. The image quality was especially disappointing (here's an example), considering both phones have 2-megapixel cameras. In short, you can blame slow shutter speeds for the problem. Unlike other camera phones, which are fixed focus, the MM-A940 and the SCH-A970 have an autofocus system that takes slightly longer to lock on to an image. So because of the long lag between the time you press the button to take a picture and the actual taking of the shot, you have to hold your hand perfectly still to avoid getting a blurred image. In our tests, we found it difficult to hold the phone still, so we wound up with less-than-desirable images.
Unfortunately, neither Samsung nor Sprint has said anything about an upgrade to correct the issue. Hopefully we'll see an announcement soon, but in the meantime, this should be a lesson that cell phones can be too complicated. After all, they're made to make calls first and take pictures second, not the other way around. Q:
I was recently given two Ericsson cell phones, and both are DH668. Is there any place I can go to get them activated with a prepaid SIM card?
A: As long as the phones take SIM cards and are unlocked--meaning they do not have settings that tie them to a particular carrier--you might be in luck. That said, some prepaid carrier might restrict which cell phones you can use with their service. You should check with your carrier to make sure. Q:
My Cingular contract expired a while ago, and I never signed a new one because to get a plan as good as the one I had, I would have to pay $20 a month more than what I currently pay (I was an old AT&T customer before the merge). I have been paying month to month, and I want to keep it that way, but my current phone is on its way out. When I asked about purchasing a new one without signing a new contract, I was told by Cingular that they would still force me into a contract. Is this true? Also, I always thought that if I bought a new phone somewhere and that phone was unlocked, I would be able to put the SIM card from my old phone into the new one.
What are your carrier-contract horror stories?
To be frank, Sonia, what the Cingular rep told you was baloney. Once you're off your contract, your carrier cannot
force you to sign a new service agreement. No matter how the company phrases it, it simply isn't true, and you can remain on a month-to-month plan. Of course, the purchase of a new cell phone does complicate your situation somewhat, but rest assured you can remain a free agent even with a different handset. If you buy a new phone from Cingular, you should be able to remain off contract if you pay full price for the mobile and not accept any of the rebates that come with initiating or changing service. Also, you're correct in that you can just slip your SIM card into an unlocked phone and avoid the whole process altogether.
I realize it's in a carrier's interest to lock customers into a contract, but the fact that carriers use coercive practices is frustrating. After all, you've fulfilled your terms of the contract by staying with the company for its length. So once your agreement is over, the carrier has no grounds for forcing you to sign again.