, CNET's cell phone guru, wants to answer your questions about cell phones, services, and accessories. Send him a question!
Sony Ericsson T630
T-Mobile told my girlfriend that having an unlocked phone could be the reason for her not getting the best reception, and they tried to convince her to buy a new phone from them to remedy her reception problems. Could this be true? By the way, she's using the Sony Ericsson T630
A: I think T-Mobile is pulling your girlfriend's leg on this one. I can't think of any reason why an unlocked phone would get poorer reception than an official T-Mobile handset. Yes, reception does vary by model, but that's due to the strength of the antenna rather than whether or not it is unlocked. Remember that T-Mobile is a business, so it has a compelling interest for you to purchase a handset from the company.
If your reception difficulties persist, you can try a different phone, but an official T-Mobile model will not remedy the problem automatically. Q:
I hear Verizon Wireless will introduce a new Motorola Razr with MP3 capabilities very soon. Do you know when? Also, what cell phone carried by Verizon do you believe is the best value for the buck as far as options and product reliability go?
A: Currently, Verizon carries only the Motorola Razr V3c. While that phone supports the carrier's 3G EV-DO network, it does not offer an MP3 player. I haven't heard officially whether Verizon will pick up another Razr, but the cell phone rumor mill has been buzzing about such a possibility for several weeks. And if it happens, I'd say the Motorola Razr V3m is the likely candidate. Introduced last month at CTIA, the V3m not only has an MP3 player but also is EV-DO compatible, plus it has a 1.3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, a speakerphone, and a TransFlash card slot.
As a CDMA phone, the Motorola Razr V3m could work with Sprint's network as well, but since Sprint already has committed itself to the Samsung MM-A900, I doubt this newest Razr will end up there. An exact release date is still unknown at this time, but availability is set for the second quarter of this year. Stay tuned for more news as it comes in. Q:
I want to switch from Cingular to Verizon Wireless, as I can't receive calls in my home office. I want to retain my phone number when I do this. How can I do this when my contract expires?
Porting your number can be an easy process, but there's one very important point to keep in mind. In order to keep your phone number, do not
cancel your Cingular service before opening your new account with your chosen carrier. Instead, you should start your new service and inform Verizon you want to port your number over from Cingular. Verizon will then do the legwork for you by informing Cingular you're making the switch. The actual transfer time will happen automatically, though it can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days. As a result, you may have to carry around two phones for a short period. When your old phone stops working and your new handset starts, you'll know you're all set. For more information, check out this page from the FCC
I intend on traveling overseas next year to China. I currently have a Verizon Wireless plan but am investigating switching to another service, such as T-Mobile, which seems to have a greater ability to provide service in China (and decent service in my home area). What would you recommend for my situation? Stay with my current Verizon service or switch to a GSM carrier?
Have you taken your cell phone overseas? TalkBack to me below.
A: In your case, Eric, you could go either way. As a rule, GSM is the dominant technology worldwide, but in certain Asian countries, CDMA networks are available. Verizon says you can roam with your Verizon phone in China for 69 cents per minute. Service will vary, depending on your exact location, but Verizon provides a list of Chinese cities with CDMA coverage on this page (click the CDMA Mode link under the China field).
So to travel to China specifically, you don't need to switch. But if you plan on traveling extensively to more countries (Western Europe, for example), you may want to consider switching to a GSM carrier. While Verizon offers a limited number of dual-mode (CDMA/GSM) phones, GSM technology provides the most extensive worldwide coverage.