, CNET's cell phone guru, wants to answer your questions about cell phones, services, and accessories. Send him a question!
Will Motorola release a CDMA Pebl
as it did with the Slvr
A: Though it's true that Moto's Pebl hasn't achieved the widespread fame of the Razr or even the Slvr, the conventional wisdom is that Motorola will eventually introduce a CDMA version of the stylish handset. Rumors started spreading around the tech blog sites after the FCC published radiation testing reports for a Pebl-like device employing CDMA technology. Engadget yanked photos from the test report and posted them on its site. Though Motorola has yet to come clean with a formal announcement, we wouldn't be surprised if the CDMA Pebl ended up at Verizon before the end of the year (with a $150 price range).
On a side note, Motorola's W315 looks a bit like the Pebl, albeit with an external antenna and differently designed controls. The W315 is now available at Alltel for $9.99 with service. Q:
I am a former AT&T customer migrating to a Cingular plan. I want to be able to transfer my phone numbers from my old AT&T SIM card to my new phone and Cingular SIM. What do you suggest? Can Cingular do it, and how much would it cost?
A: Normally I'd tell you to transfer your contacts by the SIM card alone (saving them to your SIM, inserting the card in the new phone, and saving them again to the new handset's internal memory). But in your case, that method won't work. Even though Cingular and AT&T are now one company, the newer Cingular phones can't read old AT&T SIMs or the data on them. As a result, while you can accomplish the first two steps in the above scenario, you can't perform the third and crucial step.
Fortunately, Cingular can take care of the transfer for you. All you need to do is drop by your local Cingular store, and they'll work their magic. Last time I checked, they don't charge you a fee for the transfer (and frankly, they shouldn't), but policies change all the time so be sure to check to make sure. Q:
I live in Alaska, where all the cellular service providers are local (most of the major carriers do not operate here). I want to switch providers, but my company of choice doesn't offer any phones I find appealing. I've heard about unlocked phones, which I'm guessing are phones that have not already been preprogrammed by a specific service provider. Is that definition correct, and would an unlocked phone be an option if I want a batter handset selection? Also, are GSM phones the only ones that use SIM cards, and are all SIM cards the same between the different phone manufacturers?
Do you use an MP3 cell phone? Talk back to me below.
As we say in our cell-phone buying guide
, Alaska really is the last frontier when it comes to cell-phone service. Most major carriers other than Cingular have very limited Alaska coverage (or none at all), which makes for a very peculiar situation for residents of the 49th state. But your instincts serve you well, Vicki; you're correct about the definition of unlocked
. As you say, an unlocked cell phone is a handset that has no settings that tie it to one carrier. That means you can use an unlocked handset on more than one carrier's network.
But you're also correct about one important caveat: Unlocked is a term that applies only to GSM (think T-Mobile and Cingular) phones and not to CDMA (think Verizon and Sprint) phones. So while you could use an unlocked phone on either T-Mobile or Cingular, you can't do the same with Sprint or Verizon handsets. So if your local Alaskan carrier uses GSM, an unlocked phone is a great option. As for SIM cards, all SIM cards are the same, and there are no proprietary designs among manufacturers.