, CNET's cell phone guru, wants to answer your questions about cell phones, services, and accessories. Send him a question!
Sony Ericsson K790a
Where can we buy a SIM card for the new Sony Ericsson
cell phone? How much do these SIM cards generally cost?
Can you tell us anything else we should know about SIM cards? Thanks in
advance for your reply.
A: For those readers who don't know, a SIM card is a tiny plastic chip
found in all GSM cell phones (think T-Mobile and Cingular) that acts as an
ID card for your handset. Usually located behind the battery, a SIM card
stores your phone number and is needed to activate a mobile for use. If the
card is taken out of the handset, it stops working, and it is no longer
associated with your phone number. So if you want to actually make calls on
your K790a--and I assume you do--you'll need a SIM card to make it happen.
The vast majority of cell phone users get their SIM cards from their
carrier when they sign up for service. So if you don't have cell phone
service to go with your K790a already, you should sign up for service with
either T-Mobile or Cingular and get a SIM card from them. (Remember, only
GSM carriers have SIM cards so Sprint or Verizon Wireless handsets don't
use them.) Of course you will have to sign a contract but that's a
necessary evil. If you want to avoid a contract, you can buy a prepaid SIM
card but prepaid
service can get expensive very quickly if you use your phone a lot. Q:
Where I live a T-Mobile store is just down the street from another cell
phone store that calls itself a "T-Mobile authorized dealer." What's the
difference between the two and does one have advantages over the other?
A: The T-Mobile store is operated by the carrier, and the people who work
there are T-Mobile employees. On the other hand, the authorized dealer is
owned by a third party and simply sells T-Mobile phones. Radio Shack stores
are a great example of an authorized dealer as they sell phones from
Have you had a difficult time upgrading your phone? Talk back to me below.
Each store has its advantages but either place would be a good place to buy
a phone to use with your T-Mobile service. The T-Mobile store will have a
full range of the carrier's handsets and accessories. And since you'll be
dealing with official T-Mobile employees, they can be better equipped to
help you with billing issues, service complaints, or handset upgrades. An
authorized dealer can sign you up for a T-Mobile plan, and sell you a phone
with service rebates but they don't have complete access to your customer
file. On the other hand, an authorized dealer might sell more phones than
the T-Mobile store, including cool unlocked models such as the Nokia
. You could buy an unlocked model and sign up for a
T-Mobile plan all at the same time. Just remember, if you buy an unlocked
phone and not an official carrier handset, you won't be entitled to any
discounts that come with signing up for service. Q:
I want to upgrade my phone to a flip phone but Alltel says I have to pay
full price for a newer phone. Is there any way around this? I have a
two-year contract that does not end until December of next year.
A: Carriers have varying rules regarding when you are eligible for a cell
phone upgrade. Typically, if you bought a cell phone with carrier rebates
and signed up for a contract within the last year, you won't be able to get
a new phone at a discounted price. In your case, unfortunately, you will
have to pay Alltel the full price for a new phone if you want something new
right now. If you think you can wait for a while, you should ask Alltel
when you'll be eligible again to upgrade. It might not be until next
December but it could be sooner. Granted, this isn't the best policy for
customers but from the carrier's perspective, they only want to sell you a
phone with rebates once in a while. That's because they sell you those
phones at a loss to them so they don't want to do it too often.