, CNET's cell phone guru, wants to answer your questions about cell phones, services, and accessories. Send him a question!
I want to get an iPhone
but prefer to wait for the next generation. Any buzz about a new version (smaller design) that is due sometime next year (2008)?
A: Good news, Tony, both Apple and AT&T have confirmed we will see a 3G iPhone next year. We don't know when it will happen, and I can't say if the new version will be smaller, but a 3G iPhone will be a reality in 2008. We'll be sure to follow it closely.
RIM BlackBerry 8310
I found it a bit interesting you didn't include the RIM BlackBerry 8130
on the recently updated top Verizon Wireless
cell phones list, even though it was highly rated by CNET (8.0). Are you a "Just say no to Crackberry" person?
A: Rest assured, Philip, I do not say "no" to BlackBerrys. As you said, our smart phones expert Bonnie Cha did rate it highly, but the format of that particular Verizon Wireless phones feature limits us to just five phones. So while I like the BlackBerry 8130 and believe it be a very good Verizon phone, I just didn't have room for it this time around. Q:
What is the deal with service providers not letting you purchase a new phone until your contract is up or near? I've even asked if could purchase a phone at full price and was told no.
A: Though I don't agree with the practice, it's quite common for carriers to limit the number of cell phones you can buy with a rebate. As you say, the closer you are to your contract's end date, the more likely you'll be able to do so. Also, carriers will limit how many replacement models you can apply towards a phone warranty.
But that said, I've never heard of a carrier prohibiting you from buying a phone at full price. If that's what you've been told, then you're being lied to. Carriers can't exert that kind of control over their customers so I'm baffled why someone would tell you that. In all honesty, carriers benefit when you buy a new phone at full price as they're making as much money as they can from the sale. I don't see what they would have to gain by limiting that.
If you're dead-set on buying a new phone I would go back to the carrier and try again. If they still won't sell you a handset, complain to a supervisor or manager and threaten to take your phone service elsewhere. And remember, if you use a GSM carrier such as T-Mobile or AT&T, you can always buy an unlocked phone from a third party. Then you can just bypass your carrier altogether.
What is your advice with cell phone water-damage stickers? Talk back to me below.
Most cell phones have a small, round sticker behind the battery cover that carriers use to check for water damage. The sticker, which is usually white, will turn pink or red if it's been exposed to water. Is there is anyway to fix the sticker if that occurs?
A: In case any readers don't know, the stickers that Aida refers will make your life difficult if your cell phone is damaged due to water exposure. Because the stickers turn red when they're wet, you'll have a hard time returning your handset or getting it replaced. Water damage rarely is covered under a warranty, so carriers will refuse to replace the phone if that occurs.
Now to answer your question, Aida, I've heard that you can buy new stickers on the Internet and then apply them over the original sticker. I'm a little wary of this method for a number of reasons. First off, if a phone gets really wet, a carrier's customer services rep will be able to notice damage beyond the sticker. Typically, they'll check the battery connection points for any type of corrosion. Also, stickers can vary by phone type, so you'll need to be able to find one that fits your specific model. And even if you do find the correct sticker, you'll need to do a good job of gluing it on so it doesn't look suspicious. So as I said, this isn't a course of action I would recommend. Remember, kids--warranty fraud is naughty. (For more help on repairing a wet cell phone, see this edition of On Call from August 2007).
It's also important to note that the stickers are quite sensitive and can turn red from even the smallest amount of water. I've had readers tell me they had red stickers from body sweat (such as when they're carrying their phone in their pocket on a hot day), condensation, and even from using your phone for a few minutes in the rain. To avoid this problem, you can try covering the sticker with a piece of satin finish scotch tape. They should protect it in most cases--that is, unless your phone takes a serious swim.