Cell Phone question


Senior Member
My son dropped and broke his cell phone and of course I do not have phone insurance so my question is when I look on EBay what does "unlocked " mean in the description of the phone. I called Cingular and they said as long as it is a quad band phone that he could simply swap his sim card to a new phone. What I do not understand is what is the difference between a locked phone and an unlocked phone.
Locked from my understanding is you can't use it for another cell phone company.

As long as it is cingular ready you don't need it unlocked.

Most people that get them unlocked go overseas and use a different sim card (new cell company that is prepaid) while there.
So is it as simple as buying the new phone and putting our sim card in the new unlocked phone? Do most phones use the same sim card?
No, you do not have a SIM. The SIM is used on GSM. You realize you are most likely paying higher rates for your TDMA - you should really consider switching to a GSM plan.
Steve said:
No, you do not have a SIM. The SIM is used on GSM. You realize you are most likely paying higher rates for your TDMA - you should really consider switching to a GSM plan.
I have tried a few times but my primary use for my phone is in the car; I rarely carry it around. Since I don't like headsets, I use a speakerphone. It is a Nokia phone with a Nokia made speakerphone setup that is very good.

When I ask about a replacement the salespeople try to tell me the "built-in" speakerphone on the newer models is just as loud as my current arrangement. (They are not). And then they tell me I can special order something but it will be a third party product and they can't guarantee it wiil work as well... and no I can't return it if I don't like it cuz it's a special order. Finally they tell me if I am happy with what I have I should just stick with it and not change at all. I have gone through this cycle with Cingular once a year for the past three years.
This is "slightly" off-topic, but I'm wondering an answer to a question recently with cell phone providers Cingular and Sprint.

I currently have Cingular on a family talk plan. I had an AT&T LG 4020 phone that was locked with AT&T (AT&T was bought out by Cingular). I liked that LG phone better than the "free" ones provided with that family talk plan so here in Las Vegas you can take them to a place and get your cell phone "unlocked" for $20.

I then placed my SIM card in my "free" phone and put it in the LG phone and it worked fine.

Now I'm trying to get an unlimited internet access plan with Cingular and am trying to get an HP Ipaq 6515 phone.

(Edited out details...) :)
And the only proper answer is probably. There are both some very good and very stupid people working at all these companies. See PM...
Actually, this is a topic I am quite versed on. So maby I can shed some light...

Correct, a "Locked" phone can ONLY be used by the carrier that issued the phone. For instance Cingular cells you a Motorola Razor, it will work fine on their network, but can not be used by another. Cingular gives you a great deal on the price of the phone, and locks it basically to retain your business.

I currently have a Motorola Razr phone. There are locked Razr's right now available from Sprint, Verizon and Cingular. You can also purchase a Razr that has been unlocked. This is 100% legal. I saw an unlocked Razr at the mall the other day for around $300.00. With no carrier, contracts ect, an unlocked phone is sold at it's value with no discounts, and thus more expensive for the same phone.

On the other hand, with the right software, and expertise, the phone's can be unlocked. Just google "unlock [Model number/brand] cellphone" for instance. Your carrier will even do this on some occasions such as if you are moving , or your contract has been fulfilled ect.

As for the Sim card, they are not available in all phones, even some of the new ones, but it is a very popular feature. That card basically carries the information about your phone number, and your carrier network. Each sim card has a "serial number" assigned to it that can not be altered, plus your telephone number programmed by your carrier. When the phone contacts your carrier, this information is check to see if it is valid, to allow you onto the network.

I actually have 4 cell phone's lieing around here. As I am a gadget junkie, I like to "keep up to date" with phones, and try to get the latest and greatest ect...
The Razr, a Motorola MPX-220 smartphone, a Audiovox smartphone, and a Samsung flip phone. I can put my sim card into any of those phones power it on and use it. All of these phones were purchased through my carrier, Cingular. What I can not do, is put the sim card into a friends phone, on a different wireless carrier and use it, UNLESS that phone is unlocked.

When I purchased my Razr, I wanted to xfer information from my last phone to this one. Without a sim card, most phones wll not allow you to do ANYTHING with the phone, except dial 911. I explained I wanted to xfer the information via bluetooth, and how my old phone would not let me into the phone book, if I had my only sim card in my new phone. The tech went into the back room, and brought me a "blank" sim card, that would allow me to do everything with the phone, except dial out of course.
JohnWPB said:
Actually, this is a topic I am quite versed on. So maby I can shed some light...
Great. So I have a couple of questions for you:

Do all GSM phones must use the a SIM card? I mean, are there GSM phones with no replaceable, embedded card? Like the cheapest models? Or, do GSM means SIM Card always?

Second, is Cingular the only major carrier using a GSM network in the US?
Thanks for that info. I bought a Razr on EBay for $139 and dropped in my son's sim card and it works just like his old phone.
Currently the only MAJOR providers that I know of in the US that are offering GMS are AT&T, T-Mobile, & Cingular. Sprint currently does not offer the service. There are however hundreds of smaller companies in the US that do provide GSM service.
HERE IS A PAGE that lists lots of the smaller companies.

All GSM (Global system for mobile communication) really is, is a standard that started in Europe in the early 90's to standardize cell phone communication. It is being adopted elsewhere in the world more and more as time goes on. Right now a GSM enabled phone will work in many Areas of just over 200 countries. With a GSM enabled phone, you are able to use the same phone here, then fly to Germany and make/receive calls, and not have to switch to another phone/provider. You will use a single phone, and the charges will appear on your normal cell phone bill. (I hope I never find out what International roaming charges for this are though!!!)

Although GSM and a Sim card are not dependent on each other, for say, Yes all GSM enabled phones that are being manufactured, do require a Sim card to work. This was done mostly as a security measure, as we know hardware can be hacked. Adding the sim card adds another layer of security, much as a card for a satellite receiver uses. In fact, many people are unaware, they are the EXACT same thing.

Sure a satellite card is bigger, but that’s only due to the fact that the card is trimmed down to just the chip, to make it small enough to fit in a cell phone. Have a look at the attached photo I took a few minutes ago; it is the card from my Direct TV Tivo, and the sim chip from my cell phone. (The blue chip is actually my cell phone’s sim card on top of the satellite’s card).


  • SimCard.jpg
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OH! On another note:

BraveSire Robin wrote:
(AT&T was bought out by Cingular).

That is true, and Cingular spent around 1 billion dollars converting the AT&T stores, kiosks ect over to Cingulars look, Plus a huge marketing campaign.

What some people don't know, is that AT&T just recently bought back Cingular, and it is estimated they will spend around 1.5 billion dollars to convert everything back! AT&T has said they will drop the cingular name, and the Cingular little "orange paint splotch looking guy" logo all together.

And we wonder why cell phone plans are so expensive!