SIM

The now Facebook-owned messaging service, WhatsApp has unveiled a new SIM deal in Germany. This prepaid SIM provides consumers with unlimited access to WhatsApp on top of agreed data limits. It's a milestone since this is the first time the popular service has partnered with carriers to sell a SIM package. If you're a massive fan of WhatsApp and use it on a daily basis, you may wish to read on and keep your eyes open for a similar deal in your region, should one be made available.

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Here’s a little secret that many of you will be interested in: AT&T has evidently relaxed their policy on SIM unlocking phones, allowing users to take their device on to other carriers. Of course one would think that would be normal, but here in the U.S., SIM unlocking is a hit or miss endeavor.

In our forums, quite a few owners of the Nokia Lumia 1020 have had success in purchasing the device, mostly from Microsoft Stores, and getting AT&T to give them unlock codes. Indeed, we can verify this as we too were just granted an unlock pass from AT&T, making our Lumia 1020 a full-fledged international phone.

Perhaps the bigger story though is that this device contains the same LTE bands that T-Mobile uses. While that was known already from Nokia’s specs, we’re not sure many of you know it (or believe it). That means not only can you use this phone on T-Mobile’s more cost efficient network, but you can get some fairly crazy speeds as well.

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Nokia updates two system apps for Lumia line

Nothing too huge to report here but since we have a lot of Lumia readers, we figured we’d mention it. Nokia updated two of their systems apps today for Windows Phone 8, including Access Point (for setting your SIM card and carrier settings) and Nokia Feedback (which allows you to answer occasional poll questions directly to Nokia about your phone).

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EE, the only UK carrier to launch 4G LTE services thus far, has unleashed its SIM-only plans. Pricing starts at £21 a month with a 500MB data allowance, and tops at £36 for a 5GB upgrade to further increase the capabilities of the 4G speeds. So are these prices any better than what's already available at the carrier?

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"I am not a number! I'm a free phone!"

Word on the street is that starting yesterday (October 8th), those of you who are on AT&T or at least have an AT&T Nokia Lumia 900 can now call with your International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number and get your unlock code. That would allow you toss in a T-Mobile SIM (or anyone else’s) and use the phone freely on any network.

We called and emailed AT&T on the matter and we can confirm that they are unlocking phones but…this is AT&T we’re dealing with and our experience was far from smooth...

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Nokia issued a statement challenging Apple's proposal to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) for a new SIM card standard, the 4FF, commonly called the nano-SIM.  The tiny nano-SIM, designed by Giesecke & Devrient, is Apple's attempt to define the future standard for SIM cards in Europe, and if the push succeeds, all other manufacturers will have to incorporate the design into their devices.  Nokia, Motorola and RIM have teamed up to submit an alternative proposal to ETSI and Nokia put out the statement to explain why Apple's just won't do.

Nokia's claim is that the Apple proposal fails to meet ETSI's prerequisite that the new design eliminate the possibility of getting stuck in a micro SIM slot, and thus avoiding damage to both the card and the device.  Because the nano-SIM is the same length and width of a micro SIM, that potential would still exist.  The other criticisms of the Giesecke & Devrient design are based on the fact that the card would require a tray that would slide into the device, much like Apple's current method of inserting SIM cards into their iPhone. 

Aside from the weak argument that a trayless SIM would be easier for end users to insert, Nokia contends that the need for a tray would increase the production cost of devices.  This is a minor deal when it comes to high-end devices, but potentially significant when trying to develop lower price point ones.  Furthermore, the statement says, that the tray design puts limitations on form factor design.  The Nokia/Motorola/RIM-proposed SIM is smaller and requires no tray, therefore opening the door to further miniaturization of future devices.

Nokia may have some legitimate gripes about the what Apple has submitted, especially if it does not meet some of the requirements set by ETSI.  Apple is sure to fire back in some fashion, though time may be running short, as the vote on the design could happen as early as next week.

Source: TheVerge; Photo: TheUnwired

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For those you bought a Samsung Focus S, you'll of course know it's SIM locked to the AT&T network. For those who travel abroad and don't want to rely on AT&T's roaming plans or maybe for those who want to just permanently use it overseas, you can now pay for a SIM unlock.

The service comes by way of 'Samsung IMEI Unlock' which takes payment via Paypal and SWReg and sends the code "nearly instantly". While prices for Samsung devices start at $20, the Focus S will hit your wallet for $29.75.

That's not exactly cheap but for the freedom of not being tied to AT&T, we suppose it's not a bad option. Of course you can always try and haggle with AT&T to do this for free, but last we check they like to have a six-month wait policy before conceding the code. So, options are nice to have.

Source: SamsungIMEIUnlock.com; Thanks, @djdurance, for the tip!

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Fix for Samsung Focus SIM/MMS trouble

Should you be experiencing issues with MMS on your Samsung Focus then this small fix may be just what you need. WPCentral Reader Seth has located a quick solution for his MMS problem, which occurred post-updating to Mango RTM (leaked ROM). He reported that the fix does indeed work and was tested on a Samsung Focus attached to AT&T.

Here are the steps one must take to greatness:

  1. Enter 40*047#3 in the diagnosis app.
  2. AutoSimSetting will be reported as now enabled, restart your device.

We're not currently aware of this fix working on the Omnia 7 handset or with unlocked devices. Let us know in the comments what outcome you get should you perform the above.

Source: XDA Developer Forum (post), thanks Seth for the tip!

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The Samsung Network Profile app, available in the Samsung Zone on the Marketplace, allows users to change between networks with settings automatically configured for data, MMS etc. as long as they're not currently in contract with a carrier.

We reported back in December that the app was updated and fixed unlocked issues users were experiencing. We've just got word the app has been updated again, but this time bringing a number of UK networks to the list:

  • O2 UK Postpay
  • O2 UK Prepay
  • Orange UK
  • T-Mobile
  • Virgin
  • Vodafone Contract
  • Tesco
  • Vodafone PAYG
  • BT Mobile
  • Asda
  • Vodafone IE
  • 02 IRL
  • Meteor
  • H3G IE
  • Tesco Mobile Ireland
  • Talk Mobile Contract
  • Talk Mobile PAYG

Do you use the Network Profile app, have you used any of the new networks added in?

Thanks for the tip David! 

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For those of us who may travel outside of the United States, taking the Samsung Focus with us to use on Europe's vast GSM network seems like a no-brainer. Of course, lets assume we're going for an extended time and/or just don't want to use AT&T's high-priced voice/data roaming--what do you do? You carrier unlock of course, enabling the use of non-AT&T SIM cards on the phone and you're in pre-paid GSM heaven.

Not so fast there buddy, says AT&T.

Evidently, AT&T has an exclusive deal on the Focus till, we hear, at least May 2011. What that means is if you call them, regardless of your sob story, they will not give you a SIM unlock code for your Samsung Focus.  Many have tried and as far as we can tell, none have succeeded.

What about the other route? Paying a third party for the database access, like cellunlocker.net who are charging a modest $4.99 for the code. Nope, won't work either.  In fact calling Samsung directly is even resulting in the run-around (though at least a few have succeeded). Unlocker sites will return with "not found in database" (true) and Samsung will point you back at AT&T. Pretty lame.

The only solution we heard about (and we confirm works) is FastGSM.com, who provide a software tool to do it. This process will set you back though about $20, which is hardly ideal but at least works. If you go this route, make sure you follow the video and not the software-tool's instructions. To verify your unlock status, follow these directions. To get an idea of what to expect, you can see the video after the break...

Anyone have other solutions that worked or advice? Share in comments.

More reading at XDA

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In the ongoing saga with certain Windows Phones not playing well when unlocked (specifically MMS issues), there was an official tool and an unofficial one. The former was Samsung's app located in their app store ("Samsung Zone") and it was evidently quite limited in function (going by the average rating of 1 star). Later an unofficial homebrew solution was produced though it required you to have developer access/jailbreak the device.

We then got word that Samsung was working on an official fix, allowing users of unlocked phones to reconfigure their device for other networks with a simple menu selection. That update has hit today (v1.9) and from early reports seems to work quite well, even allowing MMS on new networks. The app also goes pretty far in reminding you that if you are currently in a contract with a carrier this tool will not work, so be warned. Other than that, Samsung seems to be at parity now with HTC and LG in offering network reconfiguration tools for users. For that, we're quite happy.

Grab the program here on your phone via Zune Desktop.

Thanks, Philipp, for the tip and feedback!

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In a sort of follow up to our earlier story, about how MMS does not work if you switch SIM cards on some unlocked Windows Phones, Samsung responded in a Tweet on their policy.

Evidently, they say their phones are configured to work on a specfic networks and only those networks. So if you buy an unlocked/unsubsidized Samsung phone from some carrier, don't expect it to work on other networks. In other words: buyer beware.

That's a real shame for consumers and we're not sure why they would support being so carrier-locked. Perhaps they can share some more information on their decision and how they expect consumers to respond.

Source: Twitter; Thanks, Chris H., for the tip

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Oh Dell, the world is on your side: everyone wants a Dell Venue Pro and you have a unique chance here to really make a splash in the smartphone market. Too bad you can't seem to get this launch right. First there were delays, broken dates, mislabeled batteries, Wi-Fi issues and now we're hearing SIM card problems. They finally responded recently.

Issue is this: the few customers who had bought early "engineering" models are being called and told that the new replacements are available at the Microsoft stores. Upon exchanging and replacing the SIM, it turns out the Venue doesn't read them and errors out stating "Sim is invalid or not inserted". It's evidently not an isolated problem either:

Popped my SIM card in there and was faced with a SIM card error message. Having lots of phones I figured the card was not seated and opened it up and reseated it. Well to make a long story short.. I tried three different SIM cards in two other units and none of them would take the card. -Dan S

Going to XDA turns up more stories:

My brother's phone still works fine, but I rebooted my phone once and now my SIM won't be read. I've tried three different SIM cards and all won't read. -Arcarsenal

...same problem now that I have rebooted. The Sim can't be recognized anymore. -richlee111

And the same people witnessed multiple others in the store with the same problem. In the same thread, it is mentioned that Qisda is actually manufacturing the device. Looks like Dell has some calls to make. We still think the Venue Pro can make a solid phone, once these issues are sorted out. Lets hope that happens.

Thanks, Dan S., for the tip!

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We received an email asking about importing contacts, photos, and documents that are stored on a SIM card. Mike writes that he's using a Samsung Jack and wants to move to the LG Quantum.

My contacts are all on my sim card. My email and calendar are gmail/google, so that's not a concern. I have a windows live ID (xbox gaming) but not a hotmail email address. The stuff I'm concerned about transferring over are my sim card info (contacts), storage card info (mostly documents), text messages, videos, and photos.

For the photos, videos and documents our suggestion is to sync the Samsung Jack with your computer and then transfer the photos and videos through your Zune software. The easiest way to transfer the documents is via email or you could use Sharepoint or try this method.

The contacts is the simplest item on the SIM to transfer. After you plug in your SIM and get your Windows Phone 7 up and running, go into the Settings Menu. Swipe over to the Applications Page and down to the "People" settings. Here you will find a button labeled "import SIM contacts".

Thanks goes out to Mike for emailing us this question. If you have any questions about Windows Phone 7, feel free to send them to us via our contact form.

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