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Tip o' the Week: Unlocking Benefits

Thu Aug 28, 2008 - 2:06 PM EDT - By Brian Hart


If you've been around the block a few times and have purchased your fair share of Palm Treo phones over the years, you probably already know about the option you usually have of purchasing your Treo through your wireless carrier or directly from Palm. If you are willing to accept the traditional contract and bind yourself to your wireless provider, you can enjoy a discounted price for your phone via a carrier subsidy -- the wireless company will give you a discount on the phone, sometimes rather substantial or even free, to earn your business and keep you under contract long enough to eventually break even on the discount you received and then turn a tidy profit before the expiration of your contract. Then, once your contract is almost up, you will be enticed to upgrade to the latest, state-of-the-art phone, at a discounted price, and start the dance all over again.

If you opt to fork out the big bucks and buy directly from Palm, you can avoid entering carrier contracts and use your Treo or Centro on the carrier of your choice, provided it's a GSM carrier. In effect, you buy your Palm at an unsubsidized price, but enjoy the freedom of no contracts -- you are free to roam, if you will.

What if you just recently learned of a brand-spankin'-new phone about to be released and you are already salivating over it (let's call it the Treo Pro), and right now you are stuck with your AT&T-branded Treo 750? This new-fangled phone, a shiny black beauty, will first sell for an unsubsidized price directly from Palm, so even if you are eligible for an upgrade with AT&T, there's no word yet that you can get the Treo Pro through AT&T and therefore you'll be handing over an expected $549 to Palm.

Even though you can't yet expect a subsidized price for the Pro, you can offset your financial pain by selling that good 'ol Treo 750 you've been using. Before you throw it on eBay, though, I recommend you get the phone unlocked first. Why unlock the phone? Glad you asked. Unlocking your Treo before you sell can make the phone more widely appealing and command a higher price for the following reasons:

  1. An unlocked Treo 750 can be used on any GSM network.
  2. Unlocked phones require no carrier contracts - perfect for the person that wants to upgrade or needs to replace a lost, broken or stolen phone without the contract.
  3. Some people want to upgrade their phone but are not yet eligible for the upgrade; an unlocked phone may still be less expensive for them than having to buy a new phone from their carrier at an unsubsidized price.

There are a couple ways to unlock your phone. There are numerous services online that will accept a nominal fee and email you an unlock code. Just Google this topic and a plethora of sites will be at your disposal. Or, you can pick up the phone and call your carrier. In my case, I have called AT&T in the past and requested an unlock code for my phone. If asked for an explanation, I just tell them that I plan on traveling abroad (someday I will; I'm just not sure on the timing). Quite frankly, it's none of their business why you want the unlock code. Just be firm with them -- sometimes it depends on the person you get on the phone, and if you get an uncooperative representative, just hang up and call again. Usually they will email an unlock code to you within a couple days.

That's it for this week's Tip. If you are a developer with some helpful and/or fun software or if you have a Tip that you wish to pass on to the rest of the community, just email me at: [email protected]. Tune in next week for another Tip!

Disclaimer: Tip o' the Week makes no guarantee, express or implied, that any tip found herein will be new or particularly useful to the reader (and we can't be held responsible for any cranky AT&T reps you may get on the phone -- if asked, I never gave you this Tip. This Tip never happened).

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