| | 02-20-2013, 02:09 PM Thread Author #1
BB10 and Prepaid US Carriers - Our Experience thus far
Been lurking here since I got an 8900 and now we just got the Z10 for the wife so I've been breaking our silence and now I'd like to share our adventure starting up. I've placed this in the BB10 section instead of the Z10 section because I hope to capture some truths that may carry over to the Q10 as well. There have been 3 phases of adventure: Getting the phone, Unlocking the phone, getting service. Feel free to TLDR (Too Long, Didn't Read) this and skip to the summary of findings at the end. The length was inspired by the Crackberry review of the Z10.
Getting the Phone - Straightforward, we live in Michigan so it would have taken an hour or so to get to Windsor if there wasn't a snowstorm on the particular day we chose. I had called ahead and found most people to have the Z10 but would be unable to sell it outright without activating a contract and all were offering it at $650. I had read that Koodo (Telus Prepaid) was offering it at one time for $550 and I also read that you might be able to get them at Wal-Mart without a contract. Went to a mall, first kiosk was Koodo, they had the Z10, it was $550 and the gal couldn't find any reason not to sell it to us. We were even able to pay in USD because we hadn't seen currency exchange on the way over and my bank card was declined for some reason (perhaps because we just pulled $1000 out in cash we had some sort of lock on the account..*shrug*). Waved goodbye, hello Z10!
Unlocking the Phone - Having read Kevin's post on how to unlock and that they were all set for the big 3 Canadian carriers which included Telus/Koodo I thought I had planned properly, but when we got back across the border we tried to unlock it with crackberryunlocking.com and there was no Telus or Koodo options...crap. Turns out this particular set of carriers may have put some rules in place (probably to offset the $550 price) Went to a movie and forgot about it until Sunday when I checked again and it was back! Hurrah! Got the email, loaded the codes...fail. Apparently 20% of the codes for Telux/Koodo aren't worth a crap. Sent video proof of failure and got an immediate refund with the suggestion we could use the $150 option which gets the code directly from Blackberry instead of the carrier. I've never unlocked anything before so I tried cellphoneunlocker.net and they ended up sending me the same code so I sent them the same video I had taken for the first code and as of this writing it's been 48 hours and haven't heard anything from them regarding a refund. I may have just kissed that $25 goodbye, but I put in for the $150 code (which since we got the phone $100 off we're only really spending about $20 more than expected...no big deal). This came yesterday and it was 2 16 digit codes, the 2nd 16 digits was the original code I had received originally, so by inputting the first 16 digit code...viola!! Unlocked baby.
Getting Service - This is also our first foray into prepaid mobile, even internationally so I was admittedly a little intimidated. When the planning for this started back in January I had figured we'd do Straight Talk with AT&T but when I went to order it just before getting the phone only the T-Mobile SIM showed up on Straight Talk...turns out AT&T has cancelled ST starting Jan 31st or something...son of a. They would still honor old AT&T SIM's and Wal-Mart still had a few in their web store so I snatched it up. Since we had gotten the phone before the ST was scheduled to ship I also picked up a SImple Mobile SIM because it was available at the store for $10 and we wanted to have something available when the phone was ready and it was on Tmobile which we wanted to try as well (benefits of prepaid, trial and error). When I got the phone unlocked we had already gotten the ST SIM and got it activated no problem, phone read it no problem, but there was no data. No problem, it says here I just have to adjust the APN settings...wait, why are they greyed out? To the Crackberry forum...apparently Blackberry has decided that the APN settings are tied to the SIM card and it's up to the carrier to unlock these settings in the SIM before they can be altered. So for the AT&T ST SIM it the name read "Phone" instead of "att.mvno" so data would be a no go. *Sigh* It appears T-Mobile is the only option right now, and when putting in the Simple Mobile SIM the APN settings did change even though I didn't have it activated it even had a dropdown for all the network modes which was noticeably absent with the AT&T ST SIM. Interesting to note here the phone only polls the SIM card for new data on powerup, so even if you are careful and change SIM's with the battery tilted up but the phone powered nothing changes. Part of the reason I had hoped to use AT&T was for the coverage, and when looking at the Simple Mobile coverage map it looks terrible when the T-Mobile coverage map in the store looks fine. Come to find out they can't (Probably any MVNO can't?) roam from T-Mobile to AT&T networks, but if you go directly with T-Mobile you get free roaming. So this morning we went with just T-Mobile Prepaid, went into a store where the guys there started drooling over the phone and taking pictures of it because it was the first one they'd seen. The network came up immediately but no data...ruh ro raggy. I had learned through my previous working on the ST SIM that a reboot might be necessary, so I did that in store just in case. After a reboot everything came up even 4g data, and life was good. No word yet from ST if I can get credit for this month's worth of service so I don't waste another $50 during this process, but if I can't, oh well. All is well in the world.
So yeah, there's our story. Overall beware of Telus/Koodo failure rates for unlocking, AT&T prepaid data doesn't work because you can't change the APN, and if you use a MVNO of T-Mobile you probably won't get to roam. And if you don't need many minutes, you can get Unlimited Texts and 5gb of data with 100 talk minutes for $30!! We went with the $50 Unlimited Talk, Unlimited Text and 100mB of 4G data to start because she's normally at home on Wifi and if you go over 100mB you just get throttled, you can still use it and she's coming from Sprint so she's used to slow data so she probably won't notice. If she does we'll just switch to the 2gB plan for $10 more.