Discusses all things Mac and Apple related.
Contact: Richard Corzo. Meets the second Monday of each month, 7:00
p.m. at the DACS Resource Center.
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News and Notes
By Richard Corzo
February’s meeting was dedicated to unlocking an iPhone and switching to a different carrier.
Unlocking a phone allows you to switch to a different carrier, or to buy a prepaid SIM to save money on phone calls when you are traveling overseas. To unlock a phone you need to have satisfied the contract on a subsidized phone, usually two years. On AT&T you can fill out an online request form here: https://www.att.com/deviceunlock/. Upon approval you’ll be sent an e-mail with instructions. The process involves backing up your phone, which can be done more quickly by connecting to iTunes rather than using iCloud. Then you can erase the contents of the phone by opening Settings > General > Reset and selecting Erase All Content and Settings. This takes just a couple of minutes. The final step is to restore from the backup, which takes much longer, depending on how much you had stored on the phone. You are supposed to get a message in iTunes that your phone is now unlocked, but I never did.
To confirm whether my iPhone was successfully unlocked, I went to the T-Mobile store. They popped in a T-Mobile SIM and confirmed that my iPhone was indeed unlocked. Then I had to make a decision as to whether I would leave AT&T and try T-Mobile. Their pricing was more attractive but I couldn’t be sure how happy I would be with their coverage without trying it. I decided to take a chance and was able to get my number transferred over in less than an hour’s time. They told me that was unusually fast.
If you go into Settings > About, you’ll get a message that there is a carrier update available, and the update allows text messaging and other things to work properly.
When I got home, I found I was able to make a voice call with no problem, but the data connection with my iPhone 4S was very slow, showing E for EDGE rather than 3G or 4G. This isn’t a real problem for me at home, as I’m able to use my home Wi-Fi network. But I was curious as to why my iPad Air on T-Mobile was seeing a fast 4G connection at home. My research turned up the fact that, although my older iPhone 4S was a quad-band, it did not support the less common 1700 MHz frequency that T-Mobile still uses on some of its cell towers. As a result in some of the more remote places I visited, I would only get a slow EDGE connection but in more populated areas, such as where I work, I was getting a fine “4G” connection.
Time will tell if I am happy enough to stay with my new carrier. I would expect improvements to come both from T-Mobile continuing to upgrade their network, and when I eventually replace my iPhone with a new model.