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Phones forum

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can all GSM phones be used with all GSM providers?

by mgh24 / December 15, 2008 8:51 AM PST

I want to find a cell phone that is wifi capable. Problem is I do not want to buy a data plan to go with it. So I am shopping to see what it would take to buy a phone, then go to a provider for a very basic voice plan.

Can I use any GSM phone with any GSM provider? Will any of the providers not activate a "smart" phone that I already have without a data plan? Verizon tells me flat out that I can not buy one of their wifi phones without also signing up for a data plan.

What kind of options do I have?

Thanks for any help.

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by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 15, 2008 11:50 AM PST

Find which band your target provider uses. GSM is on the 850 Mhz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and the 1900 Mhz frequencies. So if you find a 'quad band' phone then you're covered.

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Yes, Bob is correct, but...
by Pepe7 / December 16, 2008 2:35 PM PST

...keep in mind if you ever want to use ATT's 3G service and you have a T-Mobile 3G smartphone, it won't have the correct frequency bands (WCDMA 850/1900). (T-Mo uses 1700/2100) If you are dead set on only using wifi your options are between ATT & T-Mobiles offerings or something unlocked and compatible from elsewhere.

Can a friend currently under contract with either T-Mobile or ATT purchase a handset for you from the carrier(?) As a current ATT customer I upgraded to a Tilt (HTC 8925) and like you, primarily only use wifi. Go elsewhere (Newegg, Amazon, CTI Miami) and you'll likely be paying hundreds of dollars more for an unsubdized smartphone w/ wifi.

Let me know if this helps or if you still need more direction.


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thanks for the response
by mgh24 / December 17, 2008 11:27 AM PST

You lost me a little there.

Are you saying if someone else was able to buy the phone for me, AT&T would activate it for me without the data plan?
All I know for certain about AT&T is that they will not activate an iphone without a data plan.

I did find out today that T-Mobile has 3 wifi phones that I can get without the data plan. Of course I still have to sign up for some sort of voice plan.

Or are you talking of being able to get a phone for the wifi with no phone service at all?

Thanks for the help.

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Current customers sometimes have access to handset upgrades
by Pepe7 / December 18, 2008 2:32 AM PST

This would not require any commitment on your part w/ ATT. I bought a Tilt w/ wifi and threw in my ATT SIM card, without adding a data plan. iPhones are a different situation. Whether or not you actually use ATT's service once you acquire the compatible smartphone is up to you. T-Mo will sell you a SIM card/service on the spot but w/ ATT it's not always as easy (but still possible) depending on which sales channel you use. If you have more questions on this procedure of bringing in your own handset and then requesting a voice plan, head over to the att forum @

It's a very helpful place. Just do a search first(!)


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