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provobis

UNLOCK ANDROID HELP OR ADVICE

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provobis    0
provobis

A few months ago I purchased an Android smart phone Alcatel Dawn from Virgin Mobile after my VM "dumb phone" failed. I got it from Virgin because I had a large account balance there that I needed to use to buy another, so I needed to use that balance or otherwise lose it.  I can't recall for sure but I think I never saw purchase conditions(?) with regard to "account device limitations". From what I've been able to determine Virgin uses Sprint facilities (towers they say) and I cannot change to any other network such as Consumer Cellular because my Alcatel is LOCKED for at least a year (Virgin tells me again) before I can unlock it in order to change to a less costly network (Consumer Cellular which is HALF of what Sprint charges as well as having more reasonable account conditions).

Looking around on the internet concerning "HOW TO LEGALLY UNLOCK" A DEVICE I see there are several ways to do that both immediately or after that one year period, but I'm not at all sure if it's actually possible using the so called payed unlockers who say they can unlock my Android without damaging the Android hardware, software, or my credit rating by effectively refusing to pay Sprint any further for their towers access if I use an unlocker. I like the Alcatel Dawn smart phone and would like to keep it, not to mention I can't afford to chuck it and buy another from Consumer Cellular or someone else besides Virgin (who I will never go to again for any reason because I feel they virtually screwed me by locking me with a relatively high cost network provider). Virgin says they can't(?) unlock me anyway and Sprint won't answer my inquiries. I can assure them both they'll never again have my business no matter what kind of offers or discounts they have.

Will appreciate any good advice before Sprint bleeds what little money I have left, or before I simply have to close any current cell phone accounts because of depleted monies....both my wife an I are retired seniors on SS which is  our only income. Shame on VM and Sprint, no matter how cut throat the cell phone markets are is no reason to take this kind of advantage.

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tonybro    371
tonybro

This is a tricky one as the law in countries differs. In the EU a supplier can provide you with a locked (to their network) device but have to unlock it for a reasonable sum if asked. Most of the resellers now sell unlocked devices in the UK and just the carriers themselves maintaining the locked device system but it generally costs about £20 to get it unlocked.

The big issue in the US was the law in getting devices unlocked. A bill went through the Senate changing it so you could legally unlock but I think that was ultimately rescinded.

As we are predominantly a UK-based site, I'm not sure we can help further. Sorry

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neilm    851
neilm

Your situation is made more complex by the way the branding, marketing and contracts are handled. In USA, Virgin Mobile is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sprint and was previously Sprint's pre paid brand. Since 2015 Sprint has been winding down Virgin and retreating from the pre pay market which may be the cause of your contract difficulties.

Add to that the fact that Sprint and VM use the CDMA rather than GSM protocol and it gets more complicated. CDMA devices don't have a SIM card so effectively cannot be unlocked as the whole phone is locked to the host network. As a result, your Alcatel Dawn would not operate with another provider even if you could unlock it. 

Unless you can persuade them as a long term customer to release you from the terms of the contract, you may have to see it to its end then move providers.

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provobis    0
provobis
On 7/25/2017 at 10:20 AM, neilm said:

Your situation is made more complex by the way the branding, marketing and contracts are handled. In USA, Virgin Mobile is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sprint and was previously Sprint's pre paid brand. Since 2015 Sprint has been winding down Virgin and retreating from the pre pay market which may be the cause of your contract difficulties.

Add to that the fact that Sprint and VM use the CDMA rather than GSM protocol and it gets more complicated. CDMA devices don't have a SIM card so effectively cannot be unlocked as the whole phone is locked to the host network. As a result, your Alcatel Dawn would not operate with another provider even if you could unlock it. 

Unless you can persuade them as a long term customer to release you from the terms of the contract, you may have to see it to its end then move providers.

Thanks for your response. I'm not sure we're on the same page with regard to Sim cards & unlocking, though your references to CDMA, GSM, & release, etc are mostly accurate as far as I can tell but otherwise don't seem to check with what I was told by Virgin. I called VM to ask what could be done. They said the phone could be unlocked but it would have to be with Sprint's approval and release, and not before one year. So I contacted Sprint but never received an answer. I called VM back and was told basically the same thing as before but additionally that the Android phone could be unlocked for use with another SIM card (my android did come with a sim card) which is the reason I also contacted Consumer Cellular who sent me their sim card. CC said all I had to do was change sim cards to subscribe to their service. But when I tried that there was an error saying it could not be done. That was when I found out for sure the device would have to be unlocked for use with another network provider. It was then I began looking around for so called "payed" unlocking services for possible ways. As you must know such services "guarantee" software unlocking but not hardware changes, and I had seen that the so called locking by Sprint also might affect hardware which might nullify the device entirely. As far as I could tell at that point it should have been possible to unlock the Android but I did not know if the hardware which was also locked as it were, could be damaged by the software unlocking process. As another concern I didn't know if my credit rating could be damaged if I unlocked the device, thereby cancelling or otherwise denying Sprint monthly networking payment, though I can't ever remember agreeing to any subscription payment that was legal, and I've always felt that I was persuaded by VM to buy the Alcatel  with cash (account credit balance) without being informed about any so called Sprint obligation. Obviously I feel something's not right with this transaction and/or agreement if you will. So I wonder if there's anything I could appeal with the FCC, State's AG, etc.

I don't fully understand everything about the hardware issues, if the CDMA/GSM protocols are related to that, because if they are that could mean that the hardware will never be able to accommodate what is used and different at Consumer Cellular, and if so I consequently can never use CC after all no matter what I could unlock. But if it can be unlocked without hardware consequences maybe I should pay someone???

My wife and I are retired and have a limited income. I'm not sure we can continue to pay Sprint for another 9-10 months anyway, which is why I wanted to go to CC which is HALF what Sprint charges. Otherwise it might be more practical and sensible to just throw the Alcatel away and get another one from CC??? Under the circumstances that would actually save me considerable $$$ with Sprint.

Any thoughts, advice....anyone???

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neilm    851
neilm

Hi Provobis

As Tony said earlier, as a UK site we don't fully understand US products and services.

Having said that I think there are two issues for you to consider.

Maybe the CDMA/GSM thing is irrelevant in your case but Sprint have traditionally been a CDMA provider with the radio chip built into the phone. VM are wholly owned by Sprint. The Alcatel Dawn is a CDMA phone but also has a SIM card slot. Bottom line is that you can probably unlock the phone for a fee by paying either Sprint or an independent unlocker. 

But the main issue is contract obligations. If you have a contract with time remaining, then regardless of whether you unlock the phone you are still obligated to fulfill the contract. If you fail to complete the Sprint contract they could persue you for the money and could potentially affect your credit rating. 

Your first priority is to clarify your contract situation and if necessary query the terms of your contract. Only once Sprint have released you from the contract (by agreement or by you continuing to the end of the contract) can you consider moving to a different provider. 

The other provider you mention is being less than honest if they say you can simply move to them. It is true that if you unlock the phone, you would be able to access their service but this does not release you from the requirement to complete the Sprint/VM contract.

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