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GSM in a Week

I stopped in at a Cingular store today to see what new phones were available. The answer: none. My Motorola v60t is still quite nice in comparison to the "lineup" of TDMA phones that Cingular tries to push on people. It would have been a fruitless trip had I not noticed the eight or ten new phones on the back counter, including some of the Sony-Ericsson phones (like the T610).

I asked the manager why he had those phones (they ain't TDMA!) and he said "we'll be GSM next Tuesday." I asked if he had any phones in (I'd buy one!) and he said "just these dummy phones for now." I asked if they were sharing T-Mobile's network (I'd heard that previously), and the manager emphatically denied that they would be sharing. He said "T-Mobile uses GSM 1900, and we're using the better 850 standard. Your coverage will be as good or better than it currently is on our TDMA network."

I called a few other places later to corroborate this guy's testimony (he's the manager of a Cingular store, he should know what he's saying), and got varied responses. One store told me December 14 (that's more than a week, indeed!), and a few others told me "about three weeks." Hrmph.

Now I've got more questions than I had before, the biggest of which is "which phone do I get?" I liked the T610, but you can learn the reasons why I disliked it as well (the screen sucked, primarily). I have never had a Nokia. I have liked my Motorolas. I want Bluetooth. I don't care if I can surf the web. I don't care if it's a flip or a non-flip phone. I want voice dialing. I want polyphonic ringtones. Uhhh… That's all I can think of now. Which phone should I get?

27 Responses to "GSM in a Week"

  1. Yeah, I would only get a cell phone for the bluetooth capability, it would be cool with Mac OS X, no? But, otherwise, I despise cell phones... so, maybe I can just get a bluetooth phone without the service?

  2. Well while I have the t68i and I love it, I have a couple friends who have the 610 which I've used. I like it a lot. The thing is that Nokia has only one or two phones with Bluetooth. They're nice, but they're also lacking in a couple of the other features that the SE's come with (like the ability to load other apps there, which IS useful unlike web browsing - which I also don't use). There are a couple Motorola phones which have bluetooth (a version of the v60 has bluetooth i know) so you might want to look into that as well. My suggestion is the t610. As for the screen in sunlight, if you just face it into the sun, it becomes readable. My t68 is the same way, and I've figured out the optimum angle in sunlight, and now I just hold it at that angle in sunlight without even thinking about it.

    Just some thoughts.

  3. FYI, the only place (that I know of) that Cingular shares T-Mobile's network is some parts of the northeast, as part of a cross-licensing deal established before Cingular started to convert the rest of their network to GSM. They may not even be doing that any more... I haven't really paid attention since I don't live there. 🙂

    At any rate, if you're looking to narrow down your choices I would recommend - they have a fairly nice and detailed search feature and are usually up to date with all the current phones. (For what it's worth, there seems to be only one GAIT phone with Bluetooth: the Ericsson T62u. If they don't force you to use a GAIT phone, you probably have a few more options.)

  4. The problem is that there is no GSM 850. There is 900, 1800, and 1900 that the T610 all work with.

    If the guy gets something like that wrong (it's probably listed on the sticker of the T610) then how can you trust anything else he says?

    The t68 gets horrible reception. I hope the T610 is different.

  5. Rosyna, you're incorrect about the 850. And Rob, since they had a T610, I don't think they're "making" you use GAIT, whatever that may be.

  6. You won't be able to use the T610--it's a world phone. The T616 is identical except it's made to work on the lame US networks (AKA Cingular and ATT Wireless).

    Having bluetooth as a must cuts out a lot of choices, especially if the T616 is out of the game. Personally I am not a big fan of Nokias... The OS seems week (that is unless it's a Symbian based Nokia). Motorola's have really gone downhill as well, they are really losing ground. However they have promised a new crop of phones for the holiday season. We can hope.

    here is a nice listing of bluetooth phones... The selection is still quite limited (most of the Bluetooth phones aren't using GSM 850 which unlike Rosyna said is a real thing :P).

    The Nokia 3650 has about everything (including a crap keypad), but you pay for it in size. It's a brick.

    I've heard some good things about the Siemens S56, but it will cost you a bundle since most stores will not have it.

    Finally, this may of interest, the Cingular GSM network took a huge hit this last weekend.

  7. I replaced my Ericsson T68 with a T610 and i've been very happy with it. It gets better reception than my T68, and yeah, the screen does suck in direct-sun situations, I find it an excellent successor to the T68.

    I don't know about Nokia. I originally had an 8290, but I know the 3650 has a much improved UI, plus it has bluetooth and a camera and polyphonic ringtones.

    Check out Leo Laporte's review of the 3650:

  8. I think I may try the T616 again… Hrm.

  9. Well, the "GSM 850" thing seems to be for analog dealies. It's made for TDMA towers that cannot/won't be upgraded to GSM for whatever reason. I'd hardly consider it real. Much like I wouldn't consider a Yikes G4 to be a real G4 nor would I consider the Kanga PowerBook a real G3. Sure it may have G4/G3 in the name but it was made as a stopgap solution. Same with this "GSM 850" it seems. And btw, TDMA is 800Mhz

  10. Totally agree, hence my "Crappy USA networks" verbiage. T-Mobile runs the only decent major GSM network in the states, and that's why it can offer the T610 and other modern phones.

  11. GSM 850 isn't real?

    Who cares what frequency is in use?

    GSM 850 is for markets where the carrier has 850MHz licenses instead of 1900MHz licenses. How does that make it real?

    TDMA is not strictly 800MHz either. TDMA can run at 800MHz or 1900MHz. It depends on what portion of the spectrum the carrier has a license for in a given market.

    It doesn't benefit anyone to spread this FUD.

  12. John Gales, the only difference between the 610 and 616 is that the 616 is rebranded. it's the branded version of the phone. as far as world phones vs Us phones...they all run on the GSM network. It's simply a matter of which bands. the 616 is the OEM model that sony cells, pre-locked to the carriers. the 610 which some carriers do carry, can also be locked. In fact, by flashing the firmware of the phone or by using some debug commands, you can unlock the bands. If you had T-Mobile, and had a t610, after being with them for 90 days if you call them up, they'll unlock the phone for you so that you can use it in another country. It's a software lock so that you can't get the phone from one carrier and just use it for another.

  13. I take it back. the t616 is a GSM 850 phone while the t610 is a GSM 900 phone. But 850 is only for upgraded towers. true GSM towers support 900 (like T-Mobile, and ATT)

  14. Vinay:

    Fair mistake on the T610/T616. It's confusing as hell for consumers. But you're right on one count, T-Mobile is nice about unlocking stuff. If you want to get a phone to unlock though, go for the T610 as it's a world phone (unless you want to go from Cingular to ATT Wireless).

    With all the GSM 850 bashing going around, I should point out that Sony Ericsson maintains the T616 has been "tuned" for the US GSM 850 networks. They say it sounds better than the T610 in the states due to the tuning. I haven't used both (only the T610), so I can't say more than what I've heard.

  15. I have the T-616, which is just a notch up (I cant see the difference either ;-p), all that sucks is the screen is really bad under sunlight but extra bright in darkness (in fact, you can use it as a flashlishg if its dark enough). I mean, it has bluetooth, cool ringtones (and remember... every cool midi file that you find could be a ringtone if you have internet in your phone), and a very cool camera! Rules!

  16. look for the motorola v600. it's the successor to the v60, and afaik, is GSM. It should be coming out sometime soon (they say second half on Mots site)

  17. But does the T610 get good reception? the T68m sucked for reception! the nokia 3650 has decent reception but the quality of the phone sucks. Bad volume unclear voice. The thing keeps crashing and will turn itself off and it doesn't have the phone features I need and love.

  18. T-Mobile only uses 1900MHz in the USA.

    ATT has both 1900 and 850MHz licenses.

    There are no 900MHz licensees in the USA. That portion of the spectrums has not been allocated to mobile communications in this country.

  19. The Motorola v600 looks awesome! I want that phone! Where, when, what!?!?! Oh dammit. I want it now. Or next Tuesday.

  20. You can still use the t610 with ATT though. I know this for a FACT. Besides the fact that I know people with the 610, the t68i uses the same frequencies as the 610. But yeah.

  21. Here's some more info on the v600.

    PhoneScoop is a rather slick site in terms of getting phone info. The search feature is particularly welcome.

    ...and yes, the v600 looks very sweet. Looks like Motorola's finally getting it in gear with regards to supporting power-features. Now, we just need Salling Clicker to support it...

  22. Vinay,

    You can use the t610 with ATT. However, it will be a useless brick in any market where ATT only has 850 MHz towers (or less coverage where has an 850 license and puts up 850 supplemental towers). These are starting to come online now. ATT has stopped/is stopping selling phones without 850 support.

  23. I really hate my t68i. The reception is horrible & I usually can't use it at all indoors.

    I use AT&T Wireless & I'm looking for a different phone now. I absolutely MUST have one with bluetooth so I can sync it with my PowerBook.

  24. A week ago I wrote about how Cingular would be GSM in a week where I live. Good thing, too, as I just snapped the...

  25. I thought the SE T610 works on 900/1800/1900MHZ GSM networks. And the T616 works on 850/1800/1900MHZ GSM. In the US it would be better to get the T616 since it covers the 850MHZ and 1900MHZ spectrum for GSM. While the T610 covers the 900/1800 which is European and Asian GSm frequencies and in addition to the 1900MHZ for the USA. Why the T616? As you notice for T-Mobile's coverage area (since they ONLY deal with GSm 1900) it's pretty small nationwide. And now we have AT&T and Cingulair convertering their TDMA networks (which mostly are in the 850mhz range) into gsm, you'll eventually have more gsm coverage in the north americas (since you can access both the 850mhz and 1900mhz range. Currently most of the GSm in north america is in the 1900mhz range. ATT, Cingulair, and t-mobile have towers in the 1900mhz, but when att and cingulair converts their tdma you'll have spots where they only have gsm850 coverage if they don't have licenses in the 1900 frequencies. For an example of this look at the cingulair covarege area, and there are spots where you need the dual gsm frequency phones in the cntral US.

  26. AT&T having both 850Mhz and 1900Mhz licenses in the U.S. is a royal pain if you have a 3650 (I do). It's a "tri-band world phone" but that means 900/1800/1900. ATT has a *few* 1900 towers around my town, but if I get more than 15 miles from town... jack. Meanwhile, my wife's 3590 is 850/1900 and has great signal all the way out. Growlf. I was looking at the 3200 since it has a camera and does 850, but it lacks Bluetooth and its camera is low-res. Looks like I have to wait for the 6620.

  27. Hi,

    I want know about wheather 850Mhz can be changed to 900Mhz ,Because my place we have only 900Mhz.But i have 850Mhz how to solve this problem