What Is An "Unlocked" Treo 680?
Judging by the number of requests that I have received it appears that in both my posts about Choosing Your Next Treo and Treo Family Comparison Chart I may not have properly explained exactly what an “Unlocked Treo” means so…
When you purchase a Treo with or without a contract from your wireless carrier the Treo that you receive will in almost 100% of cases have a software “lock” that will not allow you to use that particular Treo with any other carrier. This “lock” will typically be in place for either the duration of your contract or until you request for your carrier to “unlock” your Treo – they may offer to do this for free or for a fee.
Carriers lock the Treo that you purchase because they often offer this smartphone to you at a subsidized price that is below the retail price and they naturally want to protect the investment that they are making by locking the device. For example, the Treo 650 retails for $549 but is offered at $249 with a 2 year contract by Cingular – thus saving you $300 but locking you into a contract to allow the carrier to recoup its investment.
Therefore, a locked Treo provided at a cheaper price by wireless carriers in return for a 1 or 2 year voice and/or data service commitment will appeal primarily to Treonauts who are looking to minimize the initial cost of their Treo purchase and are not so concerned about the contract aspect of it.
An “Unlocked Treo 680” on the other hand will appeal to a different set of Treonauts who are much less concerned about price and a lot more concerned about having the freedom to choose which specific carrier they would like to use. However, because in the US there are two competing wireless standards – GSM and CDMA – an unlocked GSM Treo will only work with a GSM carrier such as Cingular and T-Mobile (as well as over 100 GSM carriers worldwide) while an unlocked CDMA Treo will work only with a CDMA carrier such as Verizon or Sprint. (I know… it’s all a bit confusing…)
Most Treonauts prefer an Unlocked GSM Treo (53% of people stated that they would choose an Unlocked Treo 680 when it is released) because 1) it’s the only Treo smartphone that will work with Cingular and T-Mobile (since this carrier does not offer the Treo on a subsidized basis) 2) they can use it much more widely internationally thanks to the huge global footprint of GSM carriers and 3) they can easily change the SIM card to make use of cheaper local calling rates – for example using pre-paid SIM cards widely available in Europe and Asia. A CDMA Treo on the other hand can be used primarily only in North America and be used with only one carrier.
Assuming that you have finally decided that you’d like to purchase an Unlocked Treo there will be one last choice to consider – you can buy your Unlocked Treo new, refurbished or used… Palm offers a new GSM-only Unlocked Treo 650 for $549 while the Treonauts Accessories Shop offers the same but refurbished GSM Unlocked Treo 650 for $379.95 and a CDMA Unlocked Sprint Treo 650 for $329.95.
Additionally, Palm is expected to shortly begin selling an unlocked GSM version of its forthcoming Treo 680 for $399 (estimated) via its website.
Treonauts are always unlocking things…