Monday, October 20, 2008

Switching my iPhone to T-Mobile Pay-As-You-Go

I went down to the T-Mobile store and bought a GSM chip for my wife. At the same time, I got one for myself, intending to get a new quad-band phone off of Craigslist and turning off my AT&T service on my iPhone.

But this weekend, I went on a road trip with my kids. I wanted to find ice cream, click click I found it using the Google Maps app on my iPhone. I got lost - click click and I could find out where I was. I wanted to find a bank. Easy peasy. Now, how to get back home? Click click, slick slick.

So the thought of giving this all up when I turned off my service on my iPhone was sad, but at $60 a month I decided I would just have to let it go. But then last night a light bulb went off in my head - why not switch my iPhone over to T-Mobile? I heard it was possible, and even legal, although it makes the Gods at Apple and AT&T angry.

So, Googling around, lots of info, lots of it seeming not very trustworthy, and then I found this tutorial for using Pwnage with the 2.1 version of the iPhone OS. I was encouraged that engadget seems to endorse this tool. I tried it, and, very nice, very nice indeed! I was expecting a lot of command-line garbage with poor documentation, and this was an unexpected surprise of usability.

If you're ever tempted to shop around, I recommend Pwnage. Of course, there are risks. There is FUD around your iPhone getting bricked. I'm still unclear what happens when Apple delivers a new version of the iPhone OS or iTunes that could mess things up. But so far it's worked like a charm. When I finished the steps in the tutorial above, I had a jailbroken and unlocked iPhone. I plugged in my T-Mobile SIM chip (here's how you do that), and I was good to go.

Now this is cool. I am paying $7.00 a month instead of $60 month, and I have everything I had before, except visual voice mail (ah well). And still one device instead of two. I am a happy camper.

Jailbroken, BTW, means you can install apps from Cythia, rather than just the iPhone app store. This seems to include apps which for some reason or another are not approved for the app store. I haven't tried that much, but that seems like a nice side benefit.

UPDATE: Doh! T-Mobile doesn't have a data service. So I do lose my data features like Google Maps when I'm not connected to WiFi. Sigh, oh well. But still, I like it that I can use my iPhone for phone calls and not have to carry around two devices and keep contacts synched between them. Anybody know of a GSM plan that's pay-as-you-go and has data services? I thought not...


Lenny said...

heard that you can actually use a sidekick data plan where you pay per day, what plan are you on where you pay $7 per month, i am scheming a way to do an iphone on a pay-as-you go plan too since i work from home and am almost always on wifi

Unknown said...

It's $7 a month just because I use about 70 minute and I pay 10 cents a minute. If you buy $100 of air time, you pay 10 cents a minute. You need to do the math to see how much that will cost you, but probably a lot less than AT&T.