Monday 17 March 2014

The Pains of Unlocking my Mobile Phone

The situation
It was a technical weekend but not the one I had planned. After months of not being able to use my HTC One SV mobile phone for reasons beyond my control, I paid off the early termination fee to EE and decided to move the 3 (Hutchinson Whampoa) SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card I had in another old phone into this one.
I had two issues, the first was to get the phone unlocked and then have a standard SIM trimmed down to a micro-SIM so I could retain my number without having to go through hurdles of porting my number.
Unlocking thieves
A quick review of the unlocking options of mobile phone operators in the UK, showed the most expensive and outrageously sluggish to be the EE, T-Mobile & Orange group, charging £20.42 and taking up to 20 days.
The first corner shop unlocking service I visited could not unlock the phone, he suggested it would take him up to 2 hours for a £10 charge. I did not have 2 hours to spare.
Back at the EE shop in Manchester, after a good 30 minutes of the Customer Service personnel calling the main office, I was offered the worst deal ever.
Not a deal for a smile
I had to go on a Pay As You Go offer for at least 3 months before I could apply to unlock the phone at that outrageous cost. That would have been 4 months of waiting considering the deals they offer are nowhere as good as 3 Three deal that offered 3000 texts and 300 minutes plus all-you-can-eat data for just £15.
With EE, I was paying £44 a month, and whilst I had unlimited calls and 4G connectivity, the data package only offered 500MB after which I had to pay to remain connected. I used up my data allocation with days, it just was not a good deal in the long run apart from having a fancy phone.
I was advised to try a third-party unlocking service, but most shops had closed. However, before I returned home, I stopped at a 3 Three shop where I was told my standard SIM could be trimmed down to a micro-SIM.
PayPal fail
At home, I went online seeking information about unlocking my phone and happened upon the SIM Unlock website where for under €9.00 they had the information to unlock my phone.
Their payments were processed by PayPal where I realised that though PayPal is a global company, I could change my address from the Netherlands where I once lived to the United Kingdom where I now reside.
Apparently, due to banking regulations, this was not possible, it made you wonder what the European Union and the Common Market (European Single Market) was all about if simple things like that were not harmonised, the same goes for mobile telephony companies not crossing borders even though that have the same name.
Other mobile phone unlocking sites also used PayPal so the only option I had was to open a new PayPal account in the UK to pay for this service.
Stealing my own phone
Borrowing my flatmate’s micro-SIM, I obtained the unlocking code, and this was provided with 10 minutes of my paying for the service.
I however made the mistake of not disabling the AVG AntiVirus Anti-Theft of my phone and somewhat apparently forgetting the PIN code, all it was doing was taking pictures of me and sending emails claiming I had stolen my mobile phone.
Neither could I uninstall nor reset the password to access the mobile phone, in the end I had to do a hard factory reset by switching on the mobile phone holding down the volume down rocker button, so much for anti-theft. Not again.
Contact mismanagement
Having reset the phone, I installed the HTC Transfer Tool on my old HTC Sensation mobile phone an app that comes as standard on the HTC One SV mobile phone which I had upgraded to Android 4.2.2.
Then had to grapple with the unwieldy Google Contacts, duplicates and merges after hours made no difference to the mess it was. And though I could do some work on my laptop removing duplicates and merging accounts within Google Contacts, the solution came in Contacts Cleaner.
I asked the app to remove all Google Contacts that did not have a phone number from my mobile phone and that was over 3,500 records – Joy!
Like I said, this was not the technical weekend I had planned, but it was the most rewarding one to wade through all the intractable inscrutable issues to having a really good mobile phone working smartly to serve its outright owner.