My wife’s cell phone finally died and we called up our provider to see what options we had to get an replacement. Unfortunately, any new phone would require a new two year contract and to add misery to injury, her old plan would no longer be available and the new plan would go up $10/month in cost. Doing some math, $10/month x 24 months = $240 for 1 new phone = bad deal.

We were glancing through a Walgreens flyer and came across an advertisement for a Motorola C139 phone that seemed to offer the perfect solution: A cheap replacement ($19.99) phone which appeared to be GSM compatible.
We asked the clerk if the phone was GSM capable and he adamantly said, “No, that’s a prepaid cell phone and you need the prepaid cards.”

I had a feeling that the phone was GSM capable and we figured what the hell, we’d just lose $20 if it didn’t work. I took the phone home, took my wife’s SIM and plugged it in. No go, got an error message reading, “INVALID SIM”

I googled the net for some possible solutions and came across a link that offered a free download of some software that would allow you to completely wipe the phone and restore it to an original manufacturer condition. I ran the application (I did have to order a cable for $10 from somewhere else) and the phone was completely wiped! The pre-paid vendor’s logo was wiped and replaced with a cheerful Motorola Logo. I took the wife’s Sim card and put it in the phone and it worked perfectly!

I will likely go and buy a couple of more phones and wipe them to keep as spares in the event she loses or breaks one and I might even buy one for myself too! Before any of you question the legality of my action, I will simply refer you to this CNN article about the US Copyright office lifting restrictions on doing exactly what I just did…..

http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/11/23/digital.copyright.ap/index.html