Droid X upgrade?
July 7, 2010 12:25 PM   Subscribe

So I want a Droid X, but my phone and data plan setup is a bit wonky...

Before the beautiful Alltel was sucked into the monster that is Verizon, I was an Alltel customer on a month-to-month plan. Because I was getting unlimited data on my plan, I opted to hook myself to a 1-year contract so that I would get grandfathered in once Verizon bought up Alltel a week later since every phone and in-person rep I talked to said that Verizon would axe unlimited data plans unless you were on a contract prior to the takeover. (Not sure if this matters since I'm long past my contract expiring, but I included the background for the sake of clarity.)

During the signup procedure, I bought a new smartphone (HTC Touch Pro) and found out from the rep that my account had somehow been "glitched" so that I wasn't paying the $30 or so per month that they wanted for a data plan. I'm pretty sure this was because I had gotten my first smartphone back long enough that it had been included and *somehow* my account had just kept that feature.

Anyway, I'm looking at the Droid X with a gleam in my eyes, but I don't want to walk into a Verizon store and buy one and have the rep decide that they need to alter my plan by sticking me the $30/month for a data plan, so what I'm trying to find out is the following:

If I purchase the Droid X online with or without a 2-year plan and have it shipped to me for me to activate, I'm guessing that I'll bypass that whole "data plan charge" scenario that I'd face by calling or going into a store. What are your thoughts on this? I'd really like to get a Droid X, but I'm happier keeping my current phone if I don't have to pay that extra $30/month.

Please don't reply if you're going to lecture me on the "honesty" of telling them about that charge. My account was set up that way and I feel zero guilt about it since that's how things were originally set up when I bought my first smartphone.

(Anon to protect me, obviously)

tl;dr version:
My smartphone's data plan is glitched or grandfathered in a way so that I get free data when in reality verizon probably thinks I should be paying for it. If I get a new Droid X online will they catch on to this like I'm sure they would in the store? I really want a Droid X but I'll stick with my HTC Touch Pro if it means I might have to pay that $30/month if I upgrade.

Thanks all!
posted by anonymous to Technology (4 answers total)
Verizon, along with Sprint, is a CDMA company, unlike the increasingly global GSM standard (which T-Mobile and AT&T use). GSM requires a SIM card, which you can switch between any unlocked phone.

Unfortunately, it's not that easy with CDMA. You'll have to clone your current phone's ESN to your new phone. The ESN is the unique number your phone has that the network uses to identify a phone as your phone and your account. Your new phone will have a different, unique ESN that would require registration/activation with Verizon to use as-is. Cloning the ESN from old phone to new phone will allow you to use the new phone on your account without Verizon being involved because, as far as the network is concerned, it's identified as your phone. This is pretty advanced cell hackery. The search terms you'll want to use are some combination of verizon, "droid x", clone, esn. Definitely do the research first to see if it's possible before you go and order a phone.
posted by 6550 at 12:52 PM on July 7, 2010

Oh, throw cdma in as one of the search terms as well.
posted by 6550 at 12:53 PM on July 7, 2010

Disclaimer: I'm speaking as a former Alltel agent who was working at the beginning of Verizon's acquisition, so things may be different now.

If you're purchasing the phone without a new contract there's no real reason for the agent to even look at your contract unless the phone requires a feature (usually a data plan) that the original contract doesn't offer. Switching the ESM requires account verification but I don't think I ever looked at the actual contract beyond customer verification (name, address, last four of the SSN) unless the customer requested it. Because you already have some sort of data plan, whether or not you're paying for it, the activation shouldn't be a problem and the agent won't even know the difference. What you need to worry about is if the phone won't activate on your contract because you don't have data plan.

My recommendation is if you plan to do it yourself then make sure you buy the Droid from a place you can return it to in case you can't activate it without a "real" data plan. Really, there's no reason why you can't walk into a Verizon store and, if the agent can't activate it for you, feigning ignorance on your lack of data plan and requesting no changes be made to your contract and walking out without the phone. As long as you insist that no changes be made to your contract you should be fine.
posted by semp at 12:58 PM on July 7, 2010

I work for Verizon Wireless. Not that that makes me an expert on this, but basically, there are a couple of ways to try and accomplish this.

The ESN Cloning mentioned by 6550. This is a technical way around the issue, but this qualifies as elite HAX0R level software/hardware manipulation.

Your best chance is if you pay full price outright for the phone and activate it to your account by calling in to customer service. If you buy the phone online, Verizon will notate the ESN, and automagically adjust your plan with appropriate data feature when you activate your device by dialing *228 when it arrives. Go to a brick and mortar location and buy one.

Basically, you have to hope that the customer service person doesn't care and change your plan. As far as I know, what you're trying to do is REALLY hard to accomplish. The ESN will probably flag the minute you activate it regardless of the method used unless you can find a way to clone the ESN. The biggest risk there is reduced phone functionality because the Touch Pro and Droid X won't have exactly the same feature set.
posted by Phoenix42 at 1:45 PM on July 7, 2010

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