Cheapskate seeks Ericsson phones!
September 27, 2006 2:38 PM   Subscribe

I'm a big fan of the Ericsson interface, though my current phone (T637) is on its last legs. Sony has come out with a ton of great phones recently, all vast improvements on what I have, and almost none of which I afford. A few years ago, major wireless carriers could be counted on to heavily discount the newest latest freshest phones, especially Ericssons, and now only ONE carrier (Cingular) sells ANY of them, and they only have the two bottom-of-the-line models. Anyone have any advice or inside information before I bite the bullet and get the cheapo model?

The types of phones I've been lusting after:
k790a/k800i, w850i, k510i, etc.

The full story (including tangental rant):

Been "sitting on" my upgrade status with Cingular, not wanting to blow it on something unworthy and getting stuck with it for 2 years.

Yesterday, they release the "alright" w300i, a great price at $94 (+mail-in $75 Cingular bill-credit =$19) w/2-year contract. So I jump on it. And the online store is screwed up and won't take my order. And the customer-service folks tell me the online discount is not available by phone and I should try again tomorrow. Which I do, and find out that they've upped the price $20 during that time. And that they've removed a lot of the "stock" features from the phone for their sale version like the built-in memory card and headphones. Bleh.
(FYI: I called customer-service back and they won't honor yesterday's price)

Free of a contract, I checked other carriers, only to find out (as I stated above) that NO other US carrier sells ANY other Ericsson phones at all. Craigslist isn't quite doing it for me. Low-rent etailers or possibly-sketchy eBay vendors abound for some of my more-desired models, but they're still the difference between paying $19-$149 and $449-549. One I can currently afford, the other, I can't.

It's technically possible that Cingular or other carriers might start selling other SE models at some point (though customer service reps obviously don't have this information), but I've been waiting 2 years already and my phone is starting to fade.

So I guess the main question is: Do I go ahead and drop $114 (+fees & taxes, -mail-in rebate) on the so-so phone, or wait, or find some other way to get a better one?

Or, does anyone have any inside scoop as to whether any carriers are going to show Sony some love for the holidays, or whether they've been blackballed?
posted by stuckie to Technology (8 answers total)
I would avoid Sony Ericssons that have a "joystick"-style controller in the keypad, like the K510i or older K500i. Mine attracted fluff and stopped working properly a few months after I bought it.
posted by matthewr at 2:41 PM on September 27, 2006

I don't have any good advice but I just wanted to say that I'm totally with you stuckie: I love SE's interface. My last two phones have been SE's (T68 and T610) and I love them. I'm still clinging on to my T610.

I get phone envy when I travel to Asia and see all the snazzy phones that Sony Ericsson releases there. Grr.
posted by moxyberry at 2:56 PM on September 27, 2006

Best answer: Cingular roadmap, looks like a new walkman phone is coming...
posted by lovejones at 3:38 PM on September 27, 2006

Don't count on TMo to get SonyEricsson product any time soon. I don't know what the beef is, TMo is anti-SE. So I've been buying unlocked SE for years.

Cingular will eventually take the K790a but the K800i has euro 3G and 900Mhz instead of the 850Mhz so it won't be picked up in the US. If you stay with Cingular, 850Mhz is more important in smaller towns than it is on T-Mo.

I bought my K800i from and love it. The browser is fast and renders pages well but the RSS reader is fucking awesome. Oh, and you can talk to people.

The unlocked 790a doesn't seem to available yet anywhere. It needs a Canadian and a few more Latin American carrier before the costs come way down in price. I'm bleeding edge and bad with money so I always pay too much.

I HATE the moto and Nokia interface and do spend the $$$ to get SE. My work bought me a Moto Razr and I hate it. I used it just long enough to forward my calls to my SE.

If I were you and low on funds, I'd hold out for the new Walkman phone from Cingular's website. If you can. Otherwise, steal something and buy a K790/K800.
posted by birdherder at 4:19 PM on September 27, 2006

I used a T610 for 2 years but 'upgraded' (after a brief unsatisfactory experience with an 850i that I bought and resold on Ebay) about 7 months ago to a S-E 806i. That phone got a bit wet (bag got dunked while hiking a canyon in Italy) and the buttons went all loopy, so I've gone back to the T610 and I don't regret it one bit (apart from the waste of cash)...the T610 is a great phone - for 95% of what I need it to do it's just a much better piece of equipment - much better buttons, quality of materials and finish than either of those two newer models.
posted by Flashman at 4:25 PM on September 27, 2006

Response by poster: Sweet, lovejones! That's exactly the type of information I was hoping to get! None of my "dream" phones are on there, but at least now I know they're NOT going to be there anytime soon and and I can make the choice between the cheap flippie and what I'm assuming will be a slightly more modestly-priced w810i "candybar" with the slightly better camera.

Birdherder, do you have any information about whether or not Cingular is actually going to sell the k490a? That one might be worth waiting for, in my opinion, but lot of great phones have never been sold by the big boys.

Looking at the technical specs between the w300i and the w850i, it really looks like the main difference is the camera quality and the form-factor (and, bizarrely, support for Memory Stick Micro vs. Memory Stick Duo, which I don't really have much opinion about).

Well, that and the fact that this one's here now and relatively cheap, and the other one might be some extra cost & wait. (not that there's anything wrong with that)

Flashman, I am generally happy with my t637 (essentially a mini-upgrade from your 610 which I also had & loved before I lost in a Hawaiian windstorm - long story), and I will probably keep this one around for an emergency phone, considering how well it's served me so far, but the truth is, the reception could be better, and the phone DEFINITELY could be better, and I almost feel as though I'm "wasting credit" by sitting on a free upgrade for this long. Maybe it's just the consumerist in me...
posted by stuckie at 4:42 PM on September 27, 2006

Have you checked to see if any local resellers have the phones you're lusting for in stock, as opposed to going to Cingular (or T-Mobile, who the Sony GSM phones are compatible with as well) directly? Local resellers have more freedom to carry phones than you might expect.

When a local reseller sells a phone, they get a very substantial finder's fee from the carrier (often a couple of hundred dollars), and that's what drives the "free" or extremely low cost phones. There's nothing preventing a reseller from selling you an unlocked import phone compatible with the carrier's network at a discount.

I purchased my k750i (which I adore) from a local reseller back in April for $130 with a two-year plan at the same time all of the sketchy e-tailers had them for a minimum of $299. The local reseller special ordered the phone from their distributor overseas, got it at wholesale, programmed the SIM card, and that was that.

I found my local reseller on Craigslist, and I went to "check out" the place before I bought because I thought it was too good to be true. They specialized in imports, they had many import models in stock and on the shelves, and they turned out to be legit. They one I went to is currently selling the K510i for free with service, although the new fancy K790a commands $243 with service.

If you can't find a local reseller on Craigslist, call around to the resellers and ask if they stock the phone you're looking for or if they carry "import phones." As long as you're in a major metro area, I'll bet you'll find one that will have it with a bit of searching.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 4:44 PM on September 27, 2006

Hello fellow T637er!

Like you, I've been waiting for Cingular to pick up the new SE models. If, like me, you're interested in the W810, word is spreading that it'll be out in a week or two. My contract just ended so this might be the perfect storm (if it actually comes out this time). Rumor is $200-$50 rebate w/ two-year contact.
posted by 7878ponce at 4:23 PM on September 28, 2006

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