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March 17, 2007 3:16 PM   Subscribe

Where can I get a good, used, Cingular-compatible phone online?

My gf and I have Ericsson z525a phones with Cingular. The reception is terrible. Way too soon in our contract to try to get an upgrade from them. We can't afford to buy two new phones outright. I am looking for suggestions for reputable sites for buying used Cingular phones online. (I'd love to hear models you like as well. Think simple, please. We're concerned with reception and ease of text messaging but nothing as serious as a Blackberry or anything. We're used to making due with regular ol' 1-9 keypad phones to text.) TIA.

PS Ebay intimidates me a bit because you have to watch it constantly and outbid other people and deal with Paypal, etc. Also my dad had an account there a few yrs ago and it was hacked into. Long story! Let's just say I'd prefer somewhere else.
posted by CwgrlUp to Technology (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Alas, eBay's probably your best option: just look for Buy It Now offers and reputable sellers. Have you spoken to Cingular customer service at all?

As for models, you can't get simpler than the Nokia 1100, though you have to be careful you're not getting a Tracfone model that's locked to their pre-paid network.

TigerDirect has a few unlocked refurb unlocked GSM phones, though I've heard a few horror stories about them re: customer service.
posted by holgate at 3:31 PM on March 17, 2007

Craigslist is always good for this kind of stuff. Little Rock's selection is a bit sparse, although there are others in AR. I don't know what part you're in, though.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:32 PM on March 17, 2007

For your location, eBay really is likely to be the best bet. I bought a used cellphone from this seller -- everything was in good working condition, exactly as described. He/she doesn't accept anything but PayPal, but there must be other sellers who take credit cards directly.

Like you, I wanted a good, basic phone and I got an LG vx4400 -- no camera, much less video, but it does do text-messaging. I paid $30 for the phone and $12 for shipping/handling. (I have Verizon, not Cingular, but you might be able to find the model unlocked... or unlock it yourself.) I've had it for over a year and it's just what I was looking for -- great reception, unfussy, good battery life.

As far as the bidding aggravation: You can use the "Buy It Now" option, as holgate suggested, or try eSnipe. You give them the item number and they post a winning bid (up to a maximum you set) a few seconds before the auction ends. No lurking at the computer, no competing with other buyers.

I'm sorry to hear about your dad's problem with eBay, and certainly any online transaction has risks. While I'm not a power-user by any means, I've never had a problem with eBay in the seven years I've had an account there. I have been subject to lots o' phishing via both eBay and PayPal, which seems more common but (fortunately) easier to thwart than hacking.

There's a lot of good info at the Anti-Phishing Working Group.
posted by vetiver at 4:28 PM on March 17, 2007

Here is a RAZR V3 new on Amazon for $.01 with a $100 rebate with Cingular plans. So you could get a couple new phones and $200 in theory.
posted by arruns at 4:56 PM on March 17, 2007

I have the same phone as you, and its been fine as far as RF goes. It's a great basic quad-band phone. It performed similarly to all my previous GSM phones. If you've got reception issues, another phone is most likely not going to help.

I've since upgraded to the Blackjack, but I still bring my old phone out when I'm going out drinking or exercising. I hear the RAZR might have slightly better RF, but in casual comparisons with friends, I did not notice the RAZR getting a weak signal any better.

Have you called Cingular and complained? Many times they can send an update to your phone that can cause it to increase the phone's transmit power for just these occasions.

Good luck, poor signal can be very frustrating!
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 6:04 PM on March 17, 2007

You may want to check out, it's a cell phone contract trading site, and many of the plans include the phone as well. You could probably pick up a phone for cheap, or trade into a different provider if the problem is Cingular's coverage in your area.

arruns, that Amazon price is only good if you're activating a new line or extending your contract, otherwise it's $250 more.
posted by bizwank at 6:54 PM on March 17, 2007

There's a "for sale" board on
posted by loiseau at 7:12 PM on March 17, 2007

Seconding ebay's "buy it now" option. The key thing you're looking for is an unlocked GSM phone that operates on the 850 band (850 is what most of cingular's network operates on). By definition, any quad-band phone will include 850. For tri-band or dual band phones, you'll have to check the description or ask the seller to make sure.

You could try google base, but a casual search shows that most phone's will cost you 80 dollars or so. Ebay's not much better, but you might find something for 40 dollars + shipping.

Also, if you haven't already, try comparing reception w/ friends who might have cingular as well. I found reports of other people who had reception problems with your model, but there's no guarantee a new phone will clear them up (but if you're in an urban's probably the phone).

As for phone recommendations, I'd go for something like this nokia. Basic features, good reception, easy to use, but it'll still cost you something like 85 + shipping.

Finally, one last option, try complaining to cingular. They might even offer to exchange your phone for a similar model. This isn't super likely, but it's worth a try.
posted by timelord at 7:47 PM on March 17, 2007

I can't vouch for the seller, but this looks promising.
posted by timelord at 7:49 PM on March 17, 2007

Harrass Cingular some more! - in our experience they respond quite well to persistent polite complaints, threats, requests and escalation. We've gotten them to let us upgrade early before.

You should at least check out the technical issues with them, I think Geckwoistmeinauto is very likely right, and it sucks to buy a new phone and find you still have the same problem as before.
posted by crabintheocean at 8:51 PM on March 17, 2007

perhaps a little sketchy, but it's worked for a couple people I know:

go to radio shack, or even a Cingular store, and get one of the pay-as-you-go phones. you can sign up for their service---it's pay-as-you-go, so you don't need to pay anything upfront, except the cost of the phone (which, depending on which one you get, should be around $50). When you get out of the store, put your old SIM card in your new phone, and you're good to go.

However, do not tell them this is your plan---Cingular's policy is that they can't sell it to you if you tell them you intend to do this. However, the idea did come from a Radio Shack salesman.
posted by FlyingMonkey at 12:31 AM on March 18, 2007

Harrass Cingular some more! - in our experience they respond quite well to persistent polite complaints, threats, requests and escalation. We've gotten them to let us upgrade early before.

In what way is a threat polite?
posted by secret about box at 3:00 AM on March 18, 2007

In what way is a threat polite?

If it's phrased as "Oh dear, well, I really don't think that I can afford any of these phones that you are offering me... so I think I'm going to have to cancel my service as soon as my contract is out and switch to X carrier, because they're offering such great deals. Thank you so much for your time, however."

Cue Sales Manager with deal.
posted by The Michael The at 6:58 AM on March 18, 2007

However, do not tell them this is your plan---Cingular's policy is that they can't sell it to you if you tell them you intend to do this. However, the idea did come from a Radio Shack salesman.

As someone who is currently sitting in a Cingular mall kiosk as I type this, I can tell you not to worry much about that. All Cingular prepaid phones will work with your normal contract sim card, and I'd be very surprised if someone refused to sell you a prepaid phone regardless of policy. I work for a dealer and certainly my company (and Radioshack) couldn't care less what you use the phone for. You can also get Cingular prepaids at Target or Walmart most of the time. Cheapest one I've seen is 20 dollars, oh, and I recommend this prepaid phone course of action to customers who broke their phone a month into their contract about 3 times a week or more.
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:09 AM on March 18, 2007

I have cingular and just got an unlocked C139 from ebay for about $35. You simply put your sim card in the phone and it works.

The phone has everything I need (texting and talking) and incredible battery life.

Just search ebay for "unlocked c139".
posted by null terminated at 11:09 AM on March 18, 2007

Didn't see your ebay comment--I used the "buy it now" feature as mentioned above.
posted by null terminated at 11:11 AM on March 18, 2007

I'd second the GoPhones. You can get a great deal ($18 new) on them at Walmart: Moto C139 Just swap out the new SIM with your old one and you'll be good to go.
posted by Aanidaani at 3:43 PM on March 18, 2007

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