There's been much excitement about Google's new Nexus One, touted by many as the iPhone-killer. Enthusiasts say the sleek device combines much of the iPhone's coolness factor without tying the consumer to a single carrier (the iPhone works only on AT&T Wireless in the U.S.).
Eager to see this latest marvel, we went to Google.com/phone yesterday to explore the options, which boiled down to three:
1.) Pay $529. Buy the "unlocked" Nexus One phone and insert the SIM card from your existing phone.
2.) Pay $179+. Buy the T-Mobile version of the Nexus One on a new two-year contract with all of the usual ifs, ands and buts. Of course, existing T-Mobile customers "may qualify for upgrade pricing," the site informs us.
3.) Wait. Want to use the Nexus One with Verizon Wireless. Just wait, a Verizon version is "coming soon," we're told.
Now, here at ConsumerAffairs.com, we have cell phones strewn about the way newspaper offices used to have paper piled up everywhere. We have the new Google-powered Android from Sprint, numerous Blackberries from Verizon and AT&T and several plain vanilla AT&T; phones from various manufacturers.
Some of us routinely carry two phones, not because we're particularly geeky but because we've learned the hard way that Verizon works in West Los Angeles while AT&T; often doesn't. On the other hand, AT&T; works better in much of the Washington, D.C., area. Sprint is good in cities, but generally spotty in the boondocks.
With all these phones, the heat is always on from the powers that be to hold down cell phone spending. We occasionally hear raised voices sputtering something like, "If I get one more $69.99 cell phone bill, I'm going to ..."
This is a long way of saying that we were thrilled at the thought of getting the unlocked Nexus One and using it on one of our existing accounts. We placed the order, all $529 worth, Tuesday night and the jolly FedEx man dropped it off before lunch Wednesday. Someone even engraved our name on the back.
So far, so good.
Whistling a merry tune, we plopped a Verizon Blackberry down on the desk, pried the back off, yanked out the battery and went looking for the SIM card. Hmmm ... doesn't seem to be one.
A bit later, at the Verizon Wireless store, a technician looked at us quizically. "There's no SIM card in our phones," he said.
We returned to the office, cursing, as co-workers with AT&T; phones grabbed their handsets and scurried away.
Looking more closely at the Google store we discovered the paragraph which states:
"The currently available Nexus One device is unlocked and will recognize SIM cards from any mobile service provider using the GSM standard, but is incompatible with the frequency band used by the AT&T; and Rogers networks for 3G data ... Additionally, the Nexus One is incompatible with CDMA networks such as Verizon and Sprint.
Let's see. An "unlocked" phone that won't work with Verizon, AT&T; or Sprint -- the #1, 2 and 3 wireless carriers. That leaves us with -- you're right! -- T-Mobile.
We wobbled over to the T-Mobile page, where it appears that a plan with unlimited usage and no annual contract will cost us about, oh, $79.99.
Our current plan of action is to find a way to bury that $79.99 in some section of the budget that won't be unearthed for another year or two, giving us time to age sufficiently so that we can retire without being dismembered by the front office pennypinchers.
This, of course, requires a trip to the T-Mobile store and, having spent most of the afternoon fooling with this, traffic has worked its way up to gridlock, meaning it will be at least tomorrow before we're able to give you a realistic review of this possibly nifty little gadget.