My sister just gave me a T-Mobile Sparq Cell phone; it came with everything but a SIM card. I'd like to know what my options are, so here are some questions I hope T-D readers can answer -
Where are the best deals for SIM cards?
The box has a sticker for a discount plan, saying "Only at Walmart", so I need to know if T-Mobile phones sold at Walmart have any different setup and/or restrictions compared to those available elsewhere.
It's a T-Mobile "Monthly" unit, with various prepay options. Can it be unlocked, used for another carrier, etc? How's the T-Mobile network?
The display shows "01/01/2010 Emergency", which I assume is what you get without a sim card, but I'm curious: is the camera operational? Can I download images via the USB port? Is there any WiFi capability?
There's a card in the SIM slot, marked "T-Mobile", but I pushed it deeper into the slot when I tried to remove it, and I'm not sure if it's meant to stay, or if it's just a cover for the contacts. Should I leave it alone?
Is there any way to download the contact list via USB?
I have the exact same phone so I hope I can answer some of your questions.
Based on what you said in (4.) below, it sound like you already have a SIM card in the phone. It is white with a big red T on one side and brass colored contacts on the other side. If that is not a SIM card but some kind of packaging material, the SIM card should be in the box that it came in.
I don't know of any restrictions on Walmart phones.
In my area, (Central NJ) the T-Mobile network is not bad if you are outside your house. However, unlike AT&T, the T-Mobile network does not have 850 mhz frequency, only the higher ones. This means that without the lower frequency capability, it may not operate too well inside some buildings. For example, mine would not work in the basement where my office is. I did have T-Mobile send me the unlock instructions so that I could port it to AT&T but I later changed my mind and went with TracFone LG840 with AT&T SIM card. The Sparq is currently not in use.
You will also get the "Emergency" if you are too far from the T-Mobile transmitter or are sitting deep in your house where the phone cannot connect to the T-Mobile network. If there is no SIM card, you will also see a message "Invalid SIM - SIM Card unavailable". If you don't get that message, I think there is a SIM card installed but you are not making a connection with the T-Mobile network. It does not have WiFI which is why I switched to the LG840 (only sold by TracFone). You can down load images via the USB port where the phone appears as just another drive on your system. There is also software that you can download called Alcatel PC Suite from
The camera works.
Sounds to me like it is a valid SIM card that just cannot connect to the network because of your location. I'm guessing that once you get to a location where the phone can connect, it will take you through the activation process and assign you a telephone number. As I recall, the initial SIM card had $10 of credit on it. I set up an online account with T-Mobile and was able to add credit to me T-Mobile number with my credit card. I much preferred T-Mobile to AT&T except it would not work in the basement.
I am pretty sure there is but I never used it so can't tell you positively yes or no.