Last October I was lucky enough to get my paws on the first-ever Android smartphone, the HTC G1, and review it for Lifehacker the day it was released to the public. I'd had the phone for only a week to do my review, but in the process I fell in love with Android and its available applications, even at that early stage.
Still, with 14 months left on my iPhone's two-year contract with AT&T, I didn't want to pay a termination fee to switch to a new phone on a different carrier. But my Android lust grew deeper, so I took the plunge and tried unlocking a G1 to work with my iPhone's AT&T SIM card. I got a G1 from a friend for a decent price, paid 25 bucks for an unlock code, and it worked! No need to leave AT&T, but I still get Android goodness. If you're interested in doing the same, here's how I did it.
What You'll Need
- An HTC G1 (aka HTC Dream) phone running Android
- $25 and a PayPal account
- A working iPhone (mine was first-gen,
3G's should work tooUpdate: A reader says "I am pretty sure that T-mobile’s 3G network is on different frequencies than AT&T, so it is not possible to access AT&T 3G network with the G1, only edge." I haven't verified this firsthand.)
- A paper clip
How to Unlock the G1
- Head over to the Unlock T-Mobile G1 web site and click Order Now.
- Determine your G1's IMEI number. Find it in one of three places:
- On the G1 box's serial number sticker
- Behind the G1's battery (turn the phone off, snap the back cover off, and remove the battery and you'll see it)
- By dialing *#06# on the phone
- Enter the IMEI into your order at the Unlock T-Mobile G1 site. Don't screw it up. Pay for your unlock code at the site (they take PayPal), and wait about 10 minutes to get your code via email.
- While you wait for your unlock code, take out a paper clip and bend it. Insert it into the little hole at the top of your iPhone and pull out the iPhone's SIM card, as pictured.
- Pop the SIM out of the iPhone's little holding tray. Snap the back off the G1 phone, pull out the battery, and insert your iPhone SIM into the slot, as shown.
Replace the battery and back cover, and turn on the G1.
- This is the moment of truth. The G1 will prompt you for the "SIM network unlock PIN." Very carefully enter the unlock code that arrives via email. Double-check it three times to make sure you entered in correctly, and tap the "Unlock" button. If all goes well, you'll get a "Network unlock successful" message.
- Now, if you've got a never-before-used G1 like I did, it will prompt you to enter your Google account credentials, and you'll see bars but no "E" icon indicating that you're on the AT&T Edge network. That's because you're not, and signing into Google will not work. First you've got to configure the AT&T APN (Access Point Network) settings. To do so, press the menu button, and tap the APN Settings button. Then hit menu again, and tap "New APN," as shown.
- Enter AT&T's network details. They are:
Proxy: leave blank
Port: leave blank
Server: leave blank
MMS Proxy: wireless.cingular.com
MMS Port: 80
APN Type: leave blank
When you're done, press the menu button, then tap "Save APN."
At this point, with the iPhone SIM in the G1, you'll connect to the AT&T network and you're good to go!
Once you've got Android up and running, go ahead and start installing cool apps from the Android Market and customizing the phone to your liking.