iPhone is Cingular: How Do I Switch?

Steve Job’s keynote speech at Macworld has sent a flood of questions to our tipline asking for help switching to Cingular, the only carrier with the much-anticipated iPhone. The iPhone will ship in June, so you have several months to get ready for the switch, if that’s what you’re determined to do. Your immediate goal should be to get yourself on a month-to-month contract.

Bear in mind we are not advocating that you switch to Cingular, a service which has tendency to suck and hate its customers…

1) Do not sign a new contract. If you’re with another carrier, or you’re with Cingular but want an iPhone, the best thing to do is refuse to sign a new contract. You will go month-to-month and nothing bad will happen. You’ll keep your old phone, everything will be the same. Just say no!

2) If you just signed a new contract with whomever, and you are still in the “grace period” (typically 30 days) you can get out of your contract. Check with your provider.

3) Phone carriers entice you to sign contracts by providing you with free or discounted equipment. You can purchase a phone outright and activate it on a month-to-month basis. The best way to do this is not through a store associated with the phone company, but by buying a phone on Amazon.com or Ebay, etc. Stores associated with phone companies are in the business of selling 2 year contracts, not phones.

4) You do always have the option to cancel your current contract and pay the fees, or take a look at our canceling strategies below. There’s no “magic” way to get out of a contract, unfortunately. This is going to be a lot of work. If you’re determined to cancel, a good way to do it is by arguing that you can not get reliable service. Keep in mind that canceling without fees is very difficult. If you succeed, please tell us about it.

To sum up: Your number #1 priority if you want to switch to Cingular in June is to avoid signing a contract between now and then. If you are already on a contract, you will probably need to wait until that contract is up, then refuse to sign a new one. If you try to cancel your contract, be prepared for a fight.

If you are on a month-to-month basis now, do not just switch to Cingular and sign up for a contract. Wait, or activate your own phone with Cingular without signing a contract.

Cingular has confirmed that the iPhone will NOT be sold without a 2 year contract. If you have TMobile, you might be able to unlock your phone and activate it with Cingular, if you are not on a contract.

There has been some speculation that the iPhone will be able to be unlocked and used with T-Mobile. We can not confirm or deny this. Good luck! And remember not to sign a contract.—MEGHANN MARCO

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UPDATE: Cingular Confirms iPhone Will “Require” 2 Year Contract