I Have To Sign A 2-Year Contract To Put A SIM In My Outdated Android Tablet?!

In the life of a human, a few years isn’t very long at all. In the life of an electronic device, it’s… well, it’s an entire lifetime. Literally. Still, Matt doesn’t understand why his Android tablet, which was manufactured a few years ago, can’t just have a T-Mobile SIM slapped on it so he can use it on a mobile network. He’s been using it on wifi for years, but wants to be all portable, as well as update the OS. This would require a two-year T-Mobile contract. Two years?

A few years back I purchased a Dell Streak 7 as a trial into the world of android and tablets. This has become a nightmare.

My laptop had just finally crapped out and I thought a tablet would be a great replacement as all I did was fart around on the internet. My wife and I had t-mobile servcie for years and were happy and satisfied with the company. Being new to tablets and android, I didn’t think I would need/want mobile service since wifi was everywhere. I decided to play it safe just in case I ever wanted service to buy one manufactured for such a purpose.

Fast forward to today. Dell doesn’t make it and hasn’t for a while. T-mobile doesn’t support it. I am 3 versions of the o/s behind and cannot update to honeycomb or support flash. The only way I can get an unlock code, so I can update the o/s is to sign a 2 year service contract when I paid full retail but the device isn’t supported any way. Any thoughts or advice?

If it’s out of warranty and not much fun to use otherwise, you don’t have much of a choice: you’re going to have to root the device to upgrade the operating system. For the best method to do that, as well as a way to get some mobile Internets into the tablet, we defer to the wisdom of the Consumerist Hive Mind.


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  1. KillerBee says:

    Piece of cake. Do it immediately and don’t look back.

    • luxosaucer13 says:

      That and I’d check with Straight Talk to see if they would sell you a SIM, just for a tablet. I know that ST sells SIMs for unlocked GSM phones, but I dunno about tablets. It doesn’t hurt to ask, and they’d run off of AT&T’s network, which, quite frankly, has far better coverage than T-Mobile.

      • Traveller says:

        If the OP roots the Streak 7 as KillerBee recommends, he can run ICS on his device without trouble. Running a Straight Talk SIM on the Streak 7 is no problem as I use one in my Streak 5, which was marketed as a tablet, but is actually a large-screen smartphone from a time before the Samsung Galaxy Note was cool. :)

    • evilpete says:


      Root -> flash a new recovery-> boot recovery-> flash new osdated OS

  2. scoutermac says:

    This just proves the 2-year contracts are NOT to pay for the device.

    • sagodjur1 says:

      Everyone knows that it’s to pay for hookers and blow.

    • Michael Belisle says:

      It all depends. At this point in time, T-Mobile is doing 2-year contracts (even on their “BYO Device” plans) because they need customers badly.

      • Michael Belisle says:

        T-Mobile is also pretty upfront about how much you pay for your subsidy. Pay full price (or use your own device), and you get a lower price on the monthly rate that usually saves you money in the long run. But you still have a 2-year contract.

  3. dolemite says:

    So..he owns it, yet would have to pay full monthly fees under a 2 year contract to subsidize…what? Our mobile phone system in America is really messed up.

    • webweazel says:

      Years ago, we moved to a different state and went to a Sprint store to change the phone number to a local one. The guy said he couldn’t change the number without signing us up for a new 2-year contract. I’m not ashamed to say that I laughed loudly in his face and we walked out. Called up customer service over the phone and had it changed in 10 minutes.

      I think I read here one time where a guy went into his cell phone store to buy a car charger for his phone for cash. They asked him his phone number and signed him up for a new 2-year contract WITHOUT HIS KNOWLEDGE.

      They will literally try anything to get you to sign up.

  4. sixsnowflakes says:

    What about a prepaid plan? T-Mobile offers no-contract monthly prepaid plans with unlimited internet. I usually find the T-Mobile shops to be more helpful that other retailers.

  5. Rick says:

    He does not have to sign up for a 2 year contact. He can either do pre-paid or the Value plan with TMO.

    If his tablet was for AT&T he might just get EDGE.

  6. That guy. says:

    So…it’s not that he needs a 2 year contract for a SIM (and thus internet access), but a 2 year contract for some sort of code to allow for an OS update? That is very strange.

  7. Ace says:

    It sounds like this guy might not understand how smartphones and tablets work. It seems he thinks the only way to update a device is through his service provider.

    Protip: Google is awesome. Use it and learn about all the amazing things you can do completely outside of any service provider.

  8. Peter V says:

    If they have the New value plan that might cause a new contract because it’s a heavily discounted with near prepaid prices (so no phone subsidy, just 20 month interest free financing… so unlocked phones day 1) with the perks of postpaid (postpaid, new truly unlimited data plan etc.). Consider prepaid (Simple Mobile or Straight Talk SIM)

  9. coloradogray says:

    There a prepaid data lines as well. A few months with that service and then he can get the thing unlocked.

  10. ScandalMgr says:

    I’m only here to blame the OP for not researching their options before complaining to Consumerist.

  11. callenjr says:

    Will be leaving T-Mobile very soon due to their 2 year agreement for any change in your account policy. I have three phones with them and just wanted to change the plan on one. 2 year agreement. Eligible for a discount through work/school?-2 year agreement. For a carrier that’s fighting to keep churn down sticking it to you long time customers (since the 90’s with Voicestream) doesn’t seem to be a good idea.

  12. djdanska says:

    prepaid mobile broadband. Done.. If you try to add a mobile broadband device to a smartphone account, it requires the appropriate mobile broadband account. This is normal, for everybody.

    Seriously, go down to the local t-mobile store, get a prepaid mobile broadband sim and done. tada!

    (and what’s with the lack of flash? Heck, my dell streak 7 came with flash preinstalled!!!! (and was running honeycomb in a few minutes!)

  13. Abradax says:

    Rootzwiki or XDA-Developers are going to be your friend.

  14. Geekybiker says:

    XDA will get you updated. Just goto their forums and search for the subforum of your device. You can get a sim from straight talk or many other MNVO, but straight talk offers both att and tmobile sims so you don’t even need root to get on the network. (and you’ll get the best speed with the right network sim. Tmobile doesn’t actually require a contract for a sim though. Buy a sim for their pre-paid service. Its a better deal anyways.

    • callenjr says:

      True…Get the $30 T-Mobile Unlimited (5gig) data and text with 100min with their Walmart only plan.

  15. quail20 says:

    Good comments about Straight Talk, but be careful. If you go over 2 GB of data transfer in a month they can and will cut you off of their sweet, sweet 3G network. Their SIM flavors are for T-Mobile and AT&T. They do have Sprint SIM cards but I doubt they will work with a device already designed to T-Mobile.