Sprint BlackBerry Bold 9650 Ships Unlocked; How to Switch Between CDMA, GSM Networks

RIM’s BlackBerry Bold 9650 comes factory unlocked via Sprint. CIO.com’s Al Sacco explains how to switch network technologies.

Sprint last week became the first wireless carrier in the United States to release Research In Motion’s (RIM) latest smartphone, the BlackBerry Bold 9650.

Sprint-Branded BlackBerry Bold 9650 Running on AT&T EDGE
Sprint-Branded BlackBerry Bold 9650 Running on AT&T EDGE

The Bold 9650, an upgraded version of RIM’s BlackBerry Tour 9630, is notable for a few reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the Sprint version ships “unlocked.” In other words, Sprint’s Bold 9650 works on its CDMA/EVDO wireless network, but it’s also compatible with various GSM/UMTS networks out of the box, so there’s no need to pay a third-party unlocking service to remove any virtual network-shackles. (For more details on the Bold 9650, read "Sprint First U.S Carrier to Release BlackBerry Bold 9650; $200 on Contract" and watch my Sprint Bold unboxing video.)

Most GSM-compatible BlackBerry smartphones sold via wireless carriers are “locked” to those particular carriers’ networks, at least until they’re unlocked. It’s not quite as simple to unlock CDMA devices for use on other networks, but Sprint’s BlackBerry Bold 9650 is a “world phone;” it supports both CDMA and GSM frequencies, and it comes factory unlocked, so it can be used on both AT&T and T-Mobile’s EDGE networks in the United States (no 3G unfortunately), as well as on various GSM/UMTS networks overseas. Of course, you’ll need an activate SIM card from one of those carrier to access their respective networks. (For more on unlocking BlackBerry devices other than the Sprint Bold 9650, read "How to Unlock Your BlackBerry for U.S., Int'l GSM"

Here’s a quick walkthrough of how to change the BlackBerry Bold 9650’s mobile network technologies between CDMA/1XEV and GSM/UMTS.

  1. Ensure an active and compatible SIM card is inserted in your BlackBerry Bold 9650 SIM card slot. (To insert a new SIM card, remove your Bold’s battery cover and battery, take out the default SIM supplied by Sprint--if applicable--then slide the new SIM into place based on the diagram on the SIM-card slot.)

  2. Replace your Bold’s battery and wait for the device to reboot. When your Bold is up and running, click your BlackBerry’s Manage Connections icon on your home screen.

  3. Within the Manage Connections menu, scroll down to and click Mobile Network Options. On the following screen, scroll to Network Technology and click to open a drop-down menu. Then change the value from either Global or 1XEV to GSM/UMTS.

  4. Exit out of the Mobile Network Options/Network Technology menus, wait a few seconds for the new network connection to establish itself and you’re good to go.

  5. To switch back to your CDMA network, simply repeat the above process but choose the 1XEV network option under Network Technology.

AS

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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