Unlocked Windows Phone 7 + Where's my phone update?

Are you looking for Unlocked Windows Phone 7? Are you being nagged by someone who is looking for one?
Wondering where your update to Windows Phone 7 is finally coming? You are in luck, read on!

As many of you are aware there is been a slight delay in the first minor update to Windows Phone 7…

So I am going to use some strong language here, because it needs to be said. Why? Because we all want more customers acquiring more Windows Phone 7 devices and downloading many and many applications. Everyone wins. So with that. Please read completely.

Update to Windows Phone 7


The official map of the update matrix is now posted. Please do not set customer expectations beyond what is been officially posted, you are contributing to the incorrect messaging that results in poor customer perception.

Where’s my phone update?  

If you want to read further into the official message this blog post explains it: “Copy and paste” update status

Oh and please, please do NOT go and hack up your phones or even dare suggest that as an option to somehow accelerate getting the update to your non-tech peers.

Unlocked vs Retail vs Developer Unlocked vs Uninformed


I wanted to take some time to explain a commonly misunderstood terminology that is making me pull my hair out lately, as it’s not only confused developers, partners but foremost our general consumers. I take this observation from the on-the-ground community within Microsoft and non-Microsoft circles. I have been witnessing this steadily this year, and especially so on Twitter.

As we just got the new Sprint Windows Phone 7 Arrive a days ago and Verizon rumored to be not too far behind;
let’s help you translate what these magical words mean in a simple to digest table:

Slang name: What it is: Who is it for:

Contract-free “Unlocked” Windows Phone 7
(inside U.S.)

Any Windows Phone 7 that is not under a carrier contract. These phones are still carrier LOCKED*. Individuals who are looking to aquire a phone out of contract or who do not wish to renew a contract. But will remain using the carrier it was purchased for.

Also Developers.

Unlocked Windows Phone 7 (inside U.S.)

Any Windows Phone 7 that is not under a carrier contract. These phones are also NOT locked to carrier ID*. Only the Individuals who are looking to travel with the phone outside of U.S. (while continuing to use their current carrier inside the U.S.*)

Also Developers.

Unlocked Windows Phone 7 (outside of U.S.)

Any Windows Phone 7 that is not LOCKED to a Carrier ID.

Those phones usually do not have carrier branding and/or are clearly marked as such.

Usually are non-U.S.-friendly GSM bands.
Customers who wish to purchase a phone that can be used on multiple carriers.

Also Developers.
Slang name: What it is: Who is it for:

Developer Unlocked
Windows Phone 7

Any Windows Phone 7 that has been unlocked by developer with an active Marketplace Subscription. Developers only.

To “side-load” deploy applications from Visual Studio or the included Deployment Tool.
“Developer Phone”
Windows Phone 7
Any Windows Phone 7 device from any carrier anywhere in the world can be used as a developer phone. Developers only.

Simply walk into any store or online and purchase a device flat-out without an attached contract. Done.
“Microsoft Developer Phones”
Windows Phone 7

Early stage prototypes that were loaned to Developers prior to retail availability of phones world-wide.

[Examples: Samsung Taylor, LG GW910, etc]
No one.

They are not eligible for updates and are prototype spec and are to be recalled.

Unless you have one that was given to you for a very special purpose, but then you know why you have it + can’t talk about it anyways.



The United States of Terminology - I hate to be close-minded but the general community perception on the ground is a little muddled, allow me to clarify a few items:

In U.S. there is no such concept as an Unlocked cellphone in US. AT&T and T-Mobile use different 3G bands, so unless you are ok with basic EDGE connection speed you can possibly get one of those phones and get the carrier to unlock the phone. If you are lucky they let you. But if you are on Sprint or Verizon you will NOT be able to use T-Mobile or AT&T or for that matter Verizon or Sprint inversely as they are all different technologies.

If you would like a “Unlocked” Windows Phone 7 please take a look at your carrier of choice in US and acquire device of choice simply requesting to not renew or modify current contract.

U.S. Travelers

If you have T-Mobile, AT&T [or special Sprint models that support world-wide roaming] and like to use your current phone when Traveling outside US on a different carrier, you must contact your carrier and request to get your phone carrier-unlocked.

Your mileage with them will vary, as some require you to have made progress on paying back the subsidization of the device if you have purchased it at a discount with a contract renewal. If you have purchased a Phone at retail cost outside of contract your mileage might be slightly better depending on the Support person you get to talk to.


In closing

I thank poor quality tech press and the un-informed individual who fell victim to poor messaging…you know…that one person that keeps telling you that they “need” an Unlocked Windows Phone 7 inside U.S. Please share this blog post with them to make sure they understand exactly what it is they are asking for and if it’s as big of a deal as they make it out to be. I welcome comments.

I do no endorse carrier practices in U.S. and very much waiting for a more modern option, but such are things and I am not a board member of any of them. This is Carrier and OEM strategy - mere mortal Developers and Microsoft have nothing to do here.

So once again I urge those individuals to please stop complaining/nagging publicly to customers and developers about lack of something they will never use or need in most cases, it distracts from the perception of the Windows Phone 7 and slows the traction. Basically, as someone recently said - don’t be a troll or a warlock.

Let’s get more Windows Phones out there with more apps!


Print | posted on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 6:32 PM

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