About the authors
Russell Shaw Russell Shaw is a specialist in mobile computing, telephony, networking and covers these fields regularly for numerous print and online publications. Russ writes the popular IP Telephony blog on ZDNet and contributes regularly to The Industry Standard blog as well. Author of seven books, Russ' latest book is Wireless Networking Made Easy.
John Yunker John Yunker is president of Byte Level Research. He closely tracks emerging wireless technologies and their impact on consumers and carriers alike. Over the years he has written a number of major reports on technologies such as Wi-Fi, WiMAX and cellular technologies.
About this blog
Unwired studies emerging wireless technologies and how they complement and conflict with one another. Technologies covered include: Wi-Fi, WiMAX, Ultra-Wideband, Zigbee, EV-DO, UMTS, HSDPA and whatever else comes along.
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline


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March 1, 2005

Cingular Treo 650 Update: Swapping SIM Cards May Not Be Enough

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Posted by John Yunker

So it has been about a week since my Cingular Treo 650 gave me a horrible case of buyer's remorse.


As I wrote here a few days back, about a week after I bought the device I realized that the voicemail number would change randomly, and rarely into a number that actually dialed voicemail. Much worse, I found that whenever I tried to dial a phone number the device reset itself. My Treo had effectively downgraded itself into a Zire.

So I went to Cingular, swapped the Gemplus SIM card for the Axalto SIM card and still suffered problems. Some of the folks I've spoken with who had similar problems found that once they exchanged SIM cards their Treos worked just fine.

I was not so fortunate.

It turns out that when I restored all the old files and settings onto my Treo, I also restored a file or setting that caused the same general conflict. So even though I had the new SIM card I had the old problems.

If you're in the same boat, be sure to completely uninstall your old desktop Palm software and then reinstall. And you'll need to do a hard reset of your Treo.

Since I use a Mac I was faced with the daunting prospect of reinstalling both the Palm desktop software and the Missing Sync software. As a workaround, I simply located the actual user backup files on my desktop, deleted them, and then the problem went away.

Fingers crossed. I have not had any random resets since wiping out the old backup files, so I will assume my problem is solved.

But before I put this affair behind me, here are a few anecdotes, rumors and lessons that I picked up along the way:

    1. Treo and Cingular cleared rushed the Treo out to market too quickly. And it just didn't hurt customers like myself; dealers were also burned because when this problem first surfaced they simply assumed the devices were broken and exchanged them for new devices resulting in lost sales of those new devices (which are in hot demand). Which leads me to...
    2. Do the folks at Palm or Cingular ever take a moment to read the Treo message boards like TreoCentral or Howard Forums. Had they done so, they would have spotted this problem early on and saved me and potentially thousands of others a great deal of frustration and wasted time.
    3. And why aren't the dealers reading the same message boards? Some of them don't even read the email they get from Cingular because at least two of them had to be educated by their customers. One customer actually brought in a printout of a message board posting to prove that there was a SIM card issue. When the customers know more about the product than the dealers, something is wrong with Cingular's chain of communication.
    4. The Palm and Cingular support Web sites could not be less supportive if they tried. Now, if I have a problem with my Treo, I don't even bother going to their Web sites; I just go to the message boards.
    5. I've read a rumor that Palm has a software patch in the works for the the Cingular Treo 650.
    6. If you've got a Treo that is beyond SIM repair, you might find that dealer is "all out" of replacement Treos. But they may be lying. Yes, there is a rush on these things but dealers are also reluctant to use Treos as replacements because they want to sell them. One customer resorted to calling Cingular dealers as a prospective new customer; once he located a dealer who had a Treo 650, he told them to hold it and when he arrived to replace his Treo, they couldn't give him the old "sorry, we're all out" routine (which they actually tried).
    7. I think if Apple does get into the cellular business, it will do well. It has a distribution network of highly trained employees who really understand computers (as opposed to cellular dealers who typically know less about Treos than their customers). And it builds computers that don't crash. PalmSource hasn't figured that one out yet. I did read that PalmSource is looking at Linux as a future OS; this would be a big step forward in creating an operating system that doesn't crash when a software conflict rears its ugly head.
    8. Finally, despite all the trouble, despite all the time spent on hold, I do like Treo 650 a lot and Cingular coverage in Escondido is pretty darn good. Fingers crossed.

Thanks for the all comments and emails.

Comments (6) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Cellular


1. kevin on March 2, 2005 4:04 AM writes...

Well said!! I'm planning to buy Treo 650 this weekend, should I wait couple more months until Palms release the patch ? or...just buy it right now and take care the problem later on ? I could get $250 + 1 year contract, which I think is pretty good deal. What do you think ?


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2. Evan Schuman on March 2, 2005 4:23 PM writes...

Good posting. I hadn't heard about the imminent patch, but I did hear about problems with the synch software. The card problem is getting to be a nightmare.
FYI: We just ran a piece about Cingular admitting that it wasn't fully prepared to start selling the date for the Treo650s.,1759,1771603,00.asp
I also shared my nightmare over trying to get Cingular to sell me one of these.

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3. Rory Blake on March 9, 2005 4:11 PM writes...

I usually am an early adopter, and have been first with all previous handspring/palmone devices. I hesitated this time and am glad I did. Only a VERY good deal from cingular would get me aboard until this is resolved. Thanks for reenforcing my decision to wait.

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4. Jim Remington on March 12, 2005 3:06 PM writes...

Kevin, please let me know where you can get the Treo 650 for $250 and a 1-yr contract. Thanks.

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5. Larry on March 15, 2005 5:07 PM writes...

It still amazes me that Palmone is not commited to devolping bug-free devices for the cellular world. Treo 600 took 4 ptaches before it was reliable and it still sounded like S*.

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6. gizmodfw on March 31, 2005 5:00 PM writes...

It appears that this problem was due to a software implementation issue on the Treo 650. The new version of the Treo 650 firmware fixes the problem.

This incompatibility was not due to an error on any specific brand/model of SIM card.

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