Mobile technology has taken quite a leap in terms of evolution. As technology advances, we are able to put more and more power into these handheld beauties that we “used” to use to make calls, which are now used to do virtually everything, including serving as a credit card thanks to the wonders of NFC. Dual cores, quad cores, and recently announced octo-core devices seem to be a dream taken straight out of The Jetsons, where technology is powerful enough to interact with us and become a day to day necessity, almost like an electronic extension of our bodies. However, much as with everything else, technology has a limitation which can render it useless in the blink of an eye. Mobile devices are not always impervious to the effects of mother nature, and as such, they can get easily damaged by something as basic to humanity as water and gravity. Tech manufacturers are well aware of this “deficiency” and have, for many years, been working on taking the elements out of the list of possible things that can hurt their products.
The military/defense oriented manufacturers have offered rugged hardware able to take serious beatings for a very long time. However, it was not until recently that this tech made its way into the consumer market, based essentially on the potential clumsiness of people. There are, nowadays, a wide array of devices that are presented as “rugged” or capable of withstanding elements such as rain, dust, elevated temperatures, and also capable of taking moderate to high levels of physical punishment. This is a great cure/remedy for the aforementioned clumsiness of the everyday consumer. Lets face it, how many times have you had your friend tell you that his/her phone decided to take a dive into a toilet, a cup of water/coffee, swimming pool? What about an issue that has plagued our devices since the very early days, which is dust “magically” appearing behind the screen? Accidents do happen, and getting a phone that fits your “lifestyle” could potentially save you from having to buy replacement devices often. But understanding the specifications could save you from making a costly mistake.
Most of the claims from manufacturers about protection levels for electronic devices are not simply made up. They are carefully studied and tested standards that are used during the manufacturing process of devices. These standard testing procedures are used to evaluate the devices in question to see if these can be certified under the rigorous standards. Some of the most commonly used standards for testing come from organizations such as ISO, NIST, ASTM, and several others. They provide manufacturers guides to follow for the manufacturing and testing of certain qualities and properties such as ingress of external contaminants, impact protection, etc. Certification is done by certain other agencies such as UL, CSA (for Canada), and many more, which make sure that these standards are met. Once these conditions are certified, products are given IP (ingress protection) ratings followed by numbers which denote their level of protection. So, the format for IP ratings looks like this:
The third digit, which denotes the resistance against hitting it, is not displayed according to IEC60529. This is the standard to which enclosures for small electronics must adhere to. However, not showing in there does not mean that the test was not performed.
As stated in an earlier example, dust can get under your screen. We have all seen this at one point or another with our electronics. It is almost inevitable since our devices operate with electricity. Thus, you will have some level of static that will attract dust onto the electrical components. This will find its way through the seals around the screen and into your device. But dust is not your only concern, as there are larger solids that can also get into your device that could damage key hardware components inside (salt, sand, etc). Protection against the ingress of solids into our devices can be categorized as follows:
|0||No special protection|
|1||Protected against solid objects over 50 mm, e.g. accidental touch by persons hands.|
|2||Protected against solid objects over 12 mm, e.g. persons fingers.|
|3||Protected against solid objects over 2.5 mm (tools and wires).|
|4||Protected against solid objects over 1 mm (tools, wires, and small wires).|
|5||Protected against dust limited ingress (no harmful deposit).|
|6||Totally protected against dust.|
Water-Proofing / Water Resistance
Quite possibly one of the most commonly known misconceptions in technology is that of water resistance. There are very few man-made tech apparati that can be considered to be fully waterproof. Cell phones unfortunately are not among them. Having said that, in recent years, companies such as Motorola, Kyocera, and Sony (among a few others) have made devices that will comply more with a less stringent level of protection, water resistance. Before we go into the ratings themselves, it is worth mentioning that waterproof is something that is completely sealed off and will prevent the ingress of water under most/all conditions. Water resistance, on the other hand, means that the device is protected against the ingress of water to a certain degree. And as such, depending on the exposure to water, ratings are given to the various possible situations. All in all, a water resistant device is not waterproof, and making sure that you understand this difference can save you from having to replace your device since most manufacturers do not cover water damage under their limited warranties. Having said that, let’s take a look at the ratings:
|1||Protection against vertically falling drops of water e.g. condensation.|
|2||Protection against direct sprays of water up to 15o from the vertical.|
|3||Protected against direct sprays of water up to 60o from the vertical.|
|4||Protection against water sprayed from all directions – limited ingress permitted.|
|5||Protected against low pressure jets of water from all directions – limited ingress.|
|6||Protected against temporary flooding of water, e.g. for use on ship decks – limited ingress permitted.|
|7||Protected against the effect of immersion between 15 cm and 1 m for 30 minutes.|
|8||Protects against long periods of immersion under pressure.|
Mechanical Impact Resistance
Aside from dropping your device(s) in puddles of water/washer/swimming pools/etc., one of the most common occurrences with mobile devices is the accidental drop or the (un)intended accidental meeting with walls, hammers, or other blunt objects. This test is fairly straightforward, it is tested to see how much “love” a device can take. It is measured in Joules, a unit of energy. Due to the fragile nature of most electronic devices in this day and age, it is assumed by the manufacturer that you will not test the device’s “time of flight” capability, nor that you will test if your glass screen is able to hold its own against a hammer. However, there are some devices out there that will provide (without the need for a second enclosure) some level of protection against possible mistreatment. The third digit (not depicted in the IP standard) conforms to the following testing criteria:
|1||Protects against impact of 0.225 joule
(e.g. 150 g weight falling from 15 cm height).
|2||Protected against impact of 0.375 joule
(e.g. 250 g weight falling from 15 cm height).
|3||Protected against impact of 0.5 joule
(e.g. 250 g weight falling from 20 cm height).
|4||Protected against impact of 2.0 joule
(e.g. 500 g weight falling from 40 cm height).
|5||Protected against impact of 6.0 joule
(e.g. 1.5 kg weight falling from 40 cm height).
|6||Protected against impact of 20.0 joule
(e.g. 5 kg weight falling from 40 cm height).
Other common rugged factors
While the IP ratings are the ones that will protect against mostly everything, there are other things, not covered in the standard that are tossed around by manufacturers as “features.” For instance, one of the most commonly known ones (that we are used to anyways), is scratch resistant screens, which are made out of Gorilla Glass (a product developed by Corning). This glass is essentially regular aluminosilicate, but with chemical additions and coatings to boost some of its mechanical properties. The scratch resistance comes from a special, invisible coating on top of the actual glass that prevents light scratches from ever reaching the surface of the actual glass. While some of the other chemical additions actually do increase the mechanical strength of the glass by a little, Gorilla glass is not more resistant to impacts than its untreated sibling (regular glass). This is a big misconception that has been around as long as Gorilla glass where people believe that scratch resistance equates to impact resistance. Thousands of handsets are sent in for repairs by people who believe this to be the case.
Last but not least (and along the same lines as Gorilla Glass), is another misconception about glass strength: shatter resistance. The way this feature is presented is by calling it anti-shatter screen. The crux of this is that this is a bit of a fallacy. There is nothing special done to a screen deemed as “anti-shatter” other than a adding a special film, which will contain all the glass shards in case of screen breakage. This is the same technology used in car windshields. A coating gets added to the user-facing area of the glass, so that glass pieces do not pose a risk to the user in case of the glass breaking. What this film does not do is provide additional mechanical strength to the glass itself (well, maybe a bit, but certainly not enough to protect it from significant impacts).
I hope that this article is useful to some. If you see someone using their device as a prop for party tricks (“Hey look! I am going to hit my phone with this hammer!!”), please stop them (unless of course, you believe that the person deserves not having a device that could potentially be smarter than he/she is). Remember, these features are added onto devices for “what ifs” and “oops” situations. If you don’t have to put the devices to the test, be on the safe side and don’t, unless of course you have extra cash laying around to buy devices every time you decide to show your friends how you use your Motorola Defy for deep scuba diving.
Thanks for reading.
Sources, ratings and tables, and more information can be found in the following websites:
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It is truly great to see that the United States has a rather active Government that worries about its people. Its people have opportunities to speak their mind and make requests to all the branches of this bureaucratic machine, and they are bound to get a response in one shape or another. This seems to be the case for the “little petition that could,” in which over 114,000 people expressed and shared their concerns with the US Government regarding network unlocking of devices legally purchased. This petition received official replies from the White House and the Librarian of Congress, and gained nationwide interest, thus making what many thought would be a silly “nerd rage-filled rant” into a topic of national importance. However, as with most systems, this one is not one without its faults and pitfalls, thus making it quite imperfect.
For the sake of illustration, just imagine that you had a 3 year old silver Civic that was dying and that you wanted a bright red Ferrari. Someone told you that if you worked hard enough and made a certain amount of money within a 2 month period, there would be a chance for you to get your hands on the wonderful beast. Two months later, you had completed your target, got all the money you needed, some people winked at you when you asked if you would get it (raising your hopes in the process). Then, that someone puts a blindfold on you and takes you outside. You proceed to take the blindfold off and upon opening your eyes, you see your 3 year old silver Honda Civic, but with a fixed engine.
Are you happy to have a car? Sure, but to say that you are disappointed would be the understatement of the year. You are simply baffled and trying to pull yourself together in dismay as to what kind of person would lift your hopes high up in such a manner. This was the case for the bill that everyone in the mobile scene was waiting for. Earlier yesterday, US Senator Patrick Leahy (Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee) along with several other Senators from both parties announced the drafting of a new bill that they were hoping to pass in the hopes of addressing the issues raised against the Librarian of Congress’ new incarnation of the DMCA. More specifically, the bill, known as the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, was aimed to target the cell phone unlocking debacle as well as the consideration for tablets. At first sight, the law addresses the main concern presented to Congress, but when you sit down and analyze it a bit further, its that fixed up 3 year old Civic.
There are several concerns regarding the wording on the write up like the fact that it will still be up to the carriers to grant you an unlock code while you are on contract. On the flip side, at the very core, the law would reinstate the 2010 exemption that made it legal for people to pursue other “venues” to get their devices unlocked. It still grants a lot of power to the carriers, but at least it does not grant them complete control, which the removal of said exemption was achieving. The problem (the elephant in the room if you will) is the fact that the law fails to address the main, biggest point of this entire ordeal: why is this in the DMCA in the first place? Why are we depending on the (lack of) knowledge of someone who is not an elected official to determine the future of our rights as consumers with products that we legally own? In other words, why is this harbored/lumped with a law SPECIFICALLY made to tackle piracy? Unlocking cell phones has 0, zip, null, nada to do with piracy and/or intellectual property rights. Yet the decision on this will be based solely on the following:
9 upon the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights,
10 who shall consult with the Assistant Secretary for Commu-
11 nications and Information of the Department of Com-
12 merce and report and comment on his or her views in mak-
13 ing such recommendation, shall determine, consistent with
14 the requirements set forth under section 1201(a)(1) of
15 title 17, United States Code, whether to extend the exemp-
16 tion for the class of works described in section
17 201.40(b)(3) of title 37, Code of Federal Regulations, as
18 amended by subsection (a), to include any other category
19 of wireless devices in addition to wireless telephone
So, the Library of Congress needs to hear from, at least, two departments before anything can be done. Again, this is someone making actual law without being part of the overall process and certainly not someone who is chosen, but rather who applied for a job vacancy. Congress had a wonderful opportunity to separate the wheat from the hay and decided to simply apply a fix. Why a fix you ask? The DMCA exemptions and provisions are revised every 3 years. If this long standing provision was taken out without much thought or consideration, who is to say that we will not be here once again 3 years from now? CTIA will certainly still be there much like the little red guy standing on your left shoulder telling you to set your building on fire. They went through great lengths and found a twisted enough argument to sound pseudo-plausible, and 3 years is an eternity in terms of mobile development. So, chances are that we will find ourselves here fighting once again. However, lets assume that we fix it yet again 3 years from now. We will be back in 2019, this time around from within the Matrix and trying to avoid Sentinels.
There are enough experts on the scene to give the people who need the explanation, the best possible and most logical, level-headed argument they will ever get to hear. And best of all, it comes from the people with the people’s interest in mind. I made a small point in my previous article about the Library of Congress’s statement about the general public being consulted prior to amending DMCA. Maybe they should follow their own processes and ask ACTUAL PEOPLE as opposed to corporation conglomerates when the time comes to make law.
It looks like we have gotten quite good at making noise, so maybe we should make one final stance before this band-aid comes to pass. Please share any and all articles with colleagues, media outlets, your Congressmen and Senators, all the people who need to see this in order to make the voices heard. We did our share of work, we expressed our views and told them why things should be different. Please, lets try to push forward so we can finally get rid of that Civic and go for the Ferrari.
You can find the entire proposed law in the following link and the official announcement made by the Senator of Vermont by following this link. Additional links with interesting articles can be found in PublicKnowledge and TechDirt,
Thanks for reading.
[Thanks to OEM Relations Manager jerdog for the tip!]
February 21st was a rather interesting day for those of us in the mobile scene. What seemed like an ordinary day for many, was the day that marked the beginning of a real fight to regain our freedom to unlock SIM cards. That day 100,000 signatures were reached in the petition started over at We the People website. The latest installment in the saga, after almost 2 weeks of silence, was that earlier today, the White House issued a statement, as promised, regarding the petition. Now, before we get to the nitty gritty, we will have to make one point crystal clear: Nothing has happened yet other than the House having made a statement and taken a stance on the entire issue surrounding the DMCA. So, if and when you read on media outlets that SIM locking is once again legal, please, read into the most recent developments first.
Having gotten the disclaimer out of the way, let us get onto the good stuff. As stated above, the White House has issued a statement in response to the petition, which at the time of this article, has over 114,000 signatures, about 14% over the minimum requirement. The condensed version of the response essentially states that the administration and technology experts, including the FCC agree with our stance, and that the unlocking model currently in place does nothing to hurt the market or to put intellectual property in jeopardy, the latter of which was the biggest argument used by the CTIA to convince the Librarian of Congress. Keep in mind that DMCA was conceived to stop piracy and IP theft, and locking GSM devices to carriers does neither of the aforementioned. Luckily for us, there are people out there with a dash of common sense who can see past the bogus statements by the carrier/manufacturer conglomerate.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has sent a somewhat lengthy letter explaining everything that should be modified in the new implementation of the DMCA. Lots of information to go through in the linked 36 page (PDF) letter to the Librarian of Congress. This goes through several (if not all) key points of the Act and how various parts need to be modified for either lack of scope or overall non-sensical dribble. An added bonus of this letter (on top of the already great push for the purpose of our petition) is the fact that the NTIA and the FCC have provided the Librarian with a great definition of what a Tablet actually is. If you recall back sometime last year right after the original draft of the updated DMCA came to light, there was an interesting point made about tablets and how exemptions to tablets should not apply as they constitute a different kind of device. Our good friend XDA Developer TV Producer azrienoch essentially explained how this was a bunch of non-sense. The new provisions would effectively lump tablets and smartphones in the same group since the dividing line between them is almost invisible at this point. A tablet can effectively do anything a cell phone can, so this new arrangement could certainly put a few things back where they should be.
Shortly after the White House made the official announcement, the Librarian made a statement in response to it. The response essentially does absolutely nothing to address any of the points being brought forth by the NTIA. However, it does go on to state that before an exemption is either added or removed, a lot of factors are taken into consideration and said amendments are done as per stated procedures. Well, quite honestly following a procedure does not mean that something cannot go wrong.
The question of locked cell phones was raised by participants in the Section 1201 rulemaking conducted between September 2011 and October 2012 by the Register of Copyrights, who in turn advises the Librarian of Congress. The rulemaking is a process spelled out by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in which members of the public can request exemptions from the law to enable circumvention of technological protection measures. In the case of cell phones, the request was to allow circumvention of technological protection measures controlling access to copyrighted software on cell phones.
I would LOVE to know if said members of the public actually include any public as in people from the public sector (and not multi-billion dollar companies). Based on the fact that 114,000 have signed this petition, the answer is either no or they asked people who had no idea what they were answering. Granted, we are a, somewhat vocal, minority and as such, our opinions on certain matters can indeed be overlooked. However, more often than not, since we can normally see past a few things that people take for granted, we are right about these things. As such, listening to what we have to say is what people know as “sound reasoning”. We know what we are talking about, we don’t sugar coat things, and we certainly do not need lobbyists telling you what you need to hear.
Look, we know that rule making can be hard when you have screaming businessmen (lobbyists) jumping in circles around you. We know that because clowns are quite distracting after all. However, if you are making rules to protect, you need to focus on who or what you are protecting. You are protecting IP from pirates and we applaud you for that. However, you do NOT need to cripple people’s entire existence and put them in the hands of people who, for the most part, are not IP owners at all (carriers, in case you are curious). The letter from the NTIA actually had a nice section (with foot notes) explaining how most companies will charge a fee or force you to a certain length of service before your device can be unlocked. If that is not enough to convince you that maybe, just maybe, this is not worth it… especially since carriers do NOT own the devices or the software in them (thus, no IP to protect), then I strongly suggest that you turn in your resignation and let someone a tad more competent look at this.
To the White House and the Obama administration, thank you very much for caring about us and most of all, for having the capability to recognize idiocy when you see it.
Thanks for reading.
You can find the entire response in the We the People website.
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February 21, 2013 By: egzthunder1
If you have been following the saga, or rather crusade, against DMCA for the last month or so, you are likely aware that there was a petition started on “We the People” site. The aim of the petition is to get the US Government to notice and take action against the removal of the DMCA exemption protecting people who wanted to SIM unlock their GSM-enabled devices. Late last week, we pushed a second article on the issue, which presented some details regarding the originator of the petition and a somewhat unlikely ally who joined the cause. By the time the aforementioned article was published, there were about 60,000 signatures on the petition, which had stalled for a few weeks (in terms of number of signatures per day). Looks like the second article as well as support by many, many, many other tech news outlets (including PocketNow, PC Mag, AppleInsider, and several others), gave the final boost to the petition, which in all honesty, did not seem like it was going to make it before the February 23rd deadline. As of 7:36 am on Feb 21st, the petition had broken the 100,000 signature requirement.
The petition, as of the time of this article has a grand total of 104,659 signatures without any signs of this trend slowing down any time soon. It looks like many people simply woke up and decided to support the cause, regardless of their beliefs on whether these petitions are useful or not. The biggest question in everyone’s mind right now is likely now what? Well, the White House will have to look at the petition itself and acknowledge its existence (for starters). After that, the case will be reviewed and a decision will be made on whether the House will take action and request for the Librarian of Congress to put the exemption back in or not. Since we are talking about government, it is very likely that it will not be a speedy process. Having said that, the Government is obligated to respond and provide a resolution to the concern, whether the outcome is positive or negative.
Everyone’s efforts need not stop here. There are more things that you can do as a constituent. For instance, you can reach your House representative and bring this problem forward. Now, you have a petition with well over 100,000 signatures backing you up (so you do not sound like a whiny kid who had his toys taken away). This is bound to catch the eye of most politicians and put it as a talking point in their to-do lists. Also, Sina Khanifar has created a small site to support the cause without being limited by a deadline on a petition. The waiting game now begins, but luckily this has had major support from the vast majority of tech sites, so if nothing else it shows that we are not alone in our insanity.
Will this work? We don’t really know. Many go on the defensive stating that this has not worked in the past and is sure to fail yet again. Others go on to insult people telling them essentially that they are wasting their time. However, you cannot help but to wonder what if it does work? The Government will have to look at it, so your odds of the issue not being ignored have gone up exponentially. At this point, we can only hope that someone, somewhere in Washington looks at what is going on, and after analyzing the entire thing with the points of view provided by pretty much the entire tech world has a single reaction…. what the **** were we thinking?
So, to all those people who have nothing better to do but to criticize the proactive actions of a few that are being carried out to protect YOUR rights: Please, stop wasting our precious oxygen.
Thank you for reading.
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February 15, 2013 By: egzthunder1
You may recall that not too long ago, we published an article regarding a few amendments made by the Librarian of Congress to the infamous DMCA. The short summary is that one of the exemptions in DMCA which protected consumers who wanted to keep their handsets if they switched carriers was wiped out by what can only be described as good, quality lobbying courtesy of CTIA, a group formed by most major carriers and manufacturers. The exemption removal essentially results in it becoming illegal to SIM unlock a GSM phone purchased after January 26th, 2013 without carrier’s explicit approval and permission. This means that if you try to unlock the device yourself or have a third party try to do it for you, you could potentially be prosecuted and fined up to US $500,000 and even be subject to up to 5 years in prison. Now, the likelihood of such a harsh penalty being imposed on anyone is small. However, the wording on the Act certainly has enough leeway for that to happen if the judges are convinced enough.
Today we were contacted by Derek Khanna, who wrote this little memo, ended up getting fired from his position as a House of Republicans’ staffer. He seems to be very actively participating in trying to stop this ridiculous mockery of a law from actively becoming embedded into the DMCA. The law is unfortunately already in effect, but if there is one thing that we know for sure is that there are still a few people with common sense in Washington D.C., and we are trying to make sure that they get a feel for what is going on. Derek joined forces with Sina Khanifar, the author of the original petition to the White House, which now has over 69,000 signatures on it. He has also written a couple of articles on the issue to the Atlantic, one of which made it all the way to the front page on Reddit. Many other tech sites and news organizations have already picked up on this and have backed the cause, linking to the petition. However, we are still falling short with over 30,000 signatures to go and only a few days to hit the deadline.
We at XDA-Developers are not sure whether the petition will accomplish anything. But we have to stand united and try this petition to reach its goal, which WILL force the White House to at least take a look. I mean, they took the time to respond to the 35,000+ people who misused this service to get the government to build a Death Star. (Consequently after that little joke, the limit was raised from 35,000 to 100,000 to make sure that none of this silliness ever made it through again.)
In any case, I digress from the main point. Please, please, please, get the word out! Tweet, share via Facebook, G+, MySpace, LinkedIn, contact your Representatives, and get to your family members. Anyone at all you can get to sign this thing will help, as every single signature counts. Apple iPhone owners, Windows Phone users, Android, Blackberry… everyone is affected by this. Get the word out and make noise! It takes just a minute or two to do this. Help us fight this injustice before it’s too late.
If the greater powers of the Internet supposedly gave a lucky individual a good time after attaining over 1 million Facebook “Likes” in less than 24 hours, I see no reason why we cannot all collaborate together towards a more important goal. Thank you for reading.
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January 29, 2013 By: egzthunder1
While we know that this is a US-specific issue, it also serves as a great opportunity to ensure that the entire world is reading so that they don’t make the same mistakes we do in this country. As many of you are aware, our entire Government seemingly has a bad tendency to listen to extraordinarily greedy people and agree on things that make people wonder what in the world were they thinking? Some of the most notable examples include (but are not limited) the consideration of a small bill that “almost came to be” known as SOPA. Unfortunately (for us), we are the ones who are always scrambling, trying to dodge this idiocy called “law making” that our tax payer dollars normally help fund. Furthermore, we (the people) are the ones normally tasked with trying to open the eyes of our own selected officials to force them to understand that the interests of THE PEOPLE are NOT the same as the interest of a few select interest groups.
I have not yet begun talking about the main topic of the article, but have instead made a wide generalization of what currently happens in our law-making bodies. Having given a somewhat “hearty” introduction to a rage-fueled article, here goes the main course. In case you have been living under a rock for the last 3 months or so, the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) was “revamped” in October of last year, much like it does every 3 years or so. Our good friend XDA TV Producer azrienoch covered a small, very inaccurate aspect of the law (needless to say, I am being sarcastic). Back then, we did not make much of a stink about this issue because quite frankly it was not really all that important, as the most “discussed” topic was the randomness of leaving tablets out of the exemptions. Certain things baffle you so much that one truly cannot fathom getting past that section without feelings of nausea and dizziness. However, once you get past “Section B” of the newly amended exemptions list, you get to the “heart of the matter,” which for us is Section C. This is located in pages 16-20, for those of you interested in reading stuff other than how jailbreaking your iPad is actually legal.
The core of this section essentially was untouched for the last 6 years or so, and essentially granted anyone “the right” to legally SIM-unlock your cell phone to be able to make it work on any GSM capable carrier, without any legal repercussions or being “frowned upon” by your almighty service provider(s). For example, if you were discontent with T-Mobile and wanted to jump ship to AT&T without having to buy another handset, this was possible. All you needed to do was call your carrier, see if you met a certain set of conditions (which was to have been with the company for about 3 months with current service and to own the device), and you would get an unlock code within 24-48 hrs via SMS or e-mail. This was simple enough and relatively trouble free.
However, due to the evolution of our markets (or so this document states) as well as the abundance of legacy unlocked mobile devices, the exemption is no longer necessary according to the CTIA, which is, for all practical purposes, a group of lobbyists composed of the larger US carriers as well as some manufacturers. They go on the record to state that the SIM-locking of mobile devices is an essential part of today’s current business model. Thus, they must have control of how and if users unlock their devices. The current text states that it will be entirely up to the carrier to grant you permission to unlock your device whether or not you are on contract, and they will have up to 90 days to grant you your request. Again, this is IF and only IF they allow you to do that. What are the alternatives, you ask? Well, according to the document, you have none without being treated like a common thief, meaning that if they catch you SIM unlocking your device, you could be heavily fined or even imprisoned. Why? Heavens only know why…
Before continuing, there are a few distinctions to be made, particularly for those of you with CDMA devices locked onto carriers such as Sprint and Verizon. The new rules are not really specific as to whether or not they cover CDMA technologies. However, due to the way these devices work, the ruling has no effect on their current model. CDMA devices are not unlocked in the same way a GSM device is. In fact, CDMA devices cannot be unlocked at all. Their internal serial number is normally added into the carrier’s list of approved or white listed devices and paired with your phone number. This is a 100% carrier driven decision, and more often than not, CDMA carriers do not allow you to bring devices from competing networks. Some of the smaller players in the market, such as Cricket and MetroPCS do allow some devices to be brought over, but the sad reality is that if you want to have service from either of the aforementioned larger carriers and still keep your trusty device, you are out of luck. There are ways around these, but they are rather illegal in nature unfortunately.
It is almost no surprise that the US is doing this, given previous policies regulating cellular technology. Anyone out there will likely recall how difficult it was to get decent devices in the US prior to 2005. Most newer devices that were launched in Europe never actually saw the light of day in the US. And if they did, they were heavily crippled with many features taken out for no apparent reason. However, due to the skyrocketing popularity of smartphones, most manufacturers recognized the US as an interesting market to look into. Technology by the different networks advanced, and we finally got to a point where we could finally say that we entered into the golden age of mobility like the rest of the world. That said, much of the rest of the world has been far more advanced in this end. UK carriers offer contract-free devices. More often than not, these devices are indeed SIM-unlocked. Why is our ‘business model’ so much more different than Europe’s you ask? For instance, Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile’s mothership) is fine and healthy in Europe under the SIM-unlocked device model, whereas T-Mobile USA almost went under about a year and a half ago. Yet we are the ones who would hurt the current economic model and overall mobile market by SIM-unlocking our devices.
So, now what? If you want a new carrier-unlocked device or want to unlock it yourself, you have about 90 days (page 21) to get things done. After this transition period is done, your device will likely never be able to accept other SIM cards. You will be trapped, bound, and chained at the carrier’s mercy. We sincerely hope that this abomination of a law gets repelled, amended, and that whoever accepted such changes to an already working model is no longer in a position to make such mistakes. If you truly think that you have the people’s interests in mind by making such idiocy into law, I have a very strong feeling that we are headed in the wrong path altogether. Carriers looked for the most obscure and twisted place to state that they want to trap you in and never let you go, something that is hidden enough from the general populace to ensure that not too many people complain and that is seemingly similar enough to the context of the rest of the law, so that not too many politicians would question it. They cleverly tied SIM-locking to a single precedent on software ownership, and somehow extrapolated that to SIM-unlocking stating that you are a cell phone owner is not owner of the software but rather a licensee. As a result, they have no right to extend its functionality. I am not sure if I am more sick about the fact that such an approach was made or that it was actually deemed as valid.
Please, if you value your freedom to choose your carrier without needing to pay hefty Early Termination Fees or having to swap handsets when your service is lacking, make your voices heard. This is NOT done in the name of stopping piracy, which is what DMCA was originally intended for. This is all orchestrated by people who only wish to find more ways of squeezing every last penny out of our pockets as consumers. Reach out to others in your circles, read into FSF, EFF, and all the other advocacy groups that work tirelessly to defend our electronic freedoms. Contact your local government officials. YOU chose them to represent YOU, and as such, they have the duty to do hear you if you have a problem with the government. Help us spread the word about the discontent of the general public. A Petition was started this past weekend, asking the President to shoot this down. We require 100,000 signatures, and so far, the petition has collected close to 29,000. If this isn’t modified, lets just say that you better make sure that you have the desired service in your area with your current carrier, because you will be together for a very, very, long time.
Thanks for reading.
Want something published in the Portal? Contact any News Writer.
[Thanks willverduzco for the tip!]
November 22, 2012 By: FallenWriter
Flashing ROMs has become a fairly straightforward affair for (most) Android devices and their users. However, one of the most painful parts of flashing a new ROM is all the repeated flashes that need to be done for themes and modifications, especially if you love to heavily tweak your device. Thanks to XDA Forum Member jcspecs, your days of having to load up dozens of separate .zip’s is a thing of the past thanks to his latest application: Clockwork Combiner.
Designed to combine (as if the name didn’t tell you) all of your flashable .zip’s into a single, flashable file, Clockwork Combiner’s biggest strength is its simplicity and ease of use. The instructions are simply:
Download and extract the program.
Run the program.
Hit the settings button and set up an output directory or leave it as the default (program location).
Select the zips you wish to combine.
Add a name for the combined file.
Wait for them to load (the combine button will become usable).
Click combine button to join the zips into one zip.
The file will be put into a folder named Final Outputs within the output directory you have specified.
Wait for any processes to finish (windows should provide progress windows).
Click the sign button if you wish to sign the zip.
Of course, this will only work on files that are compatible with your device, and the Windows-based program does require .Net 4.0 along with the Java Runtime Environment in order to function properly. Having tested this with a set of files for my Galaxy Nexus I can say that I had no trouble getting this utility to work. As always, head on over to the original thread and give this a go!
[P.S. Extra points for those who figure out what the featured image for this article is!]