This week's What's That? Wednesday's special focus is the iPhone. I know, I know nothing new for all of you out there, but for me to finally having a functioning smart phone, it is a pretty big deal!
Before we moved we found out that it was possible to bring an iPhone from the States and have it "unlocked" here, which would allow me to use it in China if I put in a Chinese SIM card. Buying an iPhone in China is possible, but it would cost $600-$700...free sounds much better for me!
The problem was, my Verizon iPhone did not have a SIM card (they're built in), but my mom's AT&T iPhone did. The solution, we swapped phones and we were both happy, of course. My mom got a newer iPhone and I was happy that I didn't have to pay a huge fee for breaking my Verizon contract, even though three months ahead of the move Verizon promised me that moving overseas was an acceptable reason for breaking contract.
Friends from Suzhou graciously agreed to take my "new to me" iPhone to a local electronics mall and have it unlocked by the same guy that took care of their phone. They came back with the sad news that the tech guru had not yet learned how to unlock the software version that I had on my iPhone. I needed to be patient and wait a few months until the tech guys figured out the software.
Fast-forward 6 months and I still was using my $5 phone from the local supermarket. The joke was that it took me about 25 minutes to compose a text and that if for some reason it came through in all caps (which means you're yelling at the person) not to be offended! I knew that life was going to get busy pretty soon and that it would be really nice to have "unlock the iPhone" crossed off my to-do list.
My friend and I went to the electronics mall in Old Town to see if the computer guys had caught up to the software on my phone. Unfortunately we had no luck, again. I was mentally going between "you've got to be kidding me" and "we're not leaving here until this is working". We started wandering around this mall while I was waiting to get a text back from another friend about a Gevey card, which is a SIM card that is put in with the regular SIM card and unlocks a phone. We tried explaining to a random tech guy at one of the electronics stalls what a Gevey card was...he showed us iPhone covers instead...and then he caught on to the fact we wanted to phone unlocked. Although he didn't invoke a lot of confidence in us, he assured us that he could do it. Sure enough, he did! It cost me 100 RMB (about $15) and I had a working phone.
Later that day I tried to text our driver and ask if he would unlock the car for me so I could get something out of the back. Imagine my reaction when he texted me back saying that he'd like for me to grab an umbrella out of the car. What?! Then he started calling me! I kept telling my friend, "Why is he calling me? He knows I can't speak Chinese!" and I would hang up immediately. Finally I looked down and saw a text that said, "Stop hanging up on me....this is your husband." Ooops....my telephone hadn't transferred my contacts when I unlocked the iPhone, so I manually put in my driver's number, or so I thought. I had saved Jamie's cell phone as my driver's number and had been hanging up on him repeatedly. Sorry honey! Jamie couldn't unlock the car for me, but he really did want me to bring his umbrella up to the apartment, which I promptly forgot to do.