Getting started with an unactivated T-mobile G1

As of right now, there still no quick way of unlocking or “jailbreaking” the T-mobile G1. But, it’s fairly easy to set up the phone to be used for everything besides making calls (unless a VoIP app becomes available in the future like the iPhone). I was able to purchase a G1 earlier today without signing up for a new 2-year contract with T-mobile (at the $399 price). The store manager was reluctant to sell it at first without a contract but finally agreed after some convincing. The fact that it didn’t look like the launch demand was as high as they thought it would be, definitely helped. It seems that the stores have been given specific instructions not to sell any G1s without a new 2-year contract, at least until the first couple of shipments are sold. It’s a hit or miss.

The G1 was purchased for my company to use for testing purposes only, so we just wanted to be able to access all the phone features, apps, and internet browsing whenever connected to a nearby Wi-Fi network. And we did not want to get stuck paying for 2 years of monthly service to do so. Here are the steps we followed to get past the initial setup without having an activated SIM card. (Note: You will need a friends activated T-mobile SIM card for only a couple of minutes – data charges may apply.)

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  1. Insert friends-activated T-mobile SIM into G1 along with battery
  2. Power on and wait for the setup screen
  3. Go through the setup process to link any Gmail account
  4. Go to Settings > Wireless Controls > Wi-Fi Settings > Enable Wi-Fi
  5. Connect to a nearby Wi-Fi network if one is available
  6. Optional: Stop the phone from syncing with Gmail account by going to Data Synchronization and unchecking Auto-sync, Gmail, Calendar, and Contacts
  7. Once done, take out friend’s SIM card and insert the unactivated SIM that came with G1

If you already have T-mobile service, you should be able to pop your SIM right in and get going. You can also do the same with a G1 purchased from eBay and using a prepaid T-mobile SIM card. I doubt T-mobile will do anything to change this because you are paying full price for the phone! One other thing to note is if you would like to change the Gmail account with which the phone syncs, a soft reset is necessary and you must follow these steps again. For a comprehensive review of the G1, check out Engadget’s hardware and software posts which are very detailed. Also, check out my colleague’s initial thoughts on how Google is becoming more evil because of this.

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If you know of any other ways, please leave a comment. I will also be keeping an eye out for unlocking instructions as they become available. Connect with me on Twitter @jsmakr.

Update: Got linked by Engadget and Gizmodo! Please see my comment below if you are confused about the difference between ‘unactivated’ and ‘unlocked’.

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By Pichan

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