Friday, 14 September 2007

New mobile phone or SIM: checklist

Here's my checklist of things to do on buying a new cellphone or SIM card, mainly for my own PIM (personal information management) purposes so I can remember what to do after getting a new mobile or SIM. They're personal to me in that they're what I think are the most important things, including tips on preserving privacy (others may differ), but I'll post the list just in case it's of use to anyone else.

1. Note down and keep in a safe place:
  1. The phone number itself of course, if new.
  2. SIM card number - printed on the card itself, usually 20 figures, ignoring anything at the end starting with a letter. On some SIMs there seems to be a different number which isn't a valid SIM card number but I note it down anyway just in case.
  3. IMEI or unique serial number of the mobile phone - enter *#06# on the phone keypad to see it displayed on the phone, or check the label under the battery. The note of the number will be essential if the phone is lost or stolen in future.
  4. PIN number for the SIM - from the SIMcard pack info, though I'll then change the PIN later (got to know it to change it!).
  5. Security code for the phone - usually in the phone manual, can be 12345, can be 00000 etc, again I need that number to be able to change it.
  6. PUK number - again from the info with the SIM card. Needed to get into the phone and SIM if the PIN (if required) is entered wrongly too many times!

2. Register phone with:
  • Immobilise - register free, you can report online or by phone if it's stolen or lost and it'll go straight to the Police National Stolen Equipment Database (you can register your bicycle with them too if you want; and iPod, laptop etc etc).
    • Note on insurance: check home contents insurance policy to see if it covers mobile phones, many do so it's not always necessary to take out separate mobile phone cover. The phone shops will try to flog dedicated mobile insurance when they sell phones because they get lots of commission from it, take what they say with a pinch of salt.
3. Check and change settings:
  1. Voicemail - this is supposed to work from the get go, but in my experience it doesn't always get set up properly e.g. the voicemail for Mobile World SIM. Even bigger operators like T-Mobile can mess it up, especially if you've switched your phone number over from elsewhere. For instance the voicemail for A Consuming Experience's phone number didn't work at all at first until they deleted the mailbox and recreated it, that's technology eh? So best to check that voicemail is working so that people don't get exasperated that the number seems totally unreachable when your phone is off:
    1. get a text sent to your phone for the settings by calling voicemail (usually press and hold 1)
    2. make sure voicemail is working by calling self when the phone is switched off, busy etc
    3. make sure it diverts to the right voicemail number on busy, no answer, out of reach and not available etc.
  2. PIN - a few things as I'm very careful about security and privacy:
    1. change the default PIN code to my own secret PIN - have to enter the default code of course.
    2. PIN code request - turn it on, i.e. set the mobile to ask for a PIN on switching the phone on before it'll work, i.e. enable the PIN security function.
  3. Security code or lock code - ditto:
    1. change the default security lock code to my own
    2. set phone to lock or auto-lock after X minutes of not being used - it can't be unlocked or used without entering the security code so again no one else can get into my phone, use it to make calls, see my emails or other data, etc, even if I've left the phone switched on. This means I have to enter both PIN and security code on first turning the phone on too, but small price to pay for the extra security.
    3. check that when it's locked I can still answer calls quickly without having to unlock it first! Usually this is the only thing you can do when the phone is autolocked, and of course you want to be able to do that. Normally that's OK. If it didn't let you take calls even when locked, I wouldn't enable locking probably!
    4. with most phones you can also get it to lock and require the code if the SIM card is changed. I sometimes enable this but sometimes I don't as I have several SIMs and it can be a bit of a hassle. Still I probably should, I don't swap SIMs that often and again it's another security measure more people should probably take.
  4. Withhold caller ID display for privacy (though this doesn't always work - not sure if it's the network or phone - I can try to dial 1470 before a number if I want the recipient to know which number is calling them or I can save their number in my Contacts with 1470 in front of it - more on UK caller ID number codes)
  5. SMS text delivery reports - turn on the ability to receive reports as I'm an A type and want to know when someone got my text or if they never received it at all, e.g. maybe they didn't power on their phone for days. The delivery report feature seems usually to be switched off by default. After switching on, find out how to access the reports, they seem to vary from mobile to mobile e.g. a message in the Inbox, a note in the details of the Sent text, a separate folder for reports, etc etc!
  6. SMS sending - set message validity to the maximum so it keeps trying to send texts for as long as possible, again I'm not sure this is always on max.
  7. Kill that pesky startup "tune" - turn it off so there's no stupid melody or tone playing loudly whenever I turn the phone on. Especially that Nokia theme tune. I hate it that with so many Nokia phones you can't turn off that tune e.g. the 7710. Dear Nokia and others, sure you want to advertise your brand and promote your profile, but if you want to sell a phone that is meant to be usable in a business environment, even if it has multimedia too (like the 7710 which has a wordprocessor, PDF viewer as well as music and video player and radio etc) you have to provide a way for users to get rid of that startup noise. I can't turn on my 7710 in a meeting if it happens to have been switched off when I went in. Why you can specifically turn off the start-up tone on my ancient Nokia 7250i but not the 7710 or N95 is beyond me.
  8. Shortcuts - set up any possible shortcut keys so I can get at my most commonly used functions quickly, this is an essential feature for me being a keyboard person, and some phones don't let you personalise enough keys or set up enough shortcuts in my view.
  9. Other personalisations - like speed dial numbers, display brightness & display backlight time-out (I hate dim displays that cut out on you too soon), and power-saving settings (I don't mind it timing out to save power after a few minutes though). Ringtone volume, maybe change ringtone itself but I normally don't care as long as it's loud enough and it vibrates too! Same for text alert tones, it has to vibrate too and be loud enough. I'm not usually fussed about wallpaper.
4. Set up messaging email client for Gmail or download the Gmail for mobile app at, which Google seem to be publicising more now. At worst, Gmail is accessible via that's the best link for mobile or WAP browsers, it's the only one I can get to work for Gmail on the LG Shine phone anyway.

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