How Easy is it To Switch CDMA Phones on a Regular Basis?


Samsung Moment™ PhoneI’m actually posing this question out to you folks because I’ve never had more than one active CDMA device in the past. See, I’m thinking about having two on the same plan. Oh, I know they can’t both be active at the same time and I also know that there’s no physical way to activate one in lieu of the other on a given day. After all, there’s no SIM card in most CDMA phones. But I have heard that both Sprint (s s) and Verizon (s vz) offer an online portal for phone activations. And I’ve also heard that the portal can be used to swap phones on the same account as needed. Do we have any readers that switch CDMA devices on a near daily basis? I’m looking for any tips or gotchas in this area.

Oh, why am I looking into this? Glad you asked! When I saw that the HTC Hero for Sprint was $479 with no contract, I got to thinking about how I don’t have a current Android device to work with. I do have Om’s old G1 but I don’t have a SIM card nor a T-Mobile account to use it as a phone. I mainly keep it around to try different Android software or features. But it’s a little long in the tooth when compared to the newer, faster Android handsets. Plus I have a devil of a time typing on the keyboard — the backlit keys nearly match the bronze key colors and it drives me batty! So, since I have an Everything Data Sprint plan for my Palm Pre, I thought it might be feasible to buy a new Android handset and use the same plan. Both the Hero and the Samsung Moment require the same Everything Data plan as my Pre, so there’s no plan difference. So does anyone have experience with this situation?



Well the website is Since no one else gave it to you :), lol it is very easy to use and I use it everyday to swap out my phone between Pre, Rumor 2, Hero, and Samsung Rant. It’s very easy to use.

And to the person who has had 10 defective Palm Pre phones……I would start to think it is user error if I were you. Had my Pre since it came out and no problems. but who knows….I dont download stuff like myxer or limewire though.

Kevin C. Tofel

I have the link to Sprint’s activation site in the post. ;) More importantly, you’re telling me exactly what I wanted to know — it’s easy to swap on a regular basis, so thx!


sorry off topic here… i know in asia are gsm phones with multi sim cards all active and standby at the same time. makes me wonder if i can take that phone here. i’m getting a hero today and unaware of the cdma switching “function” but its good to know now.

David T

Telus Mobility in Canada charges $10. CAD for each time you change an ESN (doesn’t matter for what reasons), and if you want a customer service rep to do it for you, or in store, the cost is $25. instead. Sure you can do it as often as you like, I’m sure they like it even more as it’s money in their pocket.

Changing CDMA phones in Canada? Sure it’s expensive. (I think Bell probably charges also but I’m not sure).

You are lucky that the US providers are not charging for this.


As Matt stated, switching online is quick and painless. Granted their website is far from the greatest, it gets the job done in a few screens. I actually used Snag-It once as I was going through the process.

Also as pjt stated, it does seem to work fairly quick, no waiting on provisioning or anything.

Be sure to pay attention to the numbers they give you. The first time I went through I thought I saw the two numbers you program in were my own, but one was not and if it wasn’t for my screen capture at the time, I would have had to follow up with a phone call.

I buy all of my phones at full price or via eBay and I’ve switched both handsets and data cards multiple times. I’m on an old Free and Clear plan/SERO data and I have not had an issue since they implemented the online process.


Switching online is fairly quick and easy. Never had a problem. The only thing that may pose a problem is if you have insurance on the phone and it breaks. If you just activated within 30 days of it breaking they tell you to call the manufacturer for a 30 day warranty replacement or the 3rd party you got it from. They do this because they’re computer shows you activated a phone that was not recently bought from them.


On-line switching with Sprint works fine, just takes a few minutes, and, in my experience, the “new” phone works straight away.


I have swapped phones on our Sprint acct numerous times (approx. 10 times in 18 months) via access to my account online. Enter the DEC or HEX, confirm the phone and it gives your activation code. Follow the instructions and you should be set. It took effect immediately every time. Switching WinMo phones normally means an extra step to spin up the browser so that the data provisions gets done over the air.
The biggest hitch is moving contacts if you have a “feature” phone. WinMo isn’t an problem with a ActiveSync backup (or PocketBackup on a memory card is even better). Pretty easy on the Pre too as long as you understand what data is backed up where. I never had any luck transferring or saving text messages. Not as easy as sim cards but its serviceable.

Frustrated Consumer

Well I must be one of the rare ones ’cause I have a devil of a time trying to switch phones on Verizon, for exactly the reason mentioned above: data plans and old phones.

I have an old Motorola I’ve been swapping back and forth with a new Rogue, the website refusing every time. Even talking to a rep on the phone often dumps me to tech support saying they don’t know how to do it. Something about the Motorola having an old format EID (not starting with an ‘A’?) causing problems in their system – they have to be entered ‘differently’ than a new phone. Then data plan issues add another layer of complexity….

I guess the lesson is stick to new phones if you want to do it…


I’ve never tried online switching, but I can vouch for it being a quick phone call to customer service. I’ve got 6 phones on my Sprint account sharing 3,500 minutes/month for the past 5+ years and frequently swap phones around. Call customer service and have the “new” serial # handy. It takes just a few minutes and you’re ready to go. No cost or other hassle.

(Still have my original Pre and loving it)


I swap devices on my Verizon account often. Sometimes several times in a week. I use the online portal or just dial *228. No problems!


I have switched phones in the past using the Verizon online switcher and haven’t had a problem. The only thing you might have a problem with is that Verizon won’t allow some phones (such my Omnia) to be activated on a number that doesn’t have a data plan.

The restriction that carriers are putting on phones these days has me considering moving away from an “all-in-one” device to separate devices (basic phone, Mifi, and an iPod Touch). What I lose in the convenience of only carrying one device I make up for in reliability (not running down my phone battery playing music or surfing the net) and flexibility i.e. not having to tether, having multiple data devices online at once, and being able to use phone and data at the same time.

Richard Garrett

I considered the basic phone, MiFi solution using Verizon as did others but that’s an expensive route. 450 minutes of talk is $40 and MiFi data is $60 per month compared to a smartphone plan (email plus web and 5gb data) at $30 per mo. If you can do Skype or Google voice on the MiFi and drop the phone plan that for some might be an option.


Skype would work because you can receive incoming calls via a SkypeIn number and the Skype software. But in order to use Google Voice you still need an actual phone (voice plan) to receive calls. Google Voice gives you a new number, but they just forward the calls to your actual phone. One way to get around that would be to get SIP software for your phone and a sipgate one (or similar) account, but that’s not something most people are going to do.


I guess I should have mentioned that my current data plan includes tethering to my smartphone which jumps the price from $30 to $60. My voice plan is a family plan with ~1600 shared minutes per month so I wouldn’t see any additional cost there. Overall its pretty much a wash on cost.

Kevin C. Tofel

Helpful commentary, so thanks to all! I’m sure the CDMA carriers would rather that we buy a separate plan for each phone, but it’s good to see that they’re allowing for this option.


Since I’ve picked up my Hero I’ve switched between the 2 about 4 times now. It’s easy to do online.


I can’t speak for Sprint, but I can for Verizon.

At this point, switching devices for Verizon is about as easy as it can get, without having a SIM card. I switch devices very frequently, sometimes multiple times a day. There are two ways you can go about it.

1. Verizon has an online ESN/MEID switcher that allows you to just punch in the new ESN/MEID. After the first step, you have to choose any feature changes that you may need to make to use the phone (add/remove data plans). Then you you wait five to ten minutes, dial *228 and choose option 1. Now you’re all set. In my experience, you don’t really have wait the five to ten minutes, though. The activation is almost instant.

The online method is best if you are going to have to make plan changes. If you aren’t going to be adding and removing features, there’s an easier method.

2. From the phone that you want to activate, dial *228 and select option 3. Follow the instructions, listen to the muzak, and you’re done.

Really, these days, switching devices for CDMA isn’t so bad anymore. It’s still not as easy as GSM, but at least you don’t have to call customer service anymore.


Hi Kevin,

I have been with Sprint for 13 years and know the drill. It has changed over time as well. I am constantly testing new smartphones and the ease of swapping phones with Sprint has kept me with them. I wouldn’t recommend the online activation as it still requires chatting with a person and the last time I did it this way it ended up taking almost 30 minutes. The fastest way is to call up Sprint at 888-211-4727 hit option 1, then 2 which will take you to the activations department. Just tell them you want to activate a replacement phone on your account. They will ask for the DEC# on the outside of the box or behind the battery on most phones. It usually takes no more than 5 minutes to activate a different phone. There is no added cost for this even with Blackberries. You can switch back and forth as often as you like. Calling is instantly availalbe but sometimes the data can take up to 1 hour. After you have activated a phone on your account and activate it again at a later time the data is usually instant as well. Good luck trying out the Hero. I have had 10 defective Palm Pre’s. I love the OS but the build quality just isn’t there. I also don’t like being restricted on storage at 8GB and with downloading applications. Palm will work these issues out in time but I need something that I can use right now. The Hero is awesome! It does everything the Pre does with some extras. It handles some functions differently but overall I haven’t noticed a slow down when using the Hero compared with the Pre. I hope this information has helped and you and James keep up the good work!


i am about to get a pre and i’ve heard that there are no charges for switching phones via as long as a blackberry isn’t involved. i have a htc touch pro and i’m going to use both of them for a while before i decide on which phone to use as my primary phone . . .


I’ve done the online swap with Sprint with mixed results. Sometimes it will go through without a hitch, other times it instructs you to either call or chat with a customer service rep. No issues with CS doing it. Also, I have not been charged with swapping Blackberrys the 3 times that I have had to do it.


The online swap has worked for me every time, but I may be biased because I have never tried to switch to a non Power Vision phone.

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