Recently, Metro took another step in its GSM transition by making SIMs available online for $10. Until now customers who wanted to use their own GSM phones had to visit a MetroPCS store to buy a SIM.
New MetroPCS customers who bring a GSM phone that has never been active on the T-Mobile network are eligible for a $50 rebate. New customers who port a phone number to Metro are eligible for a second $50 rebate. Both rebates can be combined.
The MetroPCS site says that non-MetroPCS phones must be unlocked to use the SIMs. However at least one MetroPCS dealer reportedly says that phones locked to T-Mobile will also work.
The online order process is a little tricky. You are asked your phone's make and model which the site validates to "Make sure it's eligible". Unfortunately if the site doesn't recognize your phone's name it won't let you proceed. Many popular phones that should be compatible, including the Nokia N9 and N8, Motorola Moto X, HTC One X and even T-Mobile's own Nokia Lumia 521, aren't recognized. It's possible to get past the compatible phone roadblock by choosing any other phone that is listed. The site then asks you for your phone's MEID which it checks to see if the phone is reported lost or stolen but doesn't appear to validate if the MEID matches the phone model.
However I'm not sure if using a MetroPCS SIM in an unrecognized phone will work. MetroPCS, unlike other GSM operators, requires that your phone's IMEI be added to some sort of internal database before it will work. If you put the SIM in a phone that's not in the database you won't get any service. This strange policy defeats one of the major advantages of GSM, the ability to easily switch devices by swapping the SIM from one phone to another.
I'm afraid that Metro might deny access to SIMs that were purchased using an MEID that doesn't match a phone on their list of "eligible" device. MetroPCS stores can add the MEIDs of ineligble phones to the MetroPCS database. Hopefully entering the MEID during the online SIM ordering process will do the same.
If any reader buy a SIM online for an ineligible phone please leave a comment letting us know if it worked immediately or if you had to visit a store to have the MEID added.
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