Jun 28, 2007

Getting Around Mobile Phone Carriers

Have you ever watched a commercial on Television for a new cell phone and you thought to yourself, "Self, I am going to get me that cell phone!"? I have too. Have you ever received that phone only to find yourself completely dissapointed because of some limiting features? I have. One of my biggest pet-peaves is when a cell phone company gives you a phone that can play MP3's, but won't let you set them as a ring tone. WTF is that all about? Of course the answer is to force you to buy their ring tones, as if you aren't already paying enough for your minutes already!

I recently had an experience like that. My Wife and I switched from Cingular (Now the new AT&T) to T-Mobile. I got myself a Samsung T509 (Because it is free and looks cool) and my wife got the Samsung T619. Long story short, the ad said they were MP3 capable, but when we got them we found that that only meant they were able to play MP3's and not use them as ring tones.

I immediately scoured the web looking for a way to get around this, and I found it. The trick for these particular phones (T-Mobile Samsungs) is that they can play songs in .3gp format (Don't ask, I had never heard of it before my research either).

So now the trick was finding something that would convert MP3 to 3GP, and more importantly do it for free. Seriously, why go to all this trouble if your going to spend money. You might as well just download it from T-Mobile (Or Verizon or whoever) in the first place. No, this is about the principle. It is also about stickin' it to the man!

So, back on topic, I found a program that can convert the music from MP3, but it doesn't go directly from MP3 to 3GP. No, it converts it to M4A. (Did I lose you, don't worry, keep reading you will get it.) Once you convert it to M4A, you simply rename the file from musicfile.m4A to musicfile.3gp. Don't worry, it will still play, both M4A and 3gp are in the family of MP4 file formats so the extensions are interchangeable. Once in 3gp the file can be played as a ring tone on your phone. The quality isn't quite as good as the MP3, but it is still pretty good.

This magic software that converts it is absolutely free, because it is open source. It is called BoncEnc. To convert the file, just load your MP3 to the list, select your output directory, then click on the Encode menu > Start Encoding> FAAC MP4/AAC Encoder and your are off!

If your phone doesn't have expandable memory like mine then you might want to trim the music file first using Nero Wave Editor, or something free like MP3 Knife to trim it down so it doesn't take up too much space on your phone. Once you get it edited, cut and converted then you can transfer it over to your phone using bluetooth if your phone supports it, or through a data cable if your phone supports it. If your phone has no other method of interfacing with the computer, then this post probably isn't for you.

Don't Forget your Bauer-Power Gear!

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