How to Lose Treo 650 Customers, by Sprint

by Marc Hedlund

Related link:

UPDATE: Sprint responded to this post; see the followup post for information about their response.

The new Treo 650 is out today -- and as a long-time fan of the Treo, I've been looking forward to it. I've asked in the past for "one with everything" -- a phone with all the features I could want in one device, without compromises. It looks like PalmOne delivered, with a 320x320 screen, removable battery, upgraded OS, a better camera, and Bluetooth.

Oops -- not quite! TreoCentral is reporting that the Sprint version of the Treo 650 doesn't allow you to use Bluetooth for dial-up networking through your computer. Apparently other carriers will, but not Sprint.

You see, Sprint sells connection cards, which are PCCards that allow you to dial up your laptop over their cell network. Apparently they were really unhappy when PDANet, an application for the Treo that lets you use the phone through a USB cable as a connection card, came out. I'm sure that's what's caused this "lock-out" to be added now.

As a business traveller, PDANet was a godsend (until I switched to a Mac laptop). I used my laptop online in airport terminals, hotel rooms, taxi cabs (!), and traffic jams. PDANet made my Treo completely invaluable to me, and made me a very happy customer, ready to upgrade to the 650 as soon as it appeared.

No longer. I switched to Sprint with the Treo 300 appeared, and now I'm switching away. If they think they can get me to buy another $250 product with another phone number and monthly service charge just because they switched off a built-in feature of my phone to force me into it, they are out of their minds. Their competitors offer a feature that they have decided to disable, so I'll just pay them some more money so I can carry around another piece of electronics? They must take me for a complete idiot.

I'd recommend that if you have a Treo or are thinking of buying one, you switch networks away from Sprint. They don't want the Treo to be useful to you.

2004-10-25 06:15:14
Poor, poor bluetooth
This is a growing trend among cellular service providors. Verizon Wireless recently did much the same thing with their acclaimed Motorola v710 Bluetooth-enabled phone. They decided anything which would allow you to transfer data to or from your phone without the use of their network poses a threat to their profits in regard to their Pix & Flix / TXT / Data / etc. packages. So, to fix the problem, they completely disabled many features of the Bluetooth subsystem, including OBEX (Object Exchange), and others.

If you ask me, the committee behind Bluetooth should enforce some sort of requirement for bluetooth implementations to fully support their specifications. This kind of business practice is likely to give Bluetooth a bad reputation, even indirectly.

2004-10-25 07:18:19
Try to ask a sales rep about Bluetooth, blank stare
This is just evil, so you pay extra for a handset with bluetooth, they are allowed to market the device as having bluetooth, but.... you can't really use it.

I find this strange because I stopped by a Sprint store in Chicago's loop (Accenture building) to ask specifically about using the new bluetooth phone with something blueooth aware like an iPaq. The sales guy, "sure, you should be able to use the internet through bluetooth, no problem". Of course, he had no idea what he was talking about - wondeful.

I've been a Sprint customer for about 5 years, and (unfortunately) I'm locked into a two year contract. Luckily, this contract ends very soon, and once it does, I'm gone.

2004-10-25 08:31:21
Won't the phone, from Palm, work on Sprint?
Won't the 650, bought from Palm, work on Sprint?

Or to use the 650 with Sprint PCS do you need to use only Sprint's co-branded version of the phone?

2004-10-25 09:03:10
How to work around it...
Here is a good work around.

Get this very nice cable about $24 and it will charge your phone from USB port power. Then get this it's a proxy software for the treo. ~$50 later you have a solution that lets you connect your laptop via the treo to the internet. Great for the roadwarriors, I use it all the time and it's fast. I used the Sprint card too and I say this is faster then the card.

2004-10-25 09:42:15
How to work around it...
Mark mentions PDANet in his article. And it won't work on Mac. That's why I use WirelessModem:

...along with a short USB/power cable, it allows me to get on the internet off my PowerBook using my Treo 600 as a modem. Sure, wireless bluetooth would be better, but in the meantime I am pretty darn happy with the solution. I am happy with Sprint's unlimited data plan, and obviously customers took advantage of it, and this is what Sprint has to do in order to curb that abuse. I'd rather see bluetooth data tethering removed than see their prices rise or unlimited plan go away.

Hopefully an enterprising developer will release a patch to bring it back.

2004-10-25 12:00:47
Won't the phone, from Palm, work on Sprint?
Yeah, what about that? As much as Sprint sucks for this move, I've got three other phones hooked up with them and really don't wanna break one away from the others.
2004-10-25 14:56:47
Won't the phone, from Palm, work on Sprint?
I believe that when you buy from PalmOne, they send you the Sprint phone. IIRC, that's what happened when I bought my 300. I know the phones are built differently (GSM vs. CDMA for other carriers).


2004-10-25 15:12:12
Would it help in any way to start a petition to tell Sprint: "You suck, and we are leaving in droves"? I think that most of the Treo owners are people who already pay big $$ for contracts--business users. I know I fork over $100+ a month and have for years.

Do this, and as soon as possible, I'm gone. Can we start something with names somewhere? I'll volunteer web space, if some does the coding...


2004-10-25 17:22:23

It might be worth using this site's service:


2004-10-26 15:41:52
Not supposed to use it as a modem anyways
According to the terms of service that you sign with Sprint, you really aren't allowed to use any phone with unlimited internet (Vision) with a computer. It is explicitly called out in the agreement that you are not to do it. Many people ignore this since the phones work fine as modems using a USB cable, but Sprint at their discretion can shut down any subscribers unlimited Vision without notice if you use your phone as a modem.

Now, I think this policy is kind of self defeating but the speculation has always been that Sprint doesn't want everyone trying to "beat the system" if they allow limited modem access through phones. This way, they leave reasonable use alone at their discretion but can shut down someone hogging bandwidth without much chance of a legal challenge. Not a perfect world, but I know many Sprint users who use their phones as modems with moderate usage with no consequences.

So, Sprint can hardly keep this stance and allow essentially automatic pairing with wireless bluetooth. They lose their weapon of limiting legal challenge. You have to explicitly go out and buy a third-party USB cable to use your phone as a modem as Sprint doesn't sell them. But if the Treo 650 and other Bluetooth phones are automatically enabled for use as a modem, how do they argue in court that that isn't allowed?

2004-10-26 15:56:17
Not supposed to use it as a modem anyways
Sprint controls what they allow and disallow in their terms of service. Obviously their network is capable of providing service to laptops, since they sell cards that permit you to use the network in that way. Obviously the Treo supports this usage, as PDANet and other applications prove. And obviously people want to use their network and the Treo in this way. (As a data point, this blog entry had the single highest level of traffic for the day of posting of any I've ever written.)

My point is that disabling a feature of the phone in order to enforce a bad pricing policy doesn't make it a better pricing policy. I do not want and will not accept a second piece of hardware, a second phone contract, and a second monthly service fee in order to get functionality one of each of those could *easily* provide.

Sprint is looking at PDANet and related applications as a threat. That's incredibly stupid. They should instead sell two tiers of pricing for their Vision service -- one for normal phone use and one for "road warrior" use. I would bet that properly marketed, many more people will sign up for "Road Warrior PCS Vision" at a higher price per month than would ever sign up for their connection card offering. They stand to increase their profit by going after demand instead of looking to prevent early-adopters (which all Treo owners are at this point) from using the features of their $600 phone.

2004-10-29 21:11:03
Not supposed to use it as a modem anyways
i am a long time sprint customer as well. almost six years. this is the last straw. if i cant use bluetooth then im history. thats the only reason i want this new phone so bad. im not very technical though. if bluetooth is disabled for data transfer to laptops, does that mean you can use bluetooth for anything like wireless headsets?
2004-11-15 10:30:58
Poor, poor bluetooth
Sprint is claiming that they'll re-enable it and that it's a glitch. I hope that's true... still... right now, for the treo 650, they're the only show in town.


2004-11-27 17:07:21
Poor, poor bluetooth
I just spoke with Sprint Tier 2 support and with PalmOS tech support. They both confirmed that Bluetooth-to-computer is supported on the Treo 650 and the Sprint network.

So, I ordered the Treo 650. I'll try to post my experience with the new phone and computer at that time.


2004-11-30 16:22:22
For what it's worth...
Carrier-disable features in a phone are nothing new.

I certainly appreciate your outrage, and you're definitely entitled to be outraged.

But even if you don't spend $600 on a phone, there isn't a US carrier that hasn't disabled some feature on it. Part of the reason it takes forever to get new hardware on the market in the US is that the carriers have to run it through their gauntlet, cutting out any features that they don't feel like they can afford to support. So what we get are phones that are half as useful as their european and asian counterparts.

If we get the phones at all.

It's big things and little things ... the ability to download ringtones, the ability to type them in, the ability to send or receive SMS messages, but also the ability to change the "banner" text on your phone, or configure the external display. In fact, I think Sprint is the only carrier that doesn't disable the latter two features on their phones. With everyone else, you proudly display your carrier to the world, not yourself.

So yes! Get angry! And try to whip the rest of the country out of their blithe complacency. Wake everyone up to the fact that this goes on all the time.

Maybe sooner or later we'll wrestle our mobile phones out of the hands of the cell cartel.

2004-12-05 11:02:09
bought a Treo 650, only trouble so far
I bought the Palm from Sprint and it took hours and hours on the phone to get going as no one wsemed to know anything about it. In trying to load HotSync, it blew out the password and is usless. Sprint can't fix on phone and no techs at store.

Anyone else have this problem?
2004-12-16 05:40:22
Re: How to work around it...
There have been a number of interesting information trends here. Some of them are worth answering.

As far as the defenders of Sprint's legal situation are concerned, forget it. Even when you use a phone tethered by a third-party cable, Sprint does everything in its power to detect your low-speed data stream going through the phone and to cut it off as quickly as possible.

Why? For exactly the reason the initial poster mentions: Sprint offers real, unlimited internet service only to people who use Sprint's PC-cards on a separate, and very expenive contract. If it were not for this, your phone would make a perfect low-speed modem.

I know because I don't own a treo, I own a Sanyo 4900, with the requisite software and cable and I've long since stopped using both. Living in a major city, I find wifi-connections in many of the places I go regularly.

With Sprint punishing me for using my phone as a modem instead of their card and separate service (i.e., handing them hundreds once in order to hands them hundreds every quarter) I can find no reason to be sympathetic toward their business model.

2004-12-21 15:40:05
Sprint PCS Sales
Just visited my local Sprint PCS store and was AMAZED that the store employees (Sales staff) could not explain to me the technology used for DATA .. i.e. 1xRTT, 1xEVDO .. download speeds, etc. These kids didn't even know how to use / demo the Treo 650 for me.

Also, it took multiple attempts to connect to the web and then it was VERY SLOW. It's the first time I've seen the Treo 650 and was not impressed as a result of Sprint PCS' inexperienced, unknowledgable staff and questionable service coverage.

Not surprisingly, T-Mobile was not better in showing me their BlackBerry and Treo 600 products.

Looks like I'll stick with a separate phone and PDA for a while.

2004-12-21 22:11:42
Sprint is good at losing customers
I agree that the Sprint people have lost their minds. I loved my Treo 300 but when I wanted to switch to another server I discovered that my Treo would only work under Sprint. I had Sprint for 5 years but had to move to Cingular to get a decent deal. You'd think after 5 years of loyalty that I could have the same service the new customers were getting, but no!
So I told Sprint NO! and Goodbye!!

They obviously think they have a corner on the market. As anyone can see the competition is willing to take all of the customers Sprint hasn't the time to deal with! Bye Sprint
Hello Treo 650.

2004-12-23 02:43:36
I've been using my phone as a modem with Sprint's blessing for years now
My understanding of the Vision service was that they wanted you to pay a higher monthly fee if you weren't just going to be using the data service from the phone, i.e. for higher bandwidth used.
But the pre-vision service, that I still use, "Wireless Web" or whatever it's called, doesn't seem to have restrictions on that. I got the wireless web connection kit from my phone, (really any cable that plugs into your phone on one end to serial on the other will do), and used the sprint-provided software to dial and connect to their internet service. I always thought those cards were just for people who really used the wireless web from the laptop a ton and didn't want something dangling off.
2005-01-07 09:36:50
bought a Treo 650, only trouble so far
Yes, I yesterday the IT guy at my office spent 2 hours on the phone with sprint trying to get the phone to sync. Sprint says that there is a glitch in the technology and they don't know how to fix it. Basically, it is worthless if you are trying to use it as a true PDA. Plus, to top it all off, during this unsuccessful process there was a memory failure all of the info in my Treo was lost, gone forever. I will be trying to get my money back so that I can leave Sprint, blackberry here I come.
2005-01-10 19:06:37
I've been using my phone as a modem with Sprint's blessing for years now
I would like to know if the older "wireless web" sprint pcs service will work with the Treo 650. I am currently using that service for slow speed email access on a Samsung SPH 300. I am hoping I will not have to change my plan if I switch to a 650. I asked in a Sprint Store and was told that it would not work, however, I don't think they really know for sure. Leif implies it will work, but he does not say what phone he is using.


2005-01-19 09:11:06
They also dont do their rebate promise!
There is a bug in their upgrade rebate program. The program states:
"As long as you have remained on a $34.99 or higher Sprint PCS Service Plan on the same phone for 18 consecutive months, you will be eligible for up to $150 off a wide variety of new Sprint PCS Phones." Well I have been a customer with the same number for over 2 years but because I have the Treo 350 and the flip case broke, I have had to return the phone and get a replacement. Well everytime the phone gets replaced the my time for the upgrade gets RESET! What stupid logic is that? I AM IRRATE. They sold me faulty hardware and due to their bad coding in their computer when their product breaks, my time for a rebate gets reset? What the!!! Avoid Sprint, their customer service has been horrible in my experience with them.
2005-01-25 15:13:45
Sprints Blows it in customer service
After spending about a month looking over smartphones, I decided to visit a Sprint store and look at in person and perhaps purchase a Treo 650. I have one of their first generation PDS/cellphones that works fine but I would like some of the features on the newer phones. None of the sales people (after waiting 30 minutes) knew anything about the operation or bands of the phone, and did not knoe anything about the business rebate ($120) that I printed out from the Sprint website. So when I returned home I looked up all the iformation again. I telephoned Sprint and spoke to several people - they also did not know about the business rebate. However, finally a person in the business division said there was a 5% rebate ($120) for new business customers. I had earlier called and was told that I could keep my number and get both rebates but needed to visit a store to purchase. So I told them that I would immediately cancel my existing account and start a new one if that meant saving $120. What a silly business move - amking long-time customers go through all this to get the sam "deals" that they give to someone from off the street. I own several businesses and know the extremes business goes to to attract new customers, but smart businesses realize their best assets are long-time customers. They are the ones that need to be pleased and convinced to get better phones/plans. I thing I will stop using Sprint. The only problem is that we have had lots of service and provider problems with two other cellular providers (bad phones with repeat service and no replacements, mis-stated services whic later we were charged more for, etc) so I do not know what to do. Maybe back to morse code. CQCQ. Thanks.
2005-02-05 16:19:09
bought a Treo 650, only trouble so far
I to was astonished at the poor quality of Sprint sales and service. I dropped my newly purchased TREO and cracked the screen. Because I live in a rural area there are no repair shops.
Plam says Sprint is responsible for repairs. Any info you might have where I can get it repaired would be useful.


2005-02-09 14:07:21
Poor, poor bluetooth
I almost hate to ask, but what has your experience been? My poor old handspring just died and I'm itching to get a 650 because I REALLY wanna bluetooth-synch w/ my desktop, but if it doesn't work, why bother? I can just get a cheapie handspring!
2005-02-28 11:00:26
Using 650 to connect laptop to internet
It has been several months since comments were first posted about using bluetooth to connect laptops to the internet using the Treo 650. Sprint was going to add this capability. Has it done so?
2005-03-01 19:38:33
Sprint should give long time customers a break on new phones!
I have been a sprint customer for over 5 years and i want to upgrade my phone to the treo 650 but they are charging me the full price. I really think they should give long time customers a break espically since i pay over $400 a month for my family's phones. IF U AGREE SIGN THE PETITION!!!!
2005-03-01 19:40:42
Sprint should give long time customers a break on new phones! SIGN THE PETITION!!!!:
2005-03-04 21:30:04
They also dont do their rebate promise!
Sounds like they're just trying to give you a screw, my wife replaced her phone, 1 month before her 18 hit, and they're giving her a new phone with no issue.
2005-03-11 13:36:22
Using 650 to connect laptop to internet
I am curious to know if anyone has further updates on the Treo 650 on the Sprint network -- can it officially be used on the regular voice plan (naturally deducting the associated minutes as used by the computer or voice from your particular voice plan)?

Why should Sprint care if I use my computer to chew up minutes vs. my voice?

If I buy a BlueTooth adapter for the USB Port on my computer -- will it work with the Laptop as a way to modem through the BlueTooth on the Treo 650? DO I need to use the Data Cable which Treo 650 provides for Syncing the Outlook contacts?

thanks much everyone.

2005-05-10 11:28:57
Using 650 to connect laptop to internet
Hi, I just came across with this issue.
I am planning on getting a treo 650 through sprint. I did some research. The funny thing is that monthly, I recieve the Popular Science Magazine, which had a whole article on the new smart phones. Any ways, on that magazine the May issue has an article that tells you how to update your phone to be able to use it as a dial up connection via blue tooth. Apparently sprint didn't want custumers to know about this, but a well known hacker discover the way to do it. Please check it out and I am sure you will find a way to conect.
2005-05-30 20:29:21
How to work around it...
please let me know how to connect to inter net using Treo 650. Thanks
2005-06-05 09:02:13
Sprint should give long time customers a break on new phones!
i think sprint should give their old customers a break on new phones, or maybe even charge them less than they would charge new customers. sprint should really consider that option because when the old customers contract is due i dont think that they would think twice about renewing their contraact with sprint again.i dont think sprint appreciate their old customers, all they care about is adding new members to their company and treat them the same way they do their old customers.
2005-08-19 10:48:02
Treo smartphone as a Wireless Modem for your PC
I just found this Software to drive your Treo smartphone as a Wireless Modem for your PC - so I thought I would post it here: (Pegfor)

PdaNet allows your PC to go online by connecting to your Treo smartphone through the Hotsync USB cable (or Bluetooth if you are using Treo 650). If you own a Treo 650, 600, 300, 270 or 180 with CDMA data plan (Sprint/Verizon) or GPRS/EDGE service (T-Mobile, Cingular, AT&T etc.), PdaNet will make it your wireless Internet Service for your laptop/desktop computer instantly - no extra hardware or setup necessary. Check out what Treo users say about PdaNet.

2005-09-21 11:22:38
Sprint should give long time customers a break on new phones!
You know what is even worse than them charging longtime customers full price to upgrade (while simultaneously taking the $150 mail-in rebate immediately off for new subscribers)? They dont even reply to emails when you ask why!

I sent an email asking them about this rebate policy with a question: does Sprint honestly think it is less expensive to attract a new customer over keeping an existing one. The only response I received was "we will reply within 24 hours." Well, it's been 4 months and I'm still waiting.

2005-12-27 14:26:46
no help here either
You think Sprint is bag try working with Cingular there are just as bad. I brought my Tro 650 in Jun of this year. I have not been able to connect to my Email addr's at all!!! I have called tech support (cingular) and no help what so ever!!!@@##
they do not and I repete they do not know how to sync my (2) Email Addr's to my 650 so now all I have is a $00.00 cellphone that I could have kept my old one (which costed $49.00 and worked very well. If anyone out there can tell me how too sync my 650 to my emails I'll dance at your wedding all nighh.!!!!

The (2) emails that I have are both military AKO is one and the other is OWA w/AkO email addr

2006-01-04 13:22:55
Sprint should give long time customers a break on new phones!
I had the same exact proble. I even called Sprint, after many emails, and told them I would be going to Earthlink if Sprint would not give me a better price than $150 off retail. They said they couldn't. So, all of you that want a 650 for a good price, go to The 650 goes for $69, yes, $69 with a new two year agreement. What's even funnier, is that the carrier, Earthlink, uses Sprint's network.
2006-01-08 10:33:41
Sprint should give long time customers a break on new phones!
sprint is full of shit they dont want to do nothing for their customer you have too wait so long to get a rebate they lie about everything that they do all they do want money money they only really want to talk you if you are about to cancell your contract they are really full of it
2006-01-08 10:37:06
Sprint should give long time customers a break on new phones!
sprint is full of shit they dont want to do nothing for their customer you have too wait so long to get a rebate they lie about everything that they do all they do want money money they only really want to talk you if you are about to cancell your contract they are really full of it
2006-01-23 07:46:31
Trapped by the Sprint Treo 650
I bought the Sprint Treo 650 a year ago and, while I would like to unlock the bluetooth features, I more concerned about their monthly service charges. Can I take my Sprint Treo 650 and use it elsewhere (Verizon, Cingular, Earthlink, etc...) or do I have to buy another Treo in order to switch service providers?
2006-02-08 22:04:09
How do I get Bluetooth on my Treo 600? Or is it possiable?
Thank! I am needing help to get the Bluetooth program on my Treo 600 from Sprint! I was told that I cannot by Sprint.We all now how they are! Well is it possiable for me to get it so I can use the new Motarola Wireless Earpiece that I bought about 2 weeks ago! Its a HS820 model the piece! Thank You for answering my question! My email is to get a quick answer in case someone nows! Thank YOu
2006-02-14 23:37:17
I purchased a Treo 650 (Sprint) from ebay. It did not come with the set up cd software. Where can I get this info. What exactly comes on the cd? Can I download it and where? I need help in the worst way.
2006-03-30 19:45:06
Sprint Service
As a Nextel customer I dedided today to change my phone to the treo 650. Drove to a number of Sprint stores in Kissimmee, absolutely no stock of phones. Then went to the Sprint store next to Super Target store in Orlando at Millienia Mall, walk in 20 people plus in the store and one staff member, everyone said they had been there ages without being served, decided Sprint is not the way to go especially as I read you cant link the computer on line through the treo with Sprint.

Having travelled in Europe the system in the States sucks and sounds like Sprint really sucks

2006-05-05 20:37:32
Poor, poor bluetooth
Well, it has been a while since these messages. Has anybody found success with connecting to the internet on their computer using their Sprint Treo 650 as a modem through their bluetooth?
2006-05-19 19:56:00
Sprint is worst when it comes to customer service
This company does not know the first thing about customer service.They have tons of telemarketers who call you on your cell phone and pressure you to get a second line.They would tell you over the phone that your second line will not incurr any charges.. It is a big lie... Forget about getting PDA 650 or any type of PDA from them. I tried that the amount of money that you will get going to be astronomical. I ended up buying a LifeDrive where I have the freedom of Wi-fi and bluetooth... wherever I want it. I am just going to wait until someone perfect VOIP for PDA so I can make phone calls from my PDA. People uses the execuse of not wanting to carry 2 electronic devices (Phone and PDA) I do not think it is worth the huge amount of monthly payment that you will pay.. compare to carrying a basic phone and a good LifeDrive with 4GB of hard drive.... Good Luck...
Zobear.. Be smart .. Do not get taken stay way from SPRINT
2006-05-22 09:53:28
Trapped by the Sprint Treo 650
Im looking to go that way...I wander if we might be able to just swap phones....
206 658 7518
2006-05-26 19:59:03
Sprint should give long time customers a break on new phones!
Big Bear Buddy
2006-06-18 14:55:03
yes...we are sprint support agents and we do lie about everything because u all are to f*cking stupid to understand the real reason. "the network is down" has to be said to you all as "take it to a store or call back later" because your stupid. we can fix any problem you have one way or another except for the constant bitching that comes out of your shit breathed mouths.

- REAL sprint techs

2006-06-18 15:00:24
i'm stupid i just wrote a comment but i was with my boyfriend so i was not thinking me boys!