Thursday, October 30, 2014

How to use Sprint LG Tribute with Page Plus (voice and SMS)

I bought a Sprint LG tribute this week at Bestbuy.  For $39.99, it comes with a solid specification:
  • 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 (MSM8926) quad-core
  • Android version 4.4.2
  • 4.5" diagonal LCD with 480 x 800 pixels
  • 4G LTE capability
Update: Page Plus phone activation policy is changing and will no longer allow activation of flashed devices after January 15th, 2015. However, this phone is great to use on Sprint's MVNO Ting for its inexpensive mobile family plan with 4G LTE data. No flashing is necessary at all for activating it on Ting and you may also enjoy the 4G LTE data speed instantly with this phone that is not available from Page Plus. As of now, Sprint's MVNO Ting is running a promotion with a $100 credit to new sign ups with a referral until 11:59pm EST on December 1, 2014. The credit is adequate for a few month's free trial with Ting ($12-21/month depending on usage). Click on this link to receive the promotion for $100 credit, which will show up upon successful activation.

I've had a few phones with Verizon or Page plus and like their signal coverage. Therefore I did the following to use it with Page plus:

  1. Obtain its MSL/SPC code: The MSL/SPC code of this phone may be obtained upon activation on Ting. Alternatively you can activate the phone on Ringplus with its $1.99 Kate plan after entering both its MEID and ICCID (activation would fail without ICCID) and obtained it's MSL/SPC code
  2. Enable DIAG mode (Serial/COM port): Dial ##3424# in the phone dialer then enter the MSL/SPC code obtained in the above step. Change the USB PC connection in Settings->Storage (after tapping on the menu icon ) from MTP to Charge Phone (important). If USB PC connection is MTP, the windows MTP driver instead of the serial port driver will be installed when the phone is connected to USB.
  3. Download and install the latest LG USB phone driver (LGUnitedMobileDriver_S51MAN312AP22_ML_WHQL_Ver_3.12.3.exe worked for me)
  4. Connect the phone to the PC via USB. In windows Device Manager, there is a new deivce installed as LGE AndroidNet USB Serial Port.
  5. Download and install the free software cdmaDevTerm 2.85. Extract the zip file with WinZip or 7-Zip to a folder on the hard drive and run the file cdmaDevTerm.exe.
  6. Connect to the phone by clicking on the button connect as red-boxed below. It should read out MDN/MIN and other information about the phone when connected.
  7. Change the SPC to my own (e.g. 000000).  First send the SPC code (manually enter in the box) to the phone by clicking the button send as red-boxed below. The phone should be unlocked now.
    Now enter my own SPC code (e.g. 000000) into the box after SPC and click on the button write as red-boxed below. The new SPC code can be read back by clicking on the button read to the left of button write
  8. Manually program the phone: (Update: It is not necessary to cancel plan at Ting or Ringplus prior to the activation of the phone at Page plus.) Activate the phone at Page plus (ESN swap for me as I had a Page Plus phone number on a old device). Obtain the MDN and MIN of the Page plus account and enter them into the two boxes (leaving the other fields unchanged). Then click the button write under the button disconnect as red-boxed below.
  9. Write a Verizon PRL to the phone: Download the PRL from internet and save to the hard drive (e.g.
    1. Click on the select button to select the .prl file downloaded (53401_spt.prl for sprint phones worked for me)
    2. Click on the write button to write prl to the phone
  10. Reset the phone: Set the MODE of the phone to MODE_RADIO_RESET and click on the send button to reset the phone
  11. Make an outgoing call to test. Worked and also tested with receiving a SMS. The phone is working with Page plus now for voice and SMS. If for some reason, the outgoing call does not go through, repeat the step 8-11.
  12. 3G Data programming: A Verizon 3G capable phone (donor phone) that can be programmed to write new MEID/ESN and read out HA/AAA key may be necessary. The following  guides have detailed instructions on how to get PagePlus 3G data working on non-Verizon phones