How I activated a new Essential phone without visiting a Verizon store

-- October 17th, 2018

I dropped my Samsung Phone and broke it.   I was planning to buy a new phone anyways, so I ordered a ESSENTIAL phone on Amazon.   The price was $340 plus tax, which was substantially cheaper than an i-phone or a Samsung phone (price range $800-$1000).  If you directly order it from Essential website, the price is $499 and the phone comes with accessories (click here).

I always bought my phones at a Verizon service vendor, but my cousin assured me that buying a smartphone online is easy.  My cousin also told me that ESSENTIAL phones are made by Andrew Rubin who created the android OS system.  Their website was sharp looking and Internet reviews were positive.  One review said that Essential phones are compatible with my phone provider, Verizon.  To state my conclusion first:

  • I got the phone started within two hours of receiving it
  • I was able to get it started without calling Verizon or changing options on my Verizon online account.   A Verizon store would charge me at least $20 to switch a SIM card.  I did not have to order a new SIM card from my online account.
  • I needed
    • a small flat screw driver to open the old Sam Sung phone's back cover and a sharp and tiny need-like thing to open the Essential phone's SIM slot (the Essential phone came with a pin to open the phone's SIM slot).
    • a pair of scissors to cut the SIM card to the nano size (my original Sam Sung phone SIM card was one size larger than the nano size).

When the Essential phone arrived the next day, I took out the SIM card out of my old Samsung Galaxy S4.  I had to flip the backside panel open using a sharp object (I used the IFIXIT driver kit tool).  With the new phone, I pressed the SIM card slot inward till it popped out.

The SIM card was larger than the nano SIM card required by Essential ph-1.  Following the Internet discussion, I cut the plastic part of the card to make it small.  I didn't use the size template that people said one should use.  I just used a pair of scissors.  I cut it too small, so I put a Scotch tape on the back of the SIM card to stick it to the slot firmly.  I didn't want the tape to touch the golden side of the SIM card too much, but my understanding is that the only essential part is the center part of the gold side.

I thought hard about which side should be up, but the card can fit into the slot only in one way (because one corner of the card and the slot are both diagonally cut and they only match in one way/direction).

The phone did not start working immediately.  I took the SIM card out and put it back a couple of times.  At one point the phone started receiving texts.  I was also able to send texts.  The phone still did not work.  It started working when I followed the Internet instruction "Disable Enhanced 4G LTE Mode."  This option was somewhere in the setting.