Activating a Mint Mobile SIM for Librem 5

Activation of a Mint Mobile SIM for my Librem 5 was quite easy. I thought to share the experience here, to make it go easy for others. I purchased a three month SIM card on Amazon first. It only cost me $45 for the first three months and that way and no one asks you for an IMEI number when you buy it that way.

I choose to activate the SIM on my Note 8 and then move the SIM over to the Librem 5 after it worked first in the Note 8. This seemed to be the lowest risk method. To activate on the L5 came with a three-digit password requirement that would lock the phone out if I got it wrong. I didn’t know any special SIM card three-digit password to begin with. So I called Mint Mobile, gave them the account number on the SIM card documentation, and they did the activation while I waited. When they asked for the IMEI number, I gave them the IMEI number of my note 8. The last thing I wanted to do is to tell them about the Librem 5 and try to get them to understand anythig or believe anything that was new to them. If the SIM wouldn’t work on the Note 8, then it had to be up to them to fix that. But I tested phone calling before we hung up. Everything went smoothly.

After powering down both phones, I moved the SIM from the Note 8 to the Librem 5. Purism didn’t waste any money on that SIM card tray. It’s cheap and barely works. But once you get the door closed, you’ll probably never need to open it again. Making and receiving calls on the Librem 5 just worked after I booted it up with the new SIM installed. There was an error symbol on the data icon. I found the APN settings online: Name = Mint, APN = Wholesale, nothing else matters and the GUI in the L5 only asks for these two values even though there is a lot more to the APN than just those two fields. After entering these two values, the error symbol on the data icon disappeared and then the data connection on the phone (the L5) worked.

Without a Librem 5 app for Mint Mobile, I didn’t know if I could add my L5 to my “Mint Family” from my Android phone, or not. On Android, you need the Android app on both phones to do that. From my main phone (an Android phone), I added the Librem 5 phone number and clicked to associate it with my main Mint account. But there was no Mint app on the Librem 5 to verify a code with. But a link was sent instead to the L5 via SMS. It was received on the L5 as a link to Mozilla web page. When you open that webpage on the L5, the web page is exactly the Mint Mobile app. The code that had been sent to the Android phone could then be entered in to the app (webpage) on the L5. That put the L5 on to my main Mint mobile account. I also bookmarked the webpage on the L5 so I can use the bookmark to bring up the (virtual) app later to monitor data and payment status on the L5. Mint is working well for me now on the Librem 5.

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FYI, one can just check the Librem 5’s IMEI prior to activating. It will pass the compatibility check.

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I think that weather or not the IMEI will pass the compatability check has more to do with the specific carrier than anything else. I had researched different carriers and knew in advance that Mint Mobile would be easy to pass the compatability check and that the Librem 5 was likely to be accepted by Mint Mobile. The warning by the Librem 5 that if I didn’t get a three digit code correct, that I would be permanently locked out worried me. With help from customer service and use of a Note 8, there were no hickups.

Some posts that I found online were from people where were frusterated that they couldn’t get their Librem 5 working on Verizon and on some other carriers that I classify as hostile. The Broadmobi chip in the Librem 5 is totally incapable of using Verizon. So while some people discussed conspiracy theories and how to get around Verizon’s approval process, the truth is that the Librem 5 hardware is not compatable with Verizon. At least that is my understanding (CDMA vs TDMA).

Maybe I am a bit jaded, but I see most bottom level customer service people when dealing with technology, as not very well educated. If they even speak English well enough, many of them don’t understand the technology they’re supposed to be supporting. So if you can reduce your request down to their most common scenario, they’re more likely to be able to help you. The worst case scenario is where you have to end up trying to educate them about something that they don’t fully undrstand to begin with. They tell you that you are wrong. You tell them that they are wrong. They have all of the control. So they (actually their ignorance) win.

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Verizon retired its CDMA network in December 2022, according to Wikipedia.

Here are Verizon’s LTE frequency bands.

BM818 modem frequency bands (For the U.S., only LTE matters.)

But, bottom line, the modem (or any phone) has to undergo a testing and certification process by the OEM for any U.S. carrier’s particular VoLTE/IMS implementation before the carrier will activate it.

See also (PDF, 9 pages): https://www.globalcertificationforum.org/asset/C24B2325-7C02-4BFD-8356388A9515D5B2/

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Wow, this is very informative of recent changes. So does anyone actually have their Librem 5 on Verizon’s network yet? Has it been done legitimately, as in telling the Verizon customer service person they have a Librem 5 and giving them the L5’s IMEI to activate it? The last I heard, the Librem 5 was somewhat of an outlaw in the cell phone carrier community, prone to criticism and ostracism by most carriers.

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I don’t think so, but I believe someone in the forum reported success with moving an activated SIM over, from Pure Talk, a Verizon-based MVNO. Search for Pure Talk and you’ll find it.

EDIT: Oh wait, Pure Talk is AT&T, I think…
Search for “Verizon” in the forum and see if you find anything useful.

I think I was confused. The successful SIM move was with Pure Talk (AT&T), not some Verizon-based MVNO. (AT&T typically disallows the BM818-A1 modem, excepting the new underlying AweSIM/SIMple AT&T-based MVNO. So a success with Pure Talk was “news” here.)

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