Get photos off your cell phone without paying Sprint $15 a month

Update: Before leaving a comment on this post, please realize that I do not support BitPim nor am I one of the BitPim developers. I simply downloaded and installed BitPim in order to download photos off of my cellphone. If you are looking for information on BitPim support for your particular cellphone model, please consult the BitPim Help Page rather than leaving a comment here. Good luck!

Sprint offers optional wireless internet service called PCS Vision. For an additional $15 a month, you get unlimited Sprint TV, picture mail, video mail, email, instant messaging, and web access. None of which I really want—except the ability to move the photos I take to my computer. Without the Vision service, it costs 2¢ for every kilobyte transfered off the phone.

Let’s do the math. Average file size of a 640×480 pixel jpeg: 55KB. Cost per photo uploaded: $1.10! A buck to take a crappy cellphone picture!? I mean, I’d pay $5 a month if I could configure Sprint to upload the pictures directly to my WordPress blog, but that’s unlikely any time soon.

I just want to get the photos off my phone, and I don’t want to pay Sprint in order to do so.

First thing I need is a cable. Don’t expect to find that in any Sprint store. After a little Googling around, I discovered that my Samsung SPH-A840 phone (aka the PM-A840) accepts a Samsung USB Data Cable (PCB113BBEB). I got mine from WirelessGround.com for $15 (including shipping). Just arrived today.

Of course it came with no software or drivers. I found some some drivers online, but these were only intended to turn my cell phone into a wireless modem. Handy, but I really just want to copy my photos to my laptop. Ain’t no way I’m paying $70 for DataPilot. This should just work! Update: Mike left a comment to say that actually the drivers are necessary for BitPim to communicate with the phone. And he offered what will hopefully be a more permanent link to the download them. Thanks Mike!

In the end, it was an almost year old article from Microsoft (of all places) called Camera phone options that pointed me to BitPim, a free, open source cell phone syncing application. It had trouble downloading my phone book entries, but no problem downloading my photos!

Driving home from work along Occidental Road
Drive home from work along Occidental Road, Sebastopol, CA

Yay, I win!

How to download cameraphone photos using BitPim

  1. Start BitPim with your cellphone attached to your laptop
  2. Goto Data > Get Phone Data …
  3. Check the “Wallpaper” checkbox and click OK
  4. BitPim will start downloading your photos (on some occasions BitPim has crashed here, so usually I just unplug my phone, restart BitPim, and start over)
  5. In Windows, the photos should be downloaded to a folder called “camera” under “My Documents\bitpim\bitpim.db_blobs”.

Feel free to if you found this useful.