What is an Unlocked Cell Phone and Why Should I Get One?

Author James Mash 22.1.2015. | 15:51

Until recently in the US, cell phone customers had very little choice when it came to using their existing mobile wireless device with other mobile providers due to phone locking.

Understandable many of the large mobiles wireless service providers were reluctant to adopt changes that gave greater choice to consumers because it also, essential took away their ability to control and pressure the consumers in to purchasing over priced contracts from them and stopped them from moving to other providers.

Fortunately recent changes to the laws in the US have been passed to offer consumers more choice and now phone unlocking is legal again. This article is about how it can help you.

 

What is Phone Unlocking?

Some mobile wireless service providers installed a “lock” on their devices in the form of software. These locks ensured that the device can only be used on specified networks namely those that the service provider offers. This would ensure that customers couldn’t user a mobile phone from one service provider with a SIM card from another and made it harder and generally more costly for customers to shop around for better phone deals.

Unlocking a Phone is a process of removing this software lock. However, some phones purchased directly from a manufacturer or wholesale supplier such as Chinavasion come already unlocked and can be used with SIM cards from any provider that operates on the same frequencies that a phone supports.

 

Why Do Providers Lock Mobile Devices?

Most of the time a provider sells phones at a significant subsidy to minimize the upfront payments from the consumer. This makes packages appear more attractive and new phones more desirable as you don’t have to shell out several hundred dollars up front for the latest iPhone or Samsung device. In order to recover the cost of these subsidies the providers will frequently add the cost of the phone on to your monthly contract so it gets paid off (sometimes at an inflated rate) over the contract period.

However, to ensure that you remain loyal to the provider and stay with them for the length of the contract they use these software locks, which are designed to prohibit users from obtaining hugely discounted phones and then finding a cheap SIM only contracts.

 

Can I Unlock My Mobile Phone?

Unless you’ve purchased a phone that was specifically sold as “unlocked” or unless you’ve purchased it directly from the manufacturer it’s probably locked.

If you purchased your phone from a wireless service provider then you should check with them if they will unlock your phone. Once your contract ends you own the phone and can then do with it as you please. Indeed at the end of your contract your cell phone provider is now obliged to unlock your phone.

Chances are that you will still have to remind them of this and now you can legally unlock any phone, providing of course that you own it.

 

What are the Advantages of Unlocked phones ?

Whether you unlock an old phone or buy a new unlocked phone like those available from Chinavasion you can be sure of some great benefits.

-Wider choice of contracts.

Firstly, you have the freedom to choose from any provider you like and can shop about for the best SIM only contract.

Many of these SIM only contracts are monthly deals meaning that you are not locking into fixed contracts for one, two or more years. If you don’t like the contract, want to get more free minutes, or swap to a more preferable rate at a later time your free to do so and will not face any of the early termination fees or other hurdles. Remember to always check the small print on your contract as some may still include a cancellation fee.

– Cheaper monthly payments.

Because you’re not paying back the cost of your phone you can enjoy cheaper monthly phone bills and even negotiate a better rate as you’re not locked to one provider

– Lower Roaming fees.

If you travel overseas you can use a local pay as you go SIM which will nearly always work out cheap than costly roaming charges.

– Use multiple SIM Cards.

If you live in an area where the network coverage isn’t that great and you have a dual SIM phone you can use two SIM cards from different providers to obtain the best coverage and swap between them as you need. Alternatively if your personal phone contract and business number are from different providers then you can use them both in the same device, making life much more convenient.

 

You can get more news and information about Android devices here, or alternatively visit our how to guides from some great insights into getting the most from your gadgets.

Author James Mash 22.1.2015. | 15:51
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