Gizmo Throw-Down: Carrier-Supplied Phones VS Unlocked Phones

Author Chinavasion Marketing 5.6.2016. | 14:52

If you’re in the market for a new phone, you have two choices: unlocked phones, or carrier-supplied phones. The latter is provided by a mobile network operator – aka a carrier – while the former is provided by third-party vendors.

The question is, which will work best for you: unlocked smart phones that you can slot any SIM card you choose at any time of your choosing, or locked phones that net you the perks of sticking to one particular carrier for years on end?

OOTB Setup VS More Customization Options

Convenience is something that consumers get when they stick to locked carrier phones. As soon as the registration process is completed and you’ve paid the initial fee, you can get started using the phone right out of the box (OOTB) that your operator provides you with.

Unlocked phones also come OOTB as long as you have a SIM card to work with. The main difference is that you have more options to modify the phone. This ranges from rooting your phone to installing apps that would normally be region-locked out of locked carrier phones. You *could* modify your locked phone, but you run the risk of voiding the warranty protecting it.

mobile phone

Carrier Perks VS Phones Carrier’s Don’t Provide

Carriers entice users to sign on with perks such as unlimited access to social networks (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) or free subscriptions to streaming services (e.g. Spotify, Netflix) to name a few. These perks often come with carrier-locked phones, adding more bang for the user’s buck… at least at first glance.

On the other hand, carriers only offer a very limited stock of phones up for offer. There are far more unlocked mobile phones out in the market than what carriers provide. This lets you pick from a wider selection ofunlocked phones to suit your needs. Some examples of these unique phones include dual-SIM phones or phones available only in select regions of the world.


Expanded Warranty Options VSHefty Termination Fees

Carriers often offer additional warranty options that your average unlocked cell phones don’t offer. You could, for example, apply for extended warranty to cover your phone for an additional year or two. You could also avail of a replacement phone while your phone is sent to the manufacturer for repairs. For a price, of course.

On the other hand, sticking with unlocked phones lets you avoid having to deal with hefty termination fees. These will kick in if you decide to terminate your contract with a carrier – something you aren’t forced to deal with if you opt to just stick with no-contract plans. This makes it possible you to adjust your budget to what you need instead of adjusting your budget based on the tight confines of a contract.


Spread Costs for Branded Phones VS More Savings in the Long Term

One of the biggest advantages of sticking with carrier phones is that they ‘subsidize’ a hefty portion of the costs of new phones. This is often why expensive flagship phones from brands like Samsung or Apple often come with the more expensive phone plans. This allows you to spread the costs; paying for the phone over a longer period of time.

On the other hand, working with a phone unlocked by default is often the more affordable choice in the long term. You control exactly where your money goes, and you can pick unlocked phones that are just as capable as branded models but cost significantly less. You’ll also have a much easier time reselling your phone, unlike a locked phone where you’ll have to deal with the terms of the contract as well.




Chinavasion is a Hong Kong-based gadget wholesaler sourcing its products straight from Shenzhen, the manufacturing heart of China. Retailers and consumers alike will be able to avail of a wide array of high-tech gizmos, from unlocked phones and low-cost tablet PCs to LED t-shirts and virtual reality video glasses.

Author Chinavasion Marketing 5.6.2016. | 14:52
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