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What Does It Mean To Buy An Unlocked Phone? | Jun 03, 2018

If you have ever shopped for a phone you might have come across the term "unlocked", but what does this mean and why should you buy an unlocked phone over a phone that is not unlocked? In this article, we will discuss just that.

First, Let's Get On The Same Page

Something you will find out very quickly is that people tend to use the term "unlocked" in a variety of ways when it comes to phones. This is most commonly true when dealing with buying a used phone from an individual versus from a business. Here are common ways that people use the phrase:

  • To state that the phone does NOT have a passcode

  • To state that the phone has an UNLOCKED boot leader

  • To state that the phone can be used with ANY carrier

If you are unsure of what the seller means by their use of the word, a simple question can clear things up. That said, the most common use of the word refers to the phone being unlocked to be used with any carrier and that is what we will be discussing in more detail in this article.

Carrier Unlocked Phones

So now what does it mean for a phone to be carrier unlocked? When a phone is carrier unlocked this means that a phone can be used with any carrier (AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, etc). In other words, unlike a locked phone, an unlocked phone gives one the ability to change between multiple carriers whenever one pleases. However, on a locked phone, if a phone, for example, belongs to T-Mobile - It can ONLY be used with T-Mobile and T-Mobile alone.

Can a Locked Phone Become Unlocked?

Yes, depending on your carrier policies, one can go to their carrier and request their phone to be unlocked. However, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If are on a CDMA network (Sprint or Verizon), your phone might only work on a CDMA network (this depends on the phone), which means you will only be limited to CDMA networks once your phone becomes unlocked
  • On the opposite note - because of the reason stated above, it is more prominent to have an unlocked GSM (All other networks that are not Sprint or Verizon).

Why Should I buy An Unlocked Phone?

Now that we have a better understanding of what it means for a phone to be unlocked, let us discuss why you would want to buy an unlocked phone.

The freedom! The good thing, as previously discussed, is that with an unlocked phone you have the freedom to choose any carrier and any plan.

Higher resale values! If you ever decide to sell your phone the good news is that unlocked devices will sell for more. This again is due to the ability to have the freedom to choose any carrier. Get cash for your electronics!