Guide to buy Unlocked Phones
When buying a new phone, a carrier's store is usually the first choice for many users. This option is convenient and time-saving, since during one visit you can buy a new smartphone, activate it on a plan of your choice and do all the required paperwork. The things is, though, that phones sold by carriers are locked, meaning that they won't work on any other network.
If you don't plan to switch carriers anytime soon, it won't be a problem. However, the multitude of plans offered by service providers results in users seeking the freedom of moving between networks without having to buy a new device each time. If that's the case, you may want to opt for an unlocked smartphone. Here's a short guide on how to buy unlocked phones like a pro.
Most major smartphone makers offer today unlocked phones through their own stores, for instance Apple, Motorola or Samsung. Certain models can also be found in physical stores which sell phones and other smart devices, but your best choice seems to be shopping online where the selection of brands and models is virtually unlimited. However, before you buy an unlocked phone, there are a few things you should take into account and ask the seller before pulling a trigger on the deal.
1. Who unlocked the phone
A phone can be factory unlocked by manufacturer or someone else, for example a retailer. The main advantage of buying phones unlocked by a manufacturer is that they come with a warranty. Phones unlocked by a third party shouldn't cause any problems in terms of hardware or software when it's done correctly, but the process of unlocking by someone other than the maker will automatically void the warranty.
In contrast to phones sold by carriers which offer a number of financing options, unlocked devices are available only at full price. Prices generally depend on the brand and model of the phone, however, since retailers are free to set their own prices, they can vary great from site to site. For this reason it's a good idea to check several stores using Cheap Phones' comparison tools before buying a phone to make sure that you will get your phone at the cheapest price.
3. Cell phone provider
Before you buy an unlocked phone, it would be a good idea to make sure that it will be compatible with the carrier of your choice. Remember that unlocked phones won't work on a CDMA network utilized by Sprint and Verizon. It should operate on all GSM carriers without any issues, though. However, just to be on the safe side, you may want to check if this particular model will support the bands of your carrier for super fast 4G LTE speeds.
4. Non-functional data features
Unlocking phones is a pretty safe process, but it means altering some settings. As a result, certain features requiring data network may not work properly. Before buying an unlocked phone, ask the seller if the phone will be able to access the internet or send / receive picture messages. If you know how to modify the settings, you will be able to solve the problem yourself. Otherwise, you may need to ask for help with making your phone fully functional. Of course, not all unlocked phones come with similar limitations, but it may be helpful to know that such possibility exists.
5. Network compatibility abroad
While the freedom of switching carriers in the US is the main advantage of owning an unlocked phone, traveling abroad is a whole different story. In most cases, an unlocked phone will be compatible with any GSM network regardless of where you are, but some models operate only on certain bands. Dual-band phones released for the US market usually will work only in North and South America. If you plan on using your phone abroad, it might be a good idea to ask if the phone on sale is a tri-band or a quad-band device
to avoid any connectivity interruptions.
If the phone was unlocked by anyone else than the manufacturer, the warranty most likely will no longer be valid. It means that you will have to pay for the repairs of any device malfunction that normally is covered by the warranty. If you want to avoid such situations, you may want to choose a factory unlocked phone which is a bit more expensive.
If you are currently in the market for an unlocked phone, you can find plenty of models on Cheap Phones. Just choose Cheap Unlocked Phones category and you will be able to look for a phone that matches your preferences best. You can do so by specifying search options, such as: price, manufacturer, condition, mobile operating system and key features.
Good luck with shopping for unlocked phones.