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Tips on buying unlocked phones.

Tips on buying unlocked phones

What you need to know:

If you are a Sprint, Verizon, Alltel or any CDMA user you won’t be able to use your service with GSM phones even if they have been unlocked. For a replacement phone for these service providers you will need to look in categories dedicated to your service provider.

If you lost your AT&T or T-Mobile phone and you are planning to buy a GSM phone, you will need to purchase the SIM card separately. Third party retailers do not sell phones with SIM cards whether they are new, used or refurbished.

Unlocked phones usually carry generic software which keeps the SIM lock disabled. In this case original provider settings have been reset and some premium services such as internet browsing or picture messaging won’t be available settings are updated. No worries. The phone after updates will still be unlocked. Ask the retailer to provide you with the settings which will give you permission to use premium services such as picture messaging or web browsing.

Purchasing an unlocked phone because you are planning to go abroad? Make sure that the phone is tri-band or quad-band. The US dual-band phones won’t work in Europe or Asia. To be assured that the phone will have service abroad, verify what frequencies MHz are supported in the country you are going to visit.

CDMA carriers such as Alltel, Sprint, Verizon have in their offer world edition phones. These have an extra slot for SIM card and support frequencies abroad. Note that these phones do not support bands in the US.

Verizon phones can be activated with Page Plus phones. This general rule does not apply to Blackberry smartphones which require a data plan. Click at the link to read the article dedicated smartphones explaining how to distinguish smartphones from regular phones. Note that Page plus phones cannot be activated for Verizon services.

Nextel cell phones can be used with Boost Mobile services. Simply swap your SIM card from Boost and you are ready to make phone calls. However, Boost Mobile phones won’t work with Nextel Sim cards.

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125 Responses to “Tips on buying unlocked phones.”

  1. I want to buy an apple I phone 5s will it work for us celluar carrier

  2. Cell paradise on August 17, 2016 @ 10:07 am

    i need bundles of used refurbished or small issues but repairable unlocked GSM Quad band phones. please advise for outlets. cant find in ebay..

    thanks alot friends

  3. Want to get a Sony PSL 3g &4g data capable from Japan,will it work with any sim card in nigeria

  4. I’m on contract with Verizon, plan renews 01/2016, but plan to non-renew or where we have no contract. We have Droid 4 needs replacing (upgrade in 11/2015) but want to purchase Motorola Droid Maxx XT912 or XT926.
    Does Maxx need to be unlocked?
    How do I do this without renewing contract or extending another 2 years?
    Do I need to know anything else in addition to?
    Thanks so much as all confusing.

    • Hi Rebecca, thank you for contacting us. Here’re the answers. The Motorola Droid Maxx does not have to be unlocked to be activated on Verizon network. Just make sure that the phone has clean ESN# and is ready for activation with your carrier. To avoid renewing the contract simply do not upgrade your device or purchase new handset with contract option. Once you buy Motorola Droid Maxx without contract just contact your service provider and activate the phone.

  5. Can I buy an unlocked iPhone 6 and use MTS. Manitoba Telephone System, buying from China?

  6. Does this go for a S4 Mini as well

  7. Would like to send a Samsung Galaxy S4 (unlocked) to the Dominican Republic for use there. Is their anything I need to know or look for in purchasing a phone like this, and will it work there?

  8. I would like to buy a Galaxy S5 or S5 mini. I have Straight Talk (US, Minnesota) and have always purchased my phones through thier website as they are all set up and ready to use. The S5 is not available there yet plus I feel thier phones are overpriced. I would like to purchase from Amazon or Ebay but am super confused about all the different unlocked versions. Many of them are International versions. Some are Dual SIM, there are all different model numbers. The prices vary widely. I want to buy a new phone at a decent price, pick up a SIM Kit at Walmart, activate and have it work without any problems and have some sort of warranty. Any tips on what Samsung S5’s will for sure not work and what will work with Straight Talk in US Midwest?

    • Hi KE, here is a link to deals on Galaxy S5 compatible with Straight Talk SIM cards. As for the warranty, every phone is covered by store return policy and each purchase comes with buyer protection program. Let us know if you have any further questions.

      • Hi Jason.
        One of the first ones that comes up that I am interested in is on Ebay and the title is “Samsung Galaxy S5 SM-G900P (Latest Model) – 16GB – Black (Sprint) *Int.Unlocked*” I assume that this is the International version. In one of your earlier answers to a question I thought you had said that the International versions do not work here in the US. Is an International, Sprint, unlocked phone compatible with Straight Talk?

        • KE, thanks for getting back to us. All phones that are unlocked and support GSM bands 850 and 1900 MHz are compatible with Straight Talk prepaid service. That includes domestic and international models.

          As for the Sprint model you brought to our attention, the seller states that the phone will work only abroad with GSM carriers, therefore we have decided to replace this particular deal in the listing. At this moment you can find there unlocked Galaxy S5 that will work with Straight Talk as well.

  9. I am looking at purchasing a Note 4 SM-N910A. I want to be sure that this will be compatible with Straight Talk before purchasing. It is hard to find a direct answer to this question. Are you able to help in anyway?

  10. Can I use an unlocked 4s iPhone with cricket ?

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