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Why you should buy unlocked phones – Advantages & Disadvantages

ByinTips & Guides | May 27, 2015

Unlocked Phones

If you were on a hunt for a new phone at least once in your life, then you know it’s not an easy task. There are many important decisions to be made that will determine whether you will enjoy using your new phone so much that you won’t want to put it down, or you will curse the day you ordered that particular device. Among the dilemmas you will face is whether to go for locked or unlocked phone. While there are obviously numerous advantages of owning a locked handset, many users believe that unlocked phones are far better choice. This is why you should buy unlocked phones.

Advantages of buying unlocked phones

SIM cards for GSM phones

Freedom and flexibility

The biggest advantage of unlocked phones is that you are not limited to one carrier, unlike locked phones which work only on one selected network. Of course, a locked phone won’t explode when you put a different carrier’s SIM card inside, but it won’t connect to the network and in other words will be useless.

Unlocked phones, on the other hand, are compatible with multiple networks so you are free to choose the one that offers the best signal or the cheapest plan. If you come across a better offer, you simply put a different SIM card inside and that’s it. Unlocked phones allow you to switch carriers as often as you wish at no additional cost and with no explanations required.

Faster OS updates

Operating system is the brain of any smart device and it’s most efficient when it’s up to date. The problem with locked phones is that they have to go through strict carrier partner testing which it takes time. It’s not an issue with unlocked phones. That’s why they usually receive updates long before carrier-locked devices.


If you follow the news from mobile world, you know that service providers can take their sweet time bringing a newly released phone to their customers. Sometimes, by the time a device is available through carrier store, a successor is almost ready for launch. In some cases, if you want the latest phone as soon as possible, your only chance is buying unlocked device.

Exclusive colors and no carrier branding

While the appearance of a phone is usually not a decisive factor, some users can be pretty demanding when it comes to the design, especially color. Carriers typically offer phones in standard black and white option and rarely throw in a different color. Unlocked phones, however, may come in a variety of hues, some of which will never find their way to any carrier. Locked phones also come with carrier branding. While a carrier’s logo doesn’t influence performance of a phone, it can spoil the aesthetics. Unlocked devices naturally have no logos other than the manufacturer’s.

Less bloatware

Locked phones not only have carrier branding on the outside, but the insides are packed with carrier-specific apps most of which you will probably never use. Unlocked phones are a different story. In most cases you will get close to pure Android with only a few apps added by the manufacturer.

Disadvantages of getting an unlocked phone

Unlocked Cell Phone

Downsides to consider

The biggest problem with unlocked phones is that they can cost a pretty penny, especially if you go for a brand new device belonging to premium class. Such phones are not subsidized so you have to pay full retail price which in the case of the latest high-end offerings can be substantial. Of course, you can always look for special deals or promotions to bring the price down a notch or two.

If you don’t necessarily need the most recently launched phone, you may want to consider an older device. A one year old handset is perfectly capable of delivering excellent performance and in many cases it come even at a half of its original price at launch date. However, in the short run an unlocked phone will usually affect your budget more than a phone with SIM-lock.

Another thing you should be aware of is that unlocked phones work only with GSM carriers, which excludes Verizon or Sprint that run on CDMA network. If the Big Red or Sprint is the only carrier that offers decent signal in your area, getting yourself an unlocked phone may not be the best idea.

Also, the fact that a phone is unlocked doesn’t automatically mean that it will work on all GSM networks without any hiccups. Some says that phones with SIM lock have better signal reception than unlocked phones pre-loaded with generic software.

Also unlocked phones released globally may not be compatible with LTE network that your service provider operates on. For this reason it might be a good idea to make sure that the phone you want to buy supports LTE frequencies that your carrier requires to obtain super fast internet.

Final word

Of course, the final decision whether to opt for an unlocked phone or stick with a handset locked to one network is only yours. Like everything else, owing an unlocked phone has its pros and cons and it’s you who has to decide whether advantages will outweigh disadvantages in your case. Best of luck in making that decision.

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2 Responses to “Why you should buy unlocked phones – Advantages & Disadvantages”

  1. Frank K Bukowski on March 28, 2016 @ 10:24 pm

    I bought a Samsung galaxy S4 4gLTE 16gb unlocked AT&T Smartphone . I need a manual to learn how to operate ! Can anyone help me

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