You may have heard the term "unlocked phone" tossed around in the last few years, but what exactly is it? Unlocked smartphones are not tied to a carrier or contract—this gives you more freedom to choose both your device and your service. Although unlocked smartphones can sometimes be a little more expensive upfront, you'll be able to choose your voice and/or data plan without being tied to carrier-determined models, and so you may save money over time with a plan that's less expensive than a traditional billing contract. By buying an unlocked phone you may even be able to retain that older voice, text and data plan that helps keep your expenses down.
If you have to have the latest tech, buying an unlocked smartphone might be the quickest way to get that device in your pocket. You'll need the full price up front though, as you won't be able to pay on a plan, as a carrier might allow you to do. Conversely, you can save money on affordable unlocked phones that aren't necessarily the trendiest items. Some phone makers offer good unlocked smartphones for less than $200, because they don't have to give a cut of the profits to carriers.
When you aren't locked into a payment plan and contract for your phone, it's easier to upgrade when some hot new feature hits the market. You can easily resell an unlocked smartphone you own outright and move on to the next big thing.
Frequent international travelers can also benefit from buying an unlocked phone, as it is easier to swap out a carrier's SIM card for a pay-as-you-go option that will work on overseas networks.
One issue to be aware of when buying an unlocked phone is that not all will work on all networks. While all unlocked smartphones will work on carriers that use GSM networks, some carriers use CDMA networks instead of GSM. For these you will need a universal unlocked phone, which should work with all major U.S. and overseas carriers. You can confirm compatibility by checking the Network Bands listed in your phone's specs.
Now that you know why you would buy an unlocked phone, it's time to start shopping for your own. If you think that buying an unlocked phone is right for you we've got plenty of models for you to choose from. Trademore's wide variety of iPhones and smartphones are all unlocked and span a range of price points. Shop today and find the perfect unlocked phone ready to pair with the carrier of your choice.
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