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What is an Unlocked Cell Phone?

What makes Unlocked Cell Phones Special? Why do people want an unlocked cell phone?
October 18, 2012


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Deciding which phone is worth getting? When looking to buy a cell phone, you can either get it from any 3rd party vendor or contract with your preferred service providers or carriers. Depending on your needs, either locked or unlocked phones may serve you better. Hence, it’s best to understand each of their pros and cons.

Locked Phones
When applying for a mobile service, you are usually issued with a phone unit provisioned by the carrier. Phones may be bundled with applications not available to regular phone units like free call and one-button access to some services.

With locked phones, subscriber would have to remain in a contract for a certain period of time, usually two years. If new phone models are released, you just can’t surrender your old phone back. Usage of locked phones may also be limited especially if the carrier doesn’t service other countries or outside its coverage area. In order to obtain service, roaming to other network is possible but is usually expensive.

Unlocked Phones
Getting an unlocked phone version allows you to choose any carrier and a wide range of phone models. If you would decide to switch carriers, you can always change the SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) card anytime you want as you are not bounded with a contract to comply with. This is ideal for travelers who can just easily insert another SIM card, use the same phone settings and make calls at local calling rates.

Problem with unlocked cell phones though is that it may not operate on four major GSM bands – GSM 850, 900, 1800 and 1900. Quadband phones do, but not other phones. It is important to check the cell phone bands and the GSM bands of a certain country when travelling.

Unlocking Phones
The concept behind unlocking phones is as easy as entering the passcode to remove the provision; it may also involve performing several steps. There are third party services available to unlock a phone. However, it may or may not be totally unlocked as there are settings that may not be overwritten. Unlocking instructions are also available online. If you are lucky enough, trying several passcodes should get the thing done. Otherwise, it will only permanently lock the phone after reaching the attempt limit making it unusable.

Unlocking a phone is not equivalent to the so-called jailbreaking a phone. This is rather illegal as it allows the user of Apple’s iPhone to install applications not created by Apple. Jailbroken phone doesn’t mean it’s unlocked. Yet, nothing seems impossible to the hackers and crackers of mobile phone technology.

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