What is an “unlocked cell phone or smartphone”?

You may have seen that term “unlocked cell phone”, but don’t quite understand what that truly means or represents. It is a good thing to understand because it can save you a considerable amount of money and gives you the freedom to move from one cell provider to another in the event you are not happy with their service.

In terms that will hopefully make sense to you, an unlocked phone is a phone that is not tied to any specific carrier (or service). In other words, you can use the phone with multiple cell providers.

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To use a real life example:

Here at “Tech News for You”, myself and my wife use Motorola G series phones that are unlocked. The specific Motorola phone model we both own (and purchased straight out) is the Motorola G Stylus. You will find other unlocked phones out there, but for the money you cannot beat the quality of the Motorola phones. Both phones together ran us approximately $500 (on sale), at Amazon. As a result we can use those phones on different networks, such as the AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, Cricket, Boost, Metro, etc… We use “Cricket” as our cell provider, where the cost for the two phones, unlimited service, is a flat $80 a month. “Cricket” is tied into the AT&T cell network and over a two year period, we have had great service and the cost for the service has remained steady. Once we had the phones purchased (and in hand), I simply placed the already purchased Cricket “SIM card” into the phone, turned it on, and voila’, we were up and running. There was a small cost for the SIM card and for service activation; but, when all said and done, we pay $80 per month using the Motorola Stylus G phones that we purchased straight out (for less than $500 on sale).

In summary, don’t let the fears of some of this stuff overwhelm you… When buying an unlocked phone, I recommend buying from Amazon (which makes it easy to return if not satisfied). Always research that the phone you want is compatible with the service you intend to subscribe to. Avoid the “international unlocked type phones” due that some of the cell frequencies (built into these phone) may not be available on the service you intend to purchase. When shopping for a service, ask the rep, “If I bring in an unlocked cell phone, what can you do for me?”. They are going to try to sell you (or actually lease to you) a high-end phone for a couple of years then try to lock you in for a couple of years with the service; which, can be very costly.

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Tech News for You

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