What is an Unlocked Cell Phone?
If you are like a lot of people, you have asked "What is an unlocked cell phone?" An unlocked cell phone is a phone that will recognize a SIM card from any cell phone carrier. Many people assume that any cell phone will work with any cell phone provider, but this simply is not the case. In fact, most cell phones are made to use a SIM card that stores all of their data and is locked to only recognize a certain carrier. If the phone is locked, the phone can only be used with one carrier, keeping the client loyal to that carrier.
Carriers that only sell locked phones say they do so to subsidize the cost of the phones. Most carriers will not unlock the phone, but others will agree to unlock the phone after a contract is up or after a certain amount of time, but usually for a fee. After the phone is unlocked the owner of the phone can then choose to use the cell phone carrier of their choice, though one should be aware that due to some settings the phone may not work exactly the same as it did before it was unlocked. These functions can usually be restored, but it may take some effort.
What are Unlocked Cell Phones Used for?
An unlocked cell phone is used like any cell phone, the idea is that you can buy it and use it with the carrier of your choice. Instead of having to buy a certain model of phone that you want and using a specific provider, you can buy the phone you want and choose the carrier that you want. Because some models of phone are specific to a carrier, this can be frustrating for a consumer that likes a phone but doesn't like the carrier that is associated with the phone.
When a cell phone is unlocked you are free to use it as you see fit. You can choose the provider, the plan, and the contract. No need to be tied down to specific phone choices or specific provider choices. When you purchase an unlocked cell phone you really are customizing your cell phone experience, which you cannot do when you buy a locked phone, and 99% of the phones that you purchase today are locked. Buying an unlocked GSM cell phone will give you the opportunity to use your cell phone any way you want!
Who Makes Unlocked Cell Phones?
Anyone can unlock their own cell phone or you can buy one. You'll find that there are more and more providers that are offering unlocked cell phones instead of locked ones. You may not be able to find them in your local area, depending on what providers that can be found in your area, but when you shop around online you'll find that you can buy unlocked GSM cell phones in addition to an unlimited number of others.
You can unlock your own cell phone, you don't need to buy one that is already unlocked. There are actually codes that you can type into your phone, which you can find on the Internet through a variety of sources, which will unlock your phone. If you cannot find a code that works on your phone to do it yourself, there are actually third party providers that will unlock your cell phone for you for free or for a small fee. For many people, an unlocked cell phone is worth a small fee for the freedom that it provides.
What are the Top Brands of Unlocked Cell Phones?
Unlocked GSM cell phones are some of the most popular. These phones include but are not limited to Cingular, AT & amp;T, and T-Mobile. Other popular brands that are not on the GSM network include Sprint, Verizon, and Virgin Mobile. It's important to note that those that are not on the GSM network do not use SIM cards, so these phones may be more difficult to unlock, though not impossible. The fact of the matter is that most phones today can be unlocked and can give the consumer total freedom of choice when it comes to which provider they want, the phone that they want to use, and the usage plans to purchase. As you can see, with an unlocked cell phone the cell phone world becomes a lot more open and exciting!
Where to Find Unlocked Cell Phones
You can find unlocked cell phones in a variety of places. You will likely be able to find unlocked cell phones from certain providers in your area, some of which will be more professional and reputable than others. You will definitely be able to find unlocked cell phones online. If you want to get a good deal you can start with sources like eBay (www.eBay.com) where you will find an unlimited number of unlocked cell phones for sale.
If you would like to find a cell phone that is unlocked from a source other than an auction site you can, as you can also visit places such as www.overstock.com, www.puremobile.com, www.wirelesshut.com, www.buy.com, www.nextag.com, www.cellularcountry.com, and many more! If you know that there is a specific phone that you want to buy, simply search the Internet for an unlocked version of this phone, but be sure that it comes with some sort of warranty or guarantee so you are sure that you can get use out of the phone. An unlocked cell phone is a great option for anyone looking for freedom of use!
The existence of these two different networks means that unlocked cell phones are not universal. For example, a phone that takes a SIM card will only work with a carrier that uses SIM cards and vice versa. The GSM network and its corresponding SIM cards allow for much more interchangeability than the CDMA network which doesn't currently use any type of card. However, R-UIM cards, which are already in use in some parts of Asia, are rumored to be coming into use with the CDMA network.
Using unlocked cell phones with the GSM networks means that switching phones is as simple as removing the SIM card from one phone and inserting it in another. Address book contacts and other information can be transferred between phones via the SIM card as well using phone settings to save this information to the card. It's more difficult to use an unlocked cell phone with the CDMA network since this involves actually taking the new phone into one of your carrier's retail stores, and having it programmed for use.
Which Network Am I In?
The following carriers in the United States are members of the GSM network:
AT & amp;T ® , Sprint ® , Nextel ® , and T-Mobile ® .
The following carriers in the United States are members of the CDMA network:
Alltel ® and Verizon ® .
What Are Unlocked Cell Phones Used For?
Unlocked cell phones are used just like any other cell phone. The difference is that unlocked cell phones aren't normally sold through carriers. They are obtained from third party sources for use with any carrier within the same network. The availability of unlocked cell phones enables users to purchase and use multiple handsets if they desire. Many people find this interchangeability convenient since they may have reason to use a more durable model during working hours, and prefer a delicate, but feature-packed smart phone at other times - not to mention, the multitude of gadget fiends out there who enjoy trying all different models of phones. Buying unlocked cell phones from third party distributors makes them easy to get, but also a little on the expensive side since purchasing in this manner usually does not include contract discounts. Buyers usually end up paying the full retail price for the phone. There are also hundreds of places to buy unlocked cell phones, which will be discussed a little later on.
Who Makes Unlocked Cell Phones?
Cell phones come from their respective manufacturers unlocked. They are locked with proprietary software and information by cell carriers to allow exclusivity, and so the carriers can recoup the cost of the phone when they offer users discounts with new contracts. Many carriers will unlock cell phones free, or for a small fee after the initial contract is up. The demand for unlocked cell phones is so high that many third party vendors will unlock the phones free. The downside to this is that many times the phones do not function properly or some features are lost. The best way to utilize unlocked cell phones is to purchase the phones unlocked from the manufacturer to avoid defects.
Where Can Unlocked Cell Phones Be Found Online?
There are literally a million sites online where one can purchase an unlocked cell phone, and not just any unlocked cell phone. You will more than likely find the exact model you are looking for or be introduced to the phone with all the features you currently want.
Dell.com has a wide variety of unlocked cell phones for sale. While Dell ® has a reputation for providing quality refurbished items, they do not distribute refurbished versions of their unlocked cell phone inventory. Dell ® stocks many high-end smart phone models that aren't widely known from trusted manufacturers like Nokia ® and Palm ® . Buyers can find specialty models that are popular in Europe and Asia optimized for use in the United States by shopping Dell.com, as well. Prices are full retail unless you catch a sale.
Amazon.com is a wonderful site to find almost anything, and unlocked cell phones are no exception. In addition, the prices can't be beat. No matter if you're looking for a daily beater phone, or a savvy smart phone, Amazon.com will have what you are looking for a reasonable price. As always, you will get loads of information including features, user reviews, and ratings. With Amazon.com, there is also the option of buying new or used. Used items are sold through individual sellers and any defects are detailed in the description. It is very possible to get a cheap unlocked cell phone for the best possible price by checking out Amazon.com.
Overstock.com has a range of all kinds of unlocked cell phones for sale. Like Amazon ® , their site is loaded with information including user reviews, price comparison information, and ratings. You can also see models that other users viewed when you select a phone to learn more. The phones from Overstock ® are new, and the prices are very reasonable compared to other sites where you can only find new phones for the full retail price. Overstock ® also offers warranties on most everything they sell, so users can buy with confidence knowing their investment is protected.
eBay.com also has a large selection of cheap unlocked cell phones. While eBay ® isn't as information packed as other sites, there is still a treasure trove of goodies to be found for outstanding prices. If you already know the model of phone that you want to purchase, then eBay.com is definitely worth checking first. If you're not in a big hurry, you can always try bidding on a few phones to see if you can land a deal on your purchase. For those who are less patient, almost all sellers offer a Buy It Now option for instant gratification.
There is no doubt that finding the perfect phone for a price that is also perfect is very much within reach. Thanks to the Internet, cheap unlocked cell phones are only a few clicks away.