Locked vs. Unlocked Phone: Which is Better To Buy?

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Spending our hard-earned money on a new phone is always a big decision. But with all of the options out there, it can be hard to decide. One important choice you’ll need to make is whether to buy a locked or unlocked phone.

While you might think to go for an unlocked phone automatically to avoid having them unlocked by an unlock phone service, there are locked phones that come with certain benefits. Let’s take a look at both locked vs. unlocked phones to see which is the better option for you.

What is a locked phone?

A locked phone is a phone that is locked to one specific carrier. This means that you can only use that phone with that carrier’s service. For example, if you have an AT&T-locked phone, you can only use AT&T’s service.

The reason locked phones exist is because carriers subsidize the cost of your phone when you sign a contract with them. In exchange for this subsidy, they require you to use their service for a set period of time.

Think about it like this: if you buy a $200 phone from AT&T, you’re actually only paying $50 for the phone and agreeing to pay AT&T $15 per month for two years.

Locked phones are usually cheaper than unlocked phones because of this subsidy. However, you will be stuck with one carrier unless you want to pay the full, unsubsidized price for a new phone.

In order to use a locked phone with another carrier’s service, you’ll need to have the phone unlocked by that specific carrier or a phone unlocking service like Express Unlocks unlock phone.

The Pros of Getting a Locked Phone

Locked phones are usually cheaper than unlocked phones

Compared to an unlocked phone, a locked phone is usually much cheaper. This is because of the subsidy we mentioned earlier.

If you’re on a budget or don’t want to spend too much money on a new phone, getting a locked phone is a great option. You can get a high-quality, brand-name phone without spending as much money up-front.

It’s easier to get a locked phone on a payment plan

Another advantage of locked phones is that they’re often easier to finance. If you don’t have the cash to pay for a new phone outright, you can usually get a locked phone on a payment plan from your carrier.

This way, you can spread out the cost of your new phone over a period of time, making it more affordable.

You’re usually eligible for carrier discounts and promotions

When you’re locked into a carrier, you’re usually also locked into that carrier’s discounts and promotions.

For example, many carriers offer discounts to students or military personnel. If you qualify for one of these discounts, you’ll usually get a lower monthly bill.

Some carriers also offer promotions where you can get a free or discounted phone when you sign up for a new contract. These promotions are usually only available to locked phone customers.

Locked phones can sometimes be bundled with other offers, like a free tablet.

Sometimes, locked phones come with other offers from the carrier. For example, you can get a free tablet when you sign up for a new two-year contract with a locked phone. These kinds of offers can be a great way to get more bang for your buck.

The Cons of Getting a Locked Phone

You’re locked into one carrier.

The biggest downside of locked phones is that you’re locked into one specific carrier. This can be a problem if you’re unhappy with your carrier’s service or want to switch to a different carrier.

If you decide you want to switch carriers, you’ll either need to pay off your phone in full, buy a new phone, or have the phone unlocked by an unlock phone service.

If you’re still under contract, you’ll also have to pay any early termination fees that your carrier charges. This can be a significant cost, especially if you’re locked into a two-year contract.

You might not be eligible for a phone upgrade.

Another downside of locked phones is that you might not be eligible for a phone upgrade from your carrier.

Most carriers have upgrade policies that allow you to get a new phone after a certain amount of time, usually 12 or 18 months. However, these upgrade policies usually only apply to unlocked phones.

If you have a locked phone, you’ll likely have to pay the full price for a new phone if you want to upgrade.

You might not be able to use your phone overseas.

If you plan on traveling anytime soon, there may be better options than a locked phone. This is because locked phones are usually only compatible with one carrier’s network.

For example, if you’re using a locked AT&T phone in the United States, it probably won’t work with a carrier like Vodafone in the United Kingdom.

You can usually avoid this problem by getting an unlocked phone, which can be used with any carrier’s network.

What is an unlocked phone?

On the other hand, an unlocked phone is not tied to any specific carrier. This means you can use an unlocked phone with any carrier that uses the same type of technology.

For example, an unlocked GSM phone will work with any other GSM carrier, like AT&T or T-Mobile. Likewise, an unlocked CDMA phone will work with any other CDMA carrier, like Verizon or Sprint.

The Pros of Getting an Unlocked Phone

You’re not locked into one carrier.

Of course, the biggest advantage of unlocked phones is that you’re not locked into one specific carrier.

If you’re unhappy with your current carrier’s service, you can easily switch to a new carrier without having to pay any early termination fees or buy a new phone.

You might be eligible for a phone upgrade.

Another advantage of unlocked phones is that you might be eligible for a phone upgrade from your carrier.

As mentioned before, most carriers have upgrade policies that allow you to get a new phone after a certain amount of time. However, these upgrade policies usually only apply to unlocked phones.

If you have an unlocked phone, you can usually upgrade to a new phone after 12 or 18 months without paying the full price.

You can use your phone overseas.

Travel anytime and anywhere with an unlocked phone. Since these phones are not locked to any specific carrier, they can be used with any carrier that uses the same type of technology.

For example, if you have an unlocked GSM phone, you can use it with any other GSM carrier worldwide.

The Cons of Getting an Unlocked Phone

It can be more expensive.

One of the biggest disadvantages of unlocked phones is that they can be more expensive. For example, the iPhone 6s starts at $649 for the 16GB model if you buy it unlocked from Apple. However, if you get it locked from AT&T, you can get it for as low as $199 with a two-year contract.

It might not work with some carriers’ features.

Another downside of unlocked phones is that they might not work with some of the features offered by your carrier.

For example, if you have an unlocked phone on AT&T’s network, you probably won’t be able to use AT&T’s Wi-Fi Calling feature.

And if you have an unlocked phone on Verizon’s network, you probably won’t be able to use Verizon’s XLTE network.

Locked vs. Unlocked Phone: Which is Better To Buy?

The answer to this question depends on your needs and preferences. If you want the best deal on a new phone, consider getting a locked phone.

Locked phones are usually cheaper than unlocked phones, and you might be eligible for an upgrade from your carrier.

On the other hand, if you want the freedom to switch carriers or use your phone overseas, consider getting an unlocked phone. Unlocked phones are more expensive, but they offer more flexibility.

So, which is better to buy: locked or unlocked? It depends on your needs and preferences. Assess your needs and decide based on what you think is best for your lifestyle.

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