woman choosing an unlocked mobile phone

An unlocked mobile phone offers several advantages to buyers. For one, your phone will not be tied to a single service provider and you can switch anytime you want. But as convenient as this may seem, there could be other factors hampering your purchase decision. Word to the wise: take some time to mull things over.

Here are some important considerations before buying an unlocked mobile phone:

#1 Weigh the Pros and Cons

Do the benefits of using unlocked mobile phones far outweigh the benefits of using a carrier-financed phone?

Carriers offer exclusive services or perks to select phone models. Your access to such services will be terminated once you buy a non-financed unit. On the bright side, you can use other phone models and not be limited to what your carrier can provide.

#2 Carrier Phones May Eventually Be Unlocked

If you are willing to wait until you have fully complied with your contract, your carrier may eventually unlock your phone. Users have free reign over their unit after completing their payment. So no need to get a new one. It will be like any other phone you can purchase in shops. Sell or use it as you see fit.

#3 Third Party Intervention

The Internet is rife with jailbreaking or unlocking hacks that might help you unlock your smartphone on your own. Should all else fail, you can always approach a third party and pay them for their services. Be forewarned, however, that unlocking an unpaid carrier phone through this manner may nullify your existing warranty. In the worst case scenario, you might not be able to update the operating software. Move forward with caution and do your research first.

#4 Phone Use On Your Own Terms

Models furnished by a service provider tend to be high-end or have exclusive features, but are subject to certain terms and conditions. This gatekeeping may take a toll on users, who would rather use their phone at their own pace. Expect penalties if you exceed or violate the terms and conditions of your provider (e.g. late payment, data overages). An unlocked mobile phone will spare you these problems.

#5 Unlocked Mobile Phones Update Faster

Another advantage of buying an unlocked smartphone is receiving software updates straight from the manufacturer. You do not have to wait for your carrier to update your phone on your behalf. Moreover, updates will be faster and more regular. There will also be timely access to upgraded features.

#6 Carrier-Locked Units Have Bloatware

A bloatware is basically an app that carriers impose upon manufacturers. They could be apps from the service providers themselves or apps from partner companies, which are not necessary but nevertheless pre-installed and difficult to remove. Modifications or removing a bloatware by force could adversely affect your warranty. It is better to purchase an unlocked device, which usually has little to no bloat.

#7 Option to Buy a Used Smartphone

Only unlocked mobile phones can raise the banner of freedom and even take it to the next level. Your options run the gamut from A to Z. With unlocked units, it is possible to get a high-end model for the price of less. A much better deal than what you would have paid for under a carrier-locked phone.

#8 Compatibility with Service Providers

Most unlocked phones are compatible with all networks. However, just to be on the safe side, test your purchased unit before you take it out of the shop. If you are buying a model with dual SIM capacity, check the network signals or try using the messaging feature. Make the final purchase once you ascertain compatibility.

#9 Paying in Installments

One reason why some users prefer carrier-locked phones is getting a top-of-the-line device without paying a huge sum upfront. Paying in installments lets you stick to your budget. Buying an unlocked mobile phone, whether new or used, requires lump sum payment. And unless you have your own credit card or a reliable financial source, the installment option appears more favourable.

#10 Unlocked Devices are Cost-Efficient

Looking at the big picture and all things considered, unlocked devices can save you more money in the long run. Installments include interest rates and other charges. So while you pay less on a monthly basis, your overall costs far exceed any upfront payment you may have made to buy an unlocked phone.

Bottom Line

Unlocked smartphones offer several advantages including freedom to use your phone on your own terms, being able to choose your network, and getting value for your money. To facilitate your purchase decision, however, prior research and proper assessment may be in order.

Your priorities, spending habits and financial capacity must also be explored. These will help determine whether unlocked mobile phones or carrier-financed devices are more suitable for you.

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