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Thread: Any unlocked device, take to any cellular service each with different SIM

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    Any unlocked device, take to any cellular service each with different SIM

    Is this true? You can use an unlocked device, and setup cellular service for it with more than one company, and each will use a different SIM card, and you can switch to any SIM card you want for whichever service/company you want to use? Let us say, unlocked phone, activate for a line with CompanyA Mobile; after a couple months, take same phone and activate for a line with CompanyB Mobile; now you have two SIM cards, and if still subscribe to both companies' plans, you can switch to one from the other just by changing SIM cards. Is this correct?

    Would this work for ANY unlocked device, or are some unlocked devices different from other unlocked devices?

    Now, how does CDMA, GSM, and 4G LTE come in to all of this?

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    Quote Originally Posted by joseg2016 View Post
    Is this true? You can use an unlocked device, and setup cellular service for it with more than one company, and each will use a different SIM card, and you can switch to any SIM card you want for whichever service/company you want to use? Let us say, unlocked phone, activate for a line with CompanyA Mobile; after a couple months, take same phone and activate for a line with CompanyB Mobile; now you have two SIM cards, and if still subscribe to both companies' plans, you can switch to one from the other just by changing SIM cards. Is this correct?

    Would this work for ANY unlocked device, or are some unlocked devices different from other unlocked devices?

    Now, how does CDMA, GSM, and 4G LTE come in to all of this?
    Yes it is true. The phone needs to be carrier unlocked AND carrier agnostic. Try a web search for "carrier agnostic phones" to find models. In the low to mid price range, many of the Moto phones are carrier agnostic and can be bought carrier unlocked - Moto E6, G7, etc.

    This is not at all hackerish or skirting the terms of service. It really is as easy as changing the SIM and entering the new APN (Access Point Name) in the phone.

    Aside from US carriers, a carrier unlocked phone can be used outside the US with foreign SIMs and service in many countries.

    If a phone is listed as being compatible with the Big-4 US carriers, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint; it will include CDMA and GSM*. CDMA is now only relevant for Sprint. Verizon is phasing it out by the end of 2020 and will only activate phones that have VoLTE for voice. Sprint is starting to switch to VoLTE also, but they don't have it everywhere yet. You would need CDMA for Sprint for some time to come.

    Any current phone, or from the past few years, will have 4G LTE. LTE is used for data and VoLTE (Voice Over LTE).

    *GSM is not used much anymore. Only T-Mobile still uses some in the US. It remains a convenient shorthand way to mean compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile in the US. There is hardly any CDMA in the rest of the world and the US is phasing it out.

  3. #3
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    It depends. A phone that works well on Verizon (e.g. CDMA + LTE bands 13 & 4) might not work well on T-Mobile (GSM + WCDMA +LTE bands 2,4, 12 & 71). If you want to easily move from one carrier to another, it's best (as @bobdevnul says) to first look for a "carrier agnostic" phone. This is a phone that supports multiple bands and standards, is unlocked out of the box and and doesn't have any carrier "enhancements" that cripple your ability to use it on other carriers. Apple phones are pretty good but Samsungs purchased from carriers are notorious for being "customized" to that carrier's specific requirements in such a way that they are sub-optimal on other carriers.

    At one time really all you needed to know was GSM carrier (e.g. AT&T T-Mobile) unlocked, quad-band GSM phone. You were golden. You couldn't swap around phones on CDMA carriers (e.g. Verizon, Sprint). That was then, this is now. Things are pretty complex and you need to know quite a lot about bands and standards if you want to make sure your phone will switch easily from one carrier to another.

    Good phones to look into are Pixels, iPhones, OnePlus and Motorolas.
    Donald Newcomb

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