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Thread: Should I Buy An Unlocked Phone?

  1. #1
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    Should I Buy An Unlocked Phone?

    Hi again guys,

    In other threads I've described how my previous relationships with carriers has failed, and I'm now starting over again from scratch, to get a new phone, and try a different pre-paid carrier.

    Should I start this process by shopping for an unlocked phone, to remove any incompatibly issues from the start?

    If yes, is there anything I need to know about unlocked phones in general? Or will any unlocked phone work with any carrier, and that's all I need to know?

    So for this thread, let's focus on me making a wise phone purchase decision. Once that's done, I can return to the question of which carrier to use. Does this sound like a good plan?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Yes, get an unlocked for all carriers smart phone. Motorola are a popular brand.

    Sent from my motorola one 5G UW ace using HoFo mobile app

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    The unlocked phones made for US market should work at most providers. But there are still phones you can buy that are old and doesn't have VoLTE or are not for US market and it's VoLTE is not compatible with US providers. I'm talking about eBay and Amazon mostly, so you have to be careful.

    Plus one phone might be good option for one network, and not so good for other. For example TMobile use 600 MHz (LTE Band 71) as the only one in US and not every phone, even designed for US, supports band 71.

    So it's better if you buy phone that's is fully compatible with the provider you're planning to use. There's is a webpage kimovil.com that you can check if phone supports all required bands for specific company. Just make sure that you check correct version of the phone, cause there are different versions for different markets. For example there are 5 versions of Galaxy S22, and 2 of them are for US market: one for Verizon is different and support different bands than regular, unlocked one.

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    There are carrier unlocked phones and factory unlocked. Carrier unlocked may not work on all carriers/networks. Factory unlocked is what you want to look for or do allot of due diligence.

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    You have to be careful about the term "unlocked". Many sellers throw this term around like it's one thing, but it isn't.

    Some phones leave the factory unaffiliated with any particular carrier, and have not been "crippled" by a carrier to be missing some functionality.

    Then there are phones which leave the factory as customized to a particular carrier, but can be "unlocked" for use on a competitor, but this does not neutralize the crippling that may be present. I don't know if the shortcomings make the phone cheaper or they are a ploy to keep the phones from being too popular if they are loss-leaders.

    There are a lot of sellers who don't know or care about this accuracy. You are safest with a mainstream seller or at least consider a listing with the actual IMEI and official backup if you are mislead. There are a number of websites where you can vet IMEIs.

    I have purchased a number of good used factory unlocked phones this way. Sometimes the older phones are better because they are before the chip shortage.

  6. #6
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    The OP seems to prefer inexpensive flip phones. Because they're inexpensive and flip phones aren't popular, it will be tough to find new factory-unlocked ones because the manufacturers don't see much profit in making them.

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    Home Shopping Network has a TracFone flip phone with a year of service days and 1200 minutes - 1200 texts - 1200 MB of data for $49.99 + tax (free shipping).

    After two months of use, you can unlock it for use on other providers.

    https://www.hsn.com/products/tcl-alc...ntext/20107742

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    Like was said for total freedom to choose which carrier you want choose Factory Unlocked not Carrier Unlocked. Still it must be on carriers approved lists. Afaik Motorola Androids are on more approved lists (they pay the carriers) than other brand phones. Also I check seller B&H Photo for a specific phone as they list carrier compatibility.

    just as an example see this Google 6 Pro is compatible with all 3 networks including their 5G.

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ..._dual_sim.html
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    As the case with most samdung phones, it's usually the same hardware but different software for the carrier branded ones these days. One can flash their target carrier firmware to the device to get any missing features. Of course, the phone still has to be unlocked for the target carrier's sim to work.

    I prefer to buy carrier agnostic phones where the device is completely divorced from any one carrier. This may help improve software updates for the device as you're not relying any particular update to go through that carrier's validation process.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpz1 View Post
    There are carrier unlocked phones and factory unlocked. Carrier unlocked may not work on all carriers/networks. Factory unlocked is what you want to look for or do allot of due diligence.
    Thank you. I had a suspicion that the word "unlocked" was going to have 39 different meanings.

    Any tips on how I can zero in on factory unlocked phones will be most welcome here. I'm hoping to escape phone incompatibility issues once and for all, if such a thing is possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lisme View Post
    You are safest with a mainstream seller or at least consider a listing with the actual IMEI and official backup if you are mislead. There are a number of websites where you can vet IMEIs.
    Can you expand on this a bit? Do you have any particular mainstream sellers in mind? What's an IMEI? Official backup?

    BEGIN RANT> This is off topic, but I must report I've worked online since 1995. Based on that experience, I feel somewhat qualified to claim that it's an incredibly stupid sales strategy for any industry to place so many confusion obstacles between the seller and the buyer's bank account. In 27 years I've never seen any industry that is such a mess as the cell phone industry. Why not just print all the sales pages in the Klingon language to finish the job of alienating buyers??? <END RANT

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    Quote Originally Posted by hpham View Post
    The OP seems to prefer inexpensive flip phones. Because they're inexpensive and flip phones aren't popular, it will be tough to find new factory-unlocked ones because the manufacturers don't see much profit in making them.
    Flip phones yes, simpler is better, for my use. Talk, text and a clock, and I'm happy. For example, I have zero interest in trying to surf the web on a tiny cell phone screen.

    But I'm adjusting my view on cheap. At this point I'll fork over $100 for a new factory unlocked flip phone. I see now that cheap is probably going to cost me more in time than I want to invest. The current Smartflip/RedPocket combination has cost me about $800 in time. :-) My bad, not such a good plan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by millept View Post
    Home Shopping Network has a TracFone flip phone with a year of service days and 1200 minutes - 1200 texts - 1200 MB of data for $49.99 + tax (free shipping).

    After two months of use, you can unlock it for use on other providers.

    https://www.hsn.com/products/tcl-alc...ntext/20107742
    Thank you. Yes, I'm looking in to this.

    Who would provide support for this phone if needed? For example, if I need assistance with activation. TracFone? Are they any good?

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    Quote Originally Posted by zapjb View Post
    Also I check seller B&H Photo for a specific phone as they list carrier compatibility.
    Good tip, thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by zapjb View Post
    just as an example see this Google 6 Pro is compatible with all 3 networks including their 5G.
    To each their own, but I remain amazed that anyone would pay $800 for any phone. But then, I do get that some folks live on their phones pretty much 24/7, so I guess that explains it.

  15. #15
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    Hey, I think I solved all my problems!

    They're having a deal on Amazon where you can get two tin cans and a couple of miles of string for only $39.

    Factory unlocked!

    Unlimited minutes!

    WooHoo!!!!

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