What is an unlocked phone?

What is an unlocked phone? 27/08/2014
Learn about how unlocked mobile phones work, the benefits of an unlocked mobile phone and more.
What is an unlocked phone?

Before we get into what an unlocked mobile phone is and its benefits, let’s look at the opposite scenario – a locked mobile phone.

If you receive a mobile when you take out a phone contract, so for instance you sign-up with Telstra on a 24-month plan and they give you an iPhone 5s, chances are it’s a locked mobile phone. What this means is it won’t work with any SIM other than the one Telstra gave you when you signed-up.

This is because you’re still paying the phone off for as long as you have the contract (they add a handset fee to your monthly call fees), so it’s still technically the property of the network carrier until you make your last payment. The only advantage here is that carriers generally heavily discount their handsets, so in the end you pay a lot less for the actual phone. These days the latest iPhone can cost around $1,000 when it first comes onto the market, and for many people the only way to get their hands on one is to take out a contract with a carrier and pay it off at a discounted rate.

What is an unlocked mobile phone?

An unlocked mobile phone works with any SIM card, with any phone carrier, in any region. You’re not locked into any contracts and you can change your handset whenever you like. 

An unlocked mobile is a big advantage when you’re travelling overseas – you can just purchase a SIM from your destination country and use it with the new number while you’re away, avoiding the roaming charges we’ve all been stung by at some point! Unlocked mobile phones are also handy if you have a personal mobile plan and a work plan. You can just swap your SIM cards as needed rather than having to carry around two separate handsets.

Can you unlock a locked mobile phone?

If you’re not in the middle of a contract for the phone you want to unlock, a mobile provider might unlock a locked phone for you. There are also more and more companies popping up now who provide the service to you at a cost. If you are under contract you might be violating the terms of use if you do try to unlock a locked phone, so bear that in mind.

When you’re deciding between a locked and unlocked mobile phone it really depends on two things – what you need it for and how much you can afford to pay upfront. If, like most, you can’t afford the standard cost for a new mobile, you’ll likely have to take out a contract that will deliver you a locked mobile phone. If however you can afford a hefty initial outlay, take the freedom and convenience offered by an unlocked mobile phone.

Whatever phone you have, locked or unlocked, you want to make sure you keep it safe and looking great with all the latest accessories. Sprout accessories online offer fantastic phone cases, screen protectors and more, for all the biggest brands.

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