Ready to shop for a new smartphone, but you are not quite sure what to choose? Unlocked phones offer consumers greater flexibility and potentially greater savings. This guide presents 6 tips on choosing a good unlocked phone for your needs. Consumers with an unlocked phone can choose what plan or which carrier you prefer their phone to run on, even if they had purchased the mobile phone from another service provider.
1. Look for phones that fit your budget
Since you are not under a contract from a specific provider, you will be purchasing the phone at full price, unless the store where you purchase it from offers a good discount.
2. Look for the features that you need in a phone
Consider the features that you are looking for in a phone. This is one of the major advantages of not being tied to a contract. You can choose if you want a phone just with the basic calling and texting features or if you want a phone with more advanced features.
For example, the BLU R1 HD is popular choice because it runs on Android 6.0, uses a fast 1.3 GHz quad core processor and comes with an 8 MP camera. It also helps that it looks good in design. For additional guidance, check out our guide on choosing a good prepaid Android smartphone.
3. Look for phones that will work with the carriers you are interested in. Consider the features that you need in a plan
More and more prepaid or regular cell phone companies are offering their services to customers who want to bring their own devices into the network. These include both prepaid companies like Tracfone or standard cell phone service companies like Verizon or T-Mobile. They offer what is called a BYOP (Bring Your Own Phone) programs.
Consumers are not tied to a contract with these plans. You can choose how many call minutes and SMS text messages you’ll have plus how much data limit you can have for social media, video streaming, browsing the Internet.
4. Read reviews on these phones
Check out reviews about these phones on Amazon and other retailers to see how others like the features on their cell phones, and whether other customers have successfully used their phones with their desired networks.
5. GSM/CDMA network compatibility
Remember that there are two network standards in the U.S. and abroad which are GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access). Not all unlocked phones work on both network standards. In fact, most aren’t. Decide which network would work better for your needs. Some companies like StraightTalk work with both GSM and CDMA networks, and they sell SIM card of start-up packages for unlocked phones that previously worked with AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon.
6. Look for a dual SIM phone
This is most recommended for those who are frequently traveling so that you can put your provider’s SIM in one of the slots and the SIM from the country where you have traveled to in another slot. However, this is not just for jet-setters but also for those who would like to separate personal and business calls and messages. By having two SIM cards, you can manage your personal and your work life better.
Now, you can start shopping around for the unlocked phone that will be best suited for your needs. In 2016, Amazon launched a new Amazon Exclusive Phones program offering Prime customers discounts on unlocked Android phones.