An unlocked phone means a device that is not associated with any carrier, plan and support global frequency bands so it can be used in other countries. When choosing a plan, insert the carrier SIM card into the phone, and you are ready to go. If you decide you want to change your carrier later or want to travel abroad, it's as simple as replacing your existing SIM card with your new SIM and activating your new plan.
Why buy an unlocked phone?
As we know, buying unlocked phones gets some benefits, such as:
How do I set up my unlocked phone?
The first thing you’ll need is a SIM card for your desired carrier. When activated, the SIM card will let your phone connect to your carrier’s network. If you decide to upgrade to a newer unlocked phone in the future, you can easily remove the SIM card from your old phone and put it in your new phone—just make sure you get the right size of SIM card (nano, micro, or standard) for your phone. To find out which size SIM card you need and how to install or remove it from your phone, see the user guide that came with your phone. If you want to use your phone while traveling internationally, you can easily buy a SIM card for a carrier that operates where you’re traveling. As long as it’s activated, you can just swap SIM cards when you arrive at your destination. If you often travel internationally, you might want to consider a dual-SIM phone, which has two SIM card slots so you don’t have to swap them. Check out our broad selection of SIM cards and SIM kits for U.S. and international carriers. If you already have a SIM card and need help activating it, contact your carrier.
How do I know if my phone will work with my carrier?
When buying an unlocked phone, it’s important to know which frequency band your carrier’s network uses. GSM is the type of wireless network used in the U.S. by AT&T, T-Mobile, and various prepaid carriers. CDMA is the type of wireless network used by Verizon, Sprint, and some prepaid carriers. Internationally, most carriers also use GSM, but in both the U.S. and internationally, different carriers use different bands within the available radio frequencies. This is noted in megahertz (MHz), and common bands include 800, 850, and 1900 MHz. Before buying, make sure the phone you want works on the same network type and bands as your desired carrier. This is especially important if you plan to use your phone internationally because different bands are used in different regions of the world. If you’re not sure, check the specs on our product pages or contact your carrier. For the top domestic carriers and smartphones, Amazon will indicate if the phone is compatible in the product page.
What is an international version of a phone?
An international version is a phone that was manufactured for sale outside the U.S. Often, these are the same phones available from your carrier, but they may differ in settings, software, packaging, the language on the packaging and documentation. International models may not include a warranty or a charger that works with electrical outlets in the U.S. Most importantly, an international model may be designed to use a frequency band that is not used by U.S. carriers. In the U.S. and internationally, different carriers use different portions of the available radio frequencies. This is noted in megahertz (MHz), and common bands include 800, 850, and 1900 MHz. Before buying, make sure the phone you want works on the same bands as your desired carrier. If you’re not sure, check the specs on our product pages or contact your carrier.
What is universally compatible vs. GSM compatible?
There are two types of unlocked phones—universally compatible and GSM-compatible. Most unlocked phones are GSM-compatible, meaning they can be used with GSM network carriers. In the U.S., major GSM carriers include AT&T and T-Mobile, and most carriers outside the U.S. use GSM, as well. Universally unlocked phones can be used on GSM or CDMA networks. Verizon and Sprint are the major CDMA networks in the U.S. A CDMA phone will not work on a GSM network, and vice versa. A universally unlocked phone is perfect if you don’t want to be locked into a limited selection of carriers or if you use a CDMA network in the U.S., but often travel and need access to GSM networks. Before buying, make sure the phone you want works on the same network type and bands as your desired carrier. In the U.S. and internationally, different carriers use different portions of the available radio frequencies. This is noted in megahertz (MHz), and common bands include 800, 850, and 1900 MHz. This is especially important if you plan to use your phone internationally because different bands are used in different regions of the world. If you’re not sure, check the specs on our product pages or contact your carrier.
What is carrier unlocked vs. factory unlocked?
Many unlocked phones are already unlocked when they leave the factory. They are often called “factory unlocked” phones. If you get a factory unlocked phone, it will be ready to go with the compatible carrier of your choice. Some phones are manufactured locked and are later unlocked by the carrier, distributor, or seller. These are usually called “carrier unlocked” because unlocking the phone for use with another network involves entering a code provided by the original carrier. If you’re considering a carrier unlocked phone, be aware that the packaging may have been opened to enter the unlock code. Carrier unlocked phones often display branding of the original carrier on the phone and in the software, even if they’re used with a different carrier.
Where Can I Purchase an Unlocked Cell Phone or Smartphone?
Many trusted online stores sell them at competitive prices. You can buy unlocked phones in Amazon, Best Buy, Ebay, etc.