What does it mean when the phone is unlocked?
Unlocked GSM phone means that it wouldn't be locked into a specific carrier network. On the upside it means freedom to choose your own GSM carrier that suits your needs (and wallet) best. On the down side several carrier-specific features may not be available.
We would like take a moment and explain the difference between a "locked" and "unlocked" cell phone. In the USA Cingular (ATT) and T-Mobile are the 2 large GSM carriers. Sprint and Verizon use CDMA phones which usually don't require a SIM card. First, a locked phone means that it will only work with 1 specific carrier.
- Locked / Unlocked. iPhone 4 on O2, Orange and Vodafone. Definition: A 'locked' mobile phone is one that has been restricted by software so that it can only be used with a single network or carrier. Locked mobile phones are usually GSM phones that use a SIM card - hence the use of the term 'SIM lock'.
- However, many large phone manufacturers, like Samsung, do not sell a large variety of unlocked phones in the United States. They mostly sell locked phones directly to carriers. They are all brand new, manufacturer-unlocked phones. B&H offers its own warranty of one year, so you can still buy with confidence.
- Compatible phones include: GSM Unlocked phones, AT&T Compatible phones, T-Mobile Compatible phones, Sprint Compatible Phones, and some other CDMA Technology Compatible phones. In the United States, two of the four leading mobile network operators use GSM. How do I know if I will need a Straight Talk BYOP SIM?
Unlocking an iPhone means taking an iPhone that is locked to a specific carrier and making it usable on other carriers. A software unlock is the process by which the iPhone is modified such that the baseband will accept the SIM card of any GSM carrier.
- Place a SIM card for a different network in the phone and it will ask you for that code. Enter it (sometimes a reboot is needed) and the SIM should be recognized. The SIM card you use for unlocking doesn't have to be on a line that is yours. But your carrier might not want to unlock your phone.
- And some of those are the phones that Verizon has already certified to be used on its network. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, as well as the Nexus 6 can be purchased unlocked and used on Verizon. The Verizon phone must be GSM compatible and support the same LTE frequency bands that either AT&T or T-Mobile support.
- Technically, it's possible to use a Sprint phone on T-Mobile or AT&T's GSM networks, if your device is LTE-capable or an iPhone. Some handsets sold by Sprint are marked as 'global' phones, meaning they are also have room for a SIM card, and have dual CDMA/GSM capability.
Updated: 26th November 2019