If you shop for new smartphones or want to switch carriers, you might stumble upon the term unlocked phones. But the question is what does factory unlock mean, and why should you know about this term before buying your next phone?

In simple words, unlocked phones are phones that are not tied to a single carrier. Still confused? Don’t worry; read our article further to get more detailed information about factory-unlocked phones.

Factory Unlocked Phones: Benefits and Everything You Need to Know

As you know, most of us spend more time on our smartphones than computers. That’s because smartphones are handy and offer alternatives to all the features that a PC can offer. Yet, in the US, we have noticed that consumers have many choices in selecting a carrier, but one barrier still exists in buying their smartphones from their cell phone service provider.

what is an unlocked phone
what is an unlocked phone?

In simple terms, factory unlocked means that you purchased your device directly from the company. The phone was sold to the consumer pre-unlocked, so you can easily switch from one carrier to another. Also, unlocked phones cannot depend on only the network; they can be moved from one carrier to another by changing the SIM card.

SIM card plays a vital role in unlocked phones that allow your device to connect with a specific network. If you change carrier, you will have to change the SIM too. Also, the locked phones are cheaper, but they come with an added warranty, while other hand unlocked phones have no warranty.

If you buy the carrier phone, it is locked to that carrier indefinitely. You can remove that lock once you are satisfied with all the terms and conditions or have paid off the device. Let’s discuss some carrier unlock policies in the sections below.

See also: Factory Unlocked vs Fully Unlocked Phone

Major Carrier Unlock Policies


Verizon is the only carrier that automatically unhitches your phone after 60 days of purchase, even if payments aren’t complete.


If you purchased AT&T carrier phones on instalment plans, your device would unlock after the activation of 60 days. To activate your device, it’s also essential that it does not have a past due balance, all the contracts are completed, and all instalment plans must be paid off. Also, the device is not reported for stolen, loss, or fraud.


If the T-Mobile carrier phones are financed on instalment plans, your device will unlock after the activation of 40 days. If a device is purchased with a service contract term, at least an 18-month payment is essential to unlocking the device. Also, if users have requested more than two passcodes in the last 12 months, they are automatically ineligible to unlock the phone.


To unlock the Sprint carrier phones, your phone must be active for at least 50 days. All the contract papers and agreements must be fulfilled, and your device cannot be reported as fraud, lost, or stolen.

Also, it’s almost impossible without a unique code if you have a locked phone and want to replace the SIM from one carrier to another. You cannot switch from one carrier to another without unlocking your phone.

To avoid this mess, most customers prefer factory-unlocked devices from manufacturers or retailers like Amazon.

7 Excellent Benefits Of Buying A Factory Unlocked Phone

Switching Cell Phone Providers

The most significant benefit of factory-unlocked phones is the flexibility to change service providers from one to another. Factory-unlocked phones are best because they give freedom and relief from the locking system and allow them to switch from one provider to another easily.

If the user is unhappy with the provider’s services or with the provider’s customer service, they can quickly switch from one service provider to another by changing their SIM card.

Factory Unlocked Phones Make International Travel Easy

Factory-unlocked phones are excellent for those users who frequently travel to other countries for their work.

Factory unlocked phones are also compatible with more SIM cards than locked phones. This can be helpful for travelers who want to use multiple SIM cards from different countries.

To avoid roaming charges, users prefer to use the country cell phone provider they are travelling to. Factory unlocked phones allow users to change their SIM cards of the visiting countries for easy conversation and eliminate roaming charges.

No Boundaries Or Contracts

If you are using factory unlocked phones, don’t worry about the restrictions that come with the phone because you can easily switch to a service provider anytime without facing penalties. You can also change to new cell phones without worrying about charges of early termination of contracts.

Factory Unlocked Phones Saves Money

Of course, factory-unlocked phones save a lot of money in one or another way. If cell phone providers increase their charges, users can switch to different providers who offer the same plans at lower prices.

Also, by switching providers, users can get new offers and discounted prices from the other service providers. These service providers offer time-to-time discounts and contribute to enhancing their visibility and marketing strategy.

No Hidden Charges On Factory Unlocked Phones

Factory-unlocked phones save users from all hidden charges that come with cell phone service. Cell phone service providers always look for new ways to charge additional money for their customers using services like data and text messages. If you have locked phones, there is little or no choice left, and you are forced to pay the hidden charges to continue your services.

But a factory-unlocked phone is a game-changer and can save you from these additional charges. Because you pay what you use, and if there are hidden charges, you can switch to different providers that cost less.

Software Updates

Another great advantage of a factory-unlocked phone is to upgrade or change the software you need. Factory-unlocked phones also allow users to change phones and install or uninstall applications to use technological advancements. As makers or retailers sell factory unlocked phones, that’s why it’s a guarantee that they do not have any missing hardware or software to disturb customers.

On the other hand, locked phones do not allow for any software updates. It means the locked phones are restricted to the same software and applications provided by the service providers.

Higher Resale Value

Factory-unlocked phones have a higher resale value than locked phones because you can sell factory-unlocked phones anytime to anyone.

A single provider does not tie these phones; that’s why you can easily sell or buy them, and the buyer can start using the phone on the spot by inserting SIM. You get better value than locked phones when you sell your used smartphone.

Consequences Of An Unlock Smartphone

No More Support From Carrier Companies

The biggest disadvantage of the unlocked device is that you will no longer get support from the carrier companies if anything goes wrong. You will be at your own risk if your phone faces network issues, technical difficulties, or other problems.

Your Unlocked Phone Does Not Work With The Old Carrier

Considering the trial and error behaviour, you must figure out that your unlocked phone will work with the old carrier.

It isn’t very clear because you require much knowledge about radio bands, CDMA and GSM networks, and much more. Of course, you must research a lot and then decide. On the other hand, locked phones work perfectly with the same carrier networks.

Warranty And Insurance Plan

Every new phone comes with a warranty period, but we all know it is challenging to claim it. In any malfunction, drop, or damage case, you first call customer care, spend hours explaining your problems, and ship the device to them; they take 2 to 3 business days to fix the problem and then send it back to you after a long wait. Wow!! Too complicated

Dealing with the same carrier is much simpler because you take your phone to the local retail location and relax. Carrier also offers amazing insurance plans against malfunctions, drops, spills, theft, and loss. Trust me; you feel relaxed when you invest in a high-end phone. On the other hand, third parties insure unlocked phones at very high prices.

What Is The Difference Between Locked And Unlocked Smartphones?

The primary difference is that locked phones do not allow you to use them on the other network because their software code is locked. At the same time, an unlocked phone does not have a software lock and allows you to use it with any network carrier.

You can put any SIM card in unlocked phones and enjoy the carrier networks of your choice. Also, the unlocked phone has no network restrictions; you can use it internationally. Once the phone is unlocked, the contract with carrier companies ends, and you are all set to use different carrier networks.

FeatureLocked SmartphonesUnlocked Smartphones
Carrier FlexibilityTied to a specific carrier, like AT&T or Verizon.Use with any carrier that supports the phone’s technology.
Software BloatCarrier-specific apps pre-installed (often non-removable).Typically free of carrier bloatware.
Initial CostOften subsidized, resulting in lower upfront costs.Generally more expensive initially but could save money long-term.
Contract RequirementsTypically involves a contract or installment plan.No contract is required. Pay-as-you-go freedom.
Network CompatibilityLimited to networks approved by the original carrier.Use globally with different carriers, ideal for international travel.
Firmware UpdatesUpdates are controlled and released by the carrier.Direct updates from the manufacturer.
Resale ValueLower, due to carrier restrictions.Higher, as they’re appealing to a broader audience.
PortabilityRestricted. You can’t just hop carriers willy-nilly.Ultimate flexibility to switch carriers as you please.


Final Verdict

So, here the guide ends with what factory unlocked means. We hope now you understand the importance of factory-unlocked phones. Factory-unlocked phones have many more benefits than locked phones.

So, that’s all for now, and thanks for spending time on this webpage. We hope you must consider these things before buying a new smartphone. For more new posts, do follow us and stay in touch for the latest updates.

Amazing Offer Available
Ravi Kumar
Ravi is currently associated with TheAndroidPortal. He really likes to test out android gadgets, devices, smartphones and give unbiased opinions. Finding the affordable, and best value option in today's market is what he get up every day for.