Several years ago, the Federal Communications Commission issued new requirements to the major wireless carriers in the US to ensure all smartphones can be unlocked. In an effort to both increase competition between the carriers and give consumers greater control over what they purchase, unlocking a smartphone is a no-brainer.
Before the days of contract-less phone plans, that two-year iPhone 5 contract you bought into also came with several caveats, one being that your service provider gets to trap you in for that duration. This also means you were stuck using their international plans, making it more challenging to sell your phone or repair it. If you wanted to switch plans, you’d have to pay a good chunk of change in fees. Although there are absolutely no risks to unlocking your phone, we’ve compiled a few reasons for why you may want to do it:
US wireless plans are notoriously expensive when adding international travel plans, especially if you want to snap some new Instagram photos using data.
Rather than adding a temporary plan to your account, having an unlocked phone means that you can buy a prepaid SIM card or localized SIM card at a better rate, allowing you to use your phone abroad just like at home.
Selling Your Device
Have you ever bought a pre-owned smartphone? In most cases, it was unlocked. That’s because it’s easier to put that particular phone on supported wireless carriers. For that reason, there is also a slight premium for buying or selling an unlocked device, and that means you’ll get more bang for your buck.
For those looking to buy a second-hand phone, buying an unlocked one also makes the process easier. Jacek Brodalka, CEO of sim-unlock.net, also suggests that buyers always check to see if the device is reported lost or stolen first, as they may be blacklisted otherwise.
Switching Service Providers
Wireless service providers often go head-to-head in the US, trying to one-up each other with new features, cheaper costs, and of course getting rid of those dreaded contracts. For providers that still offer contracts, in most cases phones are discounted and subsidized through the plan, which means they come locked.
Depending on the wireless providers policy and why you want to unlock it, this is where things can get tricky. Companies like T-Mobile previously offered a large cash transfer incentive to cover the remain cost of the phone plan, but as more companies move away from contracts they’ve moved on to other approaches like offering unlimited data. If that new unlimited plan looks appealing, before making the switch just make sure your current contract is already up.
Easier to Replace/Repair Your Phone
If you have a smartphone, chances are that at one point your screen has either cracked or been smashed until it was unusable. Whether you to go Apple, the phone manufacturer, or a third-party seller, you’re going to have some sort of wait period. By having your phone already unlocked that means you can simply pop the SIM card into a backup or temporary phone, port your service over to it, and load your compatible backup of iOS or Android (you did back it up, didn’t you?).
Bonus: Use a Service to Unlock
In the US, the FCC requires all major wireless carriers to unlock cellphones; however, this is entirely based on the company’s policy. For some, being within your contract period or having an account not in good standing will allow them to not unlock your phone. That’s where providers such as sim-unlock.net kick in, as they offer low-cost options to unlock your phone anyway, and it won’t harm your phone’s hardware or software.
“Our process is fully automatic, so waiting time for unlocking phone is the shortest, and we can also recognize IMEI to find the phone model if you put in the search field IMEI number (which is needed to unlock phone). It will then recognize your phone model, brand, and will propose the best unlocking solution,” said Jacek Brodalka, CEO of sim-unlock.net.
In most cases, the unlock service is also streamlined and only takes about 24 hours. Since they opened the doors six years ago, sim-unlock.net has unlocked close to 1 million phones. With some wireless providers we’ve tested, they can take up to several days and not even tell you if they unlocked it.
This content has been sponsored by sim-unlock.net, with inclusion from their team. Separate independent research was also completed on this topic.