The term “unlocked phone” has become very popular as online phone sales increase. At this point, “unlocked” has become a trendy term that people search for when they buy a device online so they can activate a phone. Here’s what you should know before buying an unlocked phone.
Types of Unlocked Phones
- GSM-Unlocked – GSM-unlocked phones are the most common type of “unlocked” devices. These devices are unlocked only for GSM networks (In the US, the main GSM devices that can be, or already are GSM-unlocked are T-Mobile and AT&T). You can use that device on any GSM network, but not other network types. A GSM-unlocked phone will not be compatible with CDMA or PCS networks. One benefit to GSM-unlocked devices is they will work in other countries where GSM networks are available. If you buy a Chinese phone or order an unlocked phone from a country outside the United States, it will usually be a GSM-Unlocked phone.
- Unlocked CDMA devices with a GSM antenna/chipset – These phones are able to work on both CDMA and GSM networks. Many CDMA phones are backward compatible with GSM networks. However, since GSM networks use older technology, GSM devices may not be forward-compatible with CDMA networks. If you activate an unlocked CDMA phone on a GSM network, keep in mind you’ll need to update the APN settings (Access Point Name settings) for features like MMS or Data to work.
- Unlocked PCS Devices – Unlocked PCS devices are backward compatible with GSM-A & GSM-T networks. Most PCS devices cannot be used on CDMA networks, even if unlocked.
- Completely Unlocked Devices – There are very few phones that are truly compatible with every mobile carrier and it is recommended that you check the device ESN/IMEI number against the carrier you wish to activate it with to remove any unpleasant surprises. Best Cellular recommends these quad-carrier devices if they are available.
Is My Phone Unlocked?
Many phones claim to be “unlocked” but the device is restricted to only one or two carriers. Contact Best Cellular if you’re unsure which carrier(s) work to activate your phone. We can help you find out which network can activate your device!
What If My Unlocked Phone Won’t Recognize My SIM Card?
If you ordered a phone online that was sold as unlocked but you plan to activate it on a PCS (Sprint) or CDMA (Verizon) network, it might not be compatible. Feel free to call our customer service line if you’d like to ask any questions! A GSM-Unlocked phone can be activated on GSM-A (AT&T) or GSM-T (T-Mobile) networks. All you need to do is to edit your APN settings (Access Point Name) settings.