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What is an Unlocked Mobile?

New SIM cards can be placed into an unlocked GSM phone.
An unlocked phone can be programmed to use the towers of a different cellular network.
Article Details
  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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An unlocked mobile is a mobile phone that will use any SIM, Subscriber Identity Module, card. The SIM card is a small memory chip that can be removed from a cell phone and placed in another cell phone. This allows the cell phone subscriber to switch to a new phone without dealing with activation and data transfer hassles. Just putting the SIM card in the new phone allows the cell phone service subscriber to have her saved information, phone number, message data, phone book, and more on the new phone.

Some cell phone manufacturers lock their phones. This means they’ve programmed the phones to work only with the SIM cards of certain cell phone service providers. This can prove rather inconvenient for the cell phone user if she ever wants to use her cell phone with a different service provider or buy a phone that isn’t usually supported by her cell phone service provider. When you have an unlocked mobile phone, you basically have the freedom to use it with any cell phone network you please.

With an unlocked mobile phone, you can take advantage of promotional cell phone deals that might otherwise be out of your reach. If a particular network is offering free SIM cards with free calls or text messaging attached, you don’t have to miss the opportunity to obtain and use one. You can even take your business elsewhere if you are unhappy with the rates or level of service.

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Some people feel hesitant about unlocked mobile phones because they believe they may be illegal. However, unlocking a mobile phone is perfectly legal. Many people who believe it is illegal may have it confused with something called unblocking. This is the process of making a cell phone work after the cell phone networks have blocked it. Often, a cell phone is blocked because its owner has reported it as either lost or stolen.

Despite the fact that unlocking a mobile phone is not be illegal, there may be a downside to it. Usually, unlocking a mobile phone voids its warranty. This may not be such a worrisome issue for those who spend just a small amount of money on their cell phones or for those who received their phones for free, but some cell phones are very expensive. As such, some may want to think twice before unlocking their phones. It’s also wise to do extensive research before attempting to unlock a phone yourself, as you don’t want to hamper its proper functioning; some people pay special services to unlock their phones or buy their phones from businesses that cell unlocked mobiles.

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Discuss this Article

becky1234
Post 8

Normally all mobiles are built with some restrictions. If you need to remove the restriction unlock code is needed. After unlocked your mobile you can easily swap from one network to another network.

brandyc
Post 3

I just bought an unlocked phone online and I like it a lot. The only problem is that I can't get any of my picture messages now. What can I do so that I can get them again?

Is there a setting in the phone that I have to change in order to get this to work? Thanks a lot, Brandy C.

anon34653
Post 2

I am planning to buy an iphone and a cheap 20 dollar phone from virgin mobile an put my sim card in it. I am planning to do this by just buying the phone without a plan and putting in the prepaid sim card would this work?

alicesooty
Post 1

Please help!

I have just bought a glofiish x500+ from ebay. Supposedly unlocked, but when I put my sim in (on 3 network) the error message "sim card is missing" crops up.

Does this mean that the phone is locked or can I not use the 3 network in the phone. (I have rung my 3 shop and they say it should still work) Please, any suggestions would be a help. This is the second PDA I have bought that seems not to want to work.

Many thanks

Alicesooty

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