What is an Unlocked PDA?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
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An unlocked PDA is a personal digital assistant (PDA) that is not restricted to a specific network or provider. There are a number of reasons why someone might opt to unlock a PDA. Some manufacturers freely provide unlocking information, while in other cases people may need to do some sleuthing to find out how to unlock the device. In some cases, manufacturers also sell their PDAs in an unlocked state, allowing people to buy directly from the company and shop for plans separately.

PDAs are used all over the world by people who want small handheld devices with a multiplicity of functions. A PDA can handle scheduling, placing phone calls, email, Internet browsing, and a variety of other tasks, depending on the design of the device. As a general rule, people need a service contract to access the full functionality of the PDA. Such contracts are offered by mobile service providers.

When a PDA is locked, it can only be used with a specific provider. Many mobile providers sell phones and PDAs with their plans, and lock their devices so that people cannot move to a different network and take the device with them. It is also not uncommon for a PDA to be locked so that it can only work in specific regions. For example, someone might have a PDA which is locked in England, and cannot be used in Mexico.


Often, people want an unlocked PDA so that they can keep their device and switch networks. People commonly store information on their PDAs and dislike the idea of having to import that information to a new device on a different network. People also may be attached to particular devices and disinclined to give them up when they switch networks. Keeping one's device can also make a contract cheaper because no device is provided with it since the customer is using her or his own unlocked PDA.

People also may use an unlocked PDA for travel. In this case, restrictions to specific geographic regions are a problem because people need to be able to access the device at all times during a trip. Unlocking the device allows people to do that. Another option is to change SIM cards depending on where one is, although the drawback of this is that the phone number will change with each SIM card swap, while an unlocked PDA will retain the mobile number and subscriber information so that people can easily stay in touch with the user.


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