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Unlock Your Phone: A Guide for Spectrum, Xfinity, AT&T, Verizon, and More

While cell phones have been around for many years, the smartphone is still a relatively new technology. However, in just a short time span, smartphones have cornered the cell phone market and become some of the most common tech devices available today.

There’s a reason that everyone seems to own some kind of smartphone, whether it’s an iPhone, Android, Galaxy Z, Google Pixel, or a similar device. These phones have a huge range of capabilities that includes classic texting and calling features but also extends to music and video streaming, video calling, GPS, and much more — not to mention the many possibilities offered by smartphone applications.

People of all ages, lifestyles, and professions use their smartphones to work remotely, connect with friends through social media, enjoy entertainment like TV and movies, and stay in touch with family members. Most people assume that in order to acquire a smartphone, you need to go through a mobile carrier like T-Mobile or Sprint. However, this isn’t the case. In fact, many smartphone users are opting to use unlocked devices.

What Is an Unlocked Phone?

An unlocked phone is a device that isn’t connected to any specific mobile carrier or contract. With unlocked phones, users can switch around their devices and plans as frequently as they choose without being locked into a contract or using a specific carrier.

Locked phones will only work within the network of the carrier from which they were purchased. For example, if you buy a mobile device from the AT&T store, the phone will only work on the AT&T network. Even if you replace the SIM card in your device, the phone will likely block access to any other carrier’s plans due to a specific type of software that is downloaded into the locked phone.

If a phone is considered to be unlocked, it either had this software removed or it never had the software installed to begin with. Generally, when comparing the two, unlocked phones provide more benefits to users.

Benefits of Unlocked Phones

When you choose to purchase an unlocked smartphone, you aren’t limited by the range of devices that a single carrier sells. You can take your pick between all of the smartphones on the market today, from the Apple iPhone to the Samsung Galaxy and everything in between. You could even import a phone model from another country or purchase a refurbished device at a discounted rate.

When you purchase a phone directly from a carrier, you’re likely locked into a contract that can be costly to get out of. With an unlocked smartphone, you aren’t tied to any specific carrier and can pick and choose between providers and plans that work best for you.

Another distinct benefit is the ability to swap out SIM cards when you travel. Going to a different country that requires coverage from a local carrier? To avoid costly international fees, simply purchase a prepaid SIM card from a local carrier wherever you travel and enjoy easy access to mobile service without having to constantly hunt for a WiFi network.

Where Can I Purchase an Unlocked Device?

Most mobile phone manufacturers sell unlocked devices directly from their own online shops. Some even feature unlocked smartphones on common digital marketplaces, such as Amazon, or from major retailers like Best Buy.

Buying an unlocked phone doesn’t mean you have to forgo warranty coverage, either. If you buy the device straight from a manufacturer, you’ll receive a warranty just like you would if you purchased it from a mobile carrier. This means you’ll have the same access to coverage and customer support should something go wrong internally with your new device.

It’s also possible for users to unlock their cell phones themselves. Though unlocking your smartphone was once illegal, the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, signed in 2014, gave consumers the choice to opt for freedom from a single carrier. You can contact your carrier and have them unlock the phone at your request or follow some simple steps to complete the process yourself.

How to Unlock Your Cell Phone

There are a few different ways to unlock your phone, depending on the model. In most cases, you’ll need to start the process by informing your provider that you’ll be unlocking the phone.

For iPhones, once the carrier submits the necessary software update, all you’ll need to do is put in a SIM card from your new carrier, and you’ll be all set.

For Android phones, you will need to put in a carrier-provided unlocking code before you put the new SIM card in.

One last note: Newer phones are dual band, which means they can operate on either of two common standards. Older phones might be limited to a single band, which can limit their usability on a new carrier’s network. Be sure to check your phone’s unique IMEI number on your carrier’s website to find out whether your phone will be compatible with the carrier you plan to switch to.

Best Mobile Phone Plans for Unlocked Phone Users

As the owner of an unlocked mobile device, you have the choice to switch between mobile carriers to find the right plan that suits your needs and budget without having to purchase a new device from that carrier. Let’s explore some of the best mobile phone plans on the market today.

Spectrum Mobile Phone Plans

Spectrum Mobile offers unlimited talk, text and data, as well as mobile hotspot capabilities at just $45 per line per month. If you prefer to purchase data by the Gig, you can do so with Spectrum for $14 per Gig per month with data sharing for up to 10 lines.

Xfinity Mobile Phone Plans

Xfinity Mobile users enjoy reliable 5G data coverage nationwide at a particularly low cost compared to many other mobile carriers: just $15 per Gig per month, with access to free WiFi hotspots also included.

Unlimited 5G data with Xfinity starts at $45 per line per month, and by-the-Gig users can opt for 1 Gig, 3 Gig, or 10 Gig plans, depending on their needs. These plans range from $15 per month to $60 per month.

Optimum Mobile Phone Plans

Optimum Mobile keeps it simple with affordable plans, all with 5G data access at no additional cost to you. The Unlimited plan includes unlimited talk, text and high-speed 5G data access for $45 per month per line. Users can also opt to only pay for the data they need at 1GB per month for $15 per line or 3GB per month for $22 per line.

GCI Mobile Phone Plans

GCI is Alaska’s most expansive wireless network, and it covers around 97% of Alaskans today and offers some of the fastest 5G speeds around. As the state’s first 5G network, the GCI+ plan allows users to conveniently bundle unlimited mobile service with Internet for an additional $25 per month.

Find the Best Mobile Service Providers Near You

Whether you’re satisfied with your carrier phone service or you choose to unlock your phone and explore your options among different providers, it’s important to have cell service that you can rely on to keep you connected.

Not sure which carrier is best for you? Smartmove can help you pinpoint high-quality cell phone service in your area so you can access the best possible mobile service near you.

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