For those of us who have been with any of the various US phone carriers on their contract plans, we are well aware of the restrictions and limitations that may apply. One can purchase a rather hot new phone design, at a reasonable price, providing one is willing to sign their phone rights over for a period of two years to the company store. These types of contracts also carry with it a phone that is locked into a specific carrier. Buying an Android phone for service with company A prohibits that same phone from working with company B.
What is an Unlocked Android Phone?
If you would like to take advantage of a pre-paid phone plan with no contract, buying a phone that is unlocked may be your best option. An unlocked phone is not tied to any specific carrier and, on a GSM phone, you only need to slip in a SIM card to begin making phone calls on the carrier of your choosing.
As an example, a friend of mine had purchased an unlocked GSM smartphone and, using a SIM for the Straight Talk phone carrier, was able to use a pre-paid limited plan for only $30 a month. She has the option to use the $45 a month plan with unlimited service if she so chooses. So even with the purchase price of $350 for the unlocked phone, over the course of a two-year contract plan, the savings will be in excess of $800 per her estimate.
What Are the Other Benefits of an Unlocked Android Phone?
- You can get a phone that is not loaded with a lot of the gunk and funk that carriers place on their branded phones.
- You may get updates faster from the phone company than from your carrier.
- You get to take control of the plan and features you want, not what is being prearranged by the phone carrier as a must-have plan.
- Cost savings can be significant when compared to a two-year contract plan.
What You Should Know Before Buying an Unlocked Phone?
- The out-of-pocket expense can be significantly higher than what you will pay when signing up a for a two-year contract.
- The selection of phones may not be the current state of the art phones that have recently been released. (There are certain exceptions.)
- Only cellphones that use SIM cards, both AT&T and T-Mobile support GSM phones, will function with unlocked phones.
- There is no support and I have seen some unlocked Android phones being sold with no warranty as well.
How Much Does an Unlocked Android Phone Cost?
This all depends on the type of smartphone you wish to buy. On Google Play you can purchase the Google Galaxy Nexus HSPA+ for $349.00. According to the Google Play website, this phone is compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile carriers.
One of the companies that has a very large selection of unlocked phones is Amazon. The selection it offers includes unlocked phones from a low of approximately $30 up to and including the newest Samsung Galaxy III priced at $599 as of the date this article is being written.
So what do you think? Can you survive with an unlocked Android phone on a pre-paid plan?
Source: Amazon Unlocked Phone Shop
Source: Google Play Galaxy Nexus HSPA+