Welcome to the Android Central Forums Create Your Account or Ask a Question Answers in 5 minutes - no registration required!
Results 1 to 14 of 14
Like Tree1Likes
  • 1 Post By ScooberJake
  1. Thread Author  Thread Author    #1  

    Default help me understand carrier vs unlocked

    ive been looking into unlocked recently but dont fully understand it.. so unlocked runs off of at&t service and 3g? and you dont have a plan you just have to find a way to get texts and calls through apps?
  2. #2  

    Default Re: help me understand carrier vs unlocked

    Well, be careful, the term "unlocked" is used in two contexts with cell phones. One (which is mostly what you see around here) refers to the bootloader. Unlocking the bootloader allows the user to load a custom recovery, gain root access, and load a custom ROM. The other (which you seem to be referring to) has to do with whether the phone will run on SIM cards from multiple carriers.
    Poseign likes this.
  3. Thread Author  Thread Author    #3  

    Default Re: help me understand carrier vs unlocked

    im talking about cell service.. not like bootloaders. help me understand why you would wanna buy an unlocked phone as opposed to going with a contract
  4. #4  

    Default Re: help me understand carrier vs unlocked

    Thanks for the clarification. I don't know much about unlocking a phone for SIM card swapping. I've always assumed it is useful for people who travel a lot and might want to be on different networks at different times. But I don't know much about it. Hopefully someone here can fill you in.
  5. #5  
    Danv1369's Avatar

    Posts
    239 Posts
    ROM
    Gnex: Shiny, A500 TO Omni

    Default Re: help me understand carrier vs unlocked

    Quote Originally Posted by incrediblenotinstock View Post
    im talking about cell service.. not like bootloaders. help me understand why you would wanna buy an unlocked phone as opposed to going with a contract
    Buying an unlocked phone just means you are not tied to using a specific carrier. Most phones can only be used on the carrier they were designed for. Buying a GSM unlocked Galaxy Nexus will allow you to use it on either T-Mobile or ATT. One of the advantage is you do not have to sign a contract with the carrier you choose since you purchased the phone at full retail and not at a discounted price that usually requires a 2 year contract with the carrier.

    You still need service through a carrier in order to get text and calls if you are not on Wifi.
  6. #6  
    Danv1369's Avatar

    Posts
    239 Posts
    ROM
    Gnex: Shiny, A500 TO Omni

    Default Re: help me understand carrier vs unlocked

    Quote Originally Posted by ScooberJake View Post
    Thanks for the clarification. I don't know much about unlocking a phone for SIM card swapping. I've always assumed it is useful for people who travel a lot and might want to be on different networks at different times. But I don't know much about it. Hopefully someone here can fill you in.
    Correct. On GSM phones you can simply put in a different sim card while in another country and purchase prepaid minutes. I have a cheap GSM phone I purchased in India and use it when I travel overseas. When i leave India to go to the Philippine I simply pop in a different sim top off my minutes and I am good to go.
  7. Thread Author  Thread Author    #7  

    Default Re: help me understand carrier vs unlocked

    do you have to buy a sim card?
  8. #8  

    Default

    The sim card is your carrier brain of your phone. It's the advantage of being on gsm. When my smart phone broke on vzw I couldn't activate my old flip phone without losing my smart phone plan. If I were on t mobile I could just put my sim card (with contacts saved on it) into any of my old t mobile phones or any unlocked gsm phones, like putting an iphone on t mobile for example.
  9. #9  

    Default Re: help me understand carrier vs unlocked

    Quote Originally Posted by incrediblenotinstock View Post
    ive been looking into unlocked recently but dont fully understand it.. so unlocked runs off of at&t service and 3g? and you dont have a plan you just have to find a way to get texts and calls through apps?
    Unlocked simply means that you can put any SIM card into it and it works. Your entire "phone" is effectively contained in the SIM card (number, carrier ID, etc.), and the device is just a vessel to access it.

    When you start service with AT&T, T-Mobile, or any other GSM prepaid carrier, they just give you a SIM card because you're bringing your own device. You put the SIM in your phone and it starts working.

    I would highly recommend that you look at prepaid carriers if you're going to buy an unlocked Galaxy Nexus. There's absolutely no need to waste your money with expensive AT&T / T-Mobile service when you can get 99% the coverage for less than 1/2 the price with a prepaid MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) that runs on the AT&T or T-Mobile network. For example, I pay $30 for 100 minutes / UL text / UL (5GB throttle) data on a T-Mobile MVNO.
    LG Nexus 5 / Galaxy S5 // T-Mobile / AT&T
  10. Thread Author  Thread Author    #10  

    Default Re: help me understand carrier vs unlocked

    so you still have to pay for a texting and calling plan?
  11. #11  
    Danv1369's Avatar

    Posts
    239 Posts
    ROM
    Gnex: Shiny, A500 TO Omni

    Default Re: help me understand carrier vs unlocked

    Quote Originally Posted by incrediblenotinstock View Post
    so you still have to pay for a texting and calling plan?
    Yes, there is no other way to use a cell phone with out paying a carrier (prepaid or postpaid). If you do not want to use a carrier at all you can buy any used smart phone and use Wifi only. But you will be limited on where you can use the phone and how you use it. I do not think you can send texts, but you may be able to make calls over Wifi using google talk, skype, or vonage. But this really defeats the purpose of a cell phone doesn't it?
  12. Thread Author  Thread Author    #12  

    Default Re: help me understand carrier vs unlocked

    yea im just trying to understand the point of buying unlocked
  13. #13  

    Default Re: help me understand carrier vs unlocked

    Quote Originally Posted by incrediblenotinstock View Post
    so you still have to pay for a texting and calling plan?
    YES. You have to pay for service rofl. You pay for the SIM and associated service. Unlocked phones just mean you have the freedom of not being in a contract and you can move from carrier to carrier if you want to, and bring the device with you. All you do is just put the new SIM in the device when you move.

    The device does nothing without a SIM in it. The SIM is the "phone", the device is just a vessel to use the SIM.
    LG Nexus 5 / Galaxy S5 // T-Mobile / AT&T
  14. #14  

    Default Re: help me understand carrier vs unlocked

    Quote Originally Posted by incrediblenotinstock View Post
    yea im just trying to understand the point of buying unlocked
    As I just noted, the point is to own your device outright. You're not beholden to a carrier, you just use them as a pipe for their service. Think of it as being analogous to a cable internet ISP and a laptop computer. The ISP doesn't control your computer, they just provide the service. You can take your computer to anyones house, or a public location, and use their ISP just fine, no restrictions. The same goes for unlocked unbranded phones, you just buy the device you want then put their SIM in it. You can then switch as frequently or infrequently as you like.

    For example, you will receive updates faster on the Nexus because the carriers are not in the way. They also cannot block tethering (easily) because they don't have proprietary software installed on the phone.

    The benefits are numerous, and it really is worth it monetarily if you choose to go with an unlocked phone and a prepaid non-contract plan. That being said, it is more of an "enthusiast" choice to buy unlocked. If you like the security of a really expensive plan with a contract and customer service, then maybe that's a better choice for you.

    All I would recommend is that you completely read into the specifics of the plans you're looking at and make sure you completely understand the pros and cons of it. Nothing is more annoying than people getting in over their head with plans and phones just because they didn't read before getting into it!
    LG Nexus 5 / Galaxy S5 // T-Mobile / AT&T

Posting Permissions