If you are looking to purchase a new smartphone, there are lots of different options to choose from. This includes a choice of iOS, Android or Windows, a choice of the make and model of the phone, and the network provider that you decide to go with. You can decide whether to buy a phone that is locked or unlocked in many cases. Bear in mind that some networks will automatically lock phones for new customers to that network when you purchase, so if you have an existing phone that you want to keep but use on a different network, then you may need to have it unlocked. There are advantages and disadvantages to both locked and unlocked handsets, but for the majority of people, an unlocked phone is the best choice. Here are some of the main benefits of an unlocked phone.
Most networks lock smartphones and mobile phones to their network because it helps them retain customers. This is why you may often find that customers who are in a contract might be able to unlock their phone free of charge since they will still be tied into the twenty-four month agreement. On the other hand, since pay as you go customers are usually under no obligation to stay with their network, their phones are often more likely to be locked and more likely to have a fee payable if unlocking is required. In return for having your phone locked to their network, many network providers offer contracts and deals that bundle the price of the phone into your monthly payment. However, the issue is that being tied down to one network is rarely beneficial for the user and means that you miss out on being able to get better deals, especially if you are no longer tied into a contract. When your phone is unlocked, you can instantly switch to a different network whenever you like to take advantage of better prices, better coverage, better customer service, and more.
Use Your Phone Anywhere
Travelling can be a problem if your phone is locked to a certain network. This is especially true right now as many mobile networks are re-introducing EU roaming charges since Brexit for customers from the UK. As a result, when you travel, you will not be able to use your normal minutes, texts, and data abroad and will instead need to pay often expensive roaming costs. To get around this, you may want to get a local SIM card when you arrive at your destination, top it up and put that in your phone instead so that you can pay local charges and avoid additional fees. However, if your phone is locked, you will not be able to do this. Getting an unlocked phone or having your current handset unlocked can make things cheaper and more flexible when you travel.
While some networks will charge a fee for you to have your phone unlocked, this is usually worth paying when you consider the savings that you will be able to make in the long run. Often, the deals that mobile networks offer can look very attractive at first, with a brand-new phone in your hands without much or any upfront charges and a reasonable monthly fee to pay including a set amount of minutes, texts, and data. On the other hand, buying an unlocked phone can seem more expensive since you will often need to have enough cash to cover the entire cost of the phone upfront. While this may not be as easy as signing up to a contract, you’ll usually save more in the long run. You can shop around for your phone and buy refurbished instead of getting a brand-new handset at the retail price from a network, for example. Additionally, the option to switch between networks whenever you like with no minimum contract agreement can help you save substantially over time.
Get More Coverage
When you have a locked phone, what happens if you move out of your carrier’s coverage area? While the good news is that in the UK most networks do have some coverage in every area of the country, some have much better coverage than others. Rather than being committed to sticking with a certain network even if you’re hardly ever picking up a signal, having an unlocked phone without any contract commitments means that you’re able to check coverage from other networks, weigh up your options, and simply change over to one that you are going to get the best service from instead of continuing with needlessly suffering.
When you buy a locked phone directly from a mobile network, there is often not a huge amount of choice. Most of the time, the phone handsets that are listed by mobile networks are the ones that they want to see because they are the most profitable. Most of the time, if you check out the shop section of network websites, you’ll only see the latest and most expensive handset releases on offer, with maybe a handful of options from the previous year. On the other hand, there’s a much larger range of smartphones to choose from if you buy unlocked and are not interested in signing up for a contract with your new phone.
Lower Cost if You Lose Your Phone
While it is always a good idea to have your phone insured against loss to prevent you from being out of pocket if you lose it, there are some differences in the outcome of losing a locked phone vs losing an unlocked phone. If you lose a locked phone that is tied into a contract, you will not only need to find a replacement phone, but you’ll also need to continue paying for the cost of the handset that you no longer have, which is rolled into your monthly payments, unless your insurance company will cover it for you. On the other hand, when you have an unlocked phone and are not committed to any phone contracts, losing your phone, or having it stolen does not mean that you need to continue losing money on it – simply replace it.
No Credit Risk
A locked phone with a mobile contract can sometimes be a credit risk. Let’s face it, most of us have little to no idea exactly what our financial situation is going to be two years from now, or even a year from now. Most of us would like it to be at least similar, or better than it is now, but you just don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. Businesses may close down, people get made redundant, the cost of living rises and cuts further into your budget, and worldwide pandemics happen. The truth is that just because you can afford a £60 a month phone contract comfortably now doesn’t mean that the same is going to be true a year or eighteen months from now – and your mobile network will not care if your circumstances change. While most have strategies in place to help customers who are struggling to pay, it can still look negatively on your credit file making it harder for you to get loans, credit cards, car finance, and even mortgages in the future.
No Risk of Cut Off
Most of us need our phones to stay in touch with family and friends or even for work. Following on from the previous point, another thing that might happen if you find yourself in a situation where your phone bill is no longer affordable to you is that you may get cut off. This means that your provider will cut off the service to your phone and you will no longer be able to make calls, send texts, or use the internet. While using Wi-Fi can help you get around this at home, it means you can’t contact anyone otherwise – and in some cases, people might not be able to contact you. With an unlocked phone and no contract, you are in control and there is no risk of you being cut off as there’s no obligation to make any payments.
Better Resale Value
Last but not least, many of us put our phones up for sale when we upgrade to a new one. The fact is that an unlocked phone will usually sell for more and sell faster compared to a locked phone as you’ve got a bigger target market. An unlocked phone can be used by anybody, rather than just by people who are on the network that the phone is locked to.
If you’re considering getting your phone unlocked or buying a new unlocked phone, there are plenty of reasons why it’s a great idea.