| | Industry

When it comes to getting a new smartphone, a majority of people just stick with buying their phone from carriers. Smartphone technology is still vastly misunderstood or shrouded in mystery to many people, and you could be paying higher prices because of it.

Staying connected shouldn’t break the bank. One of the easiest ways find a budget-friendly phone that works for you is to invest in an unlocked phone so that you choose the contract or pre-paid plan that fits your lifestyle best.

Now, let’s back up and break that down.

What is the difference between a locked and an unlocked phone?

A locked phone has had a lock placed on it by a carrier, which is a very specific bit of software coding. This means that the phone can only be used on that carrier’s specific network. Locked phones can be unlocked, but each carrier has requirements that must be met before they’ll do so. Locked phones are most often associated with contract plans through a specific carrier, and that lock keeps customers from buying a phone for cheaper and moving to another service.

An unlocked phone can be used on different carriers by switching out the SIM card. This works best on GSM networks, like AT&T and T-Mobile, where your fast 4G LTE service will be preserved. Unlocked smartphones are exceptionally handy for international travelers.

Should I go with a contract or pre-paid smartphone plan?

That depends heavily on your lifestyle. It used to be that pre-paid plans couldn’t rival the customer service that carrier contracts offered. That’s not always the case anymore, as unlocked Android smartphone manufacturers have stepped up their service to match top tier smartphone brands.

Contracts, by their very definition, also restrict your choices. Whether it’s your carrier or phone model, you’ll be limited to only what the contract provider chooses to offer. In this way, pre-paid plans can offer quite a bit more freedom.

One of the biggest considerations for many though is finances. Smartphones can be expensive to buy outright. That’s why many people prefer contracts, where they pay for the phone as part of their monthly fee.

However, today many Android smartphones are available at reasonable prices that offer exceptional quality without the fruity price tag. It just takes a bit of searching and knowing which carrier works best in your area to find the right fit for your lifestyle.

Where can I buy an unlocked smartphone?

Unlocked Android smartphones are typically available from three different sources:

  • Through the manufacturer
  • Through your carrier (after meeting requirements)
  • A 3rd party retailer, like Amazon or Best Buy

Be sure to check the details. For example, paying full price for a phone through a carrier doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily an unlocked smartphone. Only “unlocked” means unlocked.

Looking for the key to unlocked Android smartphones? Check out NUU Mobile’s offerings online or at Best Buy.