The Ultimate Guide to Buying an Unlocked Mobile Phone

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Mobile phones are a necessity in this day and age. From students to members of the labour force, almost everyone in the world has a phone. In some countries and cities, however, people still buy mobile phones from telecom (carrier) companies – an arrangement that many would find odd. In the same way customers do not buy television from cable companies nor do we get our PCs or laptops from Internet service providers, there is a good reason why unlocked mobile phones are more ideal.

If you are one of those individuals who once thought a carrier contract would be more practical but no longer share the same view, or just a smartphone user looking to purchase a new model beyond your carrier plan, then this mobile guide is for you. Transitioning from a carrier-sponsored setup to an unlocked mobile phone you can use on your terms may be daunting for some. With these guidelines and pieces of helpful information, however, you will experience less roadblocks during the transition and enjoy the buying process instead.

What are Unlocked Mobile Phones?

For starters, a factory-unlocked phone lets you use different mobile service providers and not just one. Early in Apple’s history, iPhones were once locked to their original carriers, regardless of how they were purchased. To unlock a unit, you need to punch in the password to a service programming code, which was designed to prevent users from accessing other carrier networks. 

What are the Benefits of an Unlocked Device?

Usage at your Own Pace. The essence of owning an unlocked smartphone is having the freedom to choose your own provider and subscribe to call, messaging or data plans that fit your needs and preferences. As a user, you can exert control over the unit you own and are not bound by the terms and conditions of your provider. You can trade or sell your mobile phone anytime you want, whether or not there is an existing installment plan. 

No Bloatware. Carriers also install bloatware on locked devices, which could mar user experience. With an unlocked phone, no need to endure device-slowing software imposed by the provider.

Access to Multiple Providers. There is nothing more convenient to a user than being able to buy multiple handsets, free from contractual obligations. Unlocked devices welcome SIM cards from any service provider and it is easy to switch from one SIM to another. In the case of dual SIM phones, you can simultaneously subscribe to plans from two different networks. 

Cheap Mobile Plans. Moreover, prepaid plans are relatively cheap and you can work your budget around them. Should you go overseas, prepaid rates for international roaming are reasonable and will not cost a fortune. Unlike carrier contracts where you tend to pay for the price of the phone and services at once, unlocked mobiles allow you to pay for the unit and the services separately.

Updated Software. Buying an unlocked device means software upgrades and security patches from your phone manufacturer will be up-to-date. Smartphones not regulated by a carrier will automatically update the OS and apps as soon as new features are launched.

What are the Risks of Unlocking a Carrier-Sponsored Phone?

To unlock a sponsored smartphone, complete the unfulfilled terms and conditions (pay your plan in full) so you can start using your mobile as you see fit. How far along are you in your carrier contract? 

Your other option would be to approach a specialist with a proven track record in unlocking mobile phones. While this could work, be prepared for the risks involved. Not only will you run the risk of voiding the existing warranty on your phone, you may expose your device to third party applications and disrupt the settings. In case of frequent crashes and app interference, Apple, Samsung or Huawei would not be able to support your device. 

Note that only Global System for Mobile (GSM) handsets can be unlocked. This type of mobile ties your number to a SIM, which makes the unlocking process possible even if under a carrier contract. Code-Division Multiple Access (CDMA) handsets, on one hand, link to a personal number sans a SIM card. CDMA mobile phones cannot be unlocked. The good news is they are rare and most of the world uses GSM devices. 

What Mobile Phone to Buy?  

There is much to unpack if you decide to buy a mobile phone without a carrier contract. A number of carriers have retail stores but buyers may find their offerings limited. If making a choice is difficult, Apple, Samsung and Sony users can opt to buy an unlocked model instead. At Flagship stores, large lineups from a variety of brands will give you enough leeway to compare prices, scrutinise specs, weigh the pros and cons, and mull over your choices. 

Now that you are ready to tread the unlocked route, here is a list of unlocked mobile phones in Australia that are well-received by buyers (according to 7News):

– Google Pixel 5

– Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

– Apple iPhone 12

– TCL 10 Pro

– Huawei P40 Pro

– OPPO Find X2 Neo

– Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 

– realme 7 Pro

– Vivo X50 Pro 5G

– Motorola edge 

Always Be Informed

Buying an unlocked phone could be a decision you will be satisfied with. The benefits of an unlocked device far outweigh the perks of a carrier plan. The purchase journey requires knowledge of technical elements and, if you have qualms about a certain model, being informed is a good starting point. Take this mobile guide with a grain of salt and do your research in case of doubt. The process will get easier with every bit of information you soak in.

For more tips on where to buy mobile phone or if you want to check out the latest smartphones in Australia, visit


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