What are unlocked phones: What is unlocked cell phone?

What is unlocked cell phone?

Mobile Computing


  • TechTarget Contributor

An unlocked cell phone is a cellular telephone handset that can be used with more than one service provider, making it easy for a user to switch from one cellular network to another.

The sequence of steps a user must perform in order to unlock a cell phone depends on the original communications service provider and on the manufacturer of the phone set. Some cell phone sets can be unlocked by inputting codes to modify the software in the unit. Other sets require the purchase of special cables or modification of the internal hardware as well as reprogramming of the phone’s data settings. In the wake of the U.S. Copyright Office’s decision in November 2006 to allow cell-phone unlocking for at least three years thereafter, numerous companies began to offer unlocking services for a fee.

Proponents of cell-phone unlocking argue that consumers should be free to change their network when a subscription contract expires without having to discard hardware they purchased outright. Some cell-phone service providers, unhappy with the Copyright Office’s decision, are resisting the practice by making their cell-phone sets difficult or impossible to unlock.

This was last updated in March 2007

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Benefits and Questions Before Getting an Unlocked Phone | Articles

Consumers have more freedom than ever when it comes to buying a smartphone and choosing a wireless carrier. Most mandatory-length contracts are a thing of the past, as is sacrificing your cell number when transferring carriers. Only one big barrier remains — the locked smartphone.

A carrier-imposed “lock” is a software code that prevents your phone from working on another cellular network. With an “unlocked” phone, on the other hand, you can get service with any carrier on a compatible network — and that’s just one of the benefits of an unlocked phone.

What are the differences between locked and unlocked phones? How can you tell if your phone is locked? And are unlocked phones eligible for the Verizon BYOD program? We have the answers.

Locked vs. unlocked phones.

There are a couple of benefits to purchasing a locked device. First, it is generally sold at a discounted price. By having you agree to stay on their network, the carrier subsidizes a portion of the cost (or bundles it into your monthly subscription rate).

Also, locked phones prevent theft. Unlocked phones are more likely to be sold illegally or used overseas with different carriers. Verizon locks its new phones as a security precaution. (Users can unlock them; more on that below.)

Although locked phones remain the most prevalent in the U.S., unlocked devices are growing in popularity for a few reasons:

  • Freedom and flexibility: You can use the same phone with any compatible carrier, allowing you to switch providers and plans as desired to secure the best coverage areas and rates. 
  • Resale rates: You’ll typically get more money when you sell a used, unlocked phone because buyers know they have more choice about where they can use it.
  • International savings: When traveling abroad, you can activate your unlocked device with any foreign carrier that’s compatible with the phone’s technology. This allows you to pay local rates rather than roaming charges (or have a phone that doesn’t work at all).

Unlocked phones are often considered a good option for international travelers. They may also benefit anyone who likes to frequently upgrade phones — you’re free to buy a new model at any time. Forgoing carrier discounts means you pay full price for an unlocked phone, but you can also sell an older unlocked device to help offset the cost of a new one.

The best unlocked phones.

“Unlocked” doesn’t always mean universal. In fact, some phones are only compatible with GSM or CDMA networks, while many others allow for connectivity on both.

The best unlocked phone is one that can switch to any service provider. Check which networks a device supports before you buy or you could wind up with an unlocked phone that doesn’t offer as much freedom as you hoped. (The Moto G7 Play, Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact and Samsung Galaxy Fold are all examples of unlocked phones that are certified to work on Verizon as well as other networks. )

Does Verizon support unlocked phones?

It’s illegal in the U.S. to unlock a phone without the carrier’s consent, so never pay a 3rd party who promises to hack the lock code. But don’t worry — carriers must give the code to consumers at no cost, so long as they meet certain criteria.

Among wireless carriers, Verizon provides an unlocking policy that’s both generous and straightforward. To combat theft and fraud, Verizon locks all prepaid and postpaid devices for 60 days (check out the full Device Unlocking Policies). After that time, Verizon automatically removes the lock and will not lock phones again at any time.

An exemption to Verizon’s 60-day lock period is provided to military personnel who receive relocation orders outside of Verizon coverage area. In this case, contact Verizon’s Customer Service to unlock a device at any time and suspend service.

The Verizon BYOD Program (Bring Your Own Device).

Have an unlocked smartphone you own and love? You bring the phone, Verizon supplies the plan — and a $250 prepaid Mastercard when you switch (plus another $100 if you switch your tablet, too).

Activate your existing eligible smartphone on a new Verizon prepaid or postpaid plan, transfer your number from any wireless carrier and then visit vzw.com/digitalrebatecenter to redeem this special offer within 30 days. 

To ensure voice and data work properly, only select BYOD devices with approved hardware and software for use on the Verizon Wireless network. To see whether your unlocked phone meets the criteria, check our Bring Your Own Device page.

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Reviewed by the Verizon Editorial Team. This content is provided for information purposes only. All information included herein is subject to change without notice. Verizon is not responsible for any direct or indirect damages, arising from or related to use or reliance of the above content.

What does an unlocked phone on Aliexpress mean? Buying them can save you a lot of money. However, it is important to read the descriptions in detail. This will give you an idea of ​​what to expect from the purchase. Sometimes a carefully studied product can raise questions. So, not everyone knows what an unlocked phone on Aliexpress means.

Some terms

A number of phone models are sold under contract. To put it simply, the device is pre-flashed for a specific telecom operator. You can buy such a device much cheaper. The fact is that a certain contract is concluded between the operator and the manufacturer. As a result, it is possible to reduce the price by 5 – 10%. By purchasing such a phone, the client will be able to save. However, a person will have to use the services of a specific operator. It won’t be possible to change it. Firmware is carried out under a specific country. If the phone is sold to another state, its new owner may face inconvenience.

Phone unlock allowed. On AliExpress or eBay, you can find devices that have unlock in the description. There are no more than 3% of such offers on the sites. After the flashing procedure, the phones begin to support work with other cellular operators. Such devices are recognized as unlocked. The offer attracts buyers with its price. As a result, many turn a blind eye to the fact of interference in the device’s memory. This model continues to be new, unused by anyone.

Sometimes there is an inscription refurbished. A similar mark indicates that the device has been restored. The method allows you to purchase a branded smartphone, in respect of which the procedure of mechanical intervention was performed. It is carried out in order to eliminate any malfunction:

  1. Marriage.
  2. Scratch.
  3. Not marketable.
  4. Other problems.

Please note! The quality of such devices is controversial. However, refurbished phones don’t always have problems. The seller fixes the damage. A person may not distinguish such a device from a new one.

The customer can always find out what is wrong with the phone. To do this, just contact the seller. If the incoming device has obvious defects, or it does not work, it is permissible to open a dispute or write a complaint. As a result, the money spent will be returned. However, it is important to respect the buyer protection terms.

Read also: How to buy wholesale from the factory clothes from China

Is it worth buying

Having found out what an unlocked iPhone means, you need to figure out whether it is worth buying such a device. The method saves money. The original price of the product may be prohibitive for many people. Therefore, the option of purchasing an unlocked device seems to be more successful. However, there is a question about originality. Apple is at the peak of its popularity. Therefore, there are many fakes.

By the way! It’s hard enough to guess. AliExpress sells refurbished iPhones that have been used by other people. Usually glass or case breaks occur. Often the headphone slot or charger suffers. In the latter situation, they are soldered and replaced with new ones. In fact, this is the resuscitation of the apparatus.

In order to understand whether genuine products are being sold, it is important to take reviews into account. This is the only way to form an opinion. AliExpress sells refurbished originals and copies. Crafts are of different quality. You can distinguish it from the original by the state and appearance of the back cover, as well as the logo. You can open the cover on copies. There are quite a few slots for SIM cards. This indicates that the product is fake.

Attention! If the client did not know that he was buying a fake, it is acceptable to initiate a dispute and return the money.

Using the method is risky. The phone may arrive in a terrible state or not work at all. In this case, opening a dispute or writing a complaint will also help. When buying a refurbished or unlocked phone, the client provides cash for working devices.

Selection process

Having found out what an unlocked iPhone means, a person will understand that such a purchase is rather ambiguous. However, you can protect yourself as much as possible. To do this, you should follow a number of rules:

  1. Be sure to take into account the characteristics of the product. If it is not indicated that the phone has been refurbished, but its price is very different from the market, this indicates that the device is fake.
  2. It is obligatory to indicate the modification in the order. In a different situation, the seller can send the goods at his own discretion. Additionally, it is worth reflecting the color.
  3. You can enter the region in which the phone will be used. Not all application forms require the entry of such information. In this situation, the information should be reflected in the comments.
  4. It is important to carefully read the reviews of other users. They can tell a lot about the integrity of the seller.

See also: Cancellation of an order for Pandao: when will the money be returned?

It is better to pre-determine the model of the desired device, and then sort sellers by rating. The number of positive reviews and ratings is a kind of indicator of trust in a particular supplier.

Important! If you have questions or doubts, do not be shy. All of them can be asked to the seller directly. Companies value a positive reputation. There are cases when institutions gave additional discounts to interlocutor clients or provided accessories as a gift. All this will allow you to acquire a quality device.

Is it possible to open a dispute

An unlocked phone on eBay or AliExpress may not meet the declared quality. In this situation, it is acceptable to file a complaint or open a dispute. You can count on meeting the requirements if the phone arrived with damage to the screen or case, and also does not work at all. Refurbished phones are subject to the classic rules. Smartphones should function normally. The client is obliged to confirm the presence of marriage. For this, a photo or video is used.

What does an unlocked phone on Aliexpress mean? This opportunity is eagerly used by fans of Apple and other high-profile brands. Sometimes in the description of smartphones you can see the inscription “unlocked” or “unlocked”. What do these marks mean and is it safe to buy such a gadget?


  1. “Unlocked” or “Unlocked” – how to understand and what it means
  2. “Refurbished” and “Refurbished” are not the same.
  3. Is it worth buying a gadget marked Unlocked
  4. What to look for when choosing
  5. Some video

Poll: How often do you shop on Aliexpress?

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  • I often use aliexpress, a good store 10 points
  • Just trying to figure out how to buy
  • Once a two weeks
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“Unlocked” or “Unlocked” – how to understand and what it means

The notes “ unlocked” and “unlocked” in the description of phones on Aliexpress mean the same thing. Since the first expression is a translation of the second from English into Russian, but what do they inform the buyer about?

Sellers add the word “unlocked” to the original flashed gadgets. Flashing, as a rule, is done if you need to adapt the operating system of the device for implementation in a particular country. For example, if initially the OS in the phone was only English or Chinese, it is reflashed to add the Russian language. There is absolutely nothing terrible in this, solid pluses, since you can buy an expensive branded gadget with a huge discount, often even for half the price.

Unlocked phone on Aliexpress

“Refurbished” and “Refurbished” are not the same.

However, there is one caveat. Phones that were in use and with defects found during the warranty period are repaired and also reflashed, putting the “unlocked” mark in the description. You should not buy such gadgets, because it is not known what broke and repaired them. Therefore, it is necessary to additionally look at the state of the phone. The card should say “new” or “new”, as in the next photo.

New unlocked smartphone

If the status says “ refurbished ” (or refurbished, which literally translates as “refurbished”), then such a phone has been repaired. How long it will last is unknown, so it is better to pass by.

Is it worth buying a gadget marked Unlocked

So is it worth buying an unlocked phone on Aliexpress? If it’s new, then why not. It is fully functional and has all the advantages of the model. It was simply altered to adapt to specific conditions. The fact of flashing forces the seller to lower the price, and this is a huge plus for the buyer.

What to look for when choosing

And yet, when choosing a gadget marked unlocked, you need to be careful and pay attention to:

  1. The condition of the phone is new and restored (this was already mentioned a little higher).
  2. Original model . If this is the original, then this will be indicated by the corresponding mark in the description. In addition, a fake can be identified by comparing the appearance of the phone and its parameters from the manufacturer’s official store with what is sold on Aliexpress. By the way, pay attention to the presence of logos and their location, as well as the number of slots for SIM cards (there are usually more of them in fakes).
  3. Feedback from those who have already purchased this product . This will help evaluate both the quality of the phone and the honesty of the seller.

New unlocked phones are a smart buy on AliExpress. They are just as cool as they were before the flashing, but they cost almost half as much.

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