What is Unlocked Phone?

It has only been in the recent years that “unlocked” cell phones are getting more attention and consumers are learning exactly what they are. Well, at least here in North America. Unlocked phones are standard everywhere else in the world like Europe and Asia. So if you buy a phone there, you might wonder why they are more expensive than the ones in the US. It’s because these phones aren’t subsidized like the phones are here by carriers who require you to sign up for a 2-year contract. You don’t really think the carriers are giving you a $650 iPhone for $200 are you? They’re just simply spreading the cost of the phone over 2 years with the contract, which for some people is worth it. But you end up paying more for the phone in the long run.
Here are seven solid reasons why you should go unlocked.

1. Easily switch between networks
We’ve all been there – I hate (insert carrier), their coverage in (insert location) sucks! Well, with unlocked phones, you can easily switch networks while traveling or if you end up moving to another location where one carrier’s coverage is better than the other, you won’t have to choose between dealing with poor reception and early termination fees. Isn’t that refreshing? Not having to be locked into a contract?

2. Use the phone anywhere in the world that uses a GSM network
We mentioned above that you can easily switch between networks, but did you know that you can easily switch between networks internationally? That’s right! Hopping over to Europe or Asia for a vacation? No worries, because your unlocked phone can be used on any network in Europe or Asia that is on a GSM network (which pretty much is every network). Or, perhaps your kid decided to backpack around the world for a few months. Well, an unlocked phone is the device to have him or her travel with, especially if you want to stalk keep track of where they are to make sure they aren’t doing anything stupid are safe and sound.

It’s much easier to stay connected now and all you have to do is buy a local SIM card (from a convenience store or those street stands), pop it in and away you go – without paying ludicrous international roaming fees, which we’ll get to in the next point.

3. Save money in the long run
First off, since you can switch among any GSM networks, roaming fees and rates would be virtually non-existent since you’ll be using a local SIM. Even with an international plan through AT&T or Verizon can set you back quite a bit depending on how much calling and texting you do, not to mention data (unless you’re lucky enough to find Wi-Fi). This means, the only person who is paying for long distance is the person calling the local number, no double long distance fees!

Second, going unlocked allows you to shop around for the best plan anytime you want, so if there is a deal, then you can just switch since you won’t be under a contract. So in the long run, you can actually save money on plans, even though you may have to fork over more for the phone in the beginning.

4. Customize your phone for YOUR needs
One word – Bloatware. Now, when you buy a phone that has 16GB of storage, you will actually have that much space (or darn close to it) without all the carrier apps pre-installed onto the phone that you can’t uninstall. Choose the apps that you want without restrictions and customize the phone to suit you. If you’re tech savvy, you can do really cool things with an unlocked phone – like install custom ROMs, remove ads, attach a video game controller and more!

5. More phones to choose from
Each network or carrier has their own phones that you can only use with their network, but by going unlocked, you are opening the door to a world of more phone choices with other brands (like NUU Mobile) at a lower cost (but similar specs). In addition, with lower cost phones, you can also change phones more frequently without breaking the bank as new updates and technologies get introduced. Great for those who always want the latest and greatest technologies.

6. Receive software updates quicker
A lot times Google, let’s just say, will release a software update, but it takes the carrier awhile to push that out. Why? Well, carriers need to test their devices with every version of a new Android OS along with those extra carrier apps (aka bloatware), so that takes A LOT of time. Unlocked phones however, aren’t tied to any specific carrier, so they can get updates directly from the manufacturer. So if you’re still stuck with KitKat, you know why. To get more information on the Android update process, check out the NUU Mobile “Confused by the Android update process? You’re not alone.”, blog post.

7. Dual SIM phones
Tired of carrying two phones, one for business and one for personal? Or perhaps you travel between two regions regularly and have one SIM for each. For whatever reason you may want to have multiple numbers (and perhaps multiple contact lists), dual SIM phones help you keep that in one place, so you’re not searching for one phone over another and wondering which phone is ringing. You also don’t have to remember to switch SIM cards and risk the chance of losing such a small card. Besides, keeping track of one phone is better than two…now where did I leave the white phone…

Are there other benefits to unlocked phones? Share it with us – we’d love to hear your reasons why you went unlocked!

Unlocked Phone Growth

In the last few years, the mobile telecommunications industry has seen significant growth in the unlocked phones space, driven by factors like the government signing a cell phone unlocking bill into law and carriers like T-Mobile educating customers on unlocked phones. In fact, in 2012, unlocked phones only accounted for 1% of total smartphone sales in the US but by 2015, the percentage increased to 7%. Strategy Analytics forecasts that this percentage will increase to 16% by 2020.

So what are some other factors that will continue to help drive the prepaid, unlocked phones industry? NUU Mobile identified three key consumer trends that are helping to grow the unlocked phones segment.
Increasingly more educated customers
As people are starting to learn about the benefits of unlocked phones (like being able to switch networks anytime), the demand for unlocked phones will continue to grow. There is already a segment of consumers who are well aware of the benefits, mainly due to the fact that they travel a lot or come from a country where phones and contracts are “sold separately” or those tech savvy consumers that root their phones. The mass market however, is only starting to understand this concept. They are also starting to understand that carriers have been subsidizing their phones and that they are not paying $200 for an iPhone, but rather over $600 when they sign up to a 2-year contract.
Increasing demand for sub $100 unlocked phones
Working with mass cell phone distributors and retailers, NUU has seen an increase in demand for sub $100 unlocked phones, specifically around the $80 price point. However, a small market research study conducted by NUU also showed that tech savvy consumers are willing to spend around $200 for a cell phone that has all the bells and whistles, which is still a lot lower than a $650 iPhone or Samsung. With this increase in demand, there will be more manufacturers and therefore more choices for consumers to choose from.

In addition, the strong competition among network providers are encouraging consumers to switch at no cost, prompting carriers to start dropping phone subsidies and 2-year contract deals in favor of no contract / prepaid plans. This in turn means that cost-sensitive customers will search for more affordable phone options helping to drive the sub $100 phone market.
Continued demand for choice, customization and latest technologies
Nowadays consumers, it seems, are more demanding with a less patience. The desire to have the “latest and greatest” NOW combined with declining customer loyalty means that brands must work that much harder to engage the consumer and give them the experience that they are looking for. Essentially, consumers are loyal to the experience, once that experience is over, the consumer typically will disengage. For unlocked phones, since the power is in the consumers’ hands due to all the choices available out there as well as the rapid speed that phone technology evolves at, the experience typically lasts 6-12 months until the “next big thing” arrives. The demand for the latest phones will continue to grow, which means only companies that can keep up with providing the latest updates and technologies on a timely manner will be able to compete effectively in this highly competitive, fast paced industry.

In summary, unsurprisingly, consumers will continue to be the key force that will drive the US unlocked phones market as they become more educated and budget conscious, yet still demanding the latest technologies. Take a look at Europe and Asia and that is where the US market is trending towards – over a decade later.