What’s All The Hype About Unlocked Cell Phones in the U.S.?


U.S. finally legalizes the market of unlocked cell phones for cell phone consumers.

What is an “unlocked” cell phone?

Until just now, unlocked cell phones have been virtually unheard of in the United States, and practically unobtainable.  Even if you were brave enough to get an unlocked phone and a SIM card to make it work, it was unlikely you would even find a service provider willing to let you use these phones.  Most carriers in the U.S. have traditionally only offered a limited number of specific phones for which they provide cell phone service to consumers.  Finally however, this has changed in the United States, thanks to legislation aimed at allowing consumers the freedom to utilize unlocked phones and companies such as Wireless Management Group (WMG), prices are about to plunder and the choices available to you in the way of models and brands will be virtually endless.  We are entering the next big wave in the retail cell phone and cell phone service industries, and it’s going to be far from what you likely every conceived up until now. 

What’s the advantage of an unlocked cell phone?

Bottom line: you’ll pay less for service on your phone and won’t have to hassle with signing up for any contracts.

The reason unlocked phones make sense now is pretty simple.  It’s the obvious choice now in the U.S. because the big wireless carriers here in this country have finally been abandoning the subsidized smartphone model they’ve operated with and the daunting two-year contract that goes with it. Finally, companies will have to earn your loyalty, rather than being able to sit back and literally do as they please once you’ve signed on the dotted line and they have the security that it would take a lot for you to actually pay the fees and go through the hassles of switching to another provider.  Instead of spending $200 up front for a new iPhone, you’re now just charged the actual, non subsidized price of $650, with the option to pay in monthly installments becoming commonplace. To make up the difference,  the cost of wireless service is less than it would be on a contract.  This is certainly long overdue… and clearly advantageous to consumers.

Besides lower costs on the phones you love and reduced monthly service plan pricing, you’ll also enjoy freedom from the hassles of contracts.  Up until now, we’ve all become accustomed to being forced into a minimum two-year contract when signing up for service.  No matter which carrier you looked into, they all forced you to commit to these lengthy terms before you even knew how their service was going to work out for you where you lived and traveled.  Thankfully, this is now another thing of the past that will soon only be a distant memory when telling our children about “back in my day…” as they listen in disbelief of our horrible cell phone realities.

But it’s not just the customers who benefit from these drastic changes.  Carriers also like the non-subsidy system because they can use it to push more frequent upgrades, which translates into a healthier bottom line. All of the major carriers allow customers to trade in their old phones partway through the payment cycle, getting a new phone and starting the cycle anew, so everybody wins in this scenario.

Is the service quality the same?

Even better!  Unlocked phones run on GSM networks, which means users can have complete coverage wherever they are in the world, at anytime, as long as they purchase and install a local SIM card. And, there are no roaming charges.  

This preludes yet another major shift about to be seen in the cell phone game: customization options from not only the phones we desire, but as far as to the service itself.  For instance, sooner than later you’ll have the luxury of “renting” as little as a day worth of service from a carrier when it benefits you.  For example, let’s say you know you have to travel to a different city (or even country) and a carrier other than your usual one is known to have far better service there, you can reap this benefit while away on business and return to your preferred carrier as if nothing ever changed when you return home.

Companies like T-Mobile started these changes into motion a couple of years ago and companies like the California-based retailer WMG,have taken things to a new level with striking momentum and are projected to be the prime movers in this upcoming generation of wireless service.  Nearly all of us have come to rely on cell phones and new players in the market are promising big things, and will likely see huge rewards by learning from the mistakes of the former major players of the industry.

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