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December 19, 2023

Advantages vs. Disadvantages of Unlocked Phones

By now, a lot of us are over the trend of buying the latest and greatest new mobile phone. Instead, we’re opting to purchase quality, affordable used mobile phones. In addition to not breaking the bank, buying used devices has other benefits, such as sustainability.

As you visit reputable tech resellers such as Swappa, BackMarket, Ebay, and Amazon Renewed, you’ll see options to shop for unlocked and locked devices. What does this mean? And what are the advantages and disadvantages of unlocked phones?

What is Locked vs. Unlocked?

A mobile device that is locked will only work with the carrier it’s locked to. Carriers are the company you pay for your cellular service. For example, if you purchase a phone that is locked to Verizon, it will only work if you purchase Verizon service. 

A mobile device that is unlocked will work with any carrier. When you purchase a Phonecheck-certified used mobile device, you’ll be guaranteed that your new phone or tablet is unlocked and will work with any carrier you choose. 

Advantages of an Unlocked Phone

There are definitely more advantages than disadvantages of unlocked phones. In fact, there are so few disadvantages of unlocked phones that we would almost never recommend purchasing a locked phone. Here are some of the major advantages to buying unlocked mobile devices.

  1. Carrier Flexibility — Unlocked phones are not tied to a specific carrier or network. This flexibility lets you choose the mobile carrier of your choice. You can also switch between carriers easily. This is especially helpful if you live in an area with varying network coverage because you can choose the carrier that offers the best service in a particular location.
  1. International Use — Unlocked phones are compatible with SIM cards from different countries and can be used internationally. World travelers can just insert a local SIM card in the destination country to avoid expensive roaming charges and ensure access to local data and calling plans.
  1. Resale Value — One of the biggest advantages, and not disadvantages of unlocked phones, is a higher resale value. Because they are not tied to a specific carrier, they appeal to a broader range of buyers. Additionally, potential buyers can use the unlocked phone with their preferred carrier, making it more attractive in the second-hand market.
  1. Software Updates — Unlocked phones usually get updates quicker than locked devices. Carrier-locked phones may have delays in receiving updates because they need to go through the carrier's testing and approval process. 
  1. No Bloatware — Unlocked phones typically come without carrier-specific bloatware or pre-installed apps that cannot be removed. Locked phones often come with apps and software imposed by the carrier, which can take up storage space and may not be desired by the user. Unlocked phones offer a cleaner and more customizable user experience.

Disadvantages of Unlocked Phones

In our opinion, there aren’t many disadvantages of unlocked phones. If price is the only thing you’re looking at when you buy a used mobile device, then a locked used phone generally costs less. But keep in mind that you get what you pay for. The upfront investment of an unlocked, Phonecheck-certified mobile device can pay for itself in years to come because you can be sure you have a quality device, and you can price shop for the lowest cost carrier. 

When you’re shopping for a used mobile phone, there are a lot of advantages and not many disadvantages of unlocked phones. 

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