Buying Factory Unlocked

What is an 'unlocked' phone?

An Unlocked Cell Phone can be used with any GSM compatible carrier around the world. The unlocked device works with any SIM Card provided by a carrier.

The SIM card needs to be inserted into the phone in the same manner as it is used for a locked or dedicated device. In the United States there are many carriers an unlocked phone can be used with; such as T-Mobile, AT&T, Cingular, etc. As long as the cell phone GSM frequencies match the carrier band, the unlocked phone will work with the service provider, anywhere around the world. The best way to find the frequency specifications is to refer to the product page and look for matching compatibility with carriers.

Choose your cell phone device based on a match to the carrier specifications. If you want to be on the safe side, you may choose a Quad Band phone – these devices utilize all GSM frequencies and are universally supported by all GSM carriers.

Does it all make sense to you?
Think of your car maker - would it make sense for this manufacturer (say Toyota) to make cars that only utilize gas from one gas station company (say BP)?

Using an unlocked phone means having the freedom to choose which carrier you want to get cellular connectivity from. We offer you this freedom.

 Get Unlocked!

Browse our web site for two types of unlocked cell phones:

OEM Unlocked phones
These phones are made by manufacturers such as Nokia, Motorola Samsung, Sony Ericsson etc, which are based overseas and therefore, have not been assigned to any service provider/operator. They come in the manufacturer's original packaging. Unlike phones sold by local service providers in the United States, OEM phones do not have any service provider logos or customization. They are ready for Internet configuration, given by the operator, as well as MMS settings with other providers.
 
Carrier unlocked phones
These unlocked phones, from carriers such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Cingular and other operators were originally locked to a specific service provider, and prior to being made available for sale, were unlocked by legal means with unlocking codes or software. Usually, these phones come pre-set with carrier’s/operator’s menus, settings and customization, as well as operator logos. Checking the phone specifications is good practice, as some of these devices may not be configured for Internet and MMS settings with certain providers, other than those who's logo they carry.

Why Unlocked?
In countries like the United States, where carriers offer low-cost or free phones with commitment for mobile service plans, the phones are commonly locked so that they will not work with other carriers. Carriers lock the phones to subsidize the cost of the phones. After the period of commitment, a carrier might agree to unlock a phone upon request, based on terms. However, due to hard coded settings, sometimes pre-installed in locked handsets, the phones will not always function correctly with other carriers, regardless of being unlocked.

From the consumer point of view, the fact carriers are locking phones and using proprietary settings defeats many of the benefits of SIM handsets. Consumers' complaints led to a class-action suit filed in California in June 2004 by American watchdog group Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR). Ideally, phones should be left unlocked, or at least unlocked after the initial contract with the carrier expires.

One way to get an unlocked phone without any carrier settings is to buy it new from us in its original, unlocked state. The downside is that the price is not subsidized by any carrier and is commonly close to full retail. The advantage is - the third party unlocked phone should work well with any carrier that uses SIM cards.

Unlocked cell phones are in high demand. That is why third party services will unlock your cell phone for a fee, with software and other hacks. This doesn't guarantee the phone will always work correctly, as proprietary settings may remain or cause the phone to malfunction. There are also hacking instructions online to unlock many models of phones, but a phone that is unlocked improperly can become damaged permanently.

Many cell phones are designed to use a Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) card.  Once a contract with a carrier is signed, the carrier issues this card and provides cell services by activating it. When inserting this card into the phone, it is receiving and authenticating the use of this cellular service. A locked phone, however, will only recognize a SIM card from a designated carrier. If the cell phone is unlocked, it will recognize and work with any SIM card from any carrier. The "lock" is a hardware or software setting that keeps the cell phone "loyal" to one carrier.

Carriers operating the GSM network use SIM cards. Among companies in the United Sates use the GSM network are Cingular Wireless, AT&T Wireless and T-Mobile. Carriers that use the other network - CDMA, do not use card-enabled phones. Among these carriers are Sprint PCS, Verizon and Virgin Mobile. The CDMA equivalent of the SIM card — the R-UIM — will be used by these carriers in the future. R-UIM cards are already in use in some parts of Asia. An unlocked phone works only with GSM.

F.A.Q - The following are real questions asked by real people, just like yourself.
Q: Are all SIM cards the same size- will they fit in any phone?? I have a T-Mobile network and want to get an unlocked iPhone- will it work???
A: All SIM cards are the same for all manufacturers and operators (carriers). SIM cards are all standard - all cards are identical in the same way all credit/ATM cards are the same size and have the same magnetic line.
Q: an you use an unlocked phone as a prepaid and does it cost extra?
A: If the carrier providing you with a SIM card offers a prepaid plan, then you can use your unlocked phone to get this service, but you have to be sure this plan doesn't activate a dedicated phone as most prepaid phones have proprietary setup.

Q: The SIM card inserted into my iPhone does not appear to be supported. What should i do?
A: Your iPhone is programmed or hard coded to work with a specific carrier, unlike the iPhones we sell, that can work with any GSM carrier.

Q: If I purchase a net 10 prepaid phone that has it's own SIM card, would that sim card work in an unlocked phone?
A: Yes, it will. Make sure it is possible to physically remove the SIM card from the original phone without breaking the card (or the phone).

Q: Are unlocked mobile phones legal in any country?
A: Unlocked phones are legal in any country - Check your chosen GSM carrier contract - you are paying for the service, regardless of the type of phone you have.

Q: So you cannot use other unlocked phones on Verizon wireless?
A: Unfortunately not - Verizon wireless phones are set to work without a SIM card on the CDMA network. Only Verizon preset proprietary phones can work with this network.
Q: I live in Canada (Ontario) but I'd like to buy an "unlocked" cell phone in the US (through you). If I do this and get a SIM card from a Canadian service, can I use it in Canada?
A: Yes you may - all GSM carriers worldwide that offer a SIM card will support phones bought in the USA.
Q: Can i use a prepaid SIM card from a T-mobile phone in an unlocked phone I buy from you, just by installing it, and will it fit, as some appear to be different sizes?
A: SIM cards are all the same size. If your phone's size is different than the one you buy from us it will make no difference - it will work regardless.

Q: Will an unlocked phone be able to work on the Sprint Network?
A: No. The sprint network is CDMA - it doesn't offer SIM cards and therefore accepts only proprietary devices.
Q: If I buy an unlocked cell phone and take it to say my local Alltel provider would I be eligible for any different rates than I would getting my phone through Alltel?
A: Unlocked phones do not use more of your minutes (or data), therefore you are not being charged more than any other phone.
Q: I want to know if a newcomer can use an unlocked cell phone? What do I need to buy besides an unlocked cell phone? A subscription plan, pay as you go, or a SIM card?
A: New subscription with any GSM carrier will do. Once subscribed you'll receive a SIM card. An unlocked phone will be supported.

Q: Would An Unlocked Hello Kitty GSM Phone work in the United States?
A: Yes. In the U.S.A and around the world, wherever you can get GSM reception.

Q: I have 9 months left on my t-mobile contract. The problem is I want a phone that another carrier has that is not offered by t-mobile. What should I do?
A: If you can find this phone (or any other one you like) on our web site, you can purchase and use it with T-Mobile or any other GSM carrier.

Q: I have an unlocked AT&T Tilt aka Kaiser HTC Tynn. My question concerns how do I get T-Mobile software on and AT&T software off?
A: It appears like you have a Carrier unlocked phone, not OEM unlocked. See the difference at the top of this page. That is why you have the AT&T software pre-installed. We also sell OEM unlocked phones with no pre-installed software. Unfortunately, you will have to accept the limitations of the pre-installed software or buy an OEM unlocked phone.

Q: Once a cell phone is unlocked would I still have to pay for extras like GPS and Web access?
A: If your carrier charges for these services, you will have to pay them, just as well. Data plans for Internet access are usually quoted as an additional service to your minutes. We sell phones with GPS ready functionality - this means that they have the GPS receiver and you can save money by buying the GPS software and avoid the monthly service for GPS.
Q: If I bought an unlocked phone intending to use it with Metro PCS, would all the features that metro supports work, or just some?
A: Metro PCS works only with proprietary phones. They do not have SIM cards, no GSM network and therefore unlocked phones wouldn't be supported.

Q: So if I by an unlocked phone will I need any special code, etc. to enable the internet browsers, email connections, etc.?
A: You will need to get a service plan with data (for the Internet access) from a GSM carrier and put in your SIM card in. No codes are needed. Some carriers have settings you need to enter, to connect to the Internet, but these are general settings any unlocked phone with Internet capabilities will work with.
Q: I want to buy a phone from an eBay online auction....will it work in India?
A: You can take a chance and maybe waste your money or you can call our office and let us help you find the right phone for you that will fully work in your country and with your carrier.
Q: If I buy an unlocked cell phone, and transfer my SIM card from my old AT&T Pay as You Go Phone, is it necessary then to go to an AT&T Dealer if I want to retain my current number?
A: Not at all - you can keep using the same number and the same credit (minutes) the same way you did with your old phone.

Q: how do I know if my phone is unlocked?
A: Try to put a SIM card from a different carrier - if it logs into the network (you see the connection bars) and you can make a call, it is unlocked.

Q: I don't know if is legal to use unlocked phones or it can conceal a crime?
A: Unlocked phones are not a crime. Your GSM service provider wants you to purchase a phone from them so they can make money selling it to you, but if you call and of them and ask the customer service - they will have to admit - "it is not a crime".

Q: I bought a new phone from Palm as "unlocked". Turns out, it can only be used with AT&T. Isn't that a locked phone?
A: Not necessarily - it can be a Carrier unlocked phone - see the paragraph about such phones on the top of this page.

Q: Can the iPhone be unlocked? How, who would do it?
A: Yes, but that will be software unlocked. You will not be able to upgrade or to use some of the features with it. We sell OEM unlocked iPhones that do have an option to upgrade the firmware.
Q: Do you have to have a service plan or do you just put in a SIM card and then you can call anybody anytime for free? Thanks.
A: Unlocked phones allow you to work with any carrier on the GSM network, but you still need a service plan you're paying for. It is not a way to get something for free, just a way to choose what carrier you want to work with instead of being limited to only one of them. Think of your car maker - would it make sense if this manufacturer (say Toyota) only made cars that could utilize gas from one company(say BP)? Having an unlocked phone is having the freedom to choose what carrier you want to get cellular connectivity from. We offer you this freedom.