Most of us have gone to phone shops to buy a pay monthly contract phone. But what is it exactly? A pay monthly contract is basically a phone that comes with a sim that lets you call, use data services, and even text for a certain amount of time, which is typically around 24 months. This is quite convenient in terms of letting you spread the cost of the phone over a certain amount of time, which makes it affordable. However, with newer flagship phones becoming pricier, not everyone can afford paying the monthly installments. That said, there are other options to consider such as buying a sim free phone.
What Do You Mean by Sim Free Phone?
What is sim free iPhone or Android phone? As the name suggests, these are mobile phones that can be purchased without any SIM included. Basically, you are just purchasing the phone itself and not with a pay monthly contract. However, there are few things that you need to know about buying a SIM free phone such as the difference between sim free and unlocked. Let’s find out.
SIM free refers to any mobile phone, tablet, or smartphone that was purchased without any SIM card included. However, although SIM free means that there is no SIM card, the phone itself may still be locked to a specific network or unlocked to be used with any network which may not be what you are looking for.
What is a Network Locked or Locked Phone?
A locked or network locked phone is a mobile phone that will only work when a specific network’s SIM card is inserted. Basically, the phone will only accept the SIM card that the network has provided and nothing else. One of the reasons why mobile phones are locked this way is that they are typically sold by a network provider. By locking the phone, people will not be able to use other networks’ SIM cards on their unit.
Can you unlock a locked phone then? The answer here is yes. However, there is a bit of grey area with regards to the process, and whether it is morally or legally right, but it is possible to have your locked phone unlocked. To unlock the phone, a special code needs to be entered into the handset. This code is generated based on the specific handset’s identity. There are shops that can unlock your phone for you or you can go online to unlock your phone yourself. The cost of having your phone unlocked may just be a few pounds. Once you have unlocked your handset, you will be able to use it with other SIM cards from different network providers.
What Does Unlocked Phone Mean?
Unlocked phones are these phones that can work with any network, like Vodafone, O2, 3 or any other network service provider. All that you have to do is to insert the right sized SIM on the phone for it to work. However, there are unlocked phones that were once locked units and then there are those phones that haven’t been locked to any network ever since.
Most of the unlocked phones that were once locked are usually the older models, and are usually seen when you are buying or selling second hand phones. On the other hand, truly unlocked handsets, or more commonly referred to as factory unlocked handsets are those mobile phones that were made exactly that by the manufacturer. This means that these phones are designed to be compatible with any SIM cards from different network providers.
Nowadays, buying a factory unlocked handset without any SIM card is often referred to as SIM Free. Can I use a SIM free phone on any network? What’s great about getting an unlocked handset is that you can use it with any network providers’ SIM card, regardless of whether it is a 24 month contract SIM, pay as you go SIM, or even a 1 month rolling contract pay monthly type of SIM. Just make sure that you are satisfied with the payment plan that you are going to get and that the size of the SIM card is the right one for your phone.
If the mobile phone is SIM free but locked, you can use pay monthly, contract, or PAYG SIM from the network that the phone is locked to. On the other hand, if it is SIM free and unlocked, then you will be able to use any network providers SIM on your phone, as long as you choose the right sized SIM. You can even use your old SIM card on your unlocked phone if you like.
Can You Use SIM Free Unlocked Handsets In Other Countries?
Most of the newer SIM free, unlocked handsets can be used in other countries. However, there are still some exceptions to the rule. For example, there are certain countries that may have different standards when it comes to their phones, which means that, what may be common in the UK or in the USA may not be the same in Asia. Most handsets will let you make and even receive calls and even send and receive texts, but it is important that you check your network provider first or the phone manufacturer if their phone can be used in other countries.
Fortunately, most phones today are designed with support for a wider range of bands making it easer for you to travel in other countries with your phone. Still, it is important that you check this with the network provider or the phone manufacturer prior to buying their handset. Most budget phones that you’ve seen before and today only support dual or tri-band which means that they have less compatibility abroad. Modern phones, however, are offering quad-band or penta-band support, which means that they can support more bands for international usage.
Restrictions and Implications of SIM Free Phones
If you buy a phone that is factory unlocked and SIM free in new condition, then there won’t be any issues whatsoever. The same goes true if you get a new phone that is SIM free but not unlocked and with SIM and locked unit. The complications may appear, however, if you get a phone that is SIM free but has been unlocked, or with SIM but has been unlocked. In these two situations, it will depend on when and where you bought your phone as well as the conditions of the sale.
In most cases, a phone that has been unlocked after being locked originally, will no longer be a part of the normal warranty, contract, and guarantee conditions with those who manufactured and sold the unit. What this means is that if your phone stops working or has some issues, the company will not repair or replace it even.
The same goes true when you buy a new phone, but then modified its software, any warranty that it comes with will be removed. There are insurance providers who will decline insurance on phones that weren’t bought new.
Is Buying an Unlocked Phone Cheaper?
Buying locked handsets are often cheaper since they tend to appeal to a few buyers. On the other hand, buying a handset that is now unlocked, but was locked originally, is considerably cheaper compared to handsets that are factory unlocked. This is due to the fact that factory unlocked handsets tend to be more expensive since they do not have the same risks regarding ongoing support and warranty just like what was mentioned above.
Is it Cheaper to Buy SIM Free?
The answer here depends on your circumstances, but in long term, it usually is.
When buying a handset that is SIM free, you only need to pay the cost of the handset. However, when you purchase a contract, the cost of the phone will be added into your monthly payments. When you choose a contract, you are basically taking a loan out for the mobile phone you bought. The only time that you get to keep the phone for yourself is at the end of the contract when you have completed the payment for the phone. A typical contract for a mobile phone will include allowance for texts, mobile data usage, and calls, but the initial cost of the phone will be included too.
The beauty of going SIM Free is that you will not be tied to any contract or network provider with the option of upgrading your phone any time you like. Even if there is a higher upfront cost when you opt for a SIM free phone, you will still save a lot in the long run.
You can sell your phone any time you like, or even recycle your device to get value from it that you can use to buy a new handheld device. Depending on the network plan that you have, you can change this as often as you like. You can decide when to upgrade your phone or if you are looking for a mobile phone that offers you more or even less data or minutes.
Is going SIM free for you? This depends mostly on your preferences which is why it is best that you weigh the information here to determine if it the right device for you.