Many cell phone network providers take advantage of the SIM lock capabilities that mobile manufacturers build into their phones. Network providers use the capability to lock mobile phones to specific providers and countries, in order to tie customers into longer contracts, and phone owners are often stuck with a paid-for phone that cannot be used with another network provider. Network providers like to SIM lock their phones because they offer phones at a discounted rate in exchange for a long-term contract.
The condition is that the customer uses the phone with a network provider for a specified time; between one to three years. Typically, it is a business model used to recoup the cost of the phone over the life of the network service contract.
Network providers justify the use of locking capabilities because a user could sign a contract with one company, obtain the phone, and then stop fulfilling the obligations of the contract to sign on with another company or sell the mobile phone for a profit. Network providers common use SIM locking methods to curb this activity; especially if the phone is subsidized and sold with a prepaid contract.
The only way for phone owners to circumvent the lock is to get the phone unlocked - or by purchasing unlocked cell phones from the beginning.
There are various ways that a mobile phone can be unlocked. For instance, a phone can be unlocked via a data cable that downloads special software used for unlocking phones, or special codes can be entered into the phone for unlocking - however these actions run the risk of locking the phone and turning it into an expensive paperweight.
Many benefits exist for phones that are unlocked; lower costs and simplicity are the most notable. A phone that is unlocked can take any compatible SIM card with virtually no hassle. When traveling internationally with a locked phone, a network provider can charge exorbitant roaming fees. In contrast, an unlocked phone can take any SIM card at any destination, and the owner would pay the local fees only; which are significant less than what network providers charge for roaming fees. Another benefit of buying local SIM cards is that they can make local calls instead of an international call.
Is it illegal to unlock a phone? Actually, it is disputed that it might be illegal for network providers to lock phones. Common sense dictates that consumers should have total freedom in doing whatever they want with the phone they've paid for.
In some cases, there can be legal liability in unlocking a phone when in a contract agreement with a network provider. Always review the stipulations of any network provider contract to assess the risks of unlocking phones properly, as network providers are under no obligation to provide information on how to unlock cell phones. Purchasing an unlocked cell phone to avoid these issues altogether is ideal. At Phone Merchant, all of the cell phones for sale are unlocked. Start by taking a look on our homepage.