Carrier Locked Phones – Are They Worth the Purchase?

If you’re planning on picking up a phone, you’ve probably thought about purchasing a carrier-locked one. Many are against doing so, as you don’t own your phone until your installments are up. More importantly, your device can only handle the carrier’s sim. This doesn’t mean that there are no pros to it – there are many actually, and we’ve talked about them below.

The Pros

You Won’t Be Spending A Lot of Money

As you know, the beauty of carrier-locked phones is that you can pay for them in installments. The amount would depend on how expensive your phone is, and the carrier you’re working with. In general, it’s not very expensive. As with any installment plan, you’ll have to pay a certain amount as a deposit. This can be a lot, though.

If you’ve been using the carrier for a while, you can snag your handset for a considerable discount. The cherry on top is the fact that you could get add-ons or gifts with your purchase. Many are known to offer headphones and wireless chargers.

Get Phone Insurance

One of the wonders of working with a carrier is the ability to get mobile insurance. Warranties are great, but they don’t cover everything – what happens if you drop your phone in the toilet? Your warranty would just be a piece of paper. This would also be the case if your phone gets stolen. You could get phone insurance when purchasing from a store. However, it would cost more than working with a wireless carrier.

Always Have Help

Once you get a plan with a wireless carrier, they are always at your service. You can visit them whenever you have a problem with your device. And if you find a defect in it, you can get it exchanged. Although you could get a defected unlocked phone returned by a store, it’ll be a hassle. A lot of the time, the ability to return the product may not even be possible.

Many view carrier phones as being suited for the elderly – they aren’t the most tech-savvy, so having the company’s customer support freely available makes things easier for everyone.

Optimized Devices

Let’s say you pick a device that’s locked to an AT&T sim. It would be optimized (through configuration) to work with AT&T’s networks. You’ll not only be getting better connections throughout the country, but you’ll be able to utilize the extra services that the company offers.

The Cons

There are pros to picking the devices. However, many believe the cons outweigh them.

Limited Options Are Available

As you don’t have many options with your wireless carrier, you might be stuck with a phone you don’t like. They especially don’t have older ones, which is a shame as many provide the most bang for your buck. But this isn’t a rule set in stone – there are some older devices sold by carriers, like Virgin Mobile.

You won’t get any brands that are barred from your country – the US is notorious for having a shaky relationship with Chinese brands.

Your Phone Isn’t Yours

Remember that you’re purchasing the phone off a plan. You’re paying installments for a certain period until the device is yours. Many don’t realize this – they’ll have the phone taken from them if their monthly payments are not made. A lot of the time, these payment plans can stretch years. When you purchase from a store, doing the former seriously seems like a headache.

It Is Locked

We touched on this earlier, but what does it mean for a phone to be ‘locked’? You can only use the handset with the wireless carrier you’re working with. If it’s under a Verizon Wireless plan, there’s no way it’ll be able to handle an AT&T sim. For now, this might not be an issue, but you might move to a location where your wireless carrier has poor service. Although your phone was configured, and it should theoretically get better coverage, you’re likely not going to experience a difference.

If you finished your plan, you’ll be able to get it unlocked. But it will take a lot of effort. If you managed to get your phone unlocked, it’ll take a while. In many cases, it’s around 60 days. This isn’t a surprise as the carrier’s main goal is for you to stick with them.

You’re Likely Paying More

The ability to pay for your handset in installments is tempting, especially since you could be paying a little every month. That being said, you might be paying a lot of money in the long run – no one who goes for carrier devices add up the total sum in the end. This is especially a hard blow as manufacturers offer phones for discounts across the year, so you could’ve saved much more if you decided to pick an unlocked device.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to carrier-locked phones, it’s clear that there are many pros and cons. The most beneficial thing about picking such a device up is that you’ll be paying later. The installment plan could be cheap too, so you’d be owning an expensive flagship even though you can’t afford it. The devices also come with expert configuration to use the carrier’s services. They also give you access to competitive insurance plans and thorough help from the service’s customer reps.

All of this might become redundant when you consider that you won’t be able to use another carrier. Many carrier phones have the company’s logo on the back. If you do happen to get them unlocked, it’ll only be after you complete your payment plan. Even then, there are stipulations, and the process might take a while.

Another disadvantage is that you can only choose a handset your carrier comes with. If it’s a device that’s not available in the country, your carrier wouldn’t offer it.

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So, at the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide whether getting a carrier locked phone is worth it.