What Does GSM Unlocked Mean? [All You Need To Know]
If you’re thinking of switching phone service providers or buying a new phone – we have many helpful details to share with you.
Knowing the difference between a locked and an unlocked smartphone will help you make better choices when picking a new device. And depending on the advantages and disadvantages, you will make a more informed decision.
What does GSM unlocked mean?
Let’s begin by answering this question.
What Does GSM Unlocked Mean?
The Global System for Mobile (GSM) is a network utilized by phone carriers that use Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards, to which phone numbers and services are linked.
If a phone is locked, it can only work with one cell phone provider’s network. If the provider’s SIM card is removed and replaced with another’s – the device won’t operate.
On the flip side, if you have an unlocked phone, it can work with any carrier service’s SIM card, as long as they are GSM compatible.
Unlocked devices allow you to choose the provider that’s best for you, you can save money in the long run, and you don’t have to deal with pre-installed apps. However, you must pay the phone upfront and you won’t have a carrier warranty.
Factory GSM Unlocked Phone
A smartphone with a GSM factory unlock is manufactured and distributed without a provider contract. Such phones give users the freedom of choosing the GSM carrier that suits their needs and finances most from the get-go. It works with any GSM network and provides the most flexibility.
And unlike with an unlocked phone by a specific carrier, you never need the original provider’s SIM card for any resets. With a factory GSM unlock, the process is easier.
How to GSM Unlock a Phone?
There are a few ways you can unlock a GSM locked smartphone:
- Through the service provider
- Using specialized software
- Through the hardware
- Using the IMEI method
Here’s how they work:
- Contacting your service provider is the simplest method.
Call your provider and request a phone unlock. They’ll most likely ask to confirm that you are the device owner. Upon request, you might have to wait up to 30 days for them to send you a network unlock code.
Keep in mind that providers may request payment for GSM unlocks.
- Using specialized software requires some tech know-how.
This method requires connecting your phone to a computer to run an unlocking program.
However, this is not advisable as it may not be safe for your device or can lead it not to work correctly.
- Unlocking through hardware is something you can do yourself.
However, it’s easier and safer to trust a technician. Though you are not even recommended to do this.
If there is a mistake, your phone is likely to be damaged. Also, changing the device’s hardware means that its warranty will no longer be honored by GSM carriers.
- Using the IMEI method is the most effective method of all.
An International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) is an identification code given to all mobile devices. Some websites can help you change your phone’s IMEI database entry and unlock it.
This method is fast, affordable, and often best left for professionals.
GSM Unlocked vs. Fully Unlocked Cellphone
The difference between GSM unlocked, and factory or fully unlocked cell phones is the following:
A GSM unlocked phone only uses GSM technology and only operates with providers that support it.
A fully unlocked phone supports GSM and CDMA tech and works under any carrier.
CDMA vs. GSM Unlock
Now you may be wondering what CDMA is.
CDMA vs. GSM Network
Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), like GSM, is a network used by phone carriers. They are older radio systems that only support 2G and 3G connectivity. However, they are not compatible with each other since they work on different frequencies.
CDMA doesn’t use SIM cards. Instead, it stores a provider’s network data on the phone’s hardware. Unlocking requires you to flash information from another provider’s network onto the phone.
In the past, phones supported either one or the other. However, there are new devices that support both.
Here’s the thing, though:
2G and 3G are going away!
Providers are shutting down these networks as we speak, so if your phone does not support 4G or 5G, you need a new one soon.
It might be time to part with your flip phone – and get yourself a new model like many others. Statistics show that global 5G-enabled smartphone shipments will likely reach 51% by 2023.
CDMA vs. GSM Carrier
GSM carriers are standard worldwide, while CDMA carriers primarily service the US.
One of the best things GSM carriers offer is the ease of transferring between international networks. Users can travel without difficulty while keeping the same phone number. GSM providers also support a wider variety of phones.
CDMA carriers became so popular in the US because, at the time, they were faster, with more reliable bandwidth. This popularity is still present today, even though GSM technology has caught up.
The most popular GSM carriers in the US are:
The most popular CDMA carriers in the US are:
- U.S. Cellular
How To Know if My Phone Is GSM Unlocked?
There are a few ways you can check if your device is locked or not:
- Check your phone’s settings
The way to do this depends on the type of phone you’re using.
If you own an iPhone, navigate to the Cellular section of the Settings app and see if there’s an option to change the Cellular Data Network. If there is – you likely have an unlocked GSM device.
Navigate to the Mobile Networks Section in Settings if you own an Android and search for available carriers. If you can connect to different networks, your device is likely unlocked.
This is not a very reliable method, so double-check with one of the following two:
- Switch SIM cards
Remove the SIM card in your phone and replace it with another from a different carrier. The device is unlocked if you can make calls and send texts with the new SIM card.
- Use an IMEI checker
A good checker will not only tell you if your phone is locked but will also let you know if it’s blacklisted. It’s good to know this since you cannot unlock such a phone.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of GSM Carriers
Here are some pros and cons of America’s leading GSM providers:
- Far-reaching network coverage
- Unlimited 5G plans with no extra costs
- One of the fastest networks
- Growing 5G coverage
- Expensive plans
- Poor customer service
- One of the fastest networks
- Attractive unlimited plans
- Low-cost data plans
- A hard cap on data for prepaid plans
- Fewer plan options
With all that said, you now know the difference between a GSM unlocked phone and a locked one.
If you’re unhappy with your provider, you’re a step closer to changing it, and if you’re looking for a new phone, now you know a few important things to consider.
Unlocked Cell Phones | HSN
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Samsung Galaxy A23 5G A236M 128GB GSM Unlocked Smartphone
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Samsung Galaxy A04s A047M 128GB GSM Unlocked Smartphone
Refurbished Apple iPhone Unlocked Bundle
Pre-Owned Apple iPhone XS 64GB Fully Unlocked
Apple iPhone 11 Unlocked GSM/CDMA Smartphone
Apple iPhone SE (2020) Dual SIM GSM/CDMA Unlocked Smartphone
Pre-Owned Apple iPhone 8 64GB Unlocked GSM Smartphone
Pre-Owned Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max 256GB Fully Unlocked
Samsung A13 A135M 64GB GSM Phone
Samsung S22+ 5G S906U 128GB GSM/CDMA Phone
BLU G51S 32GB GSM Unlocked Android Smartphone – Olive Green
Pre-Owned Apple iPhone 11 Pro Fully Unlocked
Pre-Owned Apple iPhone X 64GB Unlocked GSM Phone w/ Dual 12MP Camera
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G GSM/CDMA Unlocked Smartphone
Nokia G100 TA-1430 128GB GSM Phone – Blue
Pre-Owned Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max 64GB Fully Unlocked
Pre-Owned Apple iPhone 11 128GB Fully Unlocked
Apple iPhone 12 GSM/CDMA Fully Unlocked
Samsung Galaxy J3 2017 5” 16GB GSM Unlocked Quad-Core Smartphone
Sony Xperia L1 5.5″ HD Quad-Core 16GB Unlocked GSM Android Smartphone
Blackberry DTEK60 BBA100-1 32GB Unlocked Android Phone
Apple iPhone 13 128GB GSM/CDMA Phone
Samsung Galaxy A04s A047M 64GB GSM Unlocked Smartphone
Samsung Galaxy A04 A045M 128GB GSM Unlocked Smartphone
Samsung Galaxy A04E A042M 32GB GSM Smartphone – Light Blue
Pre-Owned Apple iPhone 11 Fully Unlocked
Samsung A03s 6.5″ HD+ Bundle with Mint Mobile Plan & 10GB Data
Pre-Owned Apple iPhone SE (2020) 128GB GSM/CDMA Fully Unlocked Phone
BLU G71+ G0571WW 128GB GSM Unlocked Android Smartphone
Pre-Owned Apple iPhone 12 128GB GSM/CDMA Fully Unlocked
Pre-Owned Apple iPhone XR Fully Unlocked
BLU G71L 128GB GSM Unlocked Android Smartphone – Green
Pre-Owned Apple iPhone SE (2020) 64GB GSM Fully Unlocked Phone
Pre-Owned Apple iPhone X 256GB A1901 Unlocked GSM Phone
Pre-Owned Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max 512GB Fully Unlocked
Nokia 225 4G TA-1282 GSM Unlocked Phone – Classic Blue
Pre-Owned Apple iPhone XS Max Fully Unlocked – Silver
BLU G91 Max 128GB GSM Unlocked Android Smartphone – Sky Blue
ZTE Blade V8 Pro Z978 32GB Unlocked GSM Smartphone
LG K10 5.3″ 16GB Unlocked GSM Android Smartphone
Samsung Galaxy J7 5.5″ Unlocked Smartphone
Unlock Yourself From Smartphone Boredom With Unlocked Cell Phones
Give yourself the freedom to use multiple carrier networks by searching for the perfect unlocked cell phone. Committing to a single carrier isn’t right for everyone, which is why HSN’s unlocked smartphones are available in so many brands and models. Whether you want an iPhone, a Samsung Galaxy, or something else, you’ll find an unlocked version at HSN that fits within your budget.
When shopping for unlocked mobile phones, consider the features you want. Are you looking for a basic Android device, or an older generation iPhone? These options are significantly cheaper than the shiny new phones HSN also sells. However, when you want the latest smartphone technology, HSN has those, too. Get the highest quality cameras, screens, and water-proofing on the market. Remember to look at how much space the phone has for storing pictures, videos, text messages, and apps.
Unlocked cell phones with lots of accessories are available in convenient packages. Get the standard headphones and charging cables that come with most phones, plus converters, screen cleaners, and extra cords. If you’re unhappy with your carrier, it’s time to move to an unlocked phone. Shop the best options from top smartphone makers at HSN.
Unlocked mobile phone
Unlocked mobile phone is a phone that recognizes any SIM card (SIM). When you buy a mobile phone from a provider, the phone is locked in the provider’s network. Even though a locked phone may be compatible with other networks, it cannot be used on another network while the phone is locked. However, most mobile phone companies supply unlocked mobile phones to the market. Unlocked phones can be used with any SIM card. Usually unlocked mobile phones that are sold over the Internet are unlocked using special programs (hacking or firmware).
What is the history of unlocked mobile phones?
When mobile phones are purchased from a reseller, the SIM card in the phone is linked to the owner’s personal billing information. Most resellers block the phone with special software so that it only works with their SIM card. For a while, unlocked mobile phones were only available in specialty stores where people bought phones from overseas. People traveling in Europe bought unlocked phones to avoid high roaming charges or paid for each local call. They simply bought a SIM card from a local operator and inserted it into the phone. Recently, manufacturers have begun making unlocked phones available in North America and selling them in stores and on their websites.
Cellular providers around the world, including carriers in the US and Canada, rely on GSM technology. GSM phones are sold with a SIM card slot. When the mobile phone is unlocked, you can switch carriers, which allows you to use the phone on a different GSM network. An unlocked phone has many benefits. You don’t need to buy a new phone and you can take your information stored in your mobile phone with you. This helps when you travel and switch between mobile carriers, as you can use the same phone instead of multiple ones. You can also save money by being able to choose a better mobile operator than the manufacturer.
If the mobile phone is unlocked, it can recognize any SIM card, regardless of which cellular provider issued it. The biggest reason why consumers buy unlocked mobile phones is the increase in options to choose a new cellular provider. If you are thinking about unlocking your phone, the provider will do it for a fee. You can contact the provider to see if your phone can be unlocked in the store.
Many people who travel frequently around the world buy unlocked phones because they can get a lot of useful things out of these devices. There are more options now available than ever before, so be sure you’re making a great purchase.
Summary: Why you need to unlock phones
– Freedom to choose tariffs and mobile operators for an unlocked phone. Choose a mobile operator with the best service or prices for tariff plans. If after buying or unlocking your phone you find a better deal, you can change your carrier or plan.
– With an unlocked phone, the benefits of traveling are obvious. You can take your unlocked phone on long-distance or international trips and use a local mobile operator for cheap communication services, whichever you consider more profitable for you. It’s as easy as inserting a new active SIM card.
– Lots of choices when buying an unlocked phone. It is more profitable to purchase a mobile phone with technical characteristics that you need or will definitely work with your mobile operator and get more opportunities from the service without contract restrictions.
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