jamesbrog

what do locked an unlocked mean?

if im buying a new phone, what does locked and unlocked mean?

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JanSt / MOD  Mar. 28, 2011 at 16:35

It means "LOCKED TO THE NETWORK THAT SUBSIDISED THE PHONE" - generally, when you buy a phone from Vodafone or O2 etc etc, they are a bit cheaper than the generic version from the manufacturer. In return the networks usually put some branding on the phone: network logos at start-up, browser shortcut etc...AND they lock the phone so it cannot be used on another network. Otherwise you could buy a cheap Vodafone offer and then use it with Three or O2. The networks would lose out, because the profit comes from you spending on calls and data, not from selling you a cheap phone ;)

Usually, they will give you an unlock code after your contract runs out, or after you spent a certain amount of prepay credit.
But many phones can be unlocked by various means. Generally, it'll also void your warranty if you get the phone unlocked via some online service e.g. ;)
If you buy a new phone unlocked (or: sim-free), it is generally a factory unlocked device, in which case the vendor will still give you a warranty.
So, usually 'sim-free' and 'unlocked' are (almost) synonymous. Only difference: an unlocked device may, at some point, have been locked. While sim-free usually implies the phone is ageneric, never-been-locked phone. Both can be used on any network.

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