Why do mobile networks lock phones?
JanSt / MOD
Nov. 11, 2014 at 19:36
The excuse for the longest time has been that they "subsidise" the handsets. I.e. a prepay handset from network x, y or z is cheaper than the simfree model. And via contract, the same .... Of course that is very often NOT true, Example: all but one Irish network sell the locked iPhone 6 and 5S for more than what Apple charge for the sim-free versions. In fact, these days where Amazon and countless other online retailers sell sim-free smartphones, you get most phones for less elsewhere than from your carrier.
So: the reason is simple: greed! And "forced loyalty"... keep your customers for as long as you can. See, locking them COSTS the networks money. They need to lock them, test the locked devices. Then they need staff to deal with unlock requests, put in place an unlock process and test that process. AND STILL: it seems like a good idea. So, obviously they are either dumb or very clever. Three say: hey, we sell unlocked phones only. What do they know that others don't?
In the olden days, WinMo devices were usually simfree, no matter where you bought them.
Microsoft actually argued that, as business devices, customers IN BUSINESS must be able to travel and change sims etc... Yet: boom - along comes Windows Phone and Microsoft makes a complete U-turn. Now WP phones are basically impossible to unlock if the network refuses to oblige! Very puzzling. But I assume MS had to suck up to the carriers. "You want us to stock your phones, we'll lock'em"...
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