Why you should always buy a multi-network, unlocked cell phone
Richard Howard • November 26, 2019
For a long time, we were led to believe that receiving post-paid cell service required signing a lengthy contract and purchasing a phone locked to your network. Service providers also make sure to highlight an apparent difference in price between buying the phone from them outright and buying alongside a plan. Even with pre-paid plans, networks attempt to entice phone users with heavily discounted budget cell phones that remain locked to the network for a pre-determined period of time.
The good news is, this doesn’t have to be the case. Now, it’s easier than ever to buy a brand new unlocked cell phone for well under MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price). If you’re so inclined, you can get an excellent condition refurbished phone for even less. “What’s the big deal?” you might ask. “If I’m going to save some money in the long run, I’ll stick with these guys for the two years.” We’re glad you asked.
Reasons to buy an unlocked, multi-network device
Your right to be satisfied with your service
Very briefly for the uninitiated who may be asking “what is an unlocked cell phone?” Quite simply, it’s a cell phone that is not electronically locked to a certain provider. For example, a phone locked to AT&T can only be used on their network, even if you have a SIM card from Verizon. As for a multi-network phone, this is one that is compatible with multiple networks. It’s important to get a device that is both to maximize your choices – not locked to one network, and able to be used on as many networks as possible. At Ting Mobile, we’re all about choice and giving you control, which is why we offer a wide array of multi-network devices in the Ting Shop. There are a number of service-related reasons you may find you want to switch carriers.
Cost: If you find a far better deal for the same level of service, it’s a huge bummer to have to watch from afar while locked into yours, isn’t it? Unfortunately, this is just what will happen if you’re shackled to your provider through a locked phone and/or a plan you’ll have to buy out of to leave.
Available plans: Sometimes the issue isn’t a similar plan or level of service, but the availability of others. Due to changing mobile habits, you may find that you now need far less talk, text and data than previously. Or, after taking a quick inventory of your actual use, you might notice you never needed the amount of data you’ve been paying for.
The first issue is you’re usually required to stick to the specific plan you signed up with for the duration of your initial contract. After this time is up, you may be willing to stay with the network on a different plan – but then discover they don’t have a plan that suits your needs at all. Not being on contract and having an unlocked, multi-network phone allows you to switch to the carrier and plan that’s best for you at any time. Even if you do get locked into a contract, a multi-network phone ensures you’ll be able to have more carrier choices when your contract period ends.
Network Quality: What luck! You found what seemed to be a steal-of-a-deal plan from a certain carrier. Or perhaps you stumbled across an unbelievably affordable prepaid phone from a mobile service provider at a department store that would only remain locked for a year. Seems like a safe bet for a cheap phone. Except when the phone is activated, you discover the carrier’s coverage in your area is terrible. Now you’re stuck walking around your neighborhood shouting, “hello, can you hear me now?” like the bizarro version of the old Verizon ad guy.
Your right to excellent service wherever you are
The great thing about this country of ours is that we can pull up stakes and move whenever we darn well please. New environment, new opportunities – and for better or worse, sometimes new mobile coverage. When it’s for worse, you’ll want the ability to switch to a carrier with better network coverage in your new area.
Or perhaps you travel often. It could be to another part of the States with different network coverage, or perhaps overseas. In either case, the ability to switch between networks easily allows for better service and the choice between a local carrier or the carrier with the best roaming plan. At Ting, there’s the added advantage that if your coverage in one area is less than perfect with your current network, you can try a SIM from one of our other nationwide LTE networks.
In the long run, you’re often paying more, not less
It’s an attractive proposition. “New iPhone from $0 with our premium plan!” By now, we know that “free” phone is actually going to be paid off as an add-on to your monthly bill over the course of your contract. Where many of us get caught is the assumption that because it’s on a plan, it must be discounted. In many cases, the phone is actually no cheaper. You’re simply paying for it over time.
Even if the phone is somewhat discounted, the average user will end up paying more than necessary due to the plan that comes with the contract. To purchase a carrier’s discounted locked phone, you’ll need to sign up for a certain minimum plan. These are often ‘premium’ plans with large data caps or ‘unlimited everything.’ For most of us, that simply isn’t necessary – and neither is the accompanying price tag. By buying a multi-network phone and choosing the carrier and service level best for you, you’ll likely end up having saved a considerable chunk of change.
You can still get the phone you want unlocked
An unlocked, multi-network phone means you’re free to choose the option that’s best for you in any situation. Whether cost, coverage or even customer support is your main concern, unlocked phones allow you the freedom to shop around till you find that perfect fit. And while carriers are now required to unlock a phone on request at the end of the contract period, the process can often be a frustrating one. Plus, you’ve likely already paid far too much for service over the length of your contract.
Sometimes, though, there’s that dream phone that you have to own but the cost is too great to shell out all at once. Well, there are many financing options these days, which don’t result in your being stuck with one carrier. Through your line of credit, you may even be eligible for interest-free loans. It’s worth doing the math. Quite often, even with a low-interest loan, you’ll pay a similar amount as or less than you would under contract with a carrier, and you’ll always save in the end with a plan where you pay for what you need.
At Ting, we’ve made sure that the choice remains in your hands. As for where to buy an unlocked phone, all the phones in the Ting Shop are unlocked, multi-network phones. Alternatively, you can purchase a compatible unlocked phone from manufacturers or trusted retailers and bring it to Ting. You’ll never sign a contract with Ting, and our pay for only what you use model is perfect for saving tons of money compared to bloated premium plans.
Interested in that flagship phone? Every item in our shop can be financed through Affirm – or talk to your credit card company and see if you can score one of those magical interest-free loans. If Ting isn’t the best fit, you have the freedom to find another carrier at any time (with our thanks for giving us a try!). An unlocked cell phone gives you the flexibility to seek out the best service and value for money on a device you love. Stay free, my friends.
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