Unlocked Cell Phones

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Avoid roaming charges and give your team members the freedom to find the best cell services while traveling abroad by equipping them with unlocked cell phones. Besides paying lower rates for calls, messages and data plans, you can avoid a long-term carrier contract by picking a phone not tied to a cell service provider network. Staples carries a wide selection of such phones from different brands.

Choosing the Right Unlocked Cell Phone
While they keep a few phones exclusive to select networks, smartphone manufacturers generally offer unlocked versions of their products along with those sold through carriers. Besides manufacturer-unlocked phones, there are also carrier phones unlocked by resellers. Factory-unlocked models usually have valid warranties while those unlocked by third parties do not. Choose a phone unlocked by its manufacturer if you prefer not have carrier software on your device.

You should also ensure that the unlocked phone you get supports your carrier of choice. Manufacturer-unlocked phones are usually international versions sold outside the US. These often come with different sets of bands and radio frequencies. Make sure that the unlocked phone supports the GSM frequencies and LTE bands used by your preferred carrier.

Features to Consider When Comparing Unlocked Phones
Get an entry-level smartphone if you need a phone to use while traveling, if you prefer a simpler interface or simply want a second phone. Mid-range and flagship models are excellent replacements for carrier-locked phones. Look for features like screen size and resolution, processor, GPU, camera quality, battery life and build quality. If you opt for a compact phone with a 5-inch screen or less, make sure the display has a minimum resolution of 720p. Phablets with screens measuring 5.5 inches or larger need displays with 1080p resolution or higher.

For excellent build quality, choose a smartphone with a metal body and a scratch-resistant display. A fast processor keeps a phone running smoothly especially when paired with at least 2GB RAM. Look for a phone with a powerful GPU if you enjoy mobile games. Cell phones with larger battery capacities usually last longer than those with smaller ones. To enjoy an all-day battery life, get a smartphone with a battery rated at 3000mAh or higher.

Do Unlocked Phones Work on the Verizon Network?
Unlocked smartphones are usually GSM variants. Verizon has a CDMA network and CDMA carriers have tight controls over the phones that connect to their networks. Unlike a GSM phone, a CDMA phone does not require a SIM card to receive cell service from a carrier. 4G LTE models use SIM cards but only for data.

Can You Unlock a Carrier Phone Yourself?
You can unlock the smartphone you got from your carrier if you have the right codes and know the steps required to remove its carrier lock. This carries a risk and you can easily "brick" the phone, rendering it useless if the unlock process fails. To avoid ending up with a malfunctioning device, you should buy an already unlocked cell phone.

Do Unlocked Cell Phones Receive Software Updates?
Yes. Manufacturer-unlocked smartphones usually receive faster updates than their carrier-locked counterparts. Phones unlocked by resellers also get regular OS and security updates for as long as manufacturers and developers support them.