Please help me understand unlocked phones (USA)

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by richpuer, Oct 4, 2013.

  1. richpuer, Oct 4, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013

    richpuer macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2010
    #1
    So i really dont get why someone would opt for this instead of contract. I mean its the same thing if you are going between ATT or Tmo, right?

    ATT subsidizes the phone but yes you pay for some of it during the 2 year contract period, though the exact amount of monthly payments is not specified.

    Tmo you basically pay for an unlocked phone up front ( $649) but if you want they will bill it into the monthly @ $24 something a month + 99 upfront. Well thats basically the same thing.

    I understand that people want to not be locked in a contract but as for gsm, theres only two carriers right? so it seems people are getting unlocked phones because they want to switch back and forth from tmo or att every few months or so? doesnt seem convenient or cost effective to me if they charge activation fees everytime you switch.

    Why dont people just find a carrier they like and then stick to it and take the upgrade? For international, it makes sense to get it unlocked but they will unlock it for u for free when u travel abroad so still im not sure why people are adamant about unlocked phones.

    forgive me if this post sounds stupid but im trying to save money on my 4 line ATT bill currently $240/month by switching to TMO and buying unlocked phones but it doesnt seem like theres a difference once u add in the Tmo monthly phone fee of $24 per line.

    Right now ATT gives me an extra line for $10 and i pay additonal $20/mo for data. thats cheaper than Tmo still because i got a phone ungrade for 199+0/mo vs 99+24/mo

    I configured my account at TMO for 4 lines exactly how i have it at ATT aand im getting 160 + 92 for phones per month. thats 252 + taxes surcharges and fees. that would put me somewhere around 260 which is actually more than ATT. if i buy unlocked and go to TMO, it wouldnt make a difference except that my monthly is lower but i paid upfront for the phone
     
  2. alent1234 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2009
    #2
    for single people its cheaper to pay full price and go t-mobile or prepaid

    for family accounts of 4 lines the contract route is better
     
  3. KPOM macrumors G5

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2010
    #3
    Overseas travel is one reason (roaming rates are ridiculous, though AT&T has somewhat reasonable data plans now). MVNOs are another. They piggyback T-Mobile or AT&T's network (or sometimes both) and provide a little more flexibility in voice and data plans than AT&T or T-Mobile do directly.
     
  4. richpuer thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2010
    #4
    When i traveled to Asia, I just called ATT to unlock my phone and when i got overseas, i got sim card and plugged it in. it was done and cheap. wouldnt that be a solution to avoid att roaming intl
     
  5. Eau Rouge macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2013
    #5
    If you were still in the contract on that phone, you got lucky as ATT are not supposed to unlock until the contract has expired on the handset. I've managed to do the same thing with a then 3 month old 4s but it's atypical.
     
  6. legioxi macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2013
    #6
    AFAIK, they only unlock phones on accounts that are out of contract or paid off.
     
  7. ToroidalZeus macrumors 68020

    ToroidalZeus

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    Dec 8, 2009
    #7
  8. alent1234 macrumors 603

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    Jun 19, 2009
    #8
    if you read the recent unlocking threads and people unlocking hundreds of phones, these are people who are selling stolen phones

    steal phone, get it unlocked and ship overseas or sell on fleabay or CL. 10 to 1 odds AT&T and apple let it go this long when everyone knew what was going on was for a law enforcement investigation
     
  9. richpuer thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Nov 15, 2010
    #9
    ATT store guy told me that if a iphone is stole just call in to block the imei and it will be rendered completely useless anywhere in the world . is this true?

    only thing they could do is sell it for spare parts

    im sure people who get their phones stolen will report it to the carrier.
     
  10. hbcubs, Oct 4, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013

    hbcubs macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    SoCal
    #10
    The main reason I purchased an unlocked phone is because I travel overseas quite often and it's much cheaper for me to get a local SIM rather than pay my US carrier for an international plan. The up-front cost for the phone more than offsets the fees I'd pay for international roaming. ATT will not unlock an on-contract phone, at least not when I've made attempts in the past.
     
  11. Eau Rouge macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2013
    #11
    IMEI blacklists aren't shared/pooled across all carriers/countries. While your stolen phone may be useless in the states, you could find some network in another country where it would work fine.
     
  12. richpuer thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2010
    #12
    cant you just go online to those unlock websites, some are free, or a few bucks and just unlock it yourself? why dont people do this?
     
  13. alent1234 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2009
    #13
    until recently AT&T and other carriers didn't blacklist stolen phones

    even then there is no legit reason for most people to request unlocks on hundreds of phones via unofficial channels. i'm still sure they let it go this far as part of a criminal investigation

    i work in IT. something like tracking unlocks is trivial to audit
     
  14. CEmajr macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2012
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    #14
    If you're on a family plan and most people are light data users then AT&T isn't that much more expensive than tmobile.

    Tmobile's price advantages come into play for heavier data users, extremely light data users (less than 500mb per month), or for those who don't use their upgrades as soon as they are available.
     
  15. hbcubs macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    SoCal
    #15

    I don't feel comfortable handing over my information to these people so I'd rather just buy the unlocked phone. In fact, it's funny you bring this up because one of my coworkers just tried unlocking her phone through a couple of these companies and they were unsuccesful. I've heard many people were able their phones unlocked in the past but it sounds like carriers are becoming more savvy to this and doing something to possibly prevent this activity.

    In the end it's just personal preference. How a person goes about obtaining an unlocked phone, be it purchasing it outright our going through a third party, is really just up to them.
     
  16. applesnacks macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2013
    #16
    I don't pay boku bucks to the carriers I usually use Pay as you go. It's more reasonable. Lower price, good amount of minutes and no contract, and not activation fees.

    With unlocked phones you have all the power. You tell the carriers what to do they don't tell you what to do. And I am an international citizen so I switch carriers very often.

    Even if you move around in the u.S. You will face to switch carriers of you want the best service. Unless you stay in the same city for your whole life.
     

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