Purchasing an Unlocked Android Phone

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[adsense]A few years ago, if you wanted to fully purchase an unlocked android smartphone with any type of updated features, you would have to buy it from one of the major carriers. If you wanted to avoid paying below the $400+ purchase price, the cost would include add-ons such as multiyear contract commitments which resulted in grossly overpaying for equipment and service.

Fortunately for consumers, there are now good inexpensive phone options for consumers who wish to purchase new android phones without breaking the bank. But before you run out and spend your hard earned money on the first deal you see, be mindful of our tips and suggestions.

Considerations Before Your Purchase

Android phones Do Not automatically match the cell phone carrier you wish to use. There are different types of networks available that will only work with specific types of phones.   In the US, the two main types of networks are GSM and CDNA.

GSM – Is the most popular type of network in the World (but comes in second place in the US). This is considered the most useful choice for a personal smartphone but can be the most expensive. Your phone number and carrier data are maintained in a SIM Card that you can insert into your phone.  You purchase the sim card from the GSM carrier you wish to use and put it in your phone. Technically, you can change sim cards at any time in your phone (as long as it is unlocked from a specific carrier). Used by StraightTalk, Family Mobile, T-Mobile, AT&T.

CDMA – Is the most popular cellular network used in the US. Phone number and account data is programmed into the hardware of the phone by the carrier with this technology. In most cases, you will want to avoid purchasing CDMA phones. The most popular discount carriers such as StraightTalk, Family Mobile, Net10 and others will not activate CDMA phones in many cases.

2G, 3G or 4G?


You also want to be mindful if the cellphone you purchase will be able to support faster data speeds using the 3G and/or 4G technologies. Many of the phones you can purchase from China and Europe will not work in the US using 3G or 4G data speeds. 2G data speeds are considered “slow” by today’s standards and in some cases, popular apps may not work properly with slower 2G speeds. 2G usability may be fine for some as a backup, but you want to make sure you will primarily be able to use the higher speeds available. This should be a major point of emphasis when deciding to purchase.

Cellular Frequency

You also will need to know the frequencies your phone will be able to use. Again, there are some GSM phones that will not work well with some of the popular US cellphone carriers. This is another important factor to consider. For example:

AT&T primarily uses the 850MHz and 1900MHz GSM bands


T-Mobile primarily uses the 1700MHz and 2100 MHz bands.

Keep in mind that you will need access to both ranges for the carrier you wish to use on your phone. Many name branded popular phones sold for use in the US have all required ranges for the US major cell phone carriers. But many sold abroad may not. If you should purchase a phone that does not have all the necessary ranges for your carrier, then you may be stuck with only using 2G speeds for your data use.

If you intend to purchase a “Pentaband” phone such as the Galaxy Nexus phones then you will be covered worldwide.


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