Unlocking a cell phone -- sometimes referred to as jailbreaking a phone -- is the process of freeing the phone from its original wireless network. A locked phone will only work on a single company's network, typically the company from which you purchased the phone, while an unlocked phone will work on any network. While there are pros to unlocking a phone, there are some cons as well.
Disadvantage No. 1: Warranty
Unlocking your cell phone can void the terms of your phone's warranty. For example, if you have a smartphone with two-year warranty, and you jailbreak the phone before the warranty expires, you will not be able to have the phone repaired or replaced under the terms of the warranty; instead, you'll have to pay the repair or replacement cost out of pocket.
Disadvantage No. 2: Service Contract
When you first purchase a cell phone and service plan from a wireless provider, you often must sign a contract. This service contract -- also called a "Terms and Conditions" document -- is a legally binding agreement between you and your wireless provider. Unlocking your phone from the provider's wireless network can amount to a breech of the contract, and could expose you to a monetary penalty. Additionally, if you unlock your phone and choose to leave your original wireless provider's network before your service contract expires, you may have to pay an early termination fee.
Disadvantage Np. 3: Faulty Updates
When you unlock your cell phone, you gain the freedom to upload any type of hardware or software you choose. While this gives you a lot of freedom to make changes to your phone, it also puts it at risk of faulty programs. A locked phone is protected from these dangerous programs, but an unlocked phone loses that protection.
Disadvantage No. 4: Cost
There are two financial aspects to unlocking your phone. The first is the cost of unlocking. While your wireless provider may agree to unlock the phone for you, you'll most likely be embarking on the jailbreaking process on your own. There are websites that can walk you through the process, but at a cost. Unlocking codes can start at $5, but if your phone requires a firmware update prior to unlocking, it could cost far more. The second financial aspect of unlocking your cell phone is its resale value. Although some buyers may be more likely to buy an unlocked phone, other buyers will want a phone that is still in "factory" condition and -- if possible -- still under warranty. An unlocked phone could limit your options when it comes time to resell it.
Advantages Of Unlocking Your Phone
Unlocking your phone means freeing it from the restrictions placed upon it by your network provider. For example, you won't be able to change some of the default settings, modify the phone's operating system or use certain advanced applications on a locked phone. In addition to these advantages, unlocking a phone also enables you to keep your current phone while shopping around for a more competitive talk and data plan from multiple wireless carriers.
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How to Unlock a Cell Phone
Unlock a cell phone to use a different service provider by obtaining the special access code for the phone or contacting a...