Definition of a Factory Unlocked iPhone, Are you thinking of buying a new or used iPhone?, then there are things you should know. You have to understand the differences between purchasing a locked iPhone, a factory-unlocked iPhone or a user-unlocked iPhone. While buying a locked iPhone is cheaper and comes with an added price, user-unlocked iPhones on the other hand, have no warranty. Thus, if you want a device you can activate on any carrier but still retain your warranty, you should consider buying a factory unlocked iPhone.
What are the Differences Between Locked and Unlocked iPhones?
All of the iPhones sold in the United States are “locked to” their original carriers, irrespective of whether the customer bought the phone under contract or paid the full price. iPhones are locked using a passcode known as master subsidy lock or service programming code.
Now, it is this code that prevents the user from accessing the iPhone’s programming menu and using the phone on another carrier’s network.
In Europe, factory-unlocked iPhones have always been available, however, they only became available in the United States in 2011. These phones were locked in a bid to discourage and prevent customers from moving across networks without unlocking the phone. Unlocking an iPhone is quite a tedious process and one that requires the customer to make a long call with customer service or make a store visit.
Before now, unlocking the phone was far more difficult. However modern iPhones now come unlocked from the factory. But note that a modern locked phone can also be unlocked via traditional customer services lines. Even though loyal customers are not concerned about this issue, customers who want to shop networks will prefer the unlocked version of the iPhone.
Why Are iPhones Normally Sold Locked?
During its first launch in the United States, (i.e.) Apple and AT&T signed an exclusive contract. While it was still possible to activate the iPhone on another GSM carrier, it involved hacking the phone using a process known as jailbreaking. As such, when you buy a locked iPhone, the carrier sells the phone at a discounted price as an incentive for you to sign up for a lengthy contract. On the end of the customer, it recoups the price it lost selling the iPhone at a discounted price over the life of the contract. However, breaking the contract early can result in a penalty to the user in the form of a substantial cancellation fee.
Disadvantages of an Unlocked iPhone
Price is the main disadvantage of a factory-unlocked phone. This is because the cost on locked iPhones is subsidized by the carrier, locked phones are cheaper to buy up front. As such, if you plan to use the original carrier for as long as you have the phone and do not travel to foreign countries, you have no incentives for buying a factory-unlocked phone. The second disadvantage is that factory-unlocked iPhones still have the other limitations that come with locked iPhones.
Therefore, if you want the advantages of jailbreaking an iPhone along with the ability to activate it on another carrier, you will still have to jailbreak.
Advantages of a Factory Unlocked iPhone
The most prominent advantage of purchasing a factory unlocked iPhone is its ability to transfer the service to another carrier without jailbreaking the phone. Jailbreaking is a quite a complicated process that voids the manufacturer’s warranty on the iPhone. To activate a factory unlocked GSM iPhone on any carrier, simply switch the SIM card. This will enable you to use the phone on foreign carriers while traveling. When it comes to activating a CDMA iPhone, it’s a bit more work. This is because you have to use a special software in changing the phone’s network settings. However, you can activate a CDMA iPhone on any carrier that accepts this.