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Daniel Phillips
Daniel Phillips

Buy Gsm Phone

Receive up to $504 promo credit ($180 w/Welcome Unlimited, $360 w/ 5G Start, or $504 w/5G Do More, 5G Play More, 5G Get More or One Unlimited for iPhone plan (Welcome Unlimited and One Unlimited for iPhone plans can't be mixed w/other Unlimited plans; all lines on the account req'd on respective plans)) when you add a new smartphone line with your own 4G/5G smartphone on an eligible postpaid plan between 2/10/23 and 4/5/23. Promo credit applied over 36 months; promo credits end if eligibility requirements are no longer met.

buy gsm phone

The distinction is becoming less important and will be entirely irrelevant sooner rather than later (more on that below). At the moment, however, 2G and 3G networks continue to serve as a backup for areas where 4G LTE coverage is weak. And, until recently, many phones used LTE for data only and relied on GSM or CDMA for voice and texts.

This has implications for people with older phones who want to switch carriers. Starting on December 31, 2019, customers will no longer be able to move a 3G/4G non-HD Voice CDMA device from one account to another. They will also no longer be able to provide such a device to activate on an existing line or swap one such device for another. However, customers with these devices will still be able to suspend and resume service, change their phone number, upgrade to compatible 4G or 5G devices and activate new lines for 4G or 5G devices.

Not only does it make switching phones extra simple, but switching SIM cards is just as easy. Travelers can especially appreciate the premium service and convenience that comes with GSM worldwide. If you find yourself outside of your usual network coverage area (AKA roaming), it might be in your best interest to get a new number with a local carrier while traveling. GSM gives you the freedom to bring your unlocked phone with you, pick up a local SIM card wherever you land, and just pop it in your phone so you can enjoy your trip.

Smartphones are pretty ubiquitous. Almost everybody has one, and many of us spend more time on our phone than we do on our personal computers. Yet, in the United States, most people still purchase their smartphones from the same companies that provide cell phone service, which is quite odd if you think about it. People don't purchase TVs from cable companies or computers from their Internet service providers, and for good reason.

Perhaps you have been thinking about breaking free from carrier control, or just have been eyeing a phone that isn't sold by your carrier. Maybe you want to keep the same carrier but save some money; any of these reasons is a great one to consider purchasing an unlocked phone. Unlocked phones are not locked to only one carrier, and will work with any carrier that uses frequencies the phone supports. You may not realize it, but B&H carries a large selection of unlocked smartphones, and we are here to help make sure you get one that works the way it should. It may seem somewhat intimidating, but it just takes a little homework to ensure the phone you are looking at will work perfectly. So, why should you buy an unlocked phone?

Getting an unlocked and unbranded phone ensures you will get every software update and security patch as soon as the phone manufacturer releases it. However, in a few instances it means you may lose carrier-specific pre-loaded features, such as Wi-Fi calling on T-Mobile.

However, these days pretty much every US wireless provider now separates the price of a phone from the price of the service. Meaning that if you bring your own phone, you can save a lot on your monthly bill. This gives you the freedom to get a phone from anywhere you wish, and allows lesser-known smartphone manufacturers to offer more interesting phone designs and sell them unlocked, without worrying about appeasing the Verizons and AT&Ts of the world.

CDMA networks are quite rare outside of the United States but, in the US, Verizon and Sprint, as well as their MVNOs like Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile, are CDMA. So, if you are a Verizon or Sprint customer and you want to get an unlocked phone, make sure it is CDMA hybrid phone and that your carrier will activate it.

The reason many Verizon and Sprint phones now have SIM card slots is that Long-Term Evolution (LTE) is a GSM standard, and any phone or tablet with LTE has to have a SIM card slot. However, LTE is a data-only standard, and while some phone makers are starting to implement VoIP standards for talking over LTE, they are still in their infancy and you really need 2G and 3G CDMA connectivity to port your CDMA phone number over to an unlocked phone to make phone calls. Also, even if a GSM / CDMA hybrid phone is unlocked, CDMA carriers still have the power to block it. For example, the Moto G Play is a GSM / CDMA hybrid phone. Sprint will activate the Moto G Play on its network; however, Boost Mobile will not, even though Boost Mobile uses Sprint towers.

Things look bright for the future, since it seems that Verizon and Sprint will be switching over to GSM. Verizon has already stated it wants to be shipping LTE-only phones soon and is already working on ways to do voice and text over LTE. Sprint isn't that far behind, either. In a few years, even Verizon and Sprint customers should be able to join in the unlocked GSM phone party.

A question we are asked frequently here is whether or not our phones are brand new, and why some do not have manufacturer warranties. All of our phones are brand new, unless you are browsing the Used Department section of our website. However, many large phone manufacturers, like Samsung, do not sell a large variety of unlocked phones in the United States. They mostly sell locked phones directly to carriers. So, to get unlocked phones from phone manufacturers that won't sell to us directly, we have to import them from countries where unlocked phones are sold directly. We try and buy them from countries that use the same wireless frequencies as the United States, to ensure the phones work as well here as ones that are sold locked. However, because they are imports, their warranties are only valid in their country of origin, and are not valid in the United States. They are all brand new, manufacturer-unlocked phones. B&H offers its own warranty of one year, so you can still buy with confidence.

Luckily, more and more phone manufacturers are selling unlocked phones directly these days. HTC, LG, Sony, and BLU phones can be confidently assumed to be sold to us directly, and the phones include valid warranties. Other manufacturers, like Samsung, sell a few phones directly, so be sure to check the selling points to see whether the phone is an International or North American Variant, if you are curious.

Be aware that AT&T has announced that they will shut down their 3G network by February, 2022. Why does this matter? Here's what I found out. If you have an unlocked phone (either unbranded, such as those B&H sells, or from another carrier but no longer 'locked' to that carrier), your phone probably won't work for calls after that time. On their network right now, unlocked phones connect to the 4G LTE network for data but must be HD Voice/Voice over LTE (VoLTE) capable to use 4G LTE on calls as well. If the phone is not VoLTE capable, the calls fall back to the 3G network, the one being shut down (while data always uses the 4G LTE network.

What's the issue with an unlocked phone that is listed as a 4G LTE phone? Well, AT&T has what they call a 'whitelist' for phones that are allowed to be VoLTE capable. A phone must explicitly be on that list before VoLTE/HD calling will be activated. It seems that they DO NOT allow any unbranded/unlocked phones on that whitelist as far as I have been able to tell. Only phones bought from them, as well as some unbranded Samsungs (that install carrier software themselves based on the SIM installed), are allowed to use HD Voice/VoLTE. There's no way apparently for an agent to make this feature work from the account side (they can activate it if you don't have it on but the system itself disallows the phone from using it). From what I understand, the whitelist is based on the IMEI of the phone, to see if it's AT&T branded or not.

I and my family have 2 month old unlocked LG phones purchased from B&H, a model that we love and that is fully capable of VoLTE and other features. I got an email last week saying our phones would need to be replaced due to this issue. After confirming (through an app and the display) that my phone would not call on LTE on AT&T, we ended up switching to Verizon (since the phone we have works on the big 3/4 US carriers and Verizon's 'bring your own phone' checker confirmed compatibility, and they specifically mention this model and send you to LG to 'buy it there, bring it here'). HD calling (VoLTE) works on Verizon (though wi-fi calling doesn't--Verizon restricts that to their branded phones, but there are other options for that), so I'm not going to have to replace a new phone in a year or so. (From what I have gathered, T-Mobile has no restrictions at all on unlocked phones. If your own device meets their tech specs, everything works for T-Mobile. I don't know whether this is an issue on Sprint (merger or not).

I believe some Pixels also work. AT&T has a list of phones that "work" on their network (they sent me a link to a PDF in that email) but other than the Pixels and some Samsungs, they're all AT&T-sold and -branded phones.

This will be an issue for any unlocked phone that does not have VoLTE capability on AT&T, but most Unbranded North American variants do support VoLTE on North American Carriers. You will run into an issue using International Variants in the US, as they only have firmware for VoLTE for carriers in their regions. Anyone on AT&T planning to keep their phone for more than 2 years should steer clear of Latin America or European variants, and stick to North American variants, such as the "U" variants for Samsung.

I have a US version unlocked Galaxy Note 10 plus. I plan to travel to Europe at some point and was wondering about compatibility. Is it possible to use this phone overseas, or do I need an international edition? Will it work on Vodafone? 041b061a72


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