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How to Set Up A Sim Card In An Unlocked Phone: All You Need To Know

Whenever we’re looking out for the next latest smartphone model to buy, we usually consider one crucial detail: either to purchase an unlocked phone from retail stores or to get a phone plan with a network carrier.

In general, we are all familiar with smartphones, their uses, and their benefits. While we often consider sticking to our phone plans, there might be instances when you want to change your carrier. So, you tend to wonder if you can put any sim card to an unlocked phone, and how exactly can you do that.

In this article, we’ll discuss the following points:

  • The difference between locked and unlocked phones
  • Comparing GSM and CDMA phone network standards
  • How to set up a sim card (any carrier) in an unlocked phone
  • The advantages of buying unlocked phones

What is the difference between locked and unlocked phones?

Unlocked phones are mainly those you can buy from retail stores that sell different brands of mobile products and other gadgets. These phones can be used on any cellular network, as long as the carrier has compatibility with the unit’s wireless technology, which can either be GSM or CDMA network standard.

On the other hand, locked phones function within the terms of the cellular network store you bought it from. Meaning, you can’t replace the sim card from another network carrier unless you have the unit unlocked.

You already know that there are various cellular networks available. Mobile network stores usually have limited smartphone brand selections, but they sell the latest models available in the market. However, some of them also have their cellphone products. The best example for this is AT&T— which sells its own brand of cellphones in addition to being one of the largest network carrier companies in the US.

GSM vs. CDMA Phone Network

We mentioned the two types of network standards in the previous section: GSM and CDMA. GSM is short for “global system for mobile communications,” and CDMA is for “code division multiple access”.

GSM phones require sim cards with unique user’s phone numbers from any network provider. Changing phones is considerably convenient when you can simply transfer a sim card into another GSM phone, and it remains useable— making GSM phones directly associated with the unlocked phone concept. GSM carriers also offer the latest 4G or LTE service protocols for optimum wireless connections. The downside to this is if you are in an area with weak 4G or LTE connection, you might need the ability of CDMA phones to gather cell service from 2G or 3G points.

CDMA phones traditionally had no use of sim cards, and it can still allow connection between users through the network carrier. However, with the rise of LTE networks, many CDMA carriers are now inclusive of sim card applications, including 4G or LTE services.

Hybrid phones are also becoming prevalent now, allowing both GSM and CDMA network protocols for better service and connectivity. Somehow, the difference between GSM and CDMA becomes irrelevant when it comes to choosing from the latest smartphone models. Nonetheless, if you’re meticulous with this kind of detail, remember to ask your carrier before landing on a decision.

How can you put a sim card into an unlocked phone?

Inserting SIM Card to Unlocked Phone

If your phone is unlocked, putting a sim card is much less complicated.

Unlike locked phones where you can only use the sim card provided by the network carrier, you have the option to choose your carrier on your unlocked phone device.

Putting a brand new sim on a brand new unlocked phone device is as easy as one-two-three. Once you’ve chosen the right phone variant based on the cellular network frequency specifications, you can pick a sim card from any carrier, and then set it up.

However, if you’re transferring an old sim card from a different phone, and you want to transfer sim data to your new phone, you have to back up the data from the old phone first before removing the sim. You can do this by opening your sim settings/contacts folder, look for “export files to SIM card” and select that option.

When the transfer is finished, you can remove the sim from the old phone and transfer it to the new phone. Then, you just have to set up your new phone, which is integrated with your sim’s carrier settings. You can confirm your sim’s activation by making a test call on one of your contacts and ensuring that you have stable network connectivity.

What are the advantages of buying unlocked phones?

  • The greatest advantage of buying an unlocked phone is that you can use it wherever you are in the world. The moment you activate it with your chosen wireless network, it might only require a few minor adjustments to ensure that it can work internationally.
  • Opting to buy unlocked smartphones from retail stores spare you of contracts and specified phone plans. Network contracts provide you with staggered payment options on your phone plans, but they often come out more expensive. Combining the costs of buying a phone on its original price and spending on prepaid plans is an ultimately cost-effective option.
  • Unlocked phones allow you to install faster and better security updates, and there are no restrictions on the applications you want to have on your smartphone. You can delete pre-installed software, add new features, and customize your phone settings in any way you want.
  • Lastly, you can pick from a better selection of smartphones if you decide to use an unlocked phone. Actually, you can buy from an extensive lineup of products from any brand available in retail stores.

In A Nutshell

Switching to unlocked phones might be an adjustment for those who have been adept using locked phones through cellular plans with a certain network provider. This type of change opens to new possibilities, different sets of features, especially in choosing a different carrier. But when it comes to setting up a sim card into your unlocked phone, the process is pretty easy. Just put your desired phone specs on the list, and ensure the right phone variant that provides your connectivity needs.


Check out the latest best-selling selection of factory unlocked smartphones from Wireless Place!

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