buy device unlocked or from mvno who says their are unlocked?

joseg2016

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I thought about this question while reading the thread here: https://www.howardforums.com/threads/is-phone-locked.1929860/post-17275077

Some mvno's tell prospective customers when asked that they sell unlocked devices. Also one can find a device through smartphone's manufacturer and many of them are distinctly specified as unlocked. But I wonder, is some difference?

If one goes to some mvno who uses, example say, the T-Mobile network, and they do have smartphones for sale, you ask about and mvno tells you, "yes the phones we sell are unlocked." So, if you decide you will use this mvno for cell service, IS THERE REALLY a difference between buying the device from mvno or buying device unlocked from the manufacturer (other than simply price)? Any catches?

edit: I want to add something to this.
If you identify two mvno's and both use T-Mobile network, and both mvno's do sell smartphone devices, and both tell you "yes, the devices we sell are unlocked". But really? So if you buy device from one of the mvno's but ultimately decide to subscribe to cell service on the other mvno - any catch? Will this work , be allowd?
 
I thought about this question while reading the thread here: https://www.howardforums.com/threads/is-phone-locked.1929860/post-17275077

Some mvno's tell prospective customers when asked that they sell unlocked devices. Also one can find a device through smartphone's manufacturer and many of them are distinctly specified as unlocked. But I wonder, is some difference?

If one goes to some mvno who uses, example say, the T-Mobile network, and they do have smartphones for sale, you ask about and mvno tells you, "yes the phones we sell are unlocked." So, if you decide you will use this mvno for cell service, IS THERE REALLY a difference between buying the device from mvno or buying device unlocked from the manufacturer (other than simply price)? Any catches?

edit: I want to add something to this.
If you identify two mvno's and both use T-Mobile network, and both mvno's do sell smartphone devices, and both tell you "yes, the devices we sell are unlocked". But really? So if you buy device from one of the mvno's but ultimately decide to subscribe to cell service on the other mvno - any catch? Will this work , be allowd?
these questions are too complex for a simple answer

short answers is, it depends
 
To bring it down to earth.

A provider will only sell unlocked phones at a high price if outright

or "subsidize" it over a long term payout as bill credits.

Please link to any exceptions.

Also, the "factory unlocked" phonea sold by the mfg or others is often a different model from the network-specific ones

the IMEI may not be whitelisted

or the radio bands incompatible

features like WiFi Calling and Visual VM may not work

on other networks.

Best to cite a very specific model# and ask about specific networks.

TMO is the most "open"
 
Maybe in regard to post #3, IF I would make a decision and buy an unlocked device from the device manufacturer, I could use the IMEI checker on the mvno's website and check the IMEI number with that mvno provider. I believe I did that a few years ago; but I now cannot remember. But the device did work, and I was able to activate it for service on the particular mvno at that time. The network in use with the mvno was and is T-Mobile.
 
Well that is the network almost guaranteed to be compatible with even the low end the "factory unlocked" models, whether purchased from the mfg, retail like Best Buy, or off eBay secondhand.

Get to know the precise model number for that variant so you can confirm you aren't buying an AT&T or VZW-specific variant that got unlocked after purchase.

Also, you can in some scenarios get the IMEI before paying to verify in a checker, but honestly all those sources have good return / refund policies so long as you have evidence the listing stated "factory unlocked".
 
PaulCrawhorne,
Your post talking about "factory unlocked" made me try a quick online search and some information seems encouraging:

I certainly believe when I bought my unlocked smartphone from the manufacturer a few years ago, it is/was factory unlocked. Obviously I should look at some particular mvno's websites and carefully look in their "shop" links to see what/which/if the devices sold there are described as "factory unlocked".
 
Well, if you know you want to use the device specifically on that network

then it does not matter so much.

From the manufacturer is where factory unlocked applies.

Providers usually sell the variant specific to that network, and they set the rules for when it gets unlocked, usually after some continuous time after you start being a customer.

Hardly ever right away, at the beginning, unless you are paying Full Price cash up front.

Again you will get better info stating specifically which provider and which model#.

There is no reason for you to not provide that info
 
Well, if you know you want to use the device specifically on that network

then it does not matter so much.

From the manufacturer is where factory unlocked applies.

Providers usually sell the variant specific to that network, and they set the rules for when it gets unlocked, usually after some continuous time after you start being a customer.

Hardly ever right away, at the beginning, unless you are paying Full Price cash up front.

Again you will get better info stating specifically which provider and which model#.

There is no reason for you to not provide that info
I do not provide the device information because I do not have the device yet, therefore no brand name, no model number, no IMEI; any new smartphone buy is in the planning only; have not bought a new device except for more than three years ago and that part does not count anymore, since was taken care of at that time. As for carriers next to pick, I likely will try to choose between US Mobile and Tello Mobile.

Only method I can think to try is what I did last time. Look in the carriers' "shop" links, identify the devices I might like and then buy one from the device's manufacturer.
 
PaulCrawhorne,
Your post talking about "factory unlocked" made me try a quick online search and some information seems encouraging:

I certainly believe when I bought my unlocked smartphone from the manufacturer a few years ago, it is/was factory unlocked. Obviously I should look at some particular mvno's websites and carefully look in their "shop" links to see what/which/if the devices sold there are described as "factory unlocked".
i think you are trying to over simply things and assuming everyone uses terminology in the same way.

especially when it come to the 'gray market' of used/refurbished/'like new in box' phones that is simply not the case, you can't really generalize things and assume all sellers are using terms in the same way.

rather I woudl suggest after you find a device you may be interested in ask the seller for more details. i would question them something like this:

is this a device that came direct form the manufacture as an unlocked/unbranded phone ? or was it originally sold to a carrier and later unlocked ? you can also ask for exact model numbers

also keep in ming not every seller may know the answer many devices are sold via carriers, unlocked and go throguh multple layer of wholesaler before getting to the person you may be buying from.
 
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