A locked smartphone is one that works with only one service provider, such as Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. The US and Canada are primary adopters of this trend, mostly for mobile carriers to sell additional services. Plus, buyers are also able to get their phones cheaper. While this seems like a win-win solution, that's not always the case.

An unlocked phone ensures that you don’t have to be stuck with one service provider, especially if you’re not happy with their services. With regards to costs, unlocked phones are also cheaper in the long run. For example, if you were to travel to another country, you can replace your SIM card with one from a local carrier instead of paying hefty roaming fees.

So, what’s stopping people from getting an unlocked phone? Or, better yet, unlocking their current device? Well, it may be due to some common misconceptions.

Myth #1: Unlocking phones are illegal

Unlocking phones is very much legal. In 2015, former President Barack Obama signed the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, which made carriers obligated to unlock your phone if you just ask. Unfortunately, a lot of providers impose numerous requirements, such as waiting one month post-update and filling up complicated paperwork, therefore discouraging customers from going through with the unlocking process altogether

Myth #2: Phones can only be unlocked by carrier-accredited stores

There are plenty of reliable companies out there that can unlock your phone from the comfort of your own home. They will usually ask for three things: your device’s model, network, and the International Mobile Equipment Identity. These serve as your phone’s "address," which will allow them to retrieve your unlock code. They’ll then email you the details, including step-by-step instructions to unlock your device. So if a carrier insists you can only have your device unlocked in-store, it’s important to know that it's just another layer of inconvenience to get you to back out.

Myth #3: An unlocked phone will work on any carrier

This one’s a bit of a downer, but not all carriers accept your unlocked phones. There are two competing mobile networks: GSM and CDMA. AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM while Verizon and Sprint have CDMA for coverage. This means that if you unlock your T-Mobile smartphone, you can’t use SIM cards from Verizon and Sprint, and vice-versa. The good news, according to a network study on Android Authority, that newer devices are installed with the universal option—4G LTE—so they can operate on virtually any network.

Myth #4: Unlocked phones are unsafe

With all the data you store on your phone—from mobile bank records, to personal information—they have become huge targets for attackers. To add to that, HP tech writer Tom Gerencer discusses how important biometrics security measures are becoming to protect sensitive accounts and data. With more threats entering the digital sphere, these advancements prove how important it is to be mindful of mobile phone security. Fortunately, unlocked phones don’t necessarily compromise security, contrary to what others think. In fact, it supports it. TIME Magazine even suggests that some carriers have a habit of delaying or never updating devices, simply because it takes extra work. For example, they will want to verify all the patches to ensure that it won’t messing with their networks—slowing the process down further. But to keep your phone secure, updates are needed to get the latest security protocol. To that end, it's much better to just do it on your own.

In conclusion, an unlocked smartphone is totally safe, and even comes with its own benefits. Of course, it's still best to weigh up your options and see which set-up works for you. There is no one true choice for everyone.

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What's my model number?

There are several ways to locate your model number:

Option 1
On your device, go to Settings, then "About device" and scroll down to "Model number"
Option 2
Often times you can view the model number inside the device, by removing the battery
Option 3
Using Samsung's model/serial number location tool

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