Customer Info

Locked and Unlocking Mobile Handsets

Locked-in Values in Smart Devices

Are these becoming dying  features and practices?

Zeepla® commissioned a survey of the smart gadget market to find out how the practice of locking mobile handsets SIM (subscriber Identity or Identification Module) has been evolving. The finding was good for mobile gadget users.

A SIM is the removable chip or card inside the mobile / cell gadget that bears the information / data unique to you as a user, including the identification number, passwords, phone numbers, and messages and makes sure your phone links with the carrier you have subscribed to. A locked SIM means data locked to the mobile provider.

 The survey covered major high street mobile gadget shops including Vodafone, EE, Three Mobile and O2.

The finding was interesting and showed how the consumer has been winning with regards to locking mobile phones and locked contracts.

For those who might be interested, up to the recent past, most, if not all the smart handset manufacturers and / or providers including Apple, Samsung, Nokia, Google Mobile, Honor, Vodafone, BT, Oppo, Three Mobile, to name only a few, used to lock the SIM in the phone.

Some phones now come with dual SIMs, often one small and one bigger size.

A locked SIM means a customer cannot change at will, loses freedom to maximize the benefits of the gadget at least during the duration of the contract, which often runs between 12 months and three years.

Irrespective of level of service provided and / or customer experience, you are simply locked to that phone company once you sign on the dotted lines or clicked on the button to sign with electronic signatures.

You are unable to switch or even give away  your phone without sometimes further significant cost if still within the contracted period.  

One may opt to unlock the device in the course of the contract but at a cost, which is determined by the device company relative to the type or make of the device and remaining duration of the contract.

The process to unlock the device is quite simple once you obtain the Network Unlock Code (NUC) from your existing mobile network provider. There are websites and high street gadget shops that provide gadget and/ or handset unlocking services.

Zeepla® has provided a limited list of such service providers on its website as a support for Zeepla® Community Platform participants and not as a recommendation. Zeepla® participants are free to make other choices.

One can check if the handset is already unlocked by simply inserting a similar sized SIM into the handset and making a call. An unlocked device will place the call provided the network is active.

Here is the interesting finding from Zeepla®’s research.  All smart phones and smart watches providers questioned confirmed that since about January 2022, all gadgets sold by each one of them, are already UNLOCKED. That there was no longer need to seek to unlock new phones.

This means that when these devices are traded in or upgraded in the coming months or years, they will enter the preloved, second-hand devices market already unlocked.  An unlocked mobile handset and smart watches from new has several advantages including:

  • A freedom to switch your handset service provider by simply  obtaining your new SIM and inserting into your existing mobile phone
  • You can negotiate better contracts because it is easier to bring over your existing number
  • If travelling abroad, you can switch to a local SIM that is likely to be cheaper than paying an international roaming charge
  • You can easily shop around the comparison websites at will such as MoneySuperMarket, Go-Compare, Uswitch, etc. to get good Network deals
  • You can move SIMs between brands, for example, Apple to Samsung, to Google Mobile, to Nokia, etc.
  • One may still pay certain cost to break the duration of a valid gadget contract. However, that payment of service will no longer be based on or include the need to unlock the mobile device.

This is simply a brilliant mini revolution in the smart phones and smart watches industry,  massively benefitting the users. The projection is that as time passes, all existing locked phones and other gadgets, will naturally phase out.

Locking and unlocking technologies and times, will be diverted to even better and advance  value adding applications. No longer for misguided attempts to monopolize the market,  stifling competition and innovation.

Zeepla® expects only unlocked gadgets to be offered by participants on its Community Platform and recommends to members to always check that the a gadget is already unlocked.

If you are considering moving-on, refreshing or changing your current device, we recommend to

Just Zeepla it!

Dr Zeepla

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