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Locked phones are often costly because they usually come with phone service contracts that commit the consumer to that service provider for a certain period of time (like two years).Unlocked phones typically sell at or close to retail price because the buyer can use the phone with a number of different carriers.

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Another issue with unlocked cell phones is that they may not work on all GSM bands; as of 2012, a quadband phone could operate anywhere in the world with a GSM network, but other phones could not.This may be a concern for international travelers especially, since not all bands are used in all countries.The majority of the world — 99% — uses the GSM network, and numerous carriers use it for their services.The competing network is CDMA, or code division multiple access.This card contains software that allows it to be used in GSM phones as well.

A jailbroken phone is not exactly the same as an unlocked phone.Certain models of cell phones can only be unlocked using the hardware method, which may also work for hardlocked phones.Some cell carriers sell unlocked phones at full price, usually allowing consumers to pick a flexible plan such as month-to-month or pay-as-you-go billing.This doesn't guarantee the phone will always work correctly, as carrier settings might remain in the software.There are also instructions online to unlock most models.Most carriers on the CDMA network do not, as of 2012, use card-enabled phones; instead, subscriber information is stored in the cell phone's memory, which means it cannot be transferred to another phone.