If you would like the freedom to shop for a new phone and plan whenever you want, an unlocked phone might be a good choice for you. Unlocked cell phones are also a great choice for frequent international travelers.
Unlocked Phone Benefits
With an unlocked cell phone, you aren't signing a contract with a specific carrier, so you aren't tied to any carrier for a set time period. This also means that you won't have to pay termination fees for breaking a contract early. Unlocked phones can be used with Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) companies, meaning that you can just swap out SIM cards on GSM phones when you want to change wireless providers. However, U.S. carriers such as Verizon Wireless and Sprint operate on a CDMA network so this is something to be aware of when choosing your unlocked phone. A number of newer phones cover both GSM and CDMA networks so they can work with almost any U.S. carrier and carriers overseas. So you can use a SIM card from either network to get service.
The ability to switch out a SIM card makes unlocked phones a great option for international travelers. You can avoid high international roaming rates by buying a prepaid SIM card with a local, in-country phone number once you arrive at your destination. International roaming SIM cards are a good choice if you'll be traveling to multiple countries, which is easier than picking up a local SIM card in each country. You can also find phones with dual SIM cards, so you can keep your U.S. SIM card and a different SIM card in the same phone, allowing you to receive calls with your U.S. phone number and then use the other SIM card to make and receive calls with the lower rates of a local-country phone number.
Unlocked Phones Selection
Since an unlocked phone isn't tied to a specific carrier, the selection of available phones is very broad. You'll find a variety of choices, including unlocked smartphones like unlocked iPhones, Sony unlocked phones and more.