What are the drawbacks to using an unlocked Lumia?

Gene Collins

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Unlocked Lumia Icon

I currently have a Lumia 925 and I am looking at maybe going to an Icon but I have AT&T. I have never used an unlocked phone before so I am wondering what the drawbacks may be. I know the phone will work with the AT&T SIM but will I be able to keep the phone up to date?
 

Tyranade

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Re: Unlocked Lumia Icon

I have a Lumia 930 which is unlocked. I got the 8.1 update without a problem straight from Microsoft. I'm in the UK though, not sure if that would make a difference.
I only ever had unlocked phones, before this it was Android and I've always got the updates.
I think it is down to the maker of the unlocked phone to decide what handsets get an update,- in this case Microsoft.
 

Laura Knotek

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Mar 31, 2012
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Re: Unlocked Lumia Icon

Unlocked and unbranded are two different things. An unbranded device that isn't tied to any carrier will get updates directly from Microsoft.



An unlocked device with carrier branding will get updates when the original carrier pushes out the updates. The Icon is Verizon branded only. No other carriers ever sold it. It is sold GSM unlocked but is branded to Verizon, so you won't get updates until Verizon releases updates.



You will also only get HSDPA+ data on AT&T, not LTE.

Sent from my Nokia Lumia 920 via Tapatalk
 

Tyranade

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Re: Unlocked Lumia Icon

Thanks for clarifying this 😊 My 930 is unbranded then since it has never been locked to a carrier. Personally I think its the way to go, since then you're in charge, not some carrier. Not sure what you pay for contract in the US but here you can end up paying a hefty premium for your device when you get it on contract.
 

anon(7901790)

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Re: Unlocked Lumia Icon

What you really need to look into is what bands the phone works on and what bands the carrier you want to go with works on. Theoretically, the 930 should work on AT&T's and T-Mobile's LTE networks. However, it will depend on the area.

Here is a link where you can look up your area to determine what bands are being used.

Spectrum Dashboard - Reboot.FCC.gov

Generally speaking CDMA phones are considered locked. For example, the Icon is "locked" because of CDMA. CDMA requires a unique key that is tied to the carrier, in this case Verizon. Once your contract is up, Verizon can "unlock" the phone, but the problem is that if you move to another carrier such as Sprint, that carrier has to be able to support the phone. The CDMA key is part of the firmware and if Sprint doesn't have the firmware for the Icon you can't use it. Of course you can use the GSM/HSPA+ network on AT&T or T-Mobile, but neither of those two carriers use the same LTE bands as Verizon.

Unlocked means it can be used on any carrier regardless of branding. Unlocked usually refers to GSM phones. GSM does not require a unique key to operate on a carrier's network, it just needs an activated SIM for that network. As long as the phone supports the frequency bands of the network, you will be able to use it.

LTE is a direct descendent of GSM; so as long as your phone supports the LTE bands of the carrier you choose, then all you need is an activated SIM for that LTE network.

A good example of a branded versus unbranded phone would be the Galaxy Nexus from a couple years ago. There were essentially three versions. The unbranded version that you could get directly from Google, this was unlocked and could run on AT&Ts an T-Mobiles LTE networks here in the US and abroad. Then you had the Verizon branded version that was CDMA locked, but could also run on AT&T's and T-Mobile's GSM networks as well as abroad, and you had the Sprint branded, again CDMA locked to Sprint. Like Laura said though, the unbranded version got its updates directly from the OS maker, in this case Google, however, the Verizon and Sprint branded versions got their updates from Verizon and Sprint respectively.

This is why manufacturers and OS makers prefer unbranded and unlocked phones, because it simplifies manufacturing and OS development and update roll outs. But the carriers, US carriers in particular, don't like this because people can switch carriers whenever they want.
 

AR2186

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Re: Unlocked Lumia Icon

They have not made a Lumia 930 that will work with US LTE, as the bands are incompatible. If you want an unbranded phone to use on AT&T, you are going to need to get a Lumia 1520.3. I was hoping Mexican or other Latin American Lumia 930's would have the right bands, but they dont seem to
 

PepperdotNet

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Re: Unlocked Lumia Icon

They have not made a Lumia 930 that will work with US LTE, as the bands are incompatible. If you want an unbranded phone to use on AT&T, you are going to need to get a Lumia 1520.3. I was hoping Mexican or other Latin American Lumia 930's would have the right bands, but they dont seem to
Or the unbranded unlocked Lumia 1020 from the MS store.

<rant>If you pay off the subsidy contract on an AT&T phone, you should be allowed to load unbranded firmware</rant>
 

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