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Old 05-18-2017, 07:37 PM   #1
wwkayaker
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Default Unlocked phones

I'm in the market for a new to me phone. I have a monthly contract I don't want to lose as it's $43/month. I spend months each year in the USA. How do unlocked phones work and how do I set one up? I currently pay $80 extra a month for a travel plan but I have been told I could get by cheaper if I were to swap in a USA SIM card. Advice?
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Old 05-19-2017, 09:05 AM   #2
DoubleF
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A locked phone is generally a software lock on the phone to keep you from taking the subsidized phone and going to another carrier (thus losing them money). Unlocked phone just means you can use SIM cards from different carriers. Generally this is necessary if you want to use a SIM card in a different country. If your phone is locked and you want a temp phone, consider purchasing a used unlocked phone, or Amazon sells BLU branded phones which are inexpensive but should function perfectly fine as a travel phone.

If you have a locked phone and put in an incompatible SIM, it will display something like "SIM not compatible" and refuse to work.


Roam mobility is a USA/Mexico option that has popped up from time to time as a good and easy to use prepaid option.

https://roammobility.com

Quite a few users seem to mention it's a good inexpensive option. If you go frequently to the USA, the cost of the SIM card is negligible vs some of us that infrequently go.

I believe London Drugs sells this SIM. Monthly plans for US are between $40 - $65 CAD. Snow bird plans are even cheaper, but must be purchased in 90 day equivalents.

https://roammobility.com/monthly-plans
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Old 05-19-2017, 02:03 PM   #3
sureLoss
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If you are spending up to 3 weeks in the USA T-mobile has a pretty decent tourist sim card plan:

https://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/...l-tourist-plan

$30 USD gets you 2GB of LTE speed with unlimited lower speed data, unlimited USA and international texting and 1000 minutes of USA talk time AND the SIM card.

Only drawback is the plan expires after 3 weeks and no renewals.

There are so many cheap pay as you go plans in the US as well that if you have the time to visit a store you can get a sim card for too.
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Old 05-19-2017, 02:07 PM   #4
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Oh and if you are in the market for a new phone get one with dual sim card slots.

One for your Canadian number and plan and one for your US number and plan.
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Old 05-19-2017, 11:18 PM   #5
wooohooo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sureLoss View Post
If you are spending up to 3 weeks in the USA T-mobile has a pretty decent tourist sim card plan:

https://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/...l-tourist-plan

$30 USD gets you 2GB of LTE speed with unlimited lower speed data, unlimited USA and international texting and 1000 minutes of USA talk time AND the SIM card.

Only drawback is the plan expires after 3 weeks and no renewals.

There are so many cheap pay as you go plans in the US as well that if you have the time to visit a store you can get a sim card for too.
I got this plan when I went to California last summer. When we went to a t-mobile booth, they tried to charge us a $15 fee for a sim card I believe, but we showed them on the website it states free. The employee tried to argue saying that's probably for online and so I had no option. I didn't have any of it so I went to another T-mobile booth and same thing so I almost believed it until another employee knew of the deal and said there was a special code they need to put in to waive it.

I'm not sure if it was just introduced when I tried to get it, but you should not have to pay for anything other than the $30 prepaid. It was a fantastic plan btw. We drove through 4 states, and had no reception issues. We were able to stream music the entire drive, and use it for GPS and finding out places to eat etc. Good thing because the GPS we got apparently was not updated recently and didn't work.
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Old 05-23-2017, 08:33 AM   #6
jwslam
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sureLoss View Post
Oh and if you are in the market for a new phone get one with dual sim card slots.

One for your Canadian number and plan and one for your US number and plan.
I've got one of these in a box I'll be putting up for sale soon.
Has dual SIM.

https://www.amazon.ca/BLU-Energy-2-F...ergy%2Bx2&th=1

I also bought a fake-leather flip case for it. Used gently for about 6 months.
$100?
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Old 05-23-2017, 11:27 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwslam View Post
I've got one of these in a box I'll be putting up for sale soon.
Has dual SIM.

https://www.amazon.ca/BLU-Energy-2-F...ergy%2Bx2&th=1

I also bought a fake-leather flip case for it. Used gently for about 6 months.
$100?
IMO, that's a fantastic travel phone or temp phone while in between phones, but not a phone I'd consider as a daily use phone for "everything". I really wanted a BLU phone before, but the way that some of the phone prices are falling, I'm starting to lean towards acquiring a Blackberry or other Android options to play with as they are still strong options as replacement phones and have decent resale value if I bore of the phone.


@jwslam: If you buy a used unlocked phone, there are things to pay attention to.

1. Make sure it's unlocked.
2. Find my phone software is disabled

There are great guides online how to do this. They will explain better than we may be able to explain.


Buying from a retailer is easier. The specs on the phone will explain whether it's locked or unlocked. Easy to go back to sort things out if there's a complication.

Retaining your old plan should be as easy as popping your SIM card into a new unlocked phone and powering on. Migrating your info is a different beast, but there are generally lots of good guides on how to do this. Some retailers like Apple will include helping you migrate your phone for free. I don't know how ubiquitous this service is for Android.

The only complication I can think of if you go this route, is if your SIM card is the wrong size (ie: Full vs mini vs nano) If that's the case, the easiest method is to go to a mobile kiosk of your provider and ask them to migrate your SIM to the correct size. Shouldn't cost more than $10-15 and some carriers don't even charge anything for the service. You could cut the SIM down to size at your own risk if you are brave enough to attempt it, but I'd definitely go to different kiosks and ask if they'll do it for free.
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