BlackBerry made a good case for buying an unlocked phone, particularly BlackBerry phones, if you sign up for a discount prepaid or pay-as-you-go plan from an MVNO or a smaller carrier instead of one of the big four carriers (who don’t happen to promote BlackBerry phones very aggressively).
In a blog, BlackBerry contends consumers who buy an unlocked phone and shop around for service can save up to $1,000 over two years, even after factoring in handset subsidies with a carrier contract. Users also get the opportunity to switch GSM/HSPA/LTE carriers as needed.
The company points to a 26-year-old Canadian who uses a BlackBerry Z10 with a small Canadian carrier. He pays $50 per month for unlimited talk, text and some data, a 55 percent savings over what he’d pay with a mainstream carrier’s contract, BlackBerry contends.
Other factors also give unlocked phones an edge.
If you’re not happy with your prepaid MVNO, you can just switch providers at the end of the month without paying an early termination fee (ETF). Though an unlocked phone might cost more than a locked one, you get more money on a trade-in because of the phone’s ability to operate on more than one network. Unlocking a phone via a third party can also cost money. Unlocked phones are also cheaper to use when traveling overseas, BlackBerry said. Just pop in a local SIM card to avoid international roaming fees.
For my part, I don’t plan to go unlocked anytime soon. I’ve gotten used to my provider’s grandfathered unlimited data plan! But should the carrier change its mind….