Better to buy unlocked?

Posted Jun 13, 2013 at 9:37 pm in Threads > Opinions

It is almost time for my contract to expire so I am busy looking into all the new phones but I wanted to ask you guys if it is better buy an unlocked phone without a contract and or just renew my contract.

I have been with sprint for 12 years now so I really no nothing of the “outside” world when it comes to plans and unlocked phones. I just know that generally speaking buying the phone outright and going with an unsubsidized plan is cheaper in the long run. The only requirement I have is coverage all over the United States, I travel a lot.

So I guess I am trying to get info from you guys about what works for you.

  • SGB101

    If the Us is anything like UK, if your a heavy user it works out cheaper to be on contract, if a light user pay and go is cheaper.

    Also another factor is, can you afford out right to buy the phone, even if of can, could that £600 be spent better else where and still go contract? In the UK most phones are free an contract, we don’t have $200 up fount costs, so it keeps us on contract, so easy to get the feeling of a ‘free’ or pay £600. Even tho its cheaper long term to pay the £600 up fount.

    Now if we are talking nexus, for us its still free vs £280,but for you, it is $200 vs 300 (or whatever it is) so it’s only a $100 (£64), decision.

    So if your a light user, the nexus off contract is a no brained to me. I ams assuming it works over the whole country. That isn’t an issue we have to worry about in the UK and Europe, it’s all GSM.

    Hope that gives you some options to think about.

    • SGB101

      I’d also wait at this point for the next nexus.

  • da9el

    i always buy nexus devices and sell the phones that i receive via the contract.


    My experience and that of my friends is that Sprint service is tooo sloooow! If that is the case with you, I would recommend you leave now. It is 2013 and you shouldn’t be subject to slow speeds.

    Also, GSM phones offer more versatility in terms of carriers, etc. I say leave sprint.

    Unlocked phones work for me.

  • jerrbomb

    I left sprint a while ago.. Like last year.. My last phone was the HTC Evo 4G LTE since then.. I’ve gone to Tmobile.. Maybe not the best choice.. But the fact is.. They don’t do Co tracts anymore.. I. Can buy phones out right

  • jerrbomb

    Or pay as I go and upgrade whenever.. Idk.. Good luck in your endeavors

  • Nick Gray

    I’ve been recommending T-Mobile to everyone lately. They have all the latest smartphones and their prices are great. The fact that they separate the cost of the phone from the plan is a bit confusing at first, but that math is solid and there are only a few instances where you could save money on another carrier.

    Also, if T-Mobile doesn’t have the phone you want, you can buy it unlocked form Europe. This is where the monthly savings really kick in when compared to AT&T. Since T-Mobile’s monthly rates are not artificially inflated to cover the cost of the phone, you save money every single month. The savings get even bigger when you add more people to your plan.

    Right now, I have all five of my T-Mobile family lines full. Total cost is $160 per month with everyone getting unlimited text and calling with one line having 500 MB of data, three with 2.5GB and one with unlimited. A comparable plan on any other carrier would set me back at least $250 per month.

    • jerrbomb

      Yeah.. I’m paying 100 a moth for unlimited everything and I own both my GS4 and HTC One.. So when I upgrade again I don’t have to fret of still paying off a phone.. I love it..

  • Brooks

    I just left sprint myself because I was pretty unhappy with the data speeds i was seeing. Here’s what I did. I’m not sure it it was an amazing plan or not, but I’m liking it so far. I switched to AT&T because in my experience, AT&T had better phone coverage in general in rural areas where I live. I’ve been slightly disappointed with dropped calls on AT&T vs Sprint, but data speeds are incredibly higher. I love Nexus devices, so I started a new plan on AT&T and bought a SGS4 on contract with a phone trade in deal. I immediately sold it on ebay making about $600 and then I bought a Nexus 4. That way I basically got myself a free subsidized unlocked Nexus device and pocketed some cash. Then when the next nexus device comes out I’ll just sell this one and move onto the next because they’re only $350 instead of $6-700 like samsung and HTC flagship devices. I did check out T-Mobile, but it didn’t really seem like there were any deals to be had compared to what i did with AT&T.

    • jonstle

      Thanks for the idea! I will give it some thought and most likely follow your lead!

  • chestont

    I left Sprint after almost 9 years for a T-Mobile prepaid plan with a Nexus 4. The data speeds have been significantly better. My only caution with prepaid on T-Mo is the coverage isn`t as broad because there is no roaming if you get a proper plan with T-Mo and have roaming this might be alleviated. If you travel all over the nation you might want to take this into consideration. If you are travelling to more rural areas of the country there is a good chance you would be without service. However, if you are mostly travelling to large cities, the coverage is generally acceptable.

    Buying unlocked phones is a refreshing experience and it`s nice to know that you can sell the device and “upgrade” at any time. Wait and see if Google has anything fun to offer on 7/24, maybe a Moto X will entice you.If not, there are of course plenty of Play Store options or used devices on to cherry pick from.

  • jonstle


    Thanks for the advice! I appreciate you and the others taking the time to share your experience with the rest of us. It really helps me make a well informed decision instead of just jumping in blind.

  • chestont

    No problems, support and advice is the reason communities such as this exist right? Unfortunately I have been debunked on the Moto x being unveiled today since the official invites have gone out for August 1st. But if the leaks are any indications it should be pretty cool.

  • Austin Tompkins

    If you’re happy with Sprint (phone, prices and service) and you don’t plan on switching / moving any time soon, IMO I’d just stick with it and get the contract discounts – assuming you enjoy upgrading. At least for me, I got upgrades from them I think every 9 months, so every 9 months I’d sell my 9 month old phone on craigslist, get a wad of cash, get a new phone (extending my 2 year contract) and have some cash left over. It might be more out of pocket monthly, but I never pay a huge sum of 500 – 700 bucks for a new device, when (not if) I smash my device in I get a new one for $100 or so (again, not $500 – $700) and look forward to upgrading in 9 more months!

    I had to move though so I dropped them a while back. No reception in Costa Rica. haha. My friends always bashed sprint and what not, but I was always happy.

    • chestont

      I remember the Sprint Premier program where you could get a new phone every year or so. Unfortunately, I think Sprint no longer offers that program which really stinks so you can only upgrade every 20 months or so. But I agree that if you are with a big carrier that already charges you the subsidy every month it is actually in your best interest to upgrade your phone as often as you can to utilize the subsidy you are already paying for.