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Most often used in reference to Apple's i Phone®, when a phone is jailbroken, it has been modified to allow it to download applications (apps) not approved or sold by the carrier, such as the Apple App Store.

A phone that has been jailbroken is not unlocked, although it may be necessary to jailbreak a phone before unlocking it is possible.

Consumers concerned about specific features may want to check with a carrier to see if they are available on unlocked cell phones.

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This doesn't guarantee the phone will always work correctly, as carrier settings might remain in the software.

There are also instructions online to unlock most models.

This contrasts with a locked phone, which is bound to a specific cell phone service provider (or carrier) network with software settings, and is typically offered with a contract when someone starts mobile service.

One advantage to buying an unlocked cell phone is the ability to buy almost any GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) phone, rather than being restricted to a limited selection offered by a specific carrier.

Most carriers only supply service to a particular country or area; when traveling outside the coverage zone, the mobile phone user will have to "roam" on another carrier's network, which often comes with a high fee.

To avoid roaming fees, a person can buy a SIM card from a local carrier at his destination and insert it, preserving all his existing phone settings but getting a new number and a local calling plan.This allows them to keep their number while upgrading the phone, without having to go through the carrier.Additionally, the ability to use an unlocked cell phone with a variety of SIM cards can be convenient for travelers.Locked phones are often costly because they usually come with phone service contracts that commit the consumer to that service provider for a certain period of time (like two years).Unlocked phones typically sell at or close to retail price because the buyer can use the phone with a number of different carriers.Unlocked cell phones are mobile phones that can be used on any GSM network with interchangeable SIM cards.

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