I remember the days when manufacturers made North American Models, Middle Eastern Models, Asian models, and European models. Even though they were all supporting EDGE or UMTS technologies, the frequencies often varied, they were locked, and you often could not even roam because the bandwidth differed in each country. To make matters worse, the carriers, not the device makers, wielded the big stick back then when it came to what features were offered, or more significantly, not offered. I'll never forget buying an Unlocked global NOKIA E-61 SmartPhone in Europe (pictured above) that even had built-in BlackBerry support, SIP trunking, text-to-voice, GPS, wifi dialing, and some other cool features that were five years ahead of their time. Miraculously, most of the features worked on my CIngular line back home in the US. I was a Cingular Wireless dealer at the time and became very excited when I heard they had commissioned NOKIA to make this model for their network. It would be called the E-62. Unfortunately, when it was released, it bombed. It turns out Cingular made NOKIA strip most of the above really cool features off the device. I suppose they couldn't sell monthly subscription add-ons like text to voice if they were coming free on the phone.
We can all thank APPLE who proved that if you have a great device, people will pay for it, even if they get saddled with a two year contract with a second rate carrier. We can also thank T-Mobile. It was their brash CEO, John Legere, who have relentlessly attacked "Dumb and Dumber" (Verizon and AT&T) from day one. After all, he was the one who abolished contracts, early termination fees, global text charges, global data charges and a lot more. Today, the contract is on your device, not your plan, assuming you finance it from the carrier. Should you want to take your current number and device to a different carrier, it has never been easier, especially for iPhone users. Dr Wireless has specialized in seamlessly moving businesses from one wireless carrier to another for years. It has never been easier because Apple and all of the major Android manufacturers are making devices that will work with all carriers worldwide. Even if you finance your device from your wireless carrier, you can move it to any other carrier, anytime, as long as you pay off the balance of what is owed. This is why carriers offer early upgrade programs, leasing (Sprint), and offer incentives in an attempt to bind you, "old school" contract style
So the choice when buying a device becomes whether to buy once locked to a carrier, or buy an unlocked one directly from the manufacturer. Until recently, I always recommended getting one from the carriers (except Sprint), since they were easy to unlock and often optimized with features that not all carriers offered (wifi calling, etc...). Today, again thanks to Apple, it's likely a better idea to buy an unlocked device versus one made for a specific carrier. Recently, this came to my attention when I noticed that Google had pushed out their newest OREO iOS to all carrier locked devices before their unlocked device owners (me). This was the exact opposite of what I would have expected. Maybe Samsung made this following statement to appease folks with the unlocked versions.
"We understand that many of you have Unlocked Galaxy S8/+ and Note 8 devices and may be wondering why those with Carrier models are seeing the updates first. The reason for this is that Unlocked devices must go through more rigorous testing than Carrier-specific devices because we need to make sure there is proper network functionality across ALL supported networks. (Ex. Carrier-specific devices are made to handle that one network. Unlocked devices need to be able to handle ANY / ALL compatible networks. Thus, they require some more preparation.)"
Where I am leading with all of this is there has never been a better time to be a wireless consumer. Your wireless carrier has to work even harder to keep you. That's why they all offer Unlimited everything plans today. It's still a rip off to some degree to have a one line plan. Each carrier sweetens the deal when adding lines. That means that the average price for a one line unlimited plan is $70-$80 per month. For two lines about $120-$130. Once you hit family or business plans with 4 lines or more, the line cost plummets as low as $40 each. I'm often asked which carrier I use and what plan am I on. Until last month, I was on an amazing T-Mobile dealer plan that offered me Unlimited everything at $48 for two lines. Apparently, TM management must not appreciate our new Robin Hood program. They just revoked my dealer plan! That's okay because I practice what I preach and negotiated an $60 plan offering Unlimited Everything for two users. Now, I can be candid and there is nothing they can take from me!