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One way to get a phone without proprietary settings is to buy it new from a third party vendor in its original, unlocked state.

Third party services are also available to unlock a person's cell phone for a fee, usually by attaching it to a special piece of hardware specially designed for this purpose.

Another issue with unlocked cell phones is that they may not work on all GSM bands; as of 2012, a quadband phone could operate anywhere in the world with a GSM network, but other phones could not.

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This can include phones only distributed in certain countries, or with features that are not available on all carriers.

People also don't need to wait for a contract to expire to buy a new phone; they can remove the SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) card from an existing phone and insert it into a new one when they are ready for a replacement.

For example, in South America, the 850 MHz band is in common use, but others may not be available.

It is advisable to check on which bands the phone uses, and which bands are available in given travel destinations.

In addition to less expensive calling rates, this provides the added benefit of having a local number while in the area.

Not all unlocked phones have all the same features as their locked counterparts even when the provider is the same.

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.

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.

Certain models of cell phones can only be unlocked using the hardware method, which may also work for hardlocked phones.

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