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How to Use an Unlocked Phone in Canada

With the wide range of options for buying a cellphone in Canada, many shoppers can become confused with some of the terminology. One frequent point of misunderstanding is the difference between a locked and unlocked cellphone.

In this article, we dispel the confusion surrounding unlocked phones and explain exactly how to use an unlocked phone in Canada.

What is an unlocked phone?

First and foremost, it is important to understand what it means when a phone is unlocked. An unlocked phone is a phone that can be used with any wireless service provider with no restrictions. This means your phone can easily be switched between carriers if you find a better plan at a lower cost.

A locked phone can only be used with one service provider. Essentially, service providers will ask the phone manufacturer to install a lock that prevents their users from using the phone on a competing network.

In a nutshell, an unlocked phone is a cellphone without this pre-installed lock feature or one that has been unlocked by your carrier (usually for a fee).

How to unlock a phone in Canada

Before December 1st, 2017, Canadian service providers had the liberty to charge their users a hefty fee to have their phone unlocked. This practice was essentially used to enforce customer loyalty and was a well-known source of frustration among cellphone users.

However, in good news for Canadians, the CRTC updated its Wireless Code at the end of 2017 and now forces service providers to provide unlocked devices to their customers. If you purchase a phone from any carrier in Canada and it comes locked, the carrier now has to unlock the device at your request, free of charge.

Should you buy an unlocked phone?

The short answer is yes, when shopping for used phones or smartphones, there is practically no downside to buying an unlocked phone.

The long answer is that buying an unlocked phone comes with a host of benefits that will save you a headache. These include:

  • easily switching between service providers without having to worry about unlocking your phone
  • avoiding rigid contracts and enjoying discounts when you buy an unlocked phone before going to a service provider
  • using local SIM cards to avoid expensive roaming plans when traveling internationally
  • having a better resale value if you decide to sell your phone

The only downside is that you will end up paying the full retail price up front if you want to avoid getting locked into a contract, since carrier subsidies tend to lower the total cost of the phone when you enter a contract. However, you can compensate for this by finding great deals when buying a used cell phone.

Using an unlocked phone in Canada has never been easier

In conclusion, the CRTC’s updated Wireless Code has made it easier than ever for Canadians to get their hands on an unlocked phone without paying ridiculous fees to their carrier. For more information about the unlocked phones we sell in the Recycell store, we welcome you to contact us.


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