My current smartphone is an LG V30, AT&T branded device. It’s carrier locked which means it came preloaded with several AT&T apps, partner apps, and other miscellaneous things. Despite this, it’s been a great phone so far and hasn’t given me any real problems at all. That however hasn’t stopped me from trying out a bevy of new devices and one of them being the latest in the line of V-series devices, the LG V40 ThinQ. This is a bit different however as the LG V40 ThinQ I’m currently testing is an unlocked device, meaning it’s not tied down to any one carrier and can pretty much be used on any carrier that the phone can support. While this might sound great, let me warn you that it does have it’s positives and negatives.
The main plus of an unlocked device is that you are not tied to any carrier. You’re pretty much free to use this device on any carrier as well as most carriers abroad. You’ll have a device that is capable of international calls without the high prices that usually come with international roaming. Just buy the appropriate sim card in the country your visiting for cheap phone rates.
Another major plus is that unlocked devices do not come preloaded with a bunch of the bloatware that carriers would usually install. For AT&T, that includes a lot of their in house services, DirecTV apps, and partner apps. That can save you a ton of usable space as well as real estate in your app drawer. These are usually apps that you probably would never use. In the case of the LG V40 ThinQ, most of the apps that came preloaded were Google apps, a few LG apps, and that’s about it.
Lastly, unlocked devices usually get updates much quicker than carrier devices. That means you’ll get the latest firmware updates and security patches without having to wait for your carrier to approve updates.
While all of the above might sound perfect, there are some downsides that come with unlocked devices. This might not be the case for all carriers, but it is the case with AT&T which is the network I’m on.
On AT&T, I’ve run into two specific issues with my service while testing the unlocked LG V40 ThinQ and this is actually an issue I’ve had with other unlocked Android devices as well. First off, I can not make use of HD Calling or Wi-Fi calling. I know it’s a feature AT&T has because I’ve used it on a carrier locked LG V30. The phone supports it in the specs, but AT&T somehow blocks it from using it. Pop an AT&T sim into the unlocked LG V40 ThinQ, and the option for Wi-Fi Calling magically disappears.
The second issue I have is that because this isn’t an AT&T device, it doesn’t come loaded with AT&T’s Visual Voicemail app and there’s no way to really download it for use either. So whenever I got a voicemail on this phone, I’d have to check it the old fashioned way and call my voicemail to get my messages. Needless to say, that’s pretty inconvenient when you’re used to just pulling up your messages with a visual voicemail app.
With all that said, is an unlocked device better than a carrier locked device? That’s really dependent on your needs I believe as well as your home carrier. If you travel a lot, I think having an unlocked device makes the most sense especially with the money you can save on not having to deal with international roaming charges. However, if you don’t travel really, it might be more beneficial to just stick with a carrier locked device. You at least get the most of what your carrier offers, in terms of services and you might also save a few bucks as generally, unlocked devices cost a bit more. And is the case with most carrier locked devices, you can usually unlock them after 2 years, though your updates will still be carrier dependent, you’re just able to swap sims now while traveling abroad.
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