Why can’t you move your cell phone from one network to another? You are nearing the end of your current cell phone contract, and are generally unhappy with the network that you are currently with. You like your phone, but don’t want to continue having service from the same company. If your phone is unlocked, and you have paid it off, can you just take it to another network? Unfortunately it isn’t always that easy.
Cell phones all look very similar from the outside. Unfortunately they are built very differently on the inside, in order to work on the network that they are intended for, and in the USA that could be any of four different network types. The network type determines how it sends and receives signals from its users, and only phones that are able to communicate appropriately-to speak the correct language if you like-can use that network.
Thanks to the use of SIM cards, it has become far easier to move an unlocked cell phone from one network to another. The SIM card identifies the phone and allows it to connect to a network, rather than a chip built into the phone as used to be the case. It means that you can move a phone from one plan to another by simply taking out the old SIM card and putting in a new one. If your friend or a family member has broken their phone and you want to loan them one, or if you want to sell your old phone or give it to someone else, then you can just remove your card and hand over your old phone.
Some networks like to use software on the phone to lock it to only their network. This software prevents the phone from being used elsewhere, even if the network is compatible and the SIM card is changed, and this is done to keep you as their customer. However some networks sell unlocked phones, that are capable of being used on any compatible network. In other cases it may even be possible to have the phone unlocked by a specialist, or to convince the network to release the lock for you once you have served your contract term.
Some cell phone companies in the US run the same network type as others. If your old and your intended new company run on compatible networks, then your phone may possibly work on the new network if it checks all of the right boxes.
So can you take your unlocked phone from your current network and move it to a new network? Unfortunately there is no simple answer. If your cell phone is unlocked, and you have a phone that takes a SIM card so that you can swap the old card for a new one, you may or may not be able to move that phone to your new network. But only if the network that you wish to move to is compatible with your old one, otherwise it simply won’t speak the same language and so won’t be able to connect.