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Or do they? The simple answer is a perplexing “Yes” and “No”.

Following the successful creation of the Android Environment by Google, about 10 years ago now, mobile phone manufacturers have flooded the market with handsets that run on this Operating System (OS).

This open environment placed phone manufacturers, and application design houses, in a head to head race to innovate better products and capture market share. The competition fueled the fast development of the Android OS and a host of apps, found on the Play Store. This open environment was supposed to benefit consumers with a lower monthly phone bill and a lower total cost of ownership. This is the “Yes” part.

In Canada, the competition did not fully materialize the great savings to consumers as evident from the latest CRTC report on unlocking fees generated by Canadian carriers. Around one million Canadian consumers paid close to $38M in 2016 to unlock their phones. And most didn’t choose to unlock their phone. Instead, they simply renewed and started paying for another locked phone, clearly lured by any potential savings. And this is where the “No” part comes in.

Ironically, phones are produced unlocked, able to operate on any network in the destined region. However, before getting to the consumer through carriers’ outlets and other mobile resellers, they are SIM locked by a carrier’s network to “secure loyalty”. In this context, loyalty means to secure subscribers on a carrier network. Loyalty translates to a predictable revenue stream over a period of time. Then, according to the contractual fine prints, the phone becomes the property of the plan owner. Should the consumer decide to move to another carrier with the same phone, he/she has to pay to unlock his/her property. This entire process is evidently paid for by the consumer. This process is most probably generating over $38M to the Canadian carriers when we consider the locking part to begin with. (For a comprehensive Guide to Canadian Carriers Unlocking Fees, please refer to here.)

About 6-8 years ago, Canadian consumers ventured out of their cozy, but costly, multi-year plans to take advantage of early Android unlocked phones. They had high hopes with this open-Android environment to lower their monthly phone bill. But they faced major disappointments. Not only the change was fought fiercely by carriers, the early unlocked phones of the day were a hit and miss, sub-optimal, unreliable, not certified to industry standards, and potentially untested in some cases. But those days are behind us now as unlocked phones in the Canadian market have matured drastically since then.

These current unlocked phones, such as NUU Mobile line up of 4G/LTE handsets, are designed with standardized chipsets from top suppliers such as MediaTek, Qualcomm, Nvidia and Intel, to name but a few, offering a stable hardware platform. In addition, they sport Google created software stamp of approval through Google Mobile Services. With GMS consumers can rest assured that certified devices provide a great user experience right out of the box.

Today, the market is seeing a resurgence of well-designed unlocked phones, which offer unmatched value for money. Manufacturers, such as NUU Mobile Canada, create ideal workhorses of a smartphone, with dual SIM, high definition front and rear cameras, large HD quality screens, and an memory expansion through an SD Card slot to store thousands of pictures and many clips of video. End-users have the options to manage their personal and business transactions directly from their smartphone and with ease. There is no need to carry multiple handsets anymore. End-users can simply switch between two phone lines, run multiple email accounts, store and forward that important delivery note, and share amazing moments in their everyday life. All these capabilities and more right at their fingertips.

Having stated the obvious, consumers have to contend with choosing the right smartphone for their needs. It makes no sense having a handset incapable of performing the tasks at hand. Therefore, starting with a stable platform, consumers should look for memory capacity, warranty, and after sales support. Hence, with the right unlocked phone in hand, the time is right to start saving on that monthly phone bill again.

NUU Mobile phones, like others, operate across many carriers in Canada, the Americas and around the world. Their handsets meet the Canadian (IC), American (FCC) and European (EU) certifications, as well as, Google Mobile Services (GMS). The standard seals that give Canadian consumers high confidence in today’s smartphones.