When you go to a cell phone provider like Fido, Rogers, Telus, Bell etc., the phones that you can get “for free” are linked to that provider. Although you don’t technically pay for the phone, you must enter into a contract with the provider for (usually) 3 years and inside the monthly cost for the plan hides the cost for the phone. And that phone can only ever be used with the original provider unless you get it unlocked (which, apparently, is near impossible to do).
I noticed recently that some stores like Staples and Best Buy sell phones but, upon further investigation, I discovered that there are no plans attached to them. Whaaaat? These phones are called “unlocked” phones – they are not locked into a plan provider.
So you can buy one of these phones and go to any provider and get a plan without a contract.
OR you can upgrade the phone you already have without paying an early release penalty or signing a new contract. You just take the SIM card out of your existing phone and put it in your new, unlocked phone. (! I don’t recommend you do this on your own, get the tech salesperson to do it.)
There is a chance that your existing SIM card will not fit into the slot on your new phone. If not, you can find a place that will cut it BUT be sure to get a very high recommendation for a reputable place. You can also take your new, unlocked phone to your existing provider and buy a new SIM card for about $35 (CDN). They will attach this new SIM card to your account and put it into your new phone.
You now have a new phone but there are NO changes to the plan or contract that you already have. The provider (Fido, Rogers, Telus, Bell) does not track your phone usage through the phone, they track through the SIM card.
Then you would think that you could now give or sell your old phone to someone else. You can BUT the phone will have to stay with its original provider (unless you get it unlocked). So you can only give your old Rogers phone to an existing Rogers customer or your old Telus phone to an existing Telus customer.
(Note, all this only works if they phone you already have with your provider uses the SIM card technology.)
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net