You Asked, We Answered: What is an Unlocked GSM Phone?

00669-11-gsm-blog-header

Bring Your Existing Phone to Consumer Cellular!

We’re often asked if you can switch to our service while keeping the cellphone you already have. It certainly makes sense—you want to take advantage of Consumer Cellular’s low prices and fantastic service, but don’t necessarily want to start over with a new phone. After all, you’ve already got everything just the way you like it!

Every manufacturer is slightly different, so we can’t guarantee that your device will work with our service. However, the good news is that in many cases it is possible to switch your current phone to Consumer Cellular. For the switch to work properly, you’ll need to have what’s called “an unlocked GSM phone,” along with one of our free SIM cards. Here’s what that means:

Consumer Cellular operates on what’s called a GSM network. It’s the same type of network used by AT&T and T-Mobile, meaning that you will have the best chance of successfully switching if your phone is from one of those two carriers. Other carriers, including Verizon and Sprint, operate on a different type, called a CDMA network. Since most CDMA phones use different technology, they can’t be switched to our service.

Before you can use your GSM phone with our SIM card, your current carrier has to “unlock” your phone. In most cases, a carrier will unlock your phone only if you’ve already paid for the device in full. They may also provide you with a code to enter into your phone, which will unlock it to work with a different carrier.

With your GSM phone unlocked, the process of bringing it to Consumer Cellular’s service is completely straightforward and affordable. You sign up for our low-cost monthly service, and we ship our SIM card to you absolutely free! Once the SIM card is inserted into your phone, you can connect to Consumer Cellular and start using your phone on our network. In many cases, that’s all there is to it—the switch has been made, you’ve kept your phone, and you’re now enjoying all the terrific benefits that Consumer Cellular has to offer!

26 Thoughts on "You Asked, We Answered: What is an Unlocked GSM Phone?"

  1. Connie Fletcher says

    I have just purchased a tracfone and they are not able to activate it can I use this phone with your service? or will I need to buy a phone from you as I have AARP. Let me know!

    reply to Connie

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thanks for asking, Connie! In general, you can use an unlocked GSM phone with our SIM card. You may want to check with Tracfone to ensure that your phone fits that description. If it doesn’t, we offer many affordable options, with some starting at just $30. You can view our full lineup here. As an AARP member, you’ll receive a monthly 5% discount on service and usage fees, so those savings will add up quickly! We can answer any questions you may have and help you sign up at 888-345-5509. We appreciate you posting, and we look forward to speaking with you soon!

      reply to Ashley

  2. larry dawson says

    How do I change all my info on my present phone,i.e., address book, photos, apps, to your device?

    reply to larry

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thank you for asking, Larry! If you’re moving from one Android phone to another, it’s usually pretty simple. When you setup your new phone, you’ll be prompted to login with a Google account. Sign in with your existing gmail address and your apps, settings and contacts will transfer over. For photos, you may need to transfer them to a computer first, then move them to your new phone if you aren’t using an app like Google Photos. If you haven’t synched your contacts to your Google account, you can transfer them from your previous SIM card to your new phone. We’re happy to walk you through it at 888-345-5509. We can also answer any other questions you may have, so please don’t hesitate to call. We appreciate you posting, and we hope you enjoy your new smartphone!

      reply to Ashley

  3. kelsie singleton says

    Recently purchased Apple iPhone SE from you. How can I get voice mail unlocked with no password, just talk?

    reply to kelsie

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thank you for asking, Kelsie! If you are using the voicemail system, you will need to input a password of your choosing. Your iPhone does have an additional feature, Visual Voicemail, which may be more convenient for you. We can help you get this setup if you call us at 888-345-5509 at your convenience. We appreciate you taking the time to reach out to us, and we hope you have a wonderful day!

      reply to Ashley

  4. Jim Blume says

    I just received a new phone from you yesterday and am wondering if my contacts, etc from my present phone will transfer to the new one when it is activated. I am going on a trip in three days and don’t want to activate the new phone until I am sure. Thank you…

    reply to Jim

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thank you for asking, Jim. Depending on the type of phone, your contacts may transfer over automatically. If you are using an iPhone or Android smartphone, they should transfer over when you sign in with your Apple ID or Gmail account. You will likely need to transfer your photos and music over as well, which can be done the same way. If you like, you can give us a call at 888-345-5509 and we will walk you through it. You can also check out our helpful How-To videos on our Support page, which include videos that show you how to transfer your contacts using a SIM card as well. We appreciate you reaching out to us, and we hope you enjoy getting to know your new phone!

      reply to Ashley

  5. Doug Gholson says

    I have an iPhone 4 from Verizon. Can I use this phone with Consumer Cellular or do I need to purchase a new phone?

    reply to Doug

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Good question, Doug! In general, phones used previously with AT&T or T-Mobile are the best fit for our SIM card, as they use the same GSM technology that we do. We’re happy to see if your iPhone can be used with our SIM card, and since it is free of charge, there is no risk to you. You can find our SIM card at a local Target store, here on our website or you can order one over the phone at 888-345-5509. Thank you for reaching out to us, and we hope to see you as a Consumer Cellular customer soon!

      reply to Ashley

  6. robert clair says

    What if I upgrade my Consumer Cellular phone and want to give away my old phone? Is the old phone unlocked for use with other carriers?

    reply to robert

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thank you for asking, Robert. Depending on the model of your phone, we may need to provide you with an unlock code. We’re happy to discuss this with you over the phone at 888-345-5509. We appreciate you taking the time to post!

      reply to Ashley

  7. Bob says

    I would like to use Consumer Celllular with a phone I am about to purchase. It is a “Moto G4 Plus”. An unlocked phone. Will this work with your SIM card on Consumer Cellular?

    reply to Bob

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thank you for asking, Bob. Our SIM card works best with an unlocked GSM version, so just be sure that the Moto G4 Plus you are purchasing meets that criteria. While we can’t guarantee all devices will work, most of our customers are able to use our SIM card without any issue. You can find our SIM card at your local Target store, here on our website or we can assist you with ordering one over the phone at 888-345-5509. We appreciate you taking the time to post today!

      reply to Ashley

  8. Joel Whitaker says

    I don’t know how to post this question, so here goes. We are wintering in Yuma, Arizona. In our home, we can’t get service, but 1/4 mile from our home, our Consumer works. Is there a way to have our phone work from our home?

    reply to Joel

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Great question, Joel. We can take a look at the coverage near your home in Yuma to see if we can remedy this issue. Please give us a call at 888-345-5509, and we can update some settings and take a look with you. Thank you for reaching out to us, and we look forward to speaking with you soon!

      reply to Ashley

  9. Eugene Nadler says

    I recently purchased a MotoG4 from Consumer Cellular and transferred my phone number from a Samsung Galaxy G4 which also was purchased from Consumer Cellular to the MotoG4. What would I need to do to reactivate the Samsung galaxy with a new telephone number and add it as a family plan to my Moto g4 plan?

    reply to Eugene

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      It’s very easy to do, Eugene! All you need is one of our All-In-One SIM cards. You can order one through the My Account section of our site here, or you can pick one up from your local Target store. Just put it into your old device, and you should be good to go! Best of all, you’ll share your monthly minutes, texts and data, which will save you money. We’re happy to help you get started at 888-345-5509 whenever you’re ready. Thank you for posting, and we hope you have a great day!

      reply to Ashley

  10. Doris Parks says

    Can a group text be done on a Motorola Moto G LTE (3rd Generation) phone?

    reply to Doris

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      It can indeed, Doris! It’s easy to get a group text started. You’ll want to start by opening your Messaging app, then starting a new message. Rather than just selecting one contact to add, you will pick as many as you want on that message. Then type out what you want to say and tap the Send button. It’s that simple. If you run into any issues, just give us a call at 888-345-5509 and we will be happy to walk you through it. Thank you for posting, and happy texting!

      reply to Ashley

  11. Doris Parks says

    I tried doing what was suggested for a group text but when sending, the message “MMS cannot be sent/received when mobile data has been disabled”. I have gone into the settings for the group messaging and the box for that is checked, restarted the phone, and it still doesn’t send. I have looked at all other settings, and cannot tell what else to try. Any suggestions?

    reply to Doris

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thank you for updating us, Doris. You may want to check that your phone is not in Airplane mode and that your data is turned on. If that doesn’t resolve the problem, we’re happy to help you troubleshoot it over the phone. Just give us a call at 888-345-5509 and we’ll work with you to get this fixed. We appreciate you posting!

      reply to Ashley

  12. Jim says

    My wife has a Moto G LTE 3rd gen phone that won’t receive or send pictures. We were told it is a AT&T issue because of their towers. Is this true?

    reply to Jim

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thank you for reaching out to us, Jim. We have had some reports of customers having this issue, and we are working with all parties to get this resolved as quickly as possible. I reviewed your account, and I see that we recommended that you keep your data turned on for best results. If this issue continues, please let us know at 888-345-5509. We appreciate your patience, and we hope you have a great day!

      reply to Ashley

  13. Jack says

    How do I download the Google Chrome app to appear on my screen?

    reply to Jack

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thank you for asking, Jack. I took a look at your account, and I see you are using an iPhone. You’ll need to go to the App Store and download the Chrome app. Once you’ve done that, press and hold your finger on your home screen until you see the icons “shake”. This will allow you to rearrange your apps on your home screen, and you can place the Chrome app in a convenient location. If you find yourself with any questions or if we can assist you in any way, please feel free to call us at 888-345-5509. We appreciate you taking the time to post today!

      reply to Ashley

Leave a Reply