Benefits and Disadvantages of BYOD.
BYOD or Bring Your Own Device cellular plans to allow you to use the device of your choice with a SIM-only offer. These plans offer financial benefits and flexibility, but before you land a compelling deal, you need to know what those benefits are and, more importantly, what potential downsides you might face.
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The BYOD Cellular Plan Defined
The BYOD plan is, in fact, exactly what its name suggests. You already have a phone from another contract, or you are going to buy a handset right away, so you do not need a phone from a telecom operator. You simply get the SIM card associated with your contract and insert it into your current device.
BYOD Plans Are Cheaper Month-to-Month
Because your monthly payment doesn’t include phone charges, a BYOD plan will cost less each month than one that offers the same data and talk time but also includes a phone.
BYOD Plans Can Be Easy to Get Out Of
Since you don’t pay for the subsidized phone either, the BYOD plan can be easily cancelled. Some BYOD plan providers don’t even offer a long-term contract. So you can get contract data and voice rates, but still cancel your plan at any time without penalty. For example, Jolt Mobile plans are only valid for 30 days at a time.
BYOD Can Be More Expensive Overall
Although the monthly cost of a BYOD plan is cheaper than a plan with a phone, if you buy the phone right away, you may end up paying more for it than in installments.
Mobile operators offer fantastic wholesale deals on mobile phones, and if you add them up in installments, you may end up paying less than the cash price for the phone. You can also purchase accessories in a kit, which will cost less than in the store for cash. Before you go down the BYOD path, do some math and see which option has the higher total cost.
You Need an Unlocked Phone
In some countries, including the US, mobile phones may be tied to certain carriers that will not work with anyone else. If you want to use a BYOD plan, you either need a phone already locked to your carrier of choice or an unlocked phone, or you need to unlock your phone with a carrier or third party service provider.
Unlocking your phone can cost money, so you need to consider that cost. One of the reasons subsidized phones are cheaper on carrier plans is because they are blocked. An unlocked phone bought from a store like Amazon usually costs more, even if the phones themselves are physically identical.
The good news is that it is sometimes possible to unlock your phone with free unlock codes, but there is no guarantee that this will be possible for your particular phone.
You Can Keep Your Phone When Switching Providers
Assuming you have an unlocked phone, or have the ability to unlock your phone, switching to a BYOD contract when moving from one vendor to another can be a significant benefit. You don’t have to transfer all your data to a new phone, and of course you save money on buying a brand new phone when the one you already have works great.
Switching from one provider to another if your contract has ended is relatively painless, but if you’re in the middle of a contract, early cancellation can be quite expensive. First, you will have to pay the balance on your current phone and there may be other penalties. Read your plan’s contract carefully to find out what the conditions for early cancellation are.
Mobile carriers sometimes offer early termination coverage as an incentive to switch, but read the fine print carefully to see if you’re on a long-term deal with even harsher penalties.
Your Phone Needs the Right Network Compatibility
There are two main types of mobile operators in the US: GSM and CDMA. Both of these types of mobile networks are being phased out, but you may still find that your current phone is not compatible with the network you want to use.
The easiest solution is to contact the BYOD contract provider and ask them if the phone you want to use is compatible with their network. Otherwise, you’ll either have to buy a new phone or use a non-BYOD plan.
Some providers may have a self-service BYOD compliance tool that you can use to check if your existing phone will work.
No Aftermarket Device Support
If you bring your device into the contract, then you are also fully responsible for that device. Your BYOD provider is not required to provide technical support for your phone. You should also insure your device against theft and damage. If your device is still under warranty, you will also have to handle the warranty return or repair process yourself along with whoever you bought the phone from.
It is worth considering these additional costs and the possibility of obtaining a regular phone contract with the phone, which may include insurance and support in the price.
Some Providers Offer Handset Trade-Ins
If you have a phone that doesn’t fit your new network, but you don’t want to pay the full amount for a new phone, you may be able to take advantage of a trade-in offer. Assuming your current phone is paid for and in acceptable condition, the new provider may offer a discount on a compatible phone. While it won’t necessarily save you as much money as a BYOD plan, it can still be cheaper than buying a new phone right away. However, do a little research and see if you could get more money for your current phone by selling it privately.
Who Offers BYOD?
Almost everyone seems to have some form of BYOD or BYOP (Bring Your Own Phone), but there is one major difference between providers that you should be aware of.
There are three major carriers in the US: AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile US, and Verizon. These are the companies that actually own and operate the physical cellular infrastructure of the mobile network. All three major providers in the US offer BYOD plans.
In addition to these backbone operators, there are also MVNOs or mobile virtual network operators. These are companies that do not own the network infrastructure, but work according to their own plans on the equipment of large operators.
BYOD offers vary among MVNOs, but the vast majority offer this type of plan. Some MVNOs, such as Jolt Mobile or Airvoice Wireless, only offer BYOD plans. At the time of writing, major MVNOs that do not provide any BYOD options include:
Assurance WirelessCREDO MobileLively (formerly GreatCall)Karma MobilitySafetyNet Wireless Communication
The mobile provider market is constantly changing, especially for MVNOs, which can come and go much faster than the big carriers. So it’s always better to just check the BYOD plans on the provider’s website.
Benefits and Disadvantages of BYOD
Benefits and Disadvantages of BYOD