Buy unlocked vs. carrier locked phone (AT&T


Novice Member
I've read a lot about features and benefits of buying an unlocked vs a carrier locked phone, but I've not found anything that quite addresses my concern.

I currently have an S7 and am still locked to AT&T. I am probably looking to stay with Samsung's s20fe or similar but I've also looked at Pixel phones.

I travel and stay in some remote and mountainous areas. One of these areas has exactly one AT&T tower. I have no idea what band/frequency/channels they're using but my S7 works well when the tower isn't overwhelmed (tourist area/weekends).

My question is this: is an unlocked Samsung or a Google Pixel phone just as capable of receiving 'all' bands, channels, frequencies, etc. as an AT&T locked phone?

I'd go with whichever gave me the better overall deal, but service in this one particular area is a must for me.

Thank you.


Staff member
As far as I know, carrier locks simply restrict which SIMCard the handset will accept; they have no other material effect on, for example, reception.
Once you have any given carrier's SIM in any phone, it will only use that carrier's towers (except for emergency calls) and/or any with which they have a roaming/sharing agreement.
The only difference is
  • with an unlocked phone you can put another carrier's SIM in it (whereby it will use their towers)
  • with a locked phone, you cannot.


Well-known Member
Not sure but don’t they use two different systems in USA , you’d have to be sure whatever phone you buy is compatible with at&t

Deleted member 202217

CMDA and GSM. Cmda is old news and being phased out. Any unlocked lte 4g phone will do fine. You can just buy a few different pre paid sims if you want to be covered 100%

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