With each generation, smartphones get more expensive.

There was a time when carrier subsidies and contracts made it affordable to grab the latest flagship.

However, with the trend toward device financing and leasing, the contract deal isn’t always best.

If you’re looking to maximize your mobile savings, the locked vs. unlocked debate is more relevant than ever.

Unlocked phones offer more than just long-term savings.

Before you commit to a carrier contract, consider these 5 benefits to choosing an unlocked phone.

1. Spending More Now May Save You Money Later

Have you ran the numbers of what you’re paying for a carrier subsidized device?

Even with the newer financing programs many carriers are using, the carrier is still making a profit on the retail price of the phone.

Break down your monthly fees and check how much they will add up to at the end of your contract.

There’s a good chance you’re paying more than the unlocked price when your contract is complete--fees are just spaced out over two years so you don’t notice.

If you must finance a phone, many manufacturers now offer financing or leasing that beats out the carriers.

With Apple, they include AppleCare+ in the cost of iPhone Upgrade Plan. Other manufacturers that offer financing include Motorola, Google and HTC.

Better still, when you finance through the manufacturer, you can still get an unlocked phone.

Enjoy all the pros of a carrier subsidized device with fewer cons!

2. Unlocked Phones Let You Shop Around for the Best Service and Pricing

On top of the lease or financing fees, most contract phone plans are more expensive than off-contract or pre-paid options--even from the same carrier.

By purchasing an unlocked phone, you can choose a cheaper plan while still enjoying the same level of service.

Better still, if you find you don’t like the service provider and decide to switch companies, you won’t face expensive termination fees. Depending on your carrier, that could save you hundreds of dollars!

Curious how much you’re overpaying for phone service?

Our plan comparison tool breaks down the plans available from the best carriers around!

3. Travel Often? An Unlocked Phone Might Pay for Itself!

Even if you only travel abroad once a year, unlocked phones offer huge savings.

Carriers are infamous for piling on the roaming fees and insane data rates while you’re on travelling on holiday or business.

While they offer international packages to help, the rates are still far from budget-friendly.

With an unlocked phone, you’re free to pick up a pre-paid SIM when you reach your destination or buy a cheap travel SIM in advance.

Instead of paying double or triple what you’d normally pay when you return, just swap out the SIM and use your phone without worry.

If you travel often, the savings from swapping might even pay for the unlocked phone after a few trips.

If you choose an unlocked phone with dual SIM capabilities, you can even keep your main SIM active for emergency calls while routing everything else through your pre-paid SIM to enjoy convenience and savings.

4. Unlocked Phones Sell for More When Upgrading

As long as you take care of your phone, there’s a good chance that something shiny and tempting will come along long before your phone no longer works.

If you’re a fan of upgrading phones, unlocked phones hold their value much better than locked phones.

Even if you’re looking to trade the phone in with your carrier, you’re still likely to see an increase in the price offered over a network locked phone.

Not only do they hold value better, unlocked phones are easier to sell.

No need to worry about finding someone looking for a phone on your carrier.

No need to find someone willing to assume your contract.

Just find a buyer and they can take the phone to any carrier that the hardware supports!

5. Unlocked Phones Offer Less Bloatware, Better Performance and Faster Updates

One aspect many people don’t consider about unlocked phones is performance.

It’s the same phone as you’d get from the carrier just without a network lock right?

Not exactly.

Unlocked phones often avoid the army of bloatware and useless carrier apps that come on network locked devices.

This means you’ll find more space to store the apps you’ll actually use and might even get faster performance.

While not an issue with iPhones, if you’re purchasing an Android phone direct from the manufacturer, you might also find that software updates arrive quicker.

For example, Google’s Nexus series devices don’t experience the delay of carrier flagships.

This is because the carrier doesn’t need to add all their useless apps to the new firmware before approval.

Google releases an update and you get it--no waiting and no fluff.

Your Turn

Do you typically buy unlocked phone or take advantage of carrier discounts? Did we miss a reason you’d consider an unlocked phone? We want to hear what you think! Leave us a comment in the box below.

If you’re looking to upgrade to an unlocked phone, you can reduce your initial costs by selling your old phone. We have a handy guide for getting top dollar for your gently used phones. Looking at used unlocked phones? This guide on blacklisted phones can help you avoid future problems!