You’ve probably heard the term “flash” when it comes to cellphones, but what does flashing a cell phone mean?
In simple terms, flashing a cell phone essentially means reprogramming it to work with a carrier other than it’s intended provider. I want to take a quick second to explain the difference between flashing and unlocking. It really comes down to the differences in the main 2 cellular technologies, GSM and CDMA. You can read more about the differences between then in our blog, GSM vs CDMA. Unlocking applies to GSM phones, which is the process of obtaining a code that “unlocks” the sim card slot and allows you to put a different provider’s sim card in place of the original. Some phones come unlocked already, such as our Maxwest lineup.
Flashing, on the other hand, applies specifically to CDMA phones. For example; Sprint, Verizon, and US Cellular all use CDMA towers. Flashing a CDMA phone reprograms the internal software coding to make the phone think it is for a different provider. Some people will ask, this flashing legal? In fact, it is. It is not considered hacking into the phone by any means.
That is not to say that flashing doesn’t have some potential disadvantages. Flashed phones often cannot be reprogrammed for their original carrier. On the other hand, the whole reason to flash is to get on a no contract service that will allow you to cut your bill in half, so why would you want to go back? Another potential side effect of flashing is that certain phones may lose certain features. For example, some phones cannot send or receive picture messages after being flashed. If this is a concern, please speak with a U Wireless professional before flashing your phone to make sure you know all the details. The main other disadvantage to flashing is that flashes can be negatively affected by software updates or factory resets, so you do have to be careful, or you may end up having to pay for a second flash.
Now, in my opinion, the benefits to flashing a phone far outweigh the potential disadvantages. For one, you don’t have to invest in a brand new phone. Right there, you have saved a few hundred dollars. Not to mention the fact that if you are flashing a phone, you are likely going to a no contract provider that will save you a ton of money.
To recap we have answered the question, “What does flashing a cell phone mean?” You are essentially reprogramming the insides of your phone. We can flash Sprint, US Cellular and 4g Verizon models to be compatible with Selectel Wireless and also Pageplus. See our plan page here for more info.