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Is This Tablet Compatible with My Network?

BY: Editors |

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If you're about to buy a new tablet and are seeing that it's "CDMA unlocked" or "GSM unlocked," that means it could work in tandem with your mobile carrier to provide data. To find out, just use this compatibility tool. Start by selecting your carrier from the dropdown menu of US and Canadian cellular service providers, then select whether the phone is GSM unlocked, CDMA unlocked, or both, to see if it's compatible. This phone check should work for just about any cell-phone provider you have.

Note that some tablets are "WiFi-only," meaning they only provide Internet access when you're near a WiFi hotspot. This compatibility tool works specifically for tablets that say "CDMA Unlocked" or "GSM Unlocked."

Still have questions? Scroll below to see the answers to FAQ.

FAQ: Cellular Carriers and Compatibility

How they can send information to your tablet without using a tethered soup can is confusing enough, but the compatibility of GSM and CDMA data technologies with certain tablets can be even more baffling. Check out this FAQ to learn the basics of these cellular-data standards and find a tablet that will work under either one.

Q: What's the difference between GSM and CDMA?

A: GSM and CDMA are two different technologies used by cellular carriers to transmit data to and from your tablet. While the differences between the two are highly technical, GSM and CDMA carriers all largely provide the same service for tablets: month-by-month plans with high-speed data. The primary feature distinguishing these two technologies is that they're not cross-compatible. If you have a GSM tablet, it has to be used with a GSM carrier; likewise for CDMA tablets and carriers.

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Q: What does "GSM/CDMA Unlocked" mean?

A: If you buy a tablet from a carrier, it can only be used with that carrier. AT&T locked tablets can only be used on AT&T's network, for example. If you buy an unlocked tablet, though, it can be used with any carrier that supports a wireless technology compatible with the tablet's. For GSM, that includes carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile. CDMA carriers include Verizon and Sprint. Click here for a complete list of GSM and CDMA carriers.

Q: Do GSM/CDMA tablets work internationally?

A: If you have cellular service with a US-based carrier, international service depends on the details of your specific plan. If you're trying to activate service on an unlocked tablet outside the United States, however, there are GSM and CDMA carriers in most countries that can be used to activate a tablet — it's just a matter of finding one with a plan that best suits your needs. GSM is overwhelmingly used internationally.

Q: What if my tablet is LTE compatible?

A: If you come across something called "LTE," that might make you even more confused. The newest network in the mobile tech world is 4G LTE—the 4G means "4th generation" and LTE stands for "Long Term Evolution." Basically, this is the newest and best mobile-network technology. If your tablet is LTE compatible, contact your carrier to see if it will work with any 4G networks it might have available.