Can I purchase an unlocked smrtphne to use w/a prepaid plan?

I currently have a contract w/AT&T that will exprire in Dec. I want to get a smartphone now but obviously I can't upgrade. My husband suggested that I go ahead and purchase the phone so when my contract is up I won't be tied to AT&T for another 2 years. I think that is a good idea b/c as I was looking around at plans I think a prepaid plan would be best for me as I don't really use my phone that much (I have over 2K rollover minutes in the bank). So I need a phone that I can buy now that will work with my existing AT&T contract but will be able to use at a later date for a prepaid plan when my contract comes up AND the prepaid plan may not neessarily be w/AT&T.

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Clarification Request
Be more specific.

What I've found so far is the card in TracFone and others will not work in any other GSM phone so far. I don't remember what others I tried so be specific so folk can tell you yes or no.

So far, I have yet to see folk take one of those cheap GSM pre-paid phones and put the card into some smart phone and make a call.

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Answer to "be more specific"

I'm afraid I can't as I am a phone tech dummy. So I guess the other part to the question would be, if it is possible to use an unlocked phone w/a prepaid plan then what kind of phone or what should I look for and be aware of?

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Then the answer is no.
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You need to talk with the folks at T-Mobile. They will let you go pre-paid with a smartphone when you need to transition and with actually some decent plan rates. So for now you would just need an unlocked compatible phone that works on both carriers networks. They can tell you if a particular make/model is suitable or not.

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