Is flashing a cell phone the same as buying an unlocked cell phone?

nah, flashing is like changing the software to make your phone do different or special things. like people flash the razr to make the welcome screen say "live long and prosper" or something instead of the hello moto. or to make it flash disco lights when it rings. unlocked just means u can use it with a different carrier.
There are two types of flash. A full flash and a partial flash. A full flash involves re-writing the phone's operating system.A partial flash is when you basically just reprogram the phone to connect to a different carrier. If there isn't a SIM card, you indeed have a CDMA phone that can be flashed. GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) phones can't be flashed (like AT&T and T-Mobile). Metro, Sprint, Cricket, Boost, Verizon and many others are CDMA and thus can be flashed because they're not controlled by the SIM card. Unlocking is done in GSM phones to swap networks. It can be done either through network provider or through third party unlocks like
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