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Yes, you can. Make sure the seller is a reputable seller before purchasing a device (there's people who have bought devices from a not-so-reputable seller and they get reported stolen and blocked).
If it's the same size SIM, just pull out the SIM from the old phone and put it in the new phone. If the SIM is a different size, you'll have to buy a new SIM and contact T-Mobile to modify the SIM associated with your account. http://www.t-mobile.com/SIM should work to update your SIM if you're a postpaid customer.
The SIM should be all you need to activate. Which is super handy if you like to swap between devices. Just move the SIM and BAM! you're good.
Does the phone just have to be "unlocked" or "GSM unlocked" to work with T-Mobile service?
Some places call them the same.
"Carrier Unlocked", "GSM Unlocked", and "Unlocked" tend to be used interchangeably.
Though, just "Unlocked" could mean other things, hypothetically (like rooted, maybe).. If you're purchasing from a third party and are confused, please ask them to clarify.
Swappa has an IMEI/ESN checker in case you want to chance the grey market. Swappa is also one of the best places to buy devices that are checked becore they are listed cor sale to not be blacklisted.
Depending on what your current devi e is, the SIM might fit. If your device is really old, a new SIM might be required. Most current devices use nano-SIM's.
You need to do your homework when considering buying a device not sold by your carrier. Different devices have different LTE, GSM, CDNA, etc. Support so you need to check and make sure the device you buy has the correct bands available that are deployed where you intend to use it and make sure it is either SIM unlocked or locked to the carrier you intend to use it on.