You do own your phone even if you didn't pay full price for it. You get your phone cheaper because you are agreeing to pay for service on said phone for a particular amount of time. This isn't the same thing as taking out a loan to buy a product in which case the person who loaned the money technically owns the product until the debt is paid. You receive a discount on product A for agreeing to purchase product B. I'm pretty sure it is illegal to unlock a phone you bought 2nd hand / outright on the secondary market.
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