Tech, Tips

How to Unlock Your Smartphone

If you read this blog regularly then i’d say you are a pretty forward thinking, techno-capable (and clever!) human. Seeing as though you have those prerequisites under your belt i’d venture to say you’ve heard of all this none-sense about phones being locked and unlocked. What does it all mean?! Well today we are going to uncover a little bit about what is a locked phone, how to unlock your smartphone, and why you’d want to do it.

What Is A “Locked” Phone

Clearly there is no physical “lock” on the phone, it’s more of a software code that’s put on the phone by the manufacturer who has a certain terms agreement with the carrier that sells the device. What this software lock does is essentially locks the phone on the carriers own network, so it can’t be used on any other operator’s network until a different software code is entered to unlock the device.

What is an ‘unlocked’ phone? (And why do I care?)

While the problem isn’t as bad as it used to be, it can still become a problem for people who pick up a carrier locked phone at a yard sale, at a second hand store or pawn shop. Back in the day it was actually Illegal to unlock your phone thanks to a provision that didn’t get renewed one year in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that rendered the unlocking of your phone without your carrier’s permission a crime. Thankfully those days are gone, and cell phone unlocking is legal again in the US.

Not all phones are sold locked – you can typically avoid getting a locked phone by purchasing your device directly from the manufacturer instead of by a carrier but be prepared to pay full price. These manufacturer unlocked phones can typically move from carrier to carrier but since they are not subsidized (no monthly bill to slowly pay off the cost of the phone) the phone can be quite expensive if you are used to the “Free Phone” deal you always see on TV.

How Do I Unlock My Smartphone?

How to Unlock Your Cell Phone (So You Can Bring It to a New Carrier)

While there is a lot of confusion about this subject matter, you typically really never know that you need to unlock your phone, until you already need to unlock samsung galaxy s8, your iphone, or whatever shiny new gadget you just picked up and can’t use the way you need to.

How to remove the network lock from your phone

There is hope but you don’t have a ton of options when it comes to unlocking your phone, some phones can do what is called a “Carrier Unlock” which is essentially when you reach out to your carrier and ask them to unlock your phone, pretty straightforward eh?

To do the Carrier Unlock you’ll need the following:

  • Your IMEI number (this post will help you find it)
  • Your carrier’s Customer Service number. (Or most smartphones can just dial *611) Also here’s a list for your convenience:
    • T-Mobile: 1-877-453-1304
    • AT&T: 1-800-331-0500
    • Sprint: 1-866-866-7509
    • Verizon: 1-800-922-0204
  • Your Patience.

While contacting your carrier is easily the quickest and most straightforward way to get your phone unlocked – it may not be all that easy, after all they don’t want to lose a customer. It will be worth it though once your service provider lets you off the hook. If your carrier does approve your unlock request they typically e-mail your unlock code within a few days. You can input this code when you use another carrier’s SIM card.

No Luck?

Jailbreak, root, unlock – how it works now, legally speaking

Don’t worry if your carrier didn’t give you a free SIM unlock code for your smartphone, these days another easy alternative is simply buying one from one of the many third party websites that provide unlock codes as a service. This is the next best thing that you can try to get your phone onto the carrier of your choice. Let us know if you have had experience with these types of services as there are a lot out there and they’ve been gaining a lot of traction in the media.

Thanks for reading! Have you unlocked a smartphone before? Did you do it yourself, through a carrier, or through a third party? Let us know in the comments below!

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