When you buy a cell phone from a carrier, it usually comes locked, which means it has a software code that assures your phone can only connect to one network and that you can’t obtain or utilize a signal from any other provider.
If you unlock your phone, you can change carriers if you’re unhappy with the service, relocate to a new location, travel, or wish to keep your previous device when switching networks.
If you want to move networks or just add some value to your phone while selling it, unlocking it is necessary. Don’t worry; doing so is perfectly legal.
While most mobile phone companies provide unlocking services once you’ve paid off your phone and all payments or your contract has expired, it doesn’t always happen automatically.
Unlocking services are available from AT&T, Boost Mobile, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, Virgin Mobile, Xfinity, and many more. With carrier unlock Android phone, you can switch carriers if you’re unhappy with the service, relocate to a new location, travel, or wish to keep your previous device when switching networks.
We’ve broken out the stages for each one because the procedure can be laborious and varies depending on the provider. When your phone is no longer under contract, it’s a good idea to unlock it.
On the Apple side, if you paid for your iPhone in full at the time of purchase, it’s certainly already unlocked. Phones that are unlocked are often more valuable than those that are locked.
What you’ll need
Unlocking an out-of-contract phone should be second nature to you, and you’ll find it well worth the effort. The complexity of unlocking a phone varies depending on the carrier, and what is a simple process for one carrier may be a hassle for another.
It’s a good idea to unlock your phone before you leave your current carrier, no matter how difficult the unlocking method becomes because it’ll be far more difficult once your contract expires.
Even if you don’t intend to use your old phone when you depart, you never know when you might need it. While techniques differ, there is a list of information you’ll need to unlock your phone that you should have on hand before you begin.
- Name and account number of the account holder.
- Your device’s IMEI number.
- Please include your phone number.
- The password or the account holder’s Social Security number.
- A signed contract and/or a payment plan for the equipment.
- Military members who wish to unlock their phones before their contract expires can get overseas deployment documents.
- How to Carrier Unlock Android phone(Verizon)?
- How to Carrier Unlock an AT&T phone?
- How to Carrier Unlock a T-Mobile phone?
- How to Carrier Unlock a Sprint phone?
- How to Carrier Unlock a Metro by T-Mobile phone?
- How to Carrier Unlock a Boost Mobile phone?
- How to Carrier Unlock a U.S. Cellular phone?
1. How to Carrier Unlock Android phone(Verizon)?
Verizon’s smartphones are locked for a limited period. According to Verizon policy, newly acquired devices are locked to Verizon’s networks for 60 days after purchase to prevent theft and other fraudulent conduct. The lock is automatically lifted after 60 days and applies to postpaid and prepaid devices.
This implies that, unlike most other carriers, there isn’t a set of criteria that must be met for your phone to be unlocked. Deployed military personnel are exempt from this limitation and can seek an unlock by phoning Verizon’s support line at 800-922-0204.
Even though SIM-equipped Verizon phones may be used on AT&T, T-Mobile, and other GSM carriers, roaming GSM radios are required to make calls and send texts in the United States.
While most contemporary Verizon devices operate properly on American GSM bands, LTE compatibility will vary depending on your location. International devices may still require assistance so you can contact Verizon’s support line at 800-922-0204.
Off-the-shelf Prepaid 4G devices from Phone-in-a-Box are locked to the network for the duration indicated on the box. To begin the unlocking procedure, you may need to call Verizon’s prepaid support line at 888-294-6804.
Third-Party Lock Breakers
You may always try one of the many third-party lock breaker firms if you don’t want to wait 60 days. These firms use the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number to unlock your phone and give rapid and effective service.
Of course, selecting a firm with care is critical. We suggest UnlockBase or UnlockUnit as reliable providers. Lock breaking services from third-party firms are generally less than $100.
2. How to Carrier Unlock an AT&T phone?
Unlocking an AT&T phone is a little more difficult than unlocking a Verizon phone. Even though you’ll have to jump through a few extra hoops, it shouldn’t be too tough. The following is a list of requirements for unlocking your AT&T phone.
- The gadget must be compatible with AT&T’s networks.
- If you’re an existing client, you must pay off your contract or payment plan in full (including early termination fees). If you don’t have a plan, pay it off early and wait 48 hours before making a request.
- It can’t have been reported as lost, stolen, or used in a scam.
- The account must be in “good standing,” meaning it hasn’t been linked to fraudulent activity.
- It must not be active on account of another AT&T subscriber.
- It must have been on a postpaid plan for at least 60 days, with “no past due or unpaid amount.”
- It must have been in service for at least six months if it is an AT&T prepaid device.
- If you upgraded too soon, you’d have to wait 14 days for “buyer’s remorse” (or 30 days for corporate customers) before unlocking your last phone.
- If it’s a business gadget, you’ll need approval from your boss.
- For military personnel, email your TCS or PCS (Temporary/permanent change of station) documentation to AT&T to unlock your account before your contract or payments expire.
You may fill out an online unlock request form with AT&T. Enter your AT&T phone number — or, if you’ve already switched, your AT&T device’s IMEI number. You’ll have 24 hours after submitting this form to click the link in the confirmation email you’ll get.
Within two business days, AT&T will provide you with instructions for unlocking your handset through text or email. AT&T no longer has a strict unlock limit per year, so don’t worry about getting identified as suspicious unless you send a hundred unlock requests monthly.
You may check the progress of your unlock request on AT&T’s unlock status website to see if it was successful. The network also offers limited unlocks over the phone through its helpline at 800-331-0500 but does not officially unlock phones.
AT&T provides different unlock methods and codes depending on the device. An unlock code is not required for Apple iPhones. Instead, just remove your AT&T SIM card and insert the SIM card for your chosen carrier to begin the setup procedure after getting the email authorizing your unlock request.
Military personnel, even those on installment plans, can unlock iPhones, but they must register their active-duty status on AT&T’s forms.
Third-Party Lock Breakers
You can utilize a different approach if you aren’t qualified for a carrier unlock. Many individuals choose to use an IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) unlock, which works similarly to a carrier unlock.
There are a lot of IMEI unlock providers on the internet, but it’s always preferable to go with reputable firms like DoctorSIM and MobileUnlocked.
3. How to Carrier Unlock a T-Mobile phone?
T-Mobile may be the Un-carrier, but its unlocking criteria are identical to other carriers. If you wish to unlock your T-Mobile phone, keep the following in mind:
- It has to be a T-Mobile phone.
- It can’t have been reported as stolen, lost, or blocked (via IMEI).
- It must be associated with a “good standing” account.
- On postpaid accounts, the gadget must be completely paid for and have been operational on the requested line for at least 40 days.
- The device must have received at least $100 in refills since the initial usage date or be active for at least a year on prepaid accounts.
- A minimum of 18 consecutive monthly payments must have been paid if the device is on a service contract.
- All payments must be made, and the equipment must be fully paid for if you are utilizing T-Equipment Mobile’s Installment Plan or your phone is leased through JUMP! On-Demand.
- In the previous 12 months, you’ve made no more than two unlock requests per line.
- T-Mobile could ask for evidence of purchase.
Once eligibility conditions are completed, some Android phones from the carrier can be unlocked using their Settings menus. Others, like the Google Pixel and older Samsung devices, may use T-Device Mobile’s Unlock applications.
However, not all phones are compatible with these ways. The T-Mobile unlocking app does not exist for the iPhone.
Once your iPhone is eligible, T-Mobile should give you an unlock notification and maybe an unlock code. If you don’t have this information, you should call T-Mobile and request it. For precise instructions on how to use your Apple device, go to this T-Mobile page.
Otherwise, you may unlock your phone by chatting with a T-Mobile customer service person online, calling 611 from a T-Mobile device, or dialing 877-746-0909 from any other phone.
Deployed military members can also unlock their phones if they are in good standing and have their deployment paperwork.
Third-Party Lock Breakers
If you don’t fulfill the carrier unlock requirements, you may use an IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) unlock, which is just as effective. Many IMEI unlocking providers can be discovered online, and they all work similarly. You’ll receive an email-based unlock code after paying the charge (generally less than $100).
Because you’ll have to pay upfront, you’ll want to be sure you’re utilizing a reliable provider. Unlock River or DoctorSIM are two options.
4. How to Carrier Unlock a Sprint phone?
Sprint is no longer an independent company following its merger with T-Mobile. According to Sprint, domestic SIM unlock-capable handsets launched after 2015 will unlock automatically when they become eligible for postpaid accounts.
Before this time, Sprint phones could not usually be SIM unlocked. Before Sprint will unlock your phone, make sure your device and account match the following requirements:
- It has to be a Sprint device.
- It must be capable of unlocking domestic SIM cards (if unlocking in the U.S.).
- It can’t have been reported as lost, stolen, or blocked, and it can’t be linked to fraud.
- It must be linked to a “good standing” account.
- It must have been on the asking line for at least 40 days.
- There must be no unpaid or pending fines or payments.
If your device is inactive, you can unlock it by calling Sprint’s Customer Service at 888-211-4727. Prepare to get an over-the-air update to unlock your smartphone, and you may need to submit additional validation to guarantee your device can be unlocked.
If your Sprint iPhone is still locked, your best option is to contact Customer Service. If you’re unlocking a handset for foreign use, be sure it can accept international SIM cards.
If you’re a member of the US military stationed overseas and have a good account with Sprint, the carrier will waive certain of its restrictions if you want your phone unlocked.
The policy applies to family members who use the same account. If you’re presently deployed overseas, you can contact Sprint Worldwide Care or call 888-226-7212 to unlock your phone.
However, there’s a big catch regarding Sprint’s unlocking skills. Many Sprint-branded phones will be incompatible with GSM providers due to the carrier’s adoption of rather obscure networking technology (CDMA). Before unlocking your phone, ensure it’s compatible with your new carrier.
Third-Party Lock Breakers
Don’t worry if you don’t fulfill the carrier unlock requirements; alternative ways exist. Unlocks based on IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) are performed by third-party lock breaker firms and are just as effective as official carrier unlocks.
On the internet, you may locate a plethora of such businesses. Because most need upfront fees, it’s critical to study reviews and select a reputable business. We recommend DoctorSIM or UnlockRadar as trusted sellers.
5. How to Carrier Unlock a Metro by T-Mobile phone?
Regarding prepaid services, Metro by T-Mobile, formerly known as Metro PCS, is one of the most popular options. Even though it displays the T-Mobile logo, the prerequisites for unlocking your phone are significantly different.
- It’s got to be Metro.
- It has to be in active service for at least 180 days in a row (about six months).
- The 180-day period begins on the original phone’s activation date if you have a warranty-swapped phone.
- Military personnel is exempt from the 180-day service requirement; simply bring your deployment documents to a corporate shop, and a representative will offer an unlock code for your handset.
The Device Unlock app, which is normally accessible in the Metro by T-Mobile folder of your phone, is one means of unlocking. Only a few phones, notably the Alcatel A30, LG Aristo, and Samsung J7 Prime, are capable of this.
If you have an Apple device, Metro by T-Mobile will immediately approve and commence unlocking your device as it becomes eligible. To finish the unlocking process on your device, Verify that your device is qualified for unlocking, that it is connected to Wi-Fi, that you are using a non-T-Mobile SIM card in your iPhone, and that you have completed the first-time usage.
If the device has already been set up, sign in to your Apple ID using the on-screen prompts. Metro by T-Mobile now uses the GSM network rather than the CDMA network. Thus your unlocked Metro phone will only function with other GSM carriers like T-Mobile and AT&T.
6. How to Carrier Unlock a Boost Mobile phone?
Following Sprint’s merger with T-Mobile, Boost Mobile users are now part of DISH Wireless. As a result, new criteria may emerge in comparison to the past. A SIM unlock is not feasible for many phones manufactured before 2015, such as Metro from T-Mobile. So you’re looking to see if your Boost Mobile handset can be unlocked.
You must keep track of your progress since Boost Mobile will not automatically unlock your phone or tell you when you are qualified. Once you fulfill the eligibility conditions, call the company’s customer service number at 888-402-7366 to obtain an unlock:
- It must be a Boost Mobile handset that can unlock SIM cards.
- It must not be reported as missing, stolen, or unlocked.
- On the account, the gadget has been active for at least 12 months.
- The device’s account is active and in good standing.
Active military members can seek an unlock with their deployment documents and a current account. Sim unlocks are also available to family members on the same account. For 12 months, each phone number is authorized for up to two unlocked devices.
Third-Party Lock Breakers
You may still unlock your smartphone if it was produced before 2015 or doesn’t fulfill the criteria. You may engage a third-party lock breaker business instead of requesting your carrier to unlock it.
For unlocking, such firms use your handset’s IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity), which works the same way as an official carrier unlock.
You’ll have to pay ahead if you hire a third-party lock breaker. The price varies depending on the provider, but it is generally less than $100. Make sure you do your homework before selecting a firm.
Unfortunately, many internet fraudsters aim to deceive you into paying money. Check for favorable ratings or ask for suggestions if you want to be safe.
MobileUnlocked or UnlockBase are two apps that we suggest.
7. How to Carrier Unlock a U.S. Cellular phone?
Most U.S. Cellular’s 4G LTE smartphones have been unlocked since February 1, 2016. Those purchased before that date may be able to receive an over-the-air update, so make sure your device is up to date before contacting US Cellular about unlocking.
If it doesn’t apply to your device, or if it’s a 3G or 1X device, you’ll need to call US Cellular’s customer care line at 611 (from a US Cellular device), or 888-944-9400 (from a non-US Cellular device) for an unlock code.
U.S. Cellular’s unlocking technique, like those of other carriers, follows CITA’s requirements for unlocking its devices and will unlock phones and tablets that meet the following criteria:
- It has to be a U.S. Cellular device.
- The equipment in question must not have been misplaced, stolen, or obtained via deception.
- The equipment in issue has to be paid for in full.
To prevent theft and fraud, Apple and Samsung have implemented a 120-day lock policy on many popular phones, whether prepaid or postpaid. A good-standing account that fits those criteria can nonetheless seek an early unlock.
As is customary, deployed military members can unlock their smartphones early by producing their documents, as long as their account is current.
According to US Cellular, some gadgets cannot be unlocked due to their age or the fact that they lack the technology to connect to other networks. If your device appears to be affected, call US Cellular at 611 (from a US Cellular device) or 888-944-9400 (from a non-US Cellular device).
iPhone error message? Here’s what to do
“The SIM card installed in this iPhone does not appear to be supported,” you can notice on your PC or iPhone. To activate iPhone, you must use a compatible SIM card from a supported carrier.
Please use the new SIM card with your iPhone or go to a carrier shop supporting your iPhone.” If you see that notice, take the following steps:
Since iOS 14, you may check the status of your phone. Scroll down to the Carrier Lock section under Settings > General > About. No SIM Restrictions should be written in this area.
If you don’t see that notification, it’s because your phone hasn’t been unlocked yet by your carrier. To discover out what’s going on, contact your carrier right away.
This should be sufficient to unlock your iPhone, but if you continue to have problems, you may need to restore your iPhone to factory settings and reboot from a backup.
Unlocking your prepaid or fully paid phone
Of course, people with prepaid and paid-in-full gadgets exist. The process of unlocking them is, for the most part, simple.
While there was previously a broad unlocking policy in place, the Cellular Telephone Industries Association (CTIA) proposed a set of standardized unlocking standards for phones and tablets.
If a subscriber wants it, carriers must unlock a phone that has been paid in full or a prepaid phone that has been in operation for a year. When a subscriber’s device is eligible for an unlock, cellular operators must notify them. Finally, on request, carriers must unlock phones for U.S. military members.
Sprint, T-Mobile, Metro by T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Verizon have all been confirmed, while AT&T’s rules were previously compliant. You can’t just take your phone to any other provider after it’s been unlocked.
While some current phones are intended for this type of flexibility, others are still tailored to a certain carrier’s network capabilities and features.
Most carriers have an online Bring Your Phone tool to determine if your unlocked handset will operate on their network. To receive an immediate check, simply enter the IMEI number of your smartphone.
Using Third-party lock breakers
If an official carrier fails, you may still use an IMEI unlock, which works like the official carrier unlocking service. There are several IMEI unlocking services available.
However, it’s recommended to stick with reputable firms like Express Unlocks (for iPhones), DoctorSIM, MobileUnlocked, UnlockBase, Cellphone Unlock, UnlockUnit, Unlock River, and Unlock Radar.
Before making a final selection or paying, look at review sites like Trustpilot. Your carrier determines the cost of unlocking an iPhone. Lock breaker services support models from the most recent iPhone series back to the iPhone 4.
The majority of third-party unlocking services work similarly. You may purchase an email-based unlock code from their website for various prices, generally around $100. The majority of them demand money in advance. Customer service lines are available from reputable unlocking providers, and codes are delivered fast.
- Express Unlocks (iPhones)
- Cellphone Unlock
- Unlock Radar
Buying unlocked phones
When everything is said and done, most consumers will find that buying an unlocked phone is a better alternative than figuring out how to unlock one. First and foremost, it saves you the trouble of having to unlock it.
Second, you may pick from various cell phone services, including prepaid, postpaid, and hybrid options. It’s a big commitment, and if you already have a phone, it could be a little painful, but the ability to transfer carriers at any moment is worth it.
Unlocked phones are sold by retailers such as Amazon and Walmart, but they come with hefty upfront expenses. There are, however, deals to be found if you know where to search, such as Amazon’s Alexa Built-in unlocked phones. Those phones are substantially less expensive but come with Amazon’s pre-installed services.
Except for particular carrier financing options, every iPhone purchased from Apple — online or at an Apple Store — is unlocked. You may use any carrier with an unlocked iPhone. Follow these steps to get started with a new carrier.
- Turn your iPhone off.
- Remove your former carrier’s existing SIM card.
- Replace your old SIM card with a new one for your new carrier.
- Your phone should be restarted.
- To set up your phone, restart it and follow the on-screen instructions.
You may also get a SIM-free iPhone, which means it doesn’t come with a carrier SIM card and allows you to use any compatible carrier’s SIM card. Of course, you’ll have to pay in full for your new phone upfront.
If you can’t pay in full, try Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program, which allows you to purchase an unlocked iPhone the same way as the SIM-free alternative — but with a credit check.
You will not only save money upfront, but you will also be able to pay in monthly installments and be eligible for an upgrade after 12 payments. The AppleCare+ protection program is included, as well as a $4.17 per month add-on for AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss protection.
It might be aggravating to be bound to a single carrier. Fortunately, most carriers are becoming more liberal and will unlock your phone under specific circumstances.
You may always engage a third-party lock breaker business if your handset isn’t qualified for official carrier unlock. Even though you will have to pay, you will receive prompt and effective service.
We hope that this post has clarified how the unlocking process works and what requirements you must meet.
Can You Unlock A Carrier-Locked Phone?
You may transfer providers without purchasing a new phone by unlocking it. All carriers must allow you if you’ve paid off your phone. Many smartphones are compatible with any carrier in the United States. You can find out if your phone is compatible.
Can You Unlock Your Phone Yourself?
Inserting a SIM card from a different network into your phone will confirm that it needs to be unlocked. A notice will show on your home screen if it is locked. To unlock your smartphone, call your provider and get a Network Unlock Code (NUC).
Can I Network Unlock My Phone For Free?
It’s entirely free to unlock your phone if you’re qualified! According to the FCC: “If a device is suitable for unlocking, participating carriers may not charge additional costs to existing or former consumers. Non-customers and past customers may be charged a price to unlock eligible devices.”