Last Updated on December 2, 2021 by Peter Townsend
If you buy a new phone from a mobile provider typically, it will be with a lock, which means you won’t have the ability to connect or use any signal when you switch to a different provider. In the end, it’s in their best interests to keep you an existing customer.
If you’re planning to switch providers, or trying to boost the value by selling your smartphone to a buyer, unlocking it is an absolute must and is totally legal to do so.
Although most carriers provide unlocking options after you’ve completed the payment for your mobile as well as any installments, it’s unlikely to occur in a timely manner. The process can be lengthy and differs depending on the carrier, so we’ve broken down the steps to follow for each service.
Phone Locks Explained
Cell phone companies are keen to retain customers and will do everything to ensure that they keep their customers. They’ve made sure that they did this by using phones that were hard or costly to change.
The lock is a bit of code that is written directly into the application that controls your phone. In order to unlock the lock, a new part of the code needs to be entered into the program. If you don’t make that change the phone can only function with one network. There’s no way to alter the software without having to purchase the updated version of the software.
How can companies tell whether you should or shouldn’t unblock your mobile phone? They check the international mobile equipment identification (IMEI) code. You can find it in:
- When you look at the box that your phone arrived in. You should see an inscription with a long number on it.
- By pressing #06# into your mobile. Most devices will open a pop-up with your number.
- Scan your phone’s settings. In the “About” section of certain phones, such as iPhones you’ll see your IMEI.
- Examining the case of your phone. It is sometimes printed on the back of the phone, or on a sticker within your phone or stamped into the drawer housing the SIM card.
This number isn’t exclusive to you. It’s a number that moves with your phone. Before you unlock your device, you’ll require your IMEI because it contains information on:
- The original carrier for the phone.
- If it’s leased or owned.
- If it’s reported as for theft.
If a company discovers an issue with your IMEI the phone could not be unlocked.
How Much Does It Cost?
Be ready for celebrations If you have an unlocked phone and you bought it some time ago and are using it without issue through a service provider and a carrier, you’ll be able to visit the company to get a free unlock.
This is a relatively recent innovation that is relatively new. It was in 2013, that wireless carriers were able to agree, as per the Federal Communications Commission to unlock phones at absolutely no cost.
The main thing to keep in mind is that the businesses will determine if your phone is suitable. These rules may differ significantly from one business too.
For instance, if you are the cell service provider:
- AT&T If you want to use AT&T, you must prove that you’ve repaid your bills and purchased the device. Even if you do, the company retains the option to refuse any request.
- Sprint If you’re a Sprint customer, you have to prove that you’ve used your phone within the Sprint network for at least 50 days, bought your phone at full price and have paid your bill, and don’t have an item that’s been reported stolen or lost. If your phone was introduced before the year 2015, Sprint won’t help. Sprint does not support unlocking older phones.
- Verizon The task is simple. Most phones are unlocked after you’ve paid for them in addition, all 4G LTE devices are locked.
- T-Mobile If you want to prove that you’ve been using the T-Mobile phone for at least 40 days, bought the phone and paid for your charges. Additionally, you’ll need to provide the proof of the purchase.
These are rules that are specific, and, clearly, they differ from one company to the next. However, cellular companies have arranged to print out their rules and distribute them to their customers. They could be part of your welcome packet of paperwork included with your cell phone or you may see the regulations on the company’s website.
What if You Bought a Locked Phone?
The convenience of purchasing a phone online could save you quite a sum of money, but certain phones you purchase online come with locks in place. If you try using these phones, you’ll be greeted with unusual warnings regarding incompatibility as well as the requirement to call an operator.
It can be difficult however, with a bit of effort and perseverance it is possible to reach the best solution.
Check with your carrier first and bring along any documentation from the purchase. It could be enough to convince the carrier to unlock your phone.
For instance, Sprint will unlock eligible phones when you supply the name or full bank account of the prior owner. These pieces of information show that you bought the phone from a trusted source If the phone is qualified for the unlock program Sprint will take care of the task without cost.
However, be aware that not all companies do the identical. Certain carriers are worried about fraud and aren’t willing to take on the risk of unlocking a phone to an unintentional user.
If that’s the case it’s time to contact an unrelated firm in order to unblock your device. In most cases, there’s an additional cost.
What Do Third-Party Companies Do?
A third-party firm has access to codes for software from several, most or all major mobile carriers. They’ll still monitor the condition of your phone to safeguard against fraud and theft however, they’re motivated by the need to unlock your phone since that’s how they earn profits. You might not have as many hoops to cross.
A few third-party firms require you to bring your phone to them so that they can complete the task in person. Some companies will send you the code electronically and can guide them through all the procedures to install the code yourself.
Whatever option you pick you’ll need an IMEI. The company will sift the number through databases to verify it’s not connected to fraud or theft and if they pass the test, you’ll receive an unlock code.
Prices for this service can vary depending on the phone you have. Quick online research indicates that the following prices are for 2019 unlocking by phone maker:
- Apple phones: $32
- Samsung: $25
- Motorola: $23
- Nokia: $18
They’re not outrageously expensive in light of the fact that these charges will permit you to connect your phone to any provider.
Be sure to work with a reliable firm. Criminals can search for your IMEI so they are able to identify stolen phones to be used. It’s a complex tech hack that could cause your phone to become inoperable. When you give away your device and that valuable bit of data, be sure you’re working with a reliable company that will handle your belongings with attention.