The Top Benefits of Unlocking Your Carrier-Locked Phone: The ability to transfer carriers whenever you want is one of the advantages of owning an unlocked phone. You can obtain the greatest rates and coverage this way (or even use two providers on the same phone if you have both a physical SIM card and an eSIM—more on that here). There are, however, other advantages.
If you think you’ll want to sell your phone in the future, an unlocked phone will usually fetch a higher price because the buyer can use whatever carrier network they like (freedom is always a selling point). Unlocked phones are especially beneficial to international travelers because they can be used with any foreign carrier that supports your phone’s technology. You will be able to pay local rates instead of roaming charges. If you haven’t yet purchased a phone, another advantage of going with an unlocked phone is that you’ll be able to choose from a wider range of models than what your current carrier offers. More options are always a good thing.
One thing to keep in mind is that just because a phone is unlocked doesn’t mean it will function with every carrier. It also depends on whether your phone is compatible with a GSM or CDMA network. Most new phone models are compatible with both cellular networks, but older phones may only be compatible with one of them. In reality, the network with which your phone is compatible may make unlocking your phone more difficult or easier. GSM-compatible phones are easier to unlock. However, CDMA-compatible phones can be more difficult to switch carriers due to the fact that several big wireless carriers have their own databases and networks.
How to Check If Your Phone is Unlocked?
You can double-check whether your phone is unlocked in a few ways:
Your phone is probably unlocked if you have a prepaid or pay-as-you-go plan.
Examine your cellular network’s settings.
For Android devices:
- Go to the Settings menu.
- Select Connections from the drop-down menu.
- Navigate to Networks (or Mobile Networks or Cellular Networks)
- Choose from a list of network operators. If you see available networks, your phone is most likely unlocked. If only one or no networks appear, your phone is most likely locked.
Check your cellular network’s settings.
- Go to the Settings menu.
- Press the cellular button.
- Your iPhone is unlocked if you see a cellular data option under the Cellular menu.
- If Cellular Data Network isn’t listed as an option, it’s still locked.
- To find out if your phone is unlocked, contact your wireless provider. If your phone is locked and you need it unlocked, you can ask them to do so while they verify your phone’s status. You’ll only need to enter your IMEI number, which can be found by dialing #06# on your phone. You can also ask at your carrier’s store, or see if they offer a website or app where you can look up this information.
- You may also see if your phone is unlocked by swapping SIM cards, either borrowing one from a friend or requesting a new one, such as the one that comes with a free trial with a specific provider. Here’s how to use a new SIM card to try it out:
- Turn your phone off and remove the current SIM card. Your SIM card’s placement varies on every device, but you should be able to remove it with a SIM ejector tool. The SIM tray panel will open if you press down on it.
- Take out your current SIM card and replace it with a new one from another provider. Return your phone to its original state.
- Your phone is locked to your carrier if it asks for a code to unlock your SIM. If you can use your phone normally and make phone calls, it’s unlocked.
How can I get my phone unlocked?
If you’ve just learned that your phone is locked, you might be wondering how to unlock it. When you’re ready to unlock your phone, contact your existing carrier (or go to their shop or website) and ask to have it unlocked. This usually entails supplying your account password as well as your IMEI number. Some carriers even offer apps that can help you with this.
Unlocking your phone may be subject to additional terms and restrictions. If you have a prepaid handset, you should be qualified within one year of activation, as long as you meet the time, payment, and use conditions. After you’ve completed the applicable service contract, completed the device installment plan, or paid an early termination fee, you can usually unlock your postpaid device. To unlock your phone in either situation, you’ll normally need to have an account in good standing, which implies no outstanding bills (or illegal usage).