How to unlock a phone locked to Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, or T-Mobile
Why would I want to unlock my device?
Locked phones can only be used on the network of the carrier that locked them. Once unlocked, a phone (or even a cellular-enabled tablet) can connect to any carrier's frequency-compatible network, once provided with a working SIM card. This enables subscribers to easily switch between carriers. And we're not talking only about service providers in the U.S. If you ever go abroad, you're free to get a local carrier's SIM card and use their services with your unlocked phone instead of paying roaming charges.
unlocking a phone does not make it technically compatible with any carrier within the U.S., let alone worldwide. Compatibility depends on the frequencies and bands that a carrier provides their voice and data services, as well as on which frequencies and bands your phone can technically operate on.However,
How do I tell if my phone is locked to a carrier?
If you bought your phone from a carrier's store, then it is most likely locked. Same goes for carrier-branded phones sold via retailers and online stores. Still, there's a relatively easy way of checking whether or not that's the case. Simply swap your SIM card with one from another carrier – you can probably borrow one from a friend or relative. If the phone works fine with your buddy's SIM card, then great success! That means your phone isn't locked. If it doesn't, then read on to learn how to unlock your handset.
What are the requirements for having a phone unlocked?
The conditions you have to meet in order to have your phone unlocked for free may differ slightly from one carrier to another. Yet in general, it boils down to the following:
- The price of the phone must have been fully paid. All service commitments and installment plans must be complete. All early termination fees (if any apply) must be paid in full.
- Your account with the carrier must be in good standing.
- Carriers only unlock phones tied to their own network. Don't ask AT&T to unlock a T-Mobile phone or vice versa.
- The phone must not be flagged as lost, stolen, blocked, or associated with fraudulent activity.
How to unlock an AT&T phone
How to unlock a Verizon phone
For more details, read Verizon's device unlocking policy.
How to unlock a Sprint phone
For more details, read Sprint's device unlocking policy.