How to unlock your cell phone with all major carriers

Other reasons to know if your phone is unlocked: You are ready to take that bucket list trip to Europe and want to rent a SIM card while you are there because it will likely be much cheaper than roaming charges over there. abroad with your current operator. Or maybe you’ve bought a new phone and want to make sure your old one is unlocked to sell it.

Here’s how to determine if your phone is unlocked and how to request that it be unlocked from your carrier. The answers vary depending on the type of phone you have and the carrier you are on.

Carriers previously had two standards. Verizon used CDMA, which stands for Code Division Multiple Access, while AT&T and T-Mobile used GSM, Global System for Mobiles.

But most phones made after 2010 are “dual band” and have been able to work on either network as cell phone companies have expanded their 4G LTE networks. Operators will shut down their CDMA and GSM networks at various times in 2022 as they are 3G bands, so be aware that at some point in the next year you will stop being able to use any CDMA or GSM only phones. .

How? ‘Or’ What To tell if your telephone is unblocked

If you bought your phone without a SIM card, for example direct from the manufacturer or a big box store rather than by contract or from a phone retailer, it is probably already unlocked. Unlocked phones are more common than ever before, but if you’re not sure, here’s what to do:

The easiest way to find out is to insert a SIM card from another carrier to see if you can make a call.

Open a paperclip and use it to eject a SIM card from a friend or family member’s phone. Look for a small pinhole at the top, side, or bottom of the phone. A SIM card is small and can be difficult to hold, so be careful not to drop it. Unless it’s a very old SIM card, which is larger, your friend’s SIM card should fit in the SIM tray of your existing phone. If you need help, walkthroughs are available online.

No signal? Your phone is probably locked. But to make sure, restart it and repeat the steps.

You may see a message asking for a SIM unlock code. This means that your device is locked to the carrier it was originally purchased from.

If you don’t have access to another SIM card, you can take your phone to an operator store or a mall kiosk and tell them you want to know if your phone is unlocked. You don’t have to say that you are considering joining their service. Just be honest and say you’re not sure yet and would be happy to consider their business.

Other manners To see if your telephone is unblocked

An iPhone has an easy way to tell if it’s unlocked, but you need to be running iOS 14 or newer. To find out which version of the operating system you are using, go Settings | General | On | Software Version.

To see if your iPhone is unlocked, go to Settings | General | On. If you see the phrase “No SIM restriction” next to Locking the transporter, your phone is unlocked.

If you are using Android, try a different SIM card or call your carrier. The operator representative will likely ask you for your phone’s International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, a unique code associated with your device. Android devices vary, but you can dial * # 06 # and it will be displayed on your phone screen. Or Google your phone’s name and “how to find IMEI” to see where to find it in settings.

You can also call the carrier you plan to switch to and ask if they have a database of IMEI numbers showing which phones are compatible with this network or if they are unlocked.

Beware of apps and websites that claim to tell you if your phone is unlocked. These are not free and are not accurate. Do not bother.

How? ‘Or’ What To to open a telephone

If your phone is locked, be aware that operators are required to unlock your phone as long as it has been paid in full and your account is in good standing. Instead of offering you a flat-rate discount when you buy a device, some carriers spread the credits out over several months. Ask, but you’ll likely have to wait until those account credits have expired for your business to unlock your phone.

The process can take up to two business days. Once done, you are free to transfer the phone to another wireless carrier.

The major carriers have a few differences in their processes, but the methods are similar:

AT&T. As long as you have your phone with AT&T for at least 60 days, go to the AT&T Unlock page and select Unlock your device. You will receive a confirmation email with the unlock request number. Click the link in the email within 24 hours to verify it’s you. AT&T says it will respond within two business days to confirm your phone is unlocked. More information here: AT&T SIM Card Unlock Policy.

Sprint. Like Verizon, Sprint says it automatically unlocks your device within two days of being eligible, typically after 60 days. If it’s technically not possible for Sprint to unlock your device remotely, you will receive a notification with the next steps to complete the unlocking process. More information here: Sprint SIM Unlock Policy. Be aware that Sprint has merged with T-Mobile, but not all policies and systems for every company are the same yet.

T Mobile. Unlock a phone connected to T-Mobile by going to the T-Mobile unlock page and following the steps depending on the type of phone you have. As long as your postpaid account is in good standing and you have had your postpaid phone for at least 40 days, T-Mobile will unlock your phone within two business days. More information here: T-Mobile SIM unlock policy.

Cellular. The operator says your postpaid device will be locked to their network for 120 days after activation, and then automatically unlocked if your account is in good standing. No further action is required on your part. If your account is not in good standing, here is some information on what to do next.

Verizon. As long as you have a phone with Verizon within the past 60 days, your phone will be automatically unlocked. You don’t have to do anything more. If you want to confirm that your phone is unlocked, dial * 611 from the device to chat with someone. More information here: Verizon SIM Unlock Policy.

Marc Saltzman is a contributing writer who covers personal technology. His work also appears in United States today and other national publications. He hosts the podcast series Tech It Out and is the author of several books, including Apple Watch for Dummies and Siri for dummies.