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Even though networks might provide a phone for free or at a discount, customers want to use the device as they wish. Unfortunately, when it comes to changing providers people often find themselves locked out of their device unable to use another sim card and unsure of how to regain control over it. Some even abandon their cell phones altogether.

If you find the service of your current provider unsatisfactory, you have the right to switch to something better. When your contract expires, your phone should not be held as ransom for a subscription. No matter what the circumstance, your phone is yours and should be treated as such. This situation is maddening, to say the least, but unfortunately, it continues.

Luckily, there is a better way to go about it than beating your head against the wall and if you too are curious about finding out, keep reading. Reclaiming your phone requires that you get a little tech-savvy and learn the ways of unlocking a phone. And, no it is not illegal to unlock it.

What Do We Mean by Unlocking a Phone? 

Unlocking a phone means that you remove the restrictions placed by the phone service that prevents you from using a rival network on the device. Carriers are able to ensure that no other company sims work on a device by limiting them to accept only certain International Mobile Subscriber Identities (IMSIs), namely theirs.

Is Your Phone Locked?

Most of us go about our daily lives unaware of the state of our phones. It is only when a need arises that we find out. To be on the safe side, it is better to know if your phone is locked or unlocked, and since it is easy to find out, whats the harm?

To check whether your phone is locked or unlocked simply place another carriers sim on your device. If you can still place a call, that means your phone in unlocked. If you cant, that means your phone is locked.

Why You Should Get Your Phone Unlocked?

Some dont care whether their phone is locked or not, but even those people would fare better with an unlocked device. There are obvious merits to having an unlocked phone which you can take advantage of.

To start off, you can switch to a better deal offered by another carrier without any hassle. And, you can keep on switching deals to your hearts content. If you travel often or will be taking a trip in the near future, you will be able to use the sims by local carriers. This is sure to save you a ton of money in roaming costs alone.

Whats more, unlocked phones have a higher resale value than their locked counterparts. So, when you are bored with your phone and want to upgrade, you will be able to get a great price for your old phone.

Is It Illegal to Unlock Your Phone?

The question most often asked is: is unlocking your phone illegal?

While it is illegal to unlock any phone you bought through a carrier without their express consent, in January 2013, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) agreed on “voluntary set of six industry principles” that allow you to unlock your mobile devices legally. Keep in mind though that if you bought your phone through a carrier, the carrier wont let you unlock it till you pay for the device in full. So, either get your phone unlocked with your own money, wait until your contract with the carrier is up or, be ready to dish out the full amount.

Unlocking is legal but, there are some things you should never do when getting it unlocked.

What Not To Do?

You should steer clear of private repair shops when it comes to unlocking your phone. Why? Well, simply to unlock a phone these businesses require access to your device, and given the kind of data people keep including bank information, it just isnt safe. It is a compromise on security that you just cant afford.

Another dangerous thing people fall prey to is going on the web for a free tool that promises to unlock their phones. These scams and have malware that compromises your security. Sure, its tempting but simply not a risk worth taking.

How to Unlock A Phone?

With that out of the way, let us get to the big question: how to unlock your phone. While the process in itself is easy, the confusion lies in understanding what system your device uses, and finding carrier-specific instructions for the phone. Worry not, however, we have broken it all down to make it easier for you.

The first thing you must ask yourself is if the provider your using and that provider you moving to uses CDMA or GSM technology. If you have a CDMA phone, it wont work on a GSM network and vice versa. Then again, some phones support both technologies in which case your good to go. Just be sure to check for this though before you change your carrier. Verizon and Sprint use CDMA while T-Mobile and AT&T use GSM technology.

When it comes to unlocking, GSM devices are easier to unlock as compared to their CDMA counterparts. This is because the providers maintain a unique database detailing which device can work on their network. For CDMA you must acquire permission from your current carrier to unlock from their network and permission to use your phone on their network from the carrier you want to switch to. Bear in mind though that a CDMA provider is not obligated to allow you to use their network just because it is compatible. So be prepared to for all the hassle coming your way.

Here is how to unlock a phone for free by the provider. Just find the one you use, and read on! Well, start with the easier ones that use GSM technology.

 

Unlocking an AT&T phone

With access to the provider website or your AT&T account, unblocking an AT&T phone is the easiest. What you need is your phones IMEI number, your account information including your name, phone number, account number, and password. And, an ATT unlock request form. Got it? Well, then just follow the next three steps:

They are that it. A representative of the company will get in touch with you in two business days in this regard.

Unlocking a T-Mobile phone

To unlock a T-Mobile, make sure your phone is eligible for unlocking and that you have your IMEI number and account information with you. Then, just follow the following steps:

Alternatively, some devices have the T-Mobile Device Unlock app. You can get the process directly through the device and request the code. So if your phone supports that, then get the app.

You should bear in mind that you are allowed to two unlocks per line, each year with T-Mobile so make sure this is indeed what you want to do.

Unlocking a Sprint phone

Sprint makes a distinction with domestic locks and international and military locks so make sure you know where your phone belongs. You can check the unlocking requirement for Sprint to find out. This will also guide you on which customer service number you should call, domestic or international.

To unlock, you will need your Sprint account information and your devices IMEI number. Call Sprint customer support and give them the details needed. They give you a code to unlock it. 

Unlocking a Verizon phone

With Verizon, your phone is locked for the first 60 days after which it automatically unlocks. If you bought a phone prior to this policy change in July 2019, your phone should have been unlocked before purchase. If your phone is locked, however can Verizon customer service, and they will guide you.

Unlocking a Spectrum Mobile

Spectrum Mobile is a popular choice for the internet. Its an affordable option that offers coverage like no other. When it comes to unlocking a Spectrum phone though, it gets a little tricky: is it CDMA or GSM? Well, it uses the Verizon network to provide its services so it is CDMA. As far as unlocking a phone goes, the process is simple.

Contact Spectrum customer service to unlock your device. Youll be required to provide details of your account as well as the IMEI number. Once done, they will give you an unlock code. There that your phone is unlocked. Now you can continue using Spectrum internet or move to another carrier.

Final Words

There you go, wasnt it easy? After reading this you will be able to unlock any phone that comes your way. Now go ahead, enjoy your freedom!