When we talk about unlocking a phone, we mean being able to carry over your perfectly good phone to a new network. Whether you find yourself moving to a new area or hunting down a better deal, you may not be willing to get a new phone from this other carrier when the one you have works just fine.
You won’t always have to get a new phone, but there are a few things you’ll need to know before attempting to unlock your old one for the new network.
First off, not every phone will work. There are two different technologies at play called CDMA or GSM. GSM phones won’t work with a CDMA network and vice versa, so you’ll have to be aware of this information before wasting hours trying to unlock your phone. What you’ll need to know is that Verizon and Sprint carry CDMA phones while AT&T and T-Mobile carry GSM phones.
The second thing to know before diving in is that this process will take you a long time and a lot of phone calls. Try to get your phone unlocked before leaving your old carrier to make the process that much faster.
You’ll need the account holder’s account number and name, the IMEI number on the device, the phone number, the account holder’s password or Social Security number, the contract or payment plan and overseas deployment papers if you’re in the military. Now, let’s begin.
Verizon’s LTE phones are a bit special, as their SIM card slot can take the cards from GSM phones. You’ll just have to set the phone to roaming to make calls or send texts in the United States. If you’re switching, though, you’ll want to call 888-294-6804 and request a SIM unlock since they have no online method.
For postpaid 3G devices, you’ll have to enter a code that’s either 000000 or 123456 to get third-party compatibility. The World Devices, however, require assistance from a store tech, which you can get by calling 800-922-0204. All of their prepaid phones can be unlocked either by entering the codes 000000 or 123456 or by calling support at 888-294-6804.
AT&T fortunately offers an online method of getting your phone unlocked by going to their Device Unlock Portal and filling out the form. You’ll have to currently be with AT&T to do this, and you’ll need to have your current contract paid in full before starting.
The phone must have been active in the last 60 days. You can’t unlock the phone if it was reported lost or stolen or there are other customers on the same account.
Once you fill out the form, AT&T will send instructions via email on how to unlock the phone within the next two business days.
If you had a prepaid phone, you can follow the same method, except the phone has to have been active for the last six months. If you’re in the military, you’ll email AT&T your temporary or permanent change of station documents. The network also offers a phone option in case you want to go that route at 888-211-4727 or for Sprint Forward members at 855-639-4644.
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T-Mobile is very similar to AT&T for the check-off list. Your T-Mobile device must not be reported as lost, stolen or blocked while on an account with good standing that has been active for the last 40 days.
If the phone was on a service contract, 18 consecutive payment months must be paid off. If you have the installment plan or use JUMP! On Demand, the device must be paid in full. T-Mobile may request to see proof of purchase, and you can only unlock two phones per line a year.
If you have all of these things marked off, use the T-Mobile Mobile Device Unlock Android app to get started. You can also unlock the phone via live chat with a T-Mobile customer representative or call 611 from any T-Mobile device. If you don’t have a device with them, call 1-877-746-0909 from any phone.
For Sprint phones, you’ll need the phone to be capable of domestic SIM unlocks and not have been reported lost, stolen, blocked or associated with fraudulent activity. The account must be in good standing with no outstanding payments and have been active for the last 50 days. If your phone is prepaid, the device must have been active for the past 12 months.
For prepaid devices, you’ll have to call 855-639-4644 for Customer Care. Otherwise, you can request an unlock on almost all of their devices by either using their online chat option or calling a customer representative at 888-211-4727. You can also call a customer representative by dialing *2 from any Sprint device.
Unlocking a Phone Is Possible
Don’t be worried about the carrier being suspicious of you. Getting a phone unlocked is a perfectly legal action done every day. As long as you’re the actual owner of the phone, you’ll have nothing to worry about. However, we can’t say the process will be a painless breeze.
Getting phones unlocked usually takes a long time and is sometimes intentionally complicated. Just don’t sweat the little things, and make sure you take the process one step at a time. You’ll get there with your beloved phone still in your hands.
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