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How Do I Know if My Cell Phone is Unlocked?
10th Mar 2020 /
by Wilson Amplifiers / Comments

How Do I Know if My Cell Phone is Unlocked?

how do I know if my cell phone is unlocked

Is There Any Way to Know if My Phone is Unlocked?

Cell phone service carriers want your business, and they don’t want to lose it. Many carriers offer extravagant deals and discounts on cell phones to get you signed up on their plans — and “locking” these phones is their insurance policy to keep you from bouncing to a competitor’s service once you’ve secured that great deal on your device.

Solve Weak Signal in Any Situation:

What does it mean to unlock a phone?

A locked cell phone is just like it sounds: software keeps it locked into one single carrier (like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Cricket, Boost, Straight Talk, etc.). One reason for this practice is that it protects the buyer from theft of their new phone. It also, however, tethers that phone to the service provider from which it was purchased. Unlocking this device removes this software, and makes the phone eligible for use on other networks.


So how do I know if my phone is locked?

If you signed up for a payment plan to receive your new phone, chances are it’s locked. But if your device has been paid in full, especially directly from a retailer like the Apple Store, it may be unlocked. The FCC requires each carrier to disclose its unlocking policy clearly and concisely on its website — and those carriers must unlock mobile wireless devices or provide the means to unlock their devices once their conditions have been met. These conditions may vary from carrier to carrier, but usually include the fulfillment of payment plans and/or service contracts (an early termination fee may be required of the contract is being cut short).


Is my iPhone unlocked?

Navigate your way to Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data.

If you see Cellular Data Options as a category, then your phone is likely unlocked.


Is my Android phone unlocked?

Navigate your way to Settings > Connections > Mobile Networks > Network Operators.

If a network, like “Verizon” or “T-Mobile” appears under Network Operators, your phone may be unlocked.

While these methods are simple, they may not provide ironclad proof. For further confirmation, switch your SIM card out for another carrier’s SIM card. Make a phone call — if it connects, your phone is indeed unlocked.

When in doubt, contact your service provider. They are legally required to provide this information in a timely manner (within two business days).


How to unlock a phone for any carrier

If you purchased your cell phone on an installment plan, you’ll need to pay it off in full before you can take the steps to unlock it. Once you’ve passed this milestone — kudos to you! — follow these steps to unlock your iPhone or Android phone.

AT&T phone unlock request:

Your phone must first meet eligibility requirements, including (but not limited to):

  • Must not be reported lost, stolen, or suspected of fraudulent activities
  • Completed contract or installment plan
  • Device isn’t active on another account
  • Your service must be active for at least 60 days with no past due or unpaid balance

To submit your AT&T phone unlock request:

  1. Visit att.com/deviceunlock/ > select Unlock your device (There is also an option to check your unlock status here)
  2. Read and agree to the eligibility requirements > Complete and submit the form
  3. You'll then receive a confirmation email with the unlock request number. Click through the email link within 24 hours of receipt to confirm (failure to do so within the time period will cancel the request)
  4. AT&T will respond within two business days to update you on the status of your unlock request. If approved, they’ll send you instructions for unlocking your device and inserting a new SIM card

Verizon phone unlock request:

Verizon phones are locked for 60 days after purchase or activation. After 60 days, the device is automatically unlocked, and will never be locked again.

T-Mobile phone unlock request:

Your phone must first meet eligibility requirements, including (but not limited to):

  • Must be a T-Mobile device
  • Must not be reported lost, stolen, suspected of fraudulent activities, or blocked by T-Mobile
  • Account must be in good standing
  • Must have been active on the T‑Mobile network for at least 40 days on the requesting line

If your device meets these requirements, then you can contact T-Mobile Customer Service to request an unlock code and receive further instruction.

Sprint unlock phone request:

Your phone must first meet eligibility requirements, including (but not limited to):

  • Must be SIM Unlock capable.
  • Must not be reported lost, stolen, or suspected of fraudulent activities
  • Completed contract or installment plan
  • Account must be in good standing
  • Must have been active on the Sprint network for at least 50 days

If all requirements are fulfilled, Sprint will automatically unlock postpaid devices when they become eligible. Sprint Forward customers must contact Customer Care to request their unlock.

Straight Talk phone unlock request:

Your phone must first meet eligibility requirements, including (but not limited to):

  • Must be capable of being unlocked
  • Straight Talk will provide customers with a partial refund or credit against the purchase of a new Straight Talk phone if they meet certain criteria
  • Must not be reported lost, stolen, or suspected of fraudulent activities
  • Account must be in good standing
  • Must have been active on the Straight Talk network for at 12 months
  • Non-customers may be charged an unlocking fee

If your device meets these requirements, then you can contact customer support to request an unlocking code.

Cricket phone unlock request:

Your phone must first meet eligibility requirements, including (but not limited to):

  • The device is designed for use on and is locked to Cricket's network
  • Must not be reported lost or stolen
  • Device is not associated with a fraudulent account
  • Must have been active for at least 6 months of paid service

If your device meets these requirements, then you can log in to your account to unlock your phone, or contact customer support.


Does an unlocked phone work on any carrier?

Potentially, yes. But be warned, it is possible that a device made to operate with one carrier may not be technologically compatible with another provider’s network. Carriers utilize different frequencies and technologies to provide access to their network, so each phone is made to operate at peak performance with said network. An unlocked phone simply disables the software that’s blocking it from switching providers. While some functionality is possible, there is a chance that your phone might not operate at its highest capacity after switching. Because of this, most carriers include a disclaimer on their websites.


Can a carrier lock your unlocked phone?

Once a phone is unlocked, a carrier will not re-lock it.


Will Unlocking My Phone Help With My Poor Signal?

It can, but you'll incur roaming fees. The best way to improve your signal is to purchase and install a cell phone signal booster.

How to Improve Weak Cell Phone Signal


Wilson Amplifiers is the leading provider of cell phone signal boosters. Cell phone boosters amplify cell signal for any phone for any carrier for home, office, or vehicle.

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