Before you can use your mobile phone with a different provider or a SIM only provider, you may have to unlock it. Unlocking a phone is the process of removing the technical barriers that stop users of provider-specific phones from using them with other networks. For instance, if you have an AT&T smartphone and you want to switch to O2 without changing phones, you may need to unlock it first.
Unlocking a phone also has several benefits besides allowing you to switch providers. If you are visiting a foreign country, you can use a SIM that gives you access to a local service. Also, used phones that are unlocked are typically more expensive than locked phones of the same age and condition. In this regard, unlocking your phone increases its resale value in case you ever want to get rid of it.
Today, most devices can be unlocked. However, brand new phones sometimes can’t be unlocked right away. This is because the provider has not yet allowed for them to be unlocked and, because they are so new, no one outside the networks has figured out how to unlock them.
Get outside help
Different phones can come with different methods for unlocking, so there is no tried and true method for all phones. The easiest thing to do is to contact your provider and have them send you a code to unlock the phone. This process is different for each service, and many contracted plans may need to run a complete term or be canceled before you can unlock.
You can also pay a service to unlock your phone for you. With the growth of smartphones and phone technology, more and more companies that unlock phones have sprung up. However, with the multitude of services that are out there, you have to make sure you are picking a reputable one. Don’t become the victim of scammers or viruses.
Do it yourself
You can download software that can help you get the job done yourself. If you decide that you would rather unlock your phone on your own, there are a few things you will need first. You will need to know:
- Your phone number
- The brand and model of your phone
- Your phone’s International Mobile Equipment Identity, or IMEI, which is like a serial number.
To find the IMEI in most phones you can simply dial *#06#* into the keypad and the number will be displayed on screen. This will not work with certain phones on certain networks. If this is the case, try looking on the label on your phone’s battery or, for iPhone users, check in the general settings under “About.”
Remember, just like choosing a service, deciding on software should be a well-researched endeavor. Nefarious software can be a serious issue and wreak havoc on your computer and phone.