Is My Phone Unlocked? Your Burning Questions About Phone Unlocking Answered
If you’ve ever tried to switch wireless providers or use your phone abroad, you’ve probably had your share of headaches dealing with your current carrier. Phone companies are notorious for locking customers in to long, complicated contracts and (literally) locking their phones so they can’t take their business elsewhere. Fortunately, wireless providers in Canada and the US are now required to unlock your phone (at least temporarily) if you wish — but some providers still have complicated rules and restrictions.
At Cellunlocker, our mission is to make unlocking your phone as easy as possible. It’s your phone, after all; you should be able to use it whenever, wherever and however you choose. But if you don’t know where to start, it can be tricky to tell if your phone is unlocked in the first place. Whether you’re selling your phone, planning to travel or looking to switch networks, here’s how to tell if your phone is unlocked and what to do if it isn’t.
How to tell if your phone is unlocked
Check your settings
You have all the tools to discover if your phone is unlocked right in your pocket — yep, on your phone. For iPhone, go to Settings> Cellular> Cellular Data. If you see a tab for “Cellular Data Options,” it likely means your phone is unlocked. On Android, go to Settings> Connections> Mobile Networks> Network Operators. If network options appear, your phone is probably unlocked. Keep in mind this method isn’t foolproof, so it’s always best to double check with one of the methods below to be sure if your phone is unlocked.
Try switching SIM cards
A simple way to tell if your phone is unlocked is to try swapping out your SIM card for someone else’s. Simply borrow a SIM card from a friend and put it into your phone. If you’re able to make calls (or do anything else with your phone that requires a network connection), it means your phone is unlocked and will work with a SIM card from another company, both at home and worldwide.
Call your provider
A quick phone call to your wireless provider will tell you whether your phone is unlocked or not. If your phone isn’t unlocked, they’ll also be able to tell you how to unlock it. While all US and Canadian companies have to unlock your phone for free, the rules can still vary. Some US companies will make you wait until you’ve reached a certain point in your contract before allowing you to unlock your phone. Likewise, they may also only accept new customers with carrier-specific phones. In Canada, all new phones must be sold unlocked and companies must offer unlocking services. Many carriers will only unlock phones for existing customers.
How to get your phone unlocked
Contact your carrier
As we’ve mentioned, every carrier has its own rules for unlocking phones. In Canada, your phone simply needs to be in good standing and not be reported as lost or stolen. In the US, things get a little more complicated. Here’s how to unlock your phone with major wireless providers in the US:
To unlock an AT&T phone, your device must have been active for at least 60 days, have no unpaid balance, have a completed contract, and not be reported as lost or stolen. AT&T will only unlock devices that work on the AT&T network, but you do not need to be an existing customer. To submit a request, click here. For full eligibility requirements, click here.
To unlock a MetroPCS phone, your device must have been active for at least 180 consecutive days and it must be a MetroPCS phone. Certain devices can be unlocked via an app. Read the full unlock policy on the MetroPCS website.
To unlock a T-Mobile phone, your account must be in good standing, your device cannot be reported as lost or stolen, and it must be a T-Mobile device. Rules vary for pre- and post-paid plans, so make sure to read the unlock requirements for your phone before contacting T-Mobile Support to submit a request.
To unlock a Sprint phone, your device must have been active on the Sprint network for at least 50 days, your account must be in good standing, and your device cannot be reported as lost or stolen. Read the full eligibility requirements on Sprint’s website.
Use a third-party unlocking service
Wireless carriers (especially in the US) make you jump through a lot of hoops to unlock your phone. If you’re going on vacation and need your phone unlocked ASAP, or if you’re looking to up your phone’s resale value, a third-party unlocking service can get the job done quickly. At Cellunlocker, we’re fast, reliable and offer the lowest price guaranteed. We unlock phones from most popular carriers in Canada and the US and most devices from Acer to ZTE.
Ready to unlock your phone? Contact us and we’ll make sure you’re free to roam, text and browse on your terms.