SIM unlocking a smartphone—or any phone, for that matter, is by no means illegal. Telecommunications companies SIM restrict their phones or tablets to ensure sole and exclusive use for their networks. This is done because the devices they sell are subsidized as part of a contract or subscription.
However, SIM unlocking a device may violate the terms of a contract you may have signed or agreed upon with your carrier or service provider. As a consequence, you can be held accountable for whatever penalties are outlined in the contract. In some cases, your service may be cut off.
How To SIM Unlock a Phone
- Know Your IMEI/MEID
SIM unlocking your device is not rocket science. To SIM unlock your phone, first, you’re going to need to know your device’s International Mobile Identity code, more commonly known as IMEI for GSM devices, or Mobile Equipment Identifier code, more commonly known as MEID, for Code-Division Multiple Access (CDMA) devices.
The IMEI/MEID is your phone’s identity number. Every device is registered with this code for identification and control purposes. Here are three ways to find your IMEI/MEID:
- IMEI/MEID can be found on a sticker on the original box of your device. If you’ve already disposed of the box, you can check for the sticker on your device located under the battery pack.
- To find this code on your device, simply go to ‘settings’ and look for ‘about phone/device.’ This will then display several device information such as the device name, model number, legal information, and status. Under status, you will find your IMEI/MEID code.
- The location of this code may vary depending on the device. But for easier access to your IMEI/MEID, just dial *#06# on your device.
- You can call your provider’s customer service hotline and ask for the code.
- Contact Your Provider
For prepaid subscribers, a device can be eligible for SIM unlocking six months after its activation date. Postpaid subscribers, on the other hand, will not be eligible until the first year of their contract or subscription. Subscribers will then be notified once their devices are ready for SIM unlocking.
Once a subscriber receives the notification, SIM unlocking can be requested via the customer service hotline. They will then remotely SIM unlock the device, provide unlocking procedures, or send an unlocking chip; SIM unlocking procedures may vary between devices, and the rules may also vary between providers or companies.
A SIM-locked phone can be a hassle to some subscribers, especially for those who often travel to different countries where the provider’s mobile service may be unavailable.
For this reason, some subscribers are obliged to pay for their devices outright; or, in some cases, the entire subscription period.
- Unlock Via Third Party
Third-party companies, such as Mobile Unlocked, offer online SIM unlocking services that can be done remotely via the device’s IMEI/MEID code with methods that don’t require technical skills. They can help you unlock any device from any carrier in just a few seconds for a very low amount compared to paying for a device or subscription outright.
SIM Unlocked Devices
A SIM unlocked device tends to costs more to buy outright. However, doing so will be more convenient for you because it will work with any SIM card from any provider in any region or country as long as the SIM provided to you operates on the same network as your devices, such as GSM or CDMA.
With that being said, you can switch between providers to get the lowest plan cost or use a local SIM card when you travel to a different country. Moreover, it will be easier for you to sell your device in case you need to—especially if you want to upgrade or just get a new phone.
While SIM unlocking is not illegal per se, there may be consequences, such as getting your service cut off if this activity violates the terms of any contract you signed or agreed upon with your service provider.
To SIM unlock a device, you just need to obtain the IMEI/MEID code from your device or the box that it came with or from your provider’s customer service operator. You can then request SIM unlocking if your device is deemed eligible. Another option is to get your device unlocked by a third-party company.
Although buying SIM unlocked devices may cost you more, it will be more useful for you as you will be able to use your device the way it was manufactured—for use with any provider.