How to Unlock Network Locked Phone? – The Ultimate Guide

These days most of the mobile phones in the States are sold locked to a specific network carrier. This arrangement has numerous limitations that most people want to get rid of. The benefits of unlocking network locked phone are discussed later in this article below.

But before that let’s explore the legality of unlocking a phone, what are the prerequisites, and ways to unlock the network locked phone successfully for more freedom and flexibility.

Is it legal to unlock network locked phone?

Yes, it is totally legal to unlock your phone from an existing network. The only risk associated with unlocking is it will invalidate you warranty with the original network.

So, it is best and safest to call and ask you network provider to unlock your phone. Whether they will charge for it and how fast and readily they unlock it completely depends on your carrier’s policy.

Check if the phone is already unlocked

Before we proceed with the unlocking process it is very important to find out whether your smartphone is already network unlocked or not. To check this, follow the steps below –

  1. Switch off the phone and take out the existing SIM from the sim tray.
  2. Now put another SIM from another carrier into your phone.
  3. Switch on your phone and see if it connects to the new carrier or try to make a test call if required.

If your phone connects or the test call is successful then your mobile phone is already network unlocked. No need to proceed further.

In case it doesn’t, then there are few prerequisites to unlock your phone’s network.

Prerequisites to Unlock Network on Phone

IMEI Number – It is a 15 – 17 digit unique code assigned to all mobile phones for its identification. You need to find it for your phone. In order to get that –

  • Dial *#06# on your phone and IMEI number will be displayed.
IMEI number
  • Or go to your phone’s Settings > About Phone. The IMEI will be listed there.

Once you have the IMEI number note it down.

Model Number – You can find the model number of your phone in –

  • Under the original mobile phone’s box.
  • Or in Settings > About Phone > Mobile Number

Note it down too.

Service Provider – To find out the service provider of the SIM you received with your phone, insert the SIM in the phone and check which service provider it connects to, and note it down as well.

How to Unlock Network Locked Phone?

Basically, there are two ways by which you can unlock network locked SIM card.

  1. Talk to your current network provider.
  2. Use a third-party unlocking service.

Talk to your Existing Network Provider

This is the safest, best, and easiest way to unlock your network locked SIM card. Here is what you need to do –

  • Straight talk to customer service and explain why you need to unlock your phone. Here are few popular network provider numbers –
    • For AT&T, call 1-800-331-0500 or fill out an unlock request online at
    • For Sprint, call 1-888-211-4727
    • For T-Mobile, call 1-877-746-0909
    • For Verizon, call 1-800-711-8300 and ask for a SIM unlock.
  • Follow their step-by-step instructions and enter the provided code to unlock for free.
  • Pay the unlock fee if they ask for it. Though payment policies vary from carrier to carrier.

If the carrier unlocks for you then you are all set. But at times, some carriers refuse to give you the unlock code if you are still under their service contract or owe them money. In that case, third-party service providers are the best alternatives.

Use Third-party Unlocking Service

Numerous third-party providers offer legal unlocking services for your phone. They are fast, convenient, and can unlock phones from any carrier.

Here are few low-cost providers to consider –


Here’s how to use their services –

  • Visit their website and search your phone model from the list.
  • Select your original carrier and enter the IMEI number when prompted.
  • Pay the unlock fee as per your model and follow the instructions.
  • Once done, you will receive an unlock code on your email ID. Usually within 1-3 days.
  • Use that to unlock your phone.

In case you fail to unlock your network locked phone, you can always ask for a refund.

Also Read: How to Easily Unlock Android SIM Card In Simple Steps!

How to use unlock code provided by the phone carrier to unlock the phone?

Once you have the unlock code by either of the above-mentioned methods, it’s time to use it to unlock the phone. Follow the steps below to do the same.

  • Switch off your smartphone.
  • Take out the SIM tray and insert the carrier’s SIM card you have unlocked.
  • Power on the phone and wait for the “SIM Network unlock PIN” screen.
SIM Network unlock PIN
“SIM Network unlock PIN” Screen
  • Now insert the unlock code you received from the carrier and tap “Unlock”.
  • On success, you will get “Network unlock successful” message.

Verify if the phone is Unlocked

Once all is done it’s time to verify whether your phone is unlocked successfully or not. To do so follow the steps below –

  1. Switch off the phone and insert the SIM of the carrier you have unlocked.
  2. Power on your phone and look for the carrier’s name at the top of the phone screen.
  3. Try to make a test call and see if you are able to connect with the recipient.

If the phone is working properly with the unlocked SIM, you can rest assured that you have successfully unlocked it.

Benefits of Unlocking Network Locked Phone

There are several benefits of unlocking network locked phone.

  • Travel freely anywhere as after unlock you can use local GSM SIM cards easily.
  • You can switch between the carriers effortlessly.
  • Sell your phone at a higher price as after unlock it is compatible with all networks.
  • You can easily modify your phone without any restrictions from the carrier.

The only risk associated with unlocking the phone using an unauthorized method is it may damage the phone or void the phone’s warranty with the carrier.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I get a network unlock code for free?

Yes, why not. If your contract with the carrier is over and there are no dues left, most of the network providers will unlock your device for free.

How much does it cost to unlock a phone?

Majority of the carriers will unlock your device for free if your contract and dues are all clear. Although policies vary from carrier to carrier. Some might charge a small fee ranging from $10 - $30. In case you have opted for third-party service, then the cost will range from $10 - $50 or even more.

How long does it take to unlock a phone?

Typically, carriers will process your unlock request within 1- 5 days. Third-party services can take anywhere from few minutes to 3 days.

Can I unlock my phone network by myself?

Yes, if you have the unlock code from the carrier you can unlock the device by yourself. For the code that you received from third-party service, you need to connect your phone to a computer using a data cable and run the software to unlock it.

What if my carrier is not unlocking my phone?

If your carrier is not unlocking the phone then you must understand the reason behind it and try to meet their requirement and try again. Apart from that you always have the option of third-party unlocking services mentioned in the article above.