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How to Unlock a Cellphone or Smartphone

By: Ed Grabianowski & Talon Homer  | 

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Unlock Cell Phone FAQ

Can I unlock my phone myself?
For some phones, you simply have to enter a numeric code into the phone. Smartphones, however, can be more difficult to unlock by yourself and result in a software crack if you're not careful. If you want to unlock your phone, it's best to start by calling your carrier and asking them if they can do it for you.
Can you put any SIM card into an unlocked phone?
Yes, you can put any SIM card into an unlocked phone and it will then work with whatever phone number and account is linked to that card.
Does an unlocked phone work with any carrier?
Yes, it will work with any carrier that operates on a GSM network, which requires you to have a SIM card. If a carrier uses CDMA, like Verizon and Sprint, you may not be able to use your unlocked phone with them.
How do I know if my iPhone is unlocked?
There are a few ways to check this. Find a friend whose phone you know is unlocked, put their SIM card in your phone, and then call your friend's number from another phone. If your phone rings, your phone is unlocked. If your phone generates an error message, it's locked. Call your provider to ask if your phone is unlocked. They'll be able to tell you either way. You can also check on your phone by going to Settings > Cellular. If you see a "Cellular Data Network" option, your iPhone is unlocked.
Are unlocked cell phones worth buying?
Unlocked cell phones tend to cost more to buy outright, however, there are lots of benefits that make it worth it. You can switch between carriers to get the lowest plan cost, swap out the SIM card for a local one when you travel internationally, and sell your phone privately — often for more money — when you're ready for an upgrade.