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How to network unlock

How can I get a network unlock on my phone

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It depends on the carrier now >_<. Metro/T-Mo uses an app and does not use a code; AT&T PREPAID stole the T-Mo app method on newer phones, so it's a crapshoot BUT usually pretty easy to tell because it has an app called "Device Unlock," but I assume anything new is the app just in case. Verizon is 60 days; for LTE phones, it's usually ~1 year but that's old phones. FCC licensing put Verizon in their place :-).

Sprint is dead, and most of their phones are hard-locked except the GSM part, which was not used here; it was an "international unlock" because they did it to keep their grip on the device. A lot (if not 90%+) of the "non-unlockable" GSM phones went out with the US 3G sunset, so it doesn't matter since they're officially eWaste anyway. For the survivors that predated the 2015 CTIA deal, the same issue applies: T-Mo can't fix boneheaded ideas from years ago.

There was also another ugly issue: anything post-CTIA that can be fully unlocked is a pain because of Sprint's unlock policies; it has always been faster to pay third-party companies to do the dirty work with the IMEI# for you. Of course, this assumes the Sprint radio firmware isn't a PITA to get going on other cellular networks (or they use T-Mo towers to negate the issue).

This doesn't apply to you (thankfully), but it's yet another problem that comes up :-(. LG... Their Sprint phones had custom ROMs and custom cellular radio firmware; almost none of them carry well; they tend to be haphazardly bad on other networks. SprintxLG phones are ALL eWaste :-(. Sprint SKU? Steal the screens and parts off of it and get rid of the cursed motherboard!!! LG bent backward for Sprint and paid the price later... As if they care, they just cared about their bottom line and sales. MOST CARRIERS DO NOT WANT TO DEAL WITH FORMER SPRINT BUILD LGs FOR GOOD REASON; COST AND NETWORK TROUBLE! Some only take them on the condition when they utterly fail, it's YOUR problem.

Generally, Any Sprint phone over three years old is a mess, too. They had their own 5G bands which T-Mo did not use, so they permanently got nerfed into "4G" devices. They wanted the spectrum, not the crappy nightmare phones. However, Sprint phones are excellent trade-in devices unless the phone has standard 5G bands and can be saved from their death grip nightmare (rare).

T-Mo uses the app on nearly all of its phones and pre- and postpaid plans, using the same method as AT&T PREPAID. I have less knowledge of those because the phone is probably ineligible as I got it, and I need to start over on the clock, so I need to pay someone to speed it up. No thanks. Postpaid? NOT HAPPENING: 3.5 years is out of the question, or they are also account-locked as a bonus issue. Verizon automatically unlocks it in 60 days now.

The process per OEM varies. For example, Motorola has many phones that use a "network unlock" procedure like T-Mobile, but it can also vary per original carrier. For example, an ISP MVNO may use a code, while the big three may go either way. Most Motorola phones are so cheap that most people buy them outright. $4-600 seems to be the magic number for phones primarily sold unlocked from the start, or ~$7-800 for most flagships. Apple is just Apple; expect to pay at least $1k+ for a not SE.

At this point, the only way I have a shot at it is if I play the waste bin lottery with family and get my hands on an S22/22+ (which I know is paid off, so I can USE IT) or a phone, which isn't EOL from the same lineup. Once I can do a few, I'll have a better idea. The problem is that they don't buy phones often now due to the cost; by the time I get to them, I'm rebuilding them with used parts due to cost vs. good examples, and the updates stopped a long time ago. I can't squeeze blood out of a stone or make a moist napkin not crumple into shreds, so how can I make a screen my dad broke yet again viable on a 2.5+-year-old phone, which is 40-50% of the way to a good one?

Screens ALWAYS TOTAL OUT SAMSUNG DEVICES, which both are loyal to. As of late, I've only been getting them when the screen is flickering, the glass is busted, and the phone is no longer worth fixing (mostly). See here: How hard is it to restore the water resistance?. I will never have an answer for this dilemma because I do not finance phones; I'll put off the purchase until I can pay directly online (or at Best Buy). For the iPhones, I only buy them at Apple stores. Sometimes, I get them used if the price is right, but I will walk away if it isn't the factory-unlocked version.

They use the support line to catch old-timers who don't know better now, yet dump them at the device's OEM. Service centers have been dead for years.

The rest of us who buy used? We've responded by not skipping ANY locked device on the used market. Either sort this crap out yourself or look for someone else. They have no resale now. Again, the mission is accomplished if you're a carrier franchisee or a corporate store. I've been there: I tried to unlock 3 AT&T PREPAID LTE phones (Moto, one was delayed, and the other was instant). LG was just as bad... 1 good, one delayed; that was it for me. I used to be okay with locked phones with minimal bloatware if the unlock was cheap, but 2 of 3 being a PITA made my mind not to buy it that way. I did look into a used S20 for science purposes, but 3 of them I checked out still had a balance :-(. Nope...

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Should be added that some models of phones (not iPhone), regardless of carrier, may have a "request unlock" feature in the settings. It is usually around Settings > Connections > Network > Advanced, or thereabouts. I find that it is on some models but not others, and I do not know this particular model. But I have seen that option on phones AT&T and Verizon, and successfully used that option to unlock it in about 30 seconds with no phone calls and no apps.

Alternatively, some "locked" phones will let you automatically unlock if you simply try to insert a SIM card from a different carrier. Such as if you have T-Mobile, inserting an AT&T active sim card and restarting the phone could automatically unlock it.


@erelectronics That's mostly a T-Mo thing. They use or embed the Device unlock app or the menu (mostly newer Samsung and OnePlus best I can tell). Most phones use the app, like the 6a I got for parts due to a "financed" IMEI which was actually clean. I paid the $100 troll toll to get the job done. My general rule is the phone needs to be reasonably new... So recent-ish 5G and no more than 4 years old.

Normally I yeet them to the sun after AT&T intentionally went out of their way to delay responding to the 3rd party unlocker, but the 6a was worth playing along.

I will not do it again tho; most of them have a balance and it can't be done :/. My grudge with carrier locking isn't the idea -- it's the stupid waste we can avoid by not giving this junk the time of day and buying GOOD phones. I will throw any phone touched by TracFone and co (and Boost, just as miserable if not worse) with a carrier lock left in the parts bin over this mess and a half because they have no mercy and the cost to unlock a cheap phone far exceeds the cost to buy it right... I've seen it too many times. AT&T is freaking close with PREPAID phones, but I'm only binning cheap phones which cost more to force through 3rd parties vs. resale right now for AT&T. T-Mo is too aggressive about getting out of it to go for it a 2nd time.

On one hand I feel bad for the people with these locked phones looking to get out of them but what do I gain by touching a biohaz in the sense it probably has debt from an EIP tied to it you may or may not address, will be locked and I will go though he-double-hockey sticks to make usable?

IF I could get an answer on this messy landscape today, without waiting 3 years or dumping a bunch of money on an experiment with AT&T do you not think I'd know more?


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