This minHour teaches you how to determine whether or not your cell phone is locked to a specific carrier. If your phone is unlocked, you can use other carriers' SIM cards in your phone.
Type your phone’s name followed by “unlocked” into a search engine.
Doing so will give you an idea of what most people have experienced in this area. You can also use your phone’s model number (e.g., “Samsung Galaxy S6” instead of just “Samsung Galaxy”) to narrow the search results.
- With very few exceptions, Android phones are unlocked by default.
Look for a “Cellular Data Network” option in Settings.
If you open an iPhone’s Settings, tap (or ) near the top of the menu, tap (or ) near the top of the page, and see an option entitled “Cellular Data Network” (or “Mobile Data Network”) on the page, your iPhone is likely unlocked.
- A “Carrier” option just below the “Cellular” section in the Settings menu is also indicative of an unlocked iPhone.
Enter your phone’s IMEI number into an IMEI-checking service.
Some carriers provide a service on their website to determine whether or not your phone is unlocked. You can view your phone’s International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number like so:
- iPhone – Open Settings, tap General, tap About, and find the “IMEI” section. The fifteen-digit number listed here is your phone’s IMEI number.
- Android – Open Settings, scroll down and tap About device, tap Status, and find the “IMEI” section. The fifteen-digit number listed here is your phone’s IMEI number.
- Most phones – Type *#060# into your phone’s Phone app to display your phone’s IMEI number. This won’t work on Verizon phones.
Call your carrier and ask them to confirm your phone’s status.
If you can’t figure out whether or not your phone is unlocked from researching or using an IMEI number-checking service, just call your carrier and provide them with your account details. They’ll be able to tell you if your phone is unlocked and, if it isn’t, if it qualifies for unlocking.
Using a Different Carrier’s SIM Card
Buy a different carrier’s SIM card or borrow one.
If you can successfully make a call with another carrier’s SIM card in your phone, your phone is unlocked; however, if you can’t, the phone is carrier locked and you’ll need to talk to your carrier about unlocking it.
- Before getting a new SIM card, figure out which size of SIM card your phone will use. You can consult the phone’s manual, or you can research the phone model online.
Power down your phone.
While this process will vary from phone to phone, doing so will usually entail pressing and holding your phone’s Power button, then pressing a button or sliding a switch to turn off the phone.
Locate your phone’s SIM slot.
If your phone has a case on it, first remove the case. You’ll most likely have to consult your phone’s manual or look online to see where the SIM slot is if you don’t already know.
- On iPhone, the SIM slot is either on the right side of the phone’s casing (iPhone 4 and up) or on top of the case.
- Android phones vary their SIM slot locations, but you’ll often find the slot on a side of the casing or under the battery cover.
Remove the SIM card from its slot.
On some phones, you’ll simply need to pull the card out; on others (e.g., iPhones), you’ll need a paper clip or SIM removal tool to insert into a small hole next to the SIM slot.
Place the other SIM card in the phone.
Be sure to reference the positioning of the original SIM card in order to ensure that you don’t improperly insert the card.
Turn the phone back on.
You’ll do this by pressing and holding your phone’s Power button.
Try to make a call.
Once again, this process will differ from phone to phone: open your phone’s calling app, type in a number, and press the “dial” button. If the phone call goes through, your phone is unlocked and should be able to accept any hardware-supported SIM cards from other carriers.
- If you are unable to make the call and you’re certain that the number you’re calling is valid, your phone is locked.
- Checking to see if an iPhone is unlocked is generally an easier process than verifying an Android’s unlock status.
- If your phone doesn’t have a removable SIM card, it cannot be unlocked.
- Services that check your IMEI are more likely to be wrong about your iPhone being locked than they are about it being unlocked.
- Be wary of any website or application offering to return your phone’s lock status in exchange for money.