How to Tell If Your Phone is Carrier Locked or Unlocked
Is your phone locked? Find out if your phone is locked to a carrier and how to unlock your phone if it is
Not sure if your phone is carrier locked? It’s important to know if you want to switch carriers or sell your phone, especially since unlocked phones are often worth more than carrier-locked phones. Here’s how to tell if your phone is locked or unlocked.
Method 1: Call your carrier
The simplest way to definitively tell whether your phone is locked is to call your current carrier and ask. Though inconvenient, it’s the most reliable way to determine the lock status of your phone.
Here are the customer service phone numbers for all four major carriers:
- Verizon: 1-800-837-4966
- AT&T: 1-800-331-0500
- Sprint: 1-888-211-4727
- T-Mobile: 1-877-746-0909
Keep in mind your phone could be unlocked yet still under contract.
Method 2: Replace your SIM card
If you have access to a SIM card from another carrier, either from a friend or via buying a cheap prepaid SIM card, you can place it in your phone to see if it’s unlocked.
For this to work, your “new” SIM card must be from a different carrier network. Major carriers often share networks with smaller carriers, so be sure to use a SIM card from a non-shared network.
Once you have the SIM card, simply turn your phone off, swap the SIMs, and turn it back on. After a few minutes, one of two things will happen:
- You will have service, in which case your phone is unlocked
- You will be prompted for an unlock code or receive an error, in which case your phone is locked
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Method 3: Check your settings (iPhones only)
This method only works on iPhones and isn’t 100% fool-proof, but it should give you an idea of whether your iPhone is locked or unlocked.
- Browse to SETTINGS > CELLULAR (or CARRIER)
- If you see a setting labeled CELLULAR (or CARRIER) DATA NETWORK, your iPhone is probably unlocked (the option should not be available on locked iPhones)
How to unlock your phone
If you phone is locked, the simplest way to unlock it is to contact your carrier and request an unlock. All major carriers will honor this request if your device is eligible (and most flagships are) and you’ve satisfied the terms of your contract and/or payment plan. Note that some smaller carriers will not honor unlock requests.
Major carrier unlock policy and request pages
Ready to sell your locked or unlocked phone? Compare the highest-paying online cash offers on Flipsy.com. If your phone was unlocked by the carrier, choose the carrier it was originally locked to so you’ll get the most accurate offer.
Next: Ebay Guaranteed Smartphone Price and Quick Sale: Are They Good Deals?