We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Cell Phone Unlocking?

By Di L.
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At EasyTechJunkie, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Cell phone unlocking is the process by which a mobile phone can be allowed to work on any carrier network. Customarily, North American cell phones are sold as “locked” phones, meaning that they will only work with one service carrier. For example, if you purchased a discounted phone from T-Mobile along with a two year plan, you will not be able to use your phone with another plan from a different service provider -- such as AT&T -- after your contract ends, because your phone is locked onto the Verizon network.

In many cases, this process is reversible. In fact, all cell phones are originally manufactured as unlocked phones, but service carriers will usually lock any phones they sell in order to charge roaming fees if the phone is ever used outside their network. Cell phone unlocking can be as easy as entering an unlocking code, or may involve some more complicated maneuvers involving external equipment. Some cell phones can’t be unlocked at all. Other unlocking services require that the user sends in the phone’s International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI), a unique number used to identify the phone's origin, model, and serial number, after which the unlocking code will be sent to the user. Still others require that the phone be sent in to their facilities for cell phone unlocking.

An unlocked cell phone provides the user with much more flexibility as to where and how they would like to use their phone. After unlocking, your phone could potentially be used in any part of the world, provided that the local carriers have compatible service on one of your phone’s frequency bands. However, cell phone unlocking does come with a price: many manufacturers will void a client’s warranty if third-party software was used to unlock the phone. Improper cell phone unlocking may also result in permanently locking the phone to a carrier, loss of personal data, or causing future incompatibilities with manufacturer-provided software upgrades.

If you want an unlocked cell phone without worries about permanently damaging your phone through the unlocking process, you can always buy an unlocked cell phone to begin, and then sign up with a carrier. Unlocked cell phones are available directly from the manufacturer, but also via online sites like eBay. These phones generally come from Asia or Europe, where the practice of locking cell phones is less common. They tend to be somewhat more expensive than phones sold by service carriers, because they do not come with any kind of plan agreement.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon1005327 — On Aug 05, 2021

Is Trac-Fone a locked phone?

By anon26677 — On Feb 17, 2009

What are some of the phones that can't be unlocked?

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.