The Dreaded Carrier Lock

Let’s talk about a quick hypothetical situation.  Let’s say you drive to the AT&T store because you want the new Samsung phone.  You start talking to a rep and they let you touch it and feel it.  They the tell you that phone will only cost you $30 per month.  Don’t fall for the trap!

What the carrier won’t tell you is that they are locking your new phone to their network.  That means if you try to put another carrier’s sim card in your phone, it will pop up a little window telling you your phone is network locked and you need to enter a special code to get the phone unlocked so you can use it on another network.  Can anyone say handcuffs!

Not to fear, there are ways that you can unlock your phone yourself and avoid the shady ways of the internet!  I recently went through this process as I switched carriers.  Now, let me be clear, you will not be able to unlock your phone through your current carrier if you have not finished paying for it.

To unlock your phone you will first need to satisfy the carriers requirements.  It is usually a brief list, but you have to satisfy everything on their list.  The main things that trip people up are below:

  1. Your phone must be out of contract (usually more that two years with AT&T)
  2. Device must not be reported lost or stolen
  3. Device must not be involved in fraudulent activity
  4. Device can not be currently active on another customer’s account
  5. Your account must be in good standing.

For AT&T you can get all of the details here.  For other carriers, just google the carrier name followed by the word unlock.

Next I will give you my exact experience unlocking my phones with AT&T.

It all starts when you visit the device unlock page and agree to the terms.  Next fill in the form on the next page. You will need your wireless number associated with the phone you want to unlock and the account information.  After you submit that, you will need your phones IMEI number.  This is found in your phones settings menu, usually in the about phone menu.  If you have a phone with a removable battery, you can take the battery out and the IMEI number is listed on the sticker behind the battery.

After you submit the IMEI number, you will get an email like this:

Hi, Stupid Customer.
Thank you for contacting AT&T about unlocking your device.

 

Please confirm the request within the next 24 hours, or the request will be canceled.

 

For more information about unlocking a device, check out our device unlock support page.

 

Thanks for choosing us,
AT&T

 

 
You won’t see the link above, because I took it out, but you have to click that confirm link or they will cancel your unlock request.  I guess this is a safety measure, just in case you did not make the request.  After you confirm, you will get an email like this:
Hi, Stupid Customer.
Thank you for contacting AT&T about unlocking your Samsung SGH-i747 device.

 

This request requires additional research to determine eligibility. Thank you for your patience. We’re actively working on it and will send a response as soon as possible.

 

For more information about unlocking a device, check out our device unlock support page.

 

Thanks for choosing us,
AT&T
And finally after about a week, you should get an email like this:
Hi, Stupid Customer.
We received and approved your request to unlock your Samsung SGH-i747 device. Use the unlock code and instructions in this email to unlock your device.

 

Unlock code: XXXXXXXX

 

Instructions:Unlock Steps – Use Non-AT&T SIM Card

1. Power off the device, remove the battery, and insert a non-AT&T SIM card.

2. Re-insert the battery and power on the device with non-AT&T SIM.

3. The device displays \”Enter the device unlock code.\”

4. Enter the eight-digit unlock code.

5. Press OK.

Note: You are allowed five attempts to unlock before your device permanently locks to theAT&T network.

 

For more information about unlocking a device, check out our device unlock support page.

 

Thanks for choosing us,
AT&T
Did you notice that little “note” at the bottom?  You have five tries to do this right, then the device will lock permanently to their network.  Ugh, carriers!  They really drive me insane and it is for this reason, I DESPISE giving them my money!  The key takeaway here, don’t screw up putting in your unlock code, otherwise you will be locked into the purgatory of AT&T forever with that phone.  Don’t sweat it though, mine was fine on the first try.
That is my experience unlocking my phones.  Now I can use these phones as backups if I someone breaks their phone.  Other than waiting for a week for AT&T to do it’s thing,  it was really easy.
Now if I could just unlock my bootloader and get all of the bloatware they put on my phone off, I would be happy.
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