Cell phone unlock codes carry a number of common misconceptions which your phone provider won’t be in any hurry to correct you on. Most prevalent is that remote unlocking doesn’t work, or that it is in fact illegal to participate in any form of phone unlocking. Of course, this is untrue. It’s illegal to reconstruct the IMEI number of a phone which has been barred after it has become lost or stolen (or if the contract hasn’t been paid). Mobile phone networks lock a phone in order to ensure you continue to use their services. Quite often, when you change providers but keep the same phone, you can call your provider’s customer service line and they will release a code to you for a fee.
However, the phone can be unlocked a variety of other ways, such as at a local independent mobile retailer/repairer, or you can have remote unlocking carried out over the internet. Most mobile phones can be unlocked, although some are more straightforward than others. Once the device has been freed from one SIM/network by using an unlock code, any SIM or provider can then be inserted into the phone and that service used.
How do unlock codes work?
Mobile handsets can be freed from one network using either an unlock code or hardware which attaches to the device and ‘flashes’ the hardware, providing it with a different version of the integral software. Unlock codes use algorithms which are provided, in a way, by the mobile provider.
The codes are written into a phone’s IMEI and in most cases are universal, depending on network and country. These codes have been ‘reverse engineered’ in order to take them apart and apply them without the need for using the network and their often slow, costly advice lines.
So, if I wanted to unlock my phone, it would be an easy matter. Research remote unlocking companies first to determine those with a good reputation and once discovered visit the unlocking site. Many of these have a spin-box with drop-down lists of phone make, model, IMEI (found under the battery on most phones), country and network – these are inputted into the online form and then a code with instructions will be sent to the cell.
How do I know if my phone is unlocked?
Simple, take out the SIM card and replace it with one from another network. The handset will either say something like “Insert SIM” or may display a message asking for a 4 digit code if they are locked . Some mobiles are sold unlocked, either second-hand or SIM-free direct from the manufacturer – however, the vast majority of phones will have a SIM lock.
Will remote unlocking damage my phone?
The short answer is no. However, as most remote unlocking services will warn you, many mobiles have a built-in security function that renders the phone useless if the wrong Cell phone unlock codes are used repeatedly. For most, this is three – if you have tried to unlock your device and are on your third attempt, seek advice before continuing.
Having a cell phone unlocked is usually inexpensive, with prices ranging from €2.00 to €20.00. Service providers will generally charge around €30.00 to provide a code and the phone will still display the carrier software whichever option you choose.