When does my phone unlock? How can I get my carrier to do this?

with iPhone 14 Reliance on eSIM in the United StatesSwitching between carriers could soon become faster and easier than ever. You don’t have to head to a store or wait for a physical SIM to be shipped to you. With an eSIM, A new wireless service can be added within minutes And be as simple as downloading an app. Some providers, like T-Mobile, have even turned to technology as a way to get you there Test driving its network together with your existing network.

That is, assuming you have an unlocked device. Whether you’re discussing switching providers or planning a trip abroad, here’s what you need to know about unlocking a phone on AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile.

Read more: CNET Reviews for iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max

Why are phones “locked”?

iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max

Phones, such as the iPhone 14 Pro line, can be locked to a carrier when purchased on an installment plan.

James Martin / CNET

Before we start unlocking, let us first explain what it means for a phone to be “locked” or “unlocked”.

Phones are expensive, and in the US, the major wireless service providers are often willing to subsidize that cost in exchange for your commitment to stay with them for a while. For years this was through two-year contracts, but today it is largely in installment plans. You trade in your current phone and AT&T/T-Mobile/Verizon will give you a huge discount on a new phone as long as you’re willing to stay on a certain plan and stay with them for 24 to 36 months.

To incentivize accommodations, carriers often drop the discount as monthly bill credits. If your new iPhone 14 costs $27.78 a month at AT&T, the carrier will give you a monthly credit on your bill for that amount until the phone (which is now at AT&T 36 months) is paid off. Want to upgrade early or leave to another provider? You must be willing to pay the outstanding balance.

Since carriers don’t want people to buy a phone and then immediately give it up, they’ve also added a software layer of security that limits the phone to their network. This is known as locking on a network, with unlocked devices available to work on any network you support including internationally.

Those looking for freedom right from the start should note that Apple, Samsung, OnePlus, Google, etc. will sell you an unlocked phone, and may even offer a discount if you have another device to trade with. It is worth noting that these discounts are often much lower than what the carrier may offer.

Read more: iPhone 14 pre-order deals

How long do closing periods take? How can I get a free service?

A pair of phones with pictures of locks on their screens

Unlocked phones have many advantages over unlocked phones.

Josh Miller/CNET

The length of time the phone is attached to each carrier varies, as do some of the other requirements that come with it.

on me AT&TYou have to pay through an installment plan or pay for your device to be able to unlock it. Your device cannot be reported as lost or stolen nor can you keep a delinquent balance in your wireless account. If you meet these requirements, you can request to unlock it at AT&T website here.

T-Mobile It has similar terms to AT&T, such as making sure your phone balance has been paid, that your account is in good standing and that the phone hasn’t been reported lost or stolen. You will also need to be on the T-Mobile network for 40 days. Once these requirements are met, T-Mobile automatically unlocks your devices “within two business days”. More details It can be found here.

suddenly , Verizon It has the best unlocking policy among the three major providers. Thanks to some rules that have been linked The wireless spectrum I acquired over a decade agothe largest airline in the country automatically Unlock their devices after 60 days. You don’t need to pay off your installment plan, although if you decide to switch carriers, you’ll still be in trouble to pay off the balance of the amount owed.

We should note that all three airlines have exceptions to their policies for deployed military personnel.

Will my phone work with other providers once I unlock it?

The latest flagship phones – including the Apple iPhone 14, Samsung Galaxy S22 and Google Pixel 6 lines – feature support for all 4G LTE and 5G networks of the major US carriers. All iPhones sold by Apple in the US, for example, It will work with the three major operator networks No matter what store or carrier you buy it from.

However, there may be some inconsistencies depending on the device you have. T-Mobile, AT&T, or even the unlocked Google Pixel 6A will work with Verizon’s 4G LTE and 5G networks, although it will lack the ability to connect to the faster 5G network if you switch to Verizon and are in an area where the network is available (certain streets in major cities). and certain areas of airports, arenas and stadiums).

That’s because the Verizon version of this device features the necessary millimeter wave hardware, while other models don’t (the Verizon variant is also $50 pricier).

These cases are increasingly less prevalent, particularly on the latest iPhones and Galaxy S, but it’s worth keeping in mind if you’re planning on the go. Each carrier has set up pages on their websites to make sure your phone will work with their service: AT&TAnd the T-MobileAnd the Verizon.

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