Cell Phones Unlocked
In the United States very few phones are what we would consider able to be "unlocked". In order for a mobile phone to be unlocked is through the use of a SIM card. A SIM card (subscriber identification module) is a tiny chip that is inside GSM cell phones that track the data of the phone's user. It has all your contacts, recent texts, phone number, and other data stored on it. SIM cards make it easy to move from cell phone to cell phone by transferring all your data with it when you plug it in.
As of right now, SIM cards are designed to only be used with the carrier it was bought from. So, if you currently have a phone and plan from AT&T, you can't simply put your SIM card into a T-Mobile phone and think it will work. The reason why SIM cards aren't able to be moved from carrier to carrier is because the cell phones are locked. Good news is, you can get your mobile phone unlocked quite easily if you know what you're doing.
Unlocking the iPhone
How to Unlock Your Cell Phone
There are many different ways to unlock your mobile phone. Each method varies in difficulty, cost, and risk to damage to the phone as well as the risk of breaching of the terms your service contract. Many cell phone carriers (ie Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T) have you sign a contract with them that tell you what you can and can't do with your cell phone. Many of them have rules when it comes to unlocking your phone and if you break those rules you can get in serious trouble. For example, if you are "renting" your phone through your carrier (you would be considered renting if you got it for free with your contract), it can be illegal to unlock your phone since you don't technically own it.
Fortunately, many carriers have rules to let you unlock your phone after a certain period of time. T-Mobile allows you to unlock your cell phone after 90 days of service. All you have to do is call their customer service and request your phone to be unlocked. If they ask you why you want it unlocked, tell them you're going overseas and want to use a prepaid SIM card. Anyways, if you're within their terms of service, they'll give you the codes necessary to use any SIM card in your phone. Other carriers have similar options available and so if you have another carrier, you can usually call up their customer service and do a similar request.
Using Software to Unlock Your Phone
If you decide not to call your carrier's customer service to get your phone line (or you got denied) you can use external software to find the codes needed to unlock your phone. While these programs are fairly cheap, it's a good idea to keep your eyes opened for scams. Many companies and websites providing software to unlock your phone offer a shoddy product that doesn't always work with your cell phone.
To avoid this problem, stick with websites that have been given good reviews by other people. Don't just take their "sales page" as the truth. People can write almost anything they want on the internet and you can't take their writing for the truth. If you feel like a website is sketchy, don't trust it and buy from someone else. Being safe and consumer-smart can save you a lot of money and grief in the future.
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