What does it mean to have an iPhone unlocked?
Unlocking an iPhone means taking an iPhone that is locked to a specific carrier and making it usable on other carriers. A software unlock is the process by which the iPhone is modified such that the baseband will accept the SIM card of any GSM carrier.
Unlocked GSM phone means that it wouldn't be locked into a specific carrier network. On the upside it means freedom to choose your own GSM carrier that suits your needs (and wallet) best. On the down side several carrier-specific features may not be available.
- All GSM devices are designed so that service is provisioned using a SIM card. With an unlocked device, a GSM smartphone can be reprovisioned and used on another network simply by popping out the old SIM card and putting in a new one from the new carrier. EV-DO is the 3G technology used on CDMA networks.
- According to Verizon, they do not lock most of their phones. To quote them directly: "We do not lock our 4G LTE devices and no code is needed to program them for use with another carrier." That means that any iPhone 5 or higher that was bought with Verizon should already be unlocked.
- This is significant because it marks the first time that MetroPCS, which was CDMA-only before the merger, is using T-Mobile's GSM network. The carrier is accepting unlocked iPhones, Android phones, Windows phones, and certain feature phones, but not BlackBerrys, tablets, or hotspots.
We would like take a moment and explain the difference between a "locked" and "unlocked" cell phone. In the USA Cingular (ATT) and T-Mobile are the 2 large GSM carriers. Sprint and Verizon use CDMA phones which usually don't require a SIM card. First, a locked phone means that it will only work with 1 specific carrier.
- Compatible phones include: GSM Unlocked phones, AT&T Compatible phones, T-Mobile Compatible phones, Sprint Compatible Phones, and some other CDMA Technology Compatible phones. In the United States, two of the four leading mobile network operators use GSM. How do I know if I will need a Straight Talk BYOP SIM?
- AT&T uses GSM technology, just like T-Mobile. Verizon and Sprint, on the other hand, use CDMA, which stands for Code Division Multiple Access. All it means is that Verizon can pile on several people to use its network at once.
- TracFone Wireless, Inc. Unlocking Policy. Most handsets offered for sale by TracFone are locked to TracFone service, and not technically capable of being unlocked. Non-SafeLink subscribers with handsets which cannot be unlocked may be eligible for a partial refund.
Updated: 26th November 2019