Having an unlocked phone opens up users to a variety of options that wouldn’t otherwise be available to them when locked to a specific carrier. An unlocked device can be used across networks, though it can be hard to tell whether or not your phone carries the distinction. In the case of iPhones, for instance, manufacturer Apple doesn’t allow phone retailers to brand units. Adding to the confusion is the fact that some phones are locked when sold, but become unlocked at a later date as per contract negotiations.
Regardless of what situation you may find yourself in, the following guide will help you make sure you know whether or not your phone is unlocked right away. Each method is relatively easy to follow, so there is no need for tech experts or nerdy nephews here.
How to Tell if my Phone is Unlocked – Use Your Settings
Perhaps the easiest way to find out whether or not your phone is unlocked is by checking its settings interface. Simply enter a passcode to enter a device’s home screen. From there, you should be able to find a gear icon, regardless of whether you’re using an Android or iPhone device. This icon may be on another page, so swipe left and/or right to navigate to it. Press the figure with a tap of your finger to enter its menu.
Under the option that reads “Mobile Data” (again, you may have to scroll a little before seeing this), you should be able to find a subcategory that reads “Mobile Data Options,” “Mobile,” or simply “Options.” Keep in mind that devices set to American English replace the word “Mobile” with “Cellular.” Press on this to navigate to another set of menus. Look for a category that reads “Mobile Data Network” or “Cellular Data Network.” Having this on your phone most likely indicates that it’s unlocked, though to definitely test it, use a SIM card. We outline this method as the last entry on this list.
Keep this option in mind when shopping for phones from second-hand retailers. Many claims may not actually be legitimate, so ask your store’s clerk to give you some hands-on time with the device. Seeing an option for “Mobile Data Network” or “Cellular Data Network” proves that the phone is indeed unlocked, and that the (usual) accompanying high prices are grounded in actual evidence.
How to Tell if my Phone is Unlocked – Check Out Where You Bought It
If you’re on the market for a new smartphone and have intentions to swap out your SIM card sometime soon, explain this to a retail representative. They should be able to point you in the right direction. If you bought your phone recently from a store nearby, peek in and ask a representative whether or not the device you bought from them is unlocked.
If you bought your phone online, check to see what seller you bought the device from. More often than not, phones bought directly from Apple, Google, and other phone manufacturers sell their devices as unlocked products. Third-party sellers usually list the distinction on sites like eBay and Amazon, so circle back to see if the description yields any results. If the listing has expired, call the customer service department of any of these online retailers to find out if you can grab a copy of the listing you purchased from. Popular websites usually do this for their shoppers – especially those that spend a lot of money on phones.
How to Tell if my Phone is Unlocked – Use a SIM Card
The most effective way to find out if your phone is unlocked is through a hands-on approach that involves the user actually swapping out SIM cards to see if each works. Before doing this, first make sure that the SIM card currently inside your device is able to send and receive calls. This proves that your phone itself isn’t the problem (and expels any worry that you don’t have any means of using your device).
With that out of the way, press and hold the power button located either on the side of or on the top of your phone. A screen should appear asking you to slide a power button to completely shut down your device. In some cases on Android, a simple button prompt will show up asking you to press it in order to power off. With your phone of choice now completely closed, look again on the side of your device to find a tiny latch that you can pull open. If you can’t find it on either side, check on the bottom.
Gently open this latch with a fingernail. Using that same nail, carefully press on the SIM card within to cause it to pop out, then remove it from your unit. Do not attempt to pull it out, as that may cause irreparable damage. Set this card aside in a visible place where you can easily find it. Now get your other SIM card and place it into the space, carefully sliding it until an audible click takes place. Close the latch to ensure the new SIM card doesn’t fall out.
Next, power on your phone of choice using the same power button you used to shut down the device. Wait a couple of seconds for your phone’s system to boot up, then enter your passcode to enter the device’s home screen. Go to your call center and make a phone call to any of your contacts. If the transmission yields ringing, you’re in luck. This determines that your phone is indeed unlocked, though keep in mind that other SIM cards may not follow suit due to those aforementioned network differences.
Of course, instead of making a phone call, users can simply check the under left-hand corner of their device to see if a phone carrier’s name shows up. They can also try to browse the internet or send a text message, if that’s their preference.