How to Unlock Your GSM Phone in 5 Easy Steps

Your GSM phone can do so much better without being locked down to a particular carrier. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to open up your phone to the full range of available possibilities. Fortunately, you can open up your phone in a few reasonably easy steps.

Know Your Fees

Phone Bill
Image via Flickr by nikita cashner

In some cases, the fees for leaving your cell phone carrier can make changing to a new one a bad idea in the short term. If you’re stuck in a contract, you need to carefully weigh whether your monthly savings by switching will even be worth any contract termination fees you may have to pay. While this isn’t a part of the “how” in unlocking your phone, it’s as important as any other aspect of the process. The biggest competition isn’t Android vs iPhone, but fees today vs savings later on.

Find the Important Information

Motorola SECTEL 3500 – Serial Tag
Image via Flickr by nesnet

The important information can be found on your phone. You want to find the make, model and IMEI number of your phone. Once you have this information, you can do a web search for the unlock code.

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Enter the Right Code

Number 877
Image via Flickr by blueridgekitties

If you can’t find the code on the web, you want to contact either your phone’s manufacturer or a third party that can provide you with the code. Both of these options will generally charge you a fee, but then your phone will be unlocked. From this point onward, your phone can accept a SIM card from any network and work perfectly. If your phone is still locked, putting in a new SIM card won’t work.

Change the SIM Card

MTN SIM card
Image via Flickr by warrenski

Taking on a new contract or simply placing minutes on a new SIM card opens up new options for you. If you like your phone but hate your network, this is an easy way to get the best of both worlds. However, even though you can now use your phone with the carrier of your choice, there is still the matter of your phone number.

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Migrate Your Number

Phone call 144/365 (Year 2)
Image via Flickr by georgie r

Start the process of migrating your number by initiating service with your new provider before you terminate service with your old provider. If you are in the same geographic region, you should be able to keep your old number. However, if you are moving somewhere else you may need to get a new number. Keep in mind that there may be number portability fees you would have to cover.

Unlocking your phone isn’t rocket science. But it can be very useful in making the best use of both your phone and the networks available to it.