The Difference Between a Locked and an Unlocked Smartphone

2017-07-18 5107 Posted by 3uTools

As smartphones become an integral part of our daily lives, you may have also noticed that unlocked phones are often mentioned in a positive light. Shops and auction sites may proudly boast that the phone they’re selling has been unlocked, for instance.

So, what is unlocking, and why do people want to perform it on their phones?

What Unlocking Means

When phone manufacturers make a phone, they add special software on it that can be accessed with a code. This software and its code is only meant to be used by phone carriers who sell the phone. When the carriers decide to support the manufacturer’s phone as part of their product range, they access this software using the code and use it to add a carrier lock to the phone. The lock ties the phone to the carrier’s network, so people who purchase the phone from the carrier can’t use it on anyone else’s network even if they remove the SIM card and replace it with one that uses a different network.

It’s entirely possible for a phone model to be picked up by multiple carriers which means you can see the exact same model of a phone locked to different networks.

The Difference Between a Locked and an Unlocked Smartphone

Why Do Carriers Lock Phones?

Carriers state it’s to stop people from picking up a phone cheaper than market price using a two-year contract, and then switching carriers, leaving the original carrier out of pocket. However, to get out of these two-year contracts, you need to pay the additional money upfront to fully cover the cost the carrier would lose, so they wouldn’t lose out even if someone did do this.

The real reason probably lies in a very simple argument: It makes it harder for people to leave the carrier. If they want to try someone else’s network, they can’t just slot in a rival carrier’s SIM card. This means that consumers either sacrifice their phone and leave or keep their phone and stay. Of course, this isn’t an issue if the lock on the phone has been circumvented. This is where unlocking comes in.

The Difference Between a Locked and an Unlocked Smartphone

How Are Phones Unlocked?

When someone is interested in unlocking their phone, they can take one of several routes.

1. Asking Their Carrier

Sometimes people check with their carrier to see if they can unlock the phone through them. Some carriers come with special terms which mean that after someone adheres to them the carrier will happily unlock the phone for people who ask.

2. Unlocking It Themselves

Some phones (especially older ones) have had their lock codes published on the Internet already. If someone gets their hands on a code, it means they can enter it into their phone themselves and unlock it.

3. Use a Third Party Unlocker

Some people offer unlocking services, offering to unlock phones for a small fee. People can take their phones to these third parties and have them unlock the phone instead. You may have seen shops on the Internet and elsewhere that offer “unlocking services” as part of their range of skills; these are the kind of places people go to either unlock their phones or buy one already unlocked.

Last but not least, you are suggested to check your iPhone carefully if you don't buy it from regulated channels. Wish you have a good day.

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