By Fiona Mcsweeney - 23/06/22 09:27
Mobile phones keep us functioning. A way of connecting and communicating, they’ve become an essential part of our everyday toolkit. With so much choice available, they’ve also become highly personalized.
In many ways, your phone is a reflection of you. And they're not just about making and receiving calls, either. In fact, the “phone” function is one of the least used features.
Whether it’s online shopping, texting, taking photos or watching videos, we all use our phones differently. And this determines the type of phone we choose. And the carrier we use to provide those services.
One of the biggest mobile phone operators in the US, Verizon cell phone plans are a popular choice for many. Particularly those looking for a recognised carrier with reliable coverage. But circumstances change. And what was right once, may not be right now.
There could be many reasons for wanting to move away from the Verizon network (hint: we'll touch more on this later).
The problem is, if your phone is locked to the Verizon network you won't just be able to take out your Verizon SIM card and insert a SIM card of a new wireless carrier. You'll need to unlock your Verizon phone first.
In this guide, we share the quickest and easiest way to unlock Verizon phone services. With your unlocked phone you can pick and choose from the full range of wireless networks. Or go for a SIM-only deal, dual-SIM option or prepaid phone. Either way, you're back in control.
But, first, a bit of background.
The lock that’s placed on a mobile device is a software code that tells your phone to connect only to a specific network. If your phone has a SIM lock on it it means you can’t get or use a signal with any other service. If you bought your iPhone or Android phone through a carrier, chances are it will have a lock on it.
A blocked phone is different from a locked phone. A locked phone is tied to a particular wireless carrier and can only be used on that network. A blocked or blacklisted phone is a mobile device that has been reported lost or stolen, or has unpaid bills against its contract. In this instance, the block is put in place by the operator to prevent it being used illegally or until its credit is cleared.
In 2013, President Obama introduced the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act in America. This made it perfectly legal for individuals across the US to unlock their phones.
That said, there was no formal legislation preventing carriers from locking devices in the first place. Which is why it's still common practice for most phones to be locked, at least for the first few months into a contract. Why? Well, it's a good question. Part of their customer safety policy, Verizon’s view is that locking phones prevents theft and fraud. (The premise is that a locked phone is worth less than an unlocked device. And, because of this, a deterrent to thieves.)
A credible argument, yes. But, the whole truth? There's no denying that by locking a phone you stand more chance of holding onto someone's custom. And their money.
Newly purchased devices bought directly from the manufacturer, or from Amazon or eBay, for example, are usually unlocked. But they usually incur a high one-off cost. Locked devices usually cost a lot less upfront because wireless carriers subsidize the retail price of the phone. The pay-off is that you stay tied into their network.
A lot of Verizon 4G devices and all older phones that aren’t 4G (plus devices used internationally) are likely to be locked. The same goes for off-the-shelf, prepaid 4G handsets.
Verizon's 'phone-in-a-box' (prepaid phones) deals have their own lock-in policies because most of these offers come with special rates and reduced phone prices. Information relating to the lock-in period of these kinds of devices will be included on the box.
The most accurate and reliable way to check if your phone is unlocked is to remove your Verizon SIM card and insert a new SIM card from your new provider's network. If you get a signal, great. It looks like your phone will automatically unlock. If not (and this is the most common scenario), you'll probably be presented with a “SIM not supported” message (or wording very similar to this).
This means you'll need to take action to unlock your own device.
There are undoubted benefits to choosing Verizon as a wireless network. Verizon's coverage area is vast. And they have provenance, power and a rich range of packages to choose from. But there are just as many reasons (if not more) for unlocking your Verizon phone. Here are our top six:
Unlock your phone and you can choose from the full range of wireless networks available, from big players like T Mobile and AT&T to smaller mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) like Metro or Boost Mobile. You also have the power to go SIM-only or to use SIM cards from different carriers on one dual-SIM phone.
If you want to break away from restrictive contracts, you can. With an unlocked Verizon phone you're at liberty to switch carriers, explore other wireless networks, and uncover the right mobile package for you.
Whether it's for business or pleasure, when you're traveling abroad you'll want to take your phone with you. And not pay the price for doing so. Here's where your unlocked cell phone comes into its own.
With an unlocked Verizon phone you can use a global travel SIM or a local carrier and avoid high roaming charges or the need to buy a cheap phone when you arrive at your destination.
Verizon's coverage area is wide. But it's not without its black spots. Don’t settle for a patchy or substandard signal if one of those black spots is where you spend most of your time.
Unlocking your device gives you the chance to test out and try other wireless networks to see which one offers you the most reliable and robust connection.
Perhaps you’ve recently bought or been gifted a new phone. Or want to sell on your current Verizon phone and buy a cheaper (or more expensive) model. Whatever the reason for cashing in, unlocking your Verizon phone makes good financial sense. Why? Because it broadens your market (your buyer can use it on any network). And this, in turn, increases its value.
Verizon has great coverage throughout the States. But this comes at a price. Do they offer the cheapest cell phone plans around? Maybe not. And, if money's a factor, you may want to look elsewhere for the best cell phone plans.
To find, and secure, the best deals at the best prices across all networks, home and abroad, you'll need a phone that's unlocked and ready to use whatever the carrier.
Now for the big reveal. What's the most painless but most effective way to unlock your Verizon phone?
If you don't want the stress of having to contact Verizon customer support to submit an unlock request (or battle with a complex and confusing unlocking policy), the most obvious choice is to use a third party cell phone unlocking service.
All you need is your phone's International Mobile Equipment Identity number (IMEI). Your device will be unlocked within hours, ready for you to use with a non Verizon SIM card.
IMEI stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity. It’s a unique 15-digit number that links a device with the SIM card inside the device. The first 14 digits are defined by the GSM Association. The last digit is generated by an algorithm.
Your IMEI is like your phone’s fingerprint. It’s completely unique and every phone has one. Unlike a SIM card which is linked to a user, and can be transferred from one phone to another, if unlocked, your IMEI is fixed to your device.
Here's a step-by-step guide of how a remote SIM unlock works:
Make sure you have a wifi or internet connection.
Select the model of your device (for example, Huawei P20) and its network (Verizon) on your unlocking provider's website.
Take your Verizon device and find its International Mobile Equipment Identity number (IMEI). You can do this by dialing *#06# on your phone. (Hint: You can also find it by going to the ‘Settings > About screen’ menu on your device. )
Type this into the webform and submit your request.
With all the relevant data in place, your unlocking service provider's software will scan phone manufacturing databases worldwide to find the information it needs to perform your Verizon SIM unlock.
The actual unlocking process may differ depending on the type of phone you have. Sometimes the SIM unlock will take place automatically (or “over-the-air”), using WIFI, 3G or 4G. This is often the case with Apple devices (iPhones, iPads and wearable tech, for example).
Where this is the case, you don’t need to type in a network unlock code. You just put your new non Verizon SIM card into your iPhone, turn the device on, and it will automatically update and unlock there and then.
The other method, common with Android devices, requires typing in an unlock code. This will usually be sent to you via email from your unlocking service provider. That done, just insert your new SIM card and you’re all set.
Most mobile carriers currently operate on either a CDMA network or a GSM network. CDMA stands for ‘Code Division Multiple Access’. GSM stands for ‘Global System for Mobiles.’ What does this mean? Well, put simply, it means that they use a different form of technology to provide their service.
Why does this matter? It matters because it can affect the compatibility of your unlocked device if you're moving from a CDMA carrier to a GSM network (and visa versa). For example, Verizon operates on the CDMA network. Whereas, AT&T and T Mobile use GSM technology.
The good news is that these CDMA and GSM radio networks are gradually being faded out by the rise of Long Term Evolution (LTE) devices.
So, if your unlocked Verizon device is a newer 5G (or possibly a 4G) LTE device you shouldn't experience any compatibility issues moving from a CDMA network like Verizon to a GSM network like AT&T or T-Mobile. This is because most newer phones will be compatible with both carriers’ LTE and low-to-midrange 5G bands.
If you've got an older device, you will probably find that your phone will only work with other CDMA systems like those with US Cellular and Sprint (now owned by T-Mobile).
The same goes for prepaid phones on smaller mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). Most MVNOs are associated with one of the major carriers and because of this have access to use their respective networks.
That said, compatibility isn’t 100% certain. So it's worth checking before deciding on what wireless carrier to switch to.
Using a third-party phone unlocking service like Mobile Unlocked takes all of the stress and the admin out of what can be an arduous and prolonged process. Everything's completed online, which makes it simple. And the only info you need is an IMEI, which makes it fast. Want to find out more?
Our customer support team are on-hand to answer any queries.