Do you own an AT&T smartphone but you would rather have service with another carrier? You can do so in most cases, as AT&T is usually happy providing their customers with instructions on how to unlock their phone if requested. AT&T will also help anyone who isn’t a customer unlock a phone in most cases. However, non-customers may have to pay a small fee for this service, as stated in the company’s fine print.
Read on to learn how to unlock your smartphone or tablet from the AT&T network. You can learn what devices can be unlocked, what information you will need to do it, and how you can unlock your device for military and international use.
Unlocking an AT&T Phone
Consumers who want to unlock their AT&T phone to use on the T-Mobile network should generally have no problem doing so. AT&T and T-Mobile both run their networks on the same GSM technology, so when your phone becomes unlocked, you will just put your new SIM card from T-Mobile in to get the phone running. T-Mobile and AT&T both use Band 4 with their LTE service, so any 4G LTE devices will usually be able to access the network without any problem.
Verizon currently uses the CDMA standard, not GSM. But you might still be able to use a 4G LTE device from AT&T on Verizon’s LTE network since they are both running on the same spectrum. The LTE data should operate with no issue. Unfortunately, you will probably not be able to text, make calls, or access data when you try to use Verizon’s 3G services.
Sprint, who is also a CDMA carrier, runs their LTE network using a different band of spectrum than AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon. But they may accept certain AT&T phones and tablets on their cell phone plans. Check with them first before proceeding.
If you are satisfied with the coverage that AT&T provides and are searching for a less expensive or prepaid plan, try taking your unlocked device to an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) of the carriers.
Steps to Unlocking Your AT&T Phone
The device that you wish to have unlocked must not be associated with any fraudulent activity, including it being reported stolen or lost.
Any device that was bought with a two-year service plan with a subsidy will need to be completely paid off with your bill in good standing. You must not owe anything on the plan or on the phone in question in order to unlock it.
Any plan that was bought in installments with the AT&T Next early upgrade plan will need to be paid off in full with no payments due for that device.
If you have upgraded to a new phone and are trying to unlock your old one, you will have to wait for a 14-day period before the company will grant you an unlock.
Anyone who is on a postpaid plan will have to have an account that has been in good standing and active for a minimum of 60 days. A prepaid device or a GoPhone plan will have to have been active for a minimum of six months before it can be unlocked.
If you are a customer with an AT&T account, you can request an unlock by using your “my AT&T account”, or by applying for an unlock via the AT&T website. You will need to have the below information ready when you wish to apply. Go to att.com/deviceunlock and pull up the “Device Unlock Request Form”. Fill this form out and submit it through either the website or your account. While you will get a confirmation email almost immediately that they have received your request, please expect the actual instructions to unlock your phone to arrive in about two business days.
What You Will Need
The account holder’s name
The account number of the device you wish to unlock
The MEID or IMEI of the device. This can be found under the battery cover or possibly on the back of the device, which is the case for many iPhones. If you cannot find this number, use the device to dial *#06#. This number will be 14 or 15 digits long and will show on your screen after you have dialed and pressed Send or Call.
The phone number used on the device
Deployment papers if you are trying to unlock a phone or tablet for military deployment
Non-Customers and Military Personnel
T-Mobile will make an exception for active military members, as long as the account is in good standing and has no overdue bills associated with it. You will also need to provide verification of your upcoming deployment. AT&T may have limits on the number of unlocks for each account holder.
Anyone who owns an AT&T device but is not a current AT&T customer may also ask for an unlock code, as long as the phone itself has not been reported stolen or lost.
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