The phone's locked status can be found in the about section of the settings. If you can't find that, you can try another carrier's sim card in your phone to see if it will work. If you bought it from a carrier, you need to call support to check its lock status or request an unlocked phone.

The only way to use a phone is with a sim from one carrier. If you want to change carriers, you will need to unlocked your phone or buy a new one. If you've paid off your phone, you can bring it to another carrier if you want to.

Make sure your phone is paid off the first time you use it. If you were to pay it off with a series of payments, you would need to make sure you have paid the full amount.

Some carriers use buy one get one deals with monthly bill credits to lock customers into a cycle of paying off the phone for the full term. You may need to pay off more than one phone if you've participated in one of these promotions.


Once it's paid off, it will eitherunlock automatically or you can request anunlock from the carrier Before you switch carriers, you should get your phone unlocked. It's possible to get your phone unlocked down the line, but it can take a long time and you may need account information.

If you bought your phone from one of the online retailers, it would be unlocked or carrier specific. Pick the unlocked version for your area. You may not have access to all carrier bands and 5G support may be less than U.S. models.

It would be if you bought your phone directly from the manufacturer. Many of the phones from other manufacturers are unlocked and can be purchased directly from the manufacturer.

For the rest of the phones out there, the only way to make sure is to try it.

How to check if your phone is unlocked

Visible Swap with an older Huawei phone

(Image credit: Source: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

There are websites that say you can check if your phone is unlocked. These services cost money and are not always correct. I'll tell you not to bother.

You can call your carrier orMVNO if you want to switch to another carrier. The phones that are compatible, unlocked, or blacklisted are kept by companies.

The person answering the phone may not have access to that information, or they may not be allowed to tell you over the phone. If you don't have access to a different company, it's worth trying.

The easiest way to find out if your phone is unlocked is to use a different carrier's phone number. It doesn't matter if the phone is connected to an active account or not, the phone will attempt a connection. You don't have to pay anything until you activated the card, and some carriers will send you a free sim. The process is done in a certain way.

Visible SIM card next to Pixel 3a

(Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)
  1. Make a phone call using your current SIM card, if possible. This is to check that the phone is working properly. (Call your mom and tell her "hello"; she'll appreciate it.)
  2. Shut off the phone and remove the SIM card. Look in the manual or online if you're not sure how to do this, and if you need a SIM card removal tool, a paperclip usually works fine. You may also want to give it a SIM PIN code first, so no one can steal and use your old SIM card.
  3. Put the new SIM card in your phone and power it back on.
  4. If you're greeted with a dialog box telling you to enter a SIM unlock code, your phone is SIM locked to the carrier it was originally purchased from.
  5. If you don't see an unlock code prompt, check that it says you have service if you used a valid SIM card. If you do, your phone is probably unlocked. Try making another phone call. (Mom won't mind two calls on the same day.)

You will probably get a recorded message if you can't call using the new sim card. If the call can't be completed because of a sim lock or incompatible hardware, you can check online to see if it's because of a code or something else. It is unlikely that a phone will work with another network.

If you don't have access to another sim card, you can take your phone to a carrier store and ask them if it's unlocked and if they'll let you switch carriers. It's not a bad idea to tell a little white lie to a carrier. They should be able to help you with the process.

Don't worry if your phone is locked. If your account is in good standing and you have paid your phone bill in full, you can get your phone unlocked by your carrier. You have to own the phone for a certain amount of time, and your account has to be open for a certain amount of time.

From your phone's settings, you may be able to request an unlocks. T-Mobile has a help page that shows customers how to request an unlocks. If your phone doesn't have the option, you can download the T- Mobile device unlockser app.

AT&T has an unlocked app and a website to request unlocks. It might take a little while depending on your device, so be patient if you don't get it right away.

It's possible that you need to do nothing. After they have been paid off, the phones will be unlocked by the company.

If that doesn't work, you can call customer service and they will help you out. If you paid the phone off and it hasn't been reported lost or stolen, you should be able to get it unlocked.

Do you need an unlocked phone?

Nothing phone (1) SIM eject tool

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

A lot of people ask how to check if their phone is unlocked. If you haven't heard of it, it's a cheaper alternative for service.

Having more choices can be a good thing. Even if you go with one of the big carriers, having the ability to switch whenever you please puts the power in your hands.

If you want to use one of the best cell phone plans, you need to have a sim-unlocked phone. If the hardware is compatible with the network, you can use a sim card from any company, even if it's from a different company.

If you're paying a monthly fee to your carrier for a phone, it's more than likely locked. Monthly bill credits keep you on the carrier for 24 or 36 months, so be careful not to be trapped into a buy one lease one free agreement.

It's time to switch to anMVNO.

Your next question should be what to do with your phone after it's been unlocked. You should check if your phone works with MNVOs when you switch to them.

If you've already decided that's your path forward, you'll need to choose an MNO. Since your phone may be restricted to a single provider, we have round-ups on the best ones.