Unlocking your phone is typically easy for other network carriers. But not if you unlock Tmobile phone. Compared to Verizon, T-Mobile’s unlocking requirements and policies are quite stricter and more complicated. This is mainly due to the many requirements you’ll need to comply with first before making the switch.
Important Notes Before Unlocking
Basically, you’re unlocking your phone so you can use a SIM from another network carrier. This is why it’s important to consider which network carrier you’re switching to. T-Mobile runs on GSM. Another carrier that uses GSM technology is AT&T. So you’ll encounter no problems when you use an AT&T SIM once you’ve unlocked your phone.
However, it’s not the same with Verizon and Sprint, as both use CDMA and not GSM. This means that calls, texts and mobile data won’t work if you use the 3G service. As with Verizon, you may still be able to use the 4G LTE. This is because T-Mobile uses Band 4 which is the same LTE spectrum as that used by Verizon. But Sprint is trickier because it runs on a different LTE spectrum.
Before you unlock Tmobile phone, it’s also important to read up on the difference between a locked and unlocked phone.
Related: Best Unlocked Android Cell Phones
T-Mobile Unlocking Requirements
T-Mobile has lots of requirements that you’ll need to comply with before you can request for a device unlock. The following are the main device requirements for you to be eligible for unlock:
- The phone is a T-Mobile device. Needless to say, T-Mobile cannot unlock if you’re using a phone from a different carrier.
- The phone must not be reported as blocked, stolen, or lost.
- Your T-Mobile account, as far as the particular phone goes, must be in good standing.
- You have not requested more than 2 unlock codes in the last 12 months.
- Other requirements as T-Mobile may deem fit, such as additional information and proof of purchase.
If you’re using a postpaid account, you will also need to comply with the following:
- Your phone must already be fully paid.
- If the account is cancelled, there must be no outstanding balance (zero balance).
- Your phone must be active for at least 40 days on T-Mobile network prior to the request.
The requirement is different if you’re on a prepaid account:
- Your phone must be active for at least 1 year on the account. Alternately, you can instead present that your prepaid account has had more than $100 refills since the date the phone was first used.
There are mainly 2 exceptions to the abovementioned device and account requirements:
- Deployed military personnel: They can request for device unlock as long as they are in good standing and upon showing of their deployment papers.
- Business and government accounts: These accounts may be exempt from some or all of the T-Mobile device unlocking requirements.
Note: Not all T-Mobile devices are compatible with every network carrier. It’s always important to check the device and the mobile carrier you’re switching to before unlocking. For more info, check out this guide.
Method 1 (Unlocking Through T-Mobile)
Why are you switching to another network? If that’s because of network problems, it might be remedied by these ways of resolving T-mobile network problems.
The best way to unlock your T-Mobile device is to request an unlock from the carrier itself. This is also the safest and legal method. Just follow the steps below.
Comply with the requirements
It’s important that you comply with the device and account requirements first. Refer to T-Mobile’s unlocking requirements enumerated above.
To see if you qualify for a device unlock, just log in to your T-Mobile account.
In order for you to be eligible, you must also be the billing responsible party (BRP). This means that you’re the one paying for the T-Mobile account bill. If not, you must be at least authorized by the BRP.
Once you have complied with all the requirements, you can then dial *#06# on your phone. You will be given your phone’s IMEI number (a unique 15-digit code). Write this code down because you’ll need it to unlock your phone.
Call or message
Afterwards, call T-Mobile to finally request for device unlock. Call 1-877-746-0909. Instead of calling, you can also just message them or schedule a callback.
Method 2 (Using Device Unlock App)
You can also unlock your phone using the Device Unlock app. This app is available on Android, but not on iOS.
Some T-Mobile phones have the Device Unlock app pre-installed. You cannot download it from the Play Store. To see if it’s installed on your phone, go to “My apps & games > Installed.”
However, there are things you need to comply first in order for you to use this app. You must have the following:
- T-Mobile account
- The T-Mobile phone must support the app
- Your phone must have the latest device software
- Network coverage or WiFi connection
- Eligibility account and device requirements
If you have the app and you have met the requirements, follow these steps to unlock your phone:
Select your device
Using the app, search your device in Devices and then select it.
Go to Security
Once you have selected your device, scroll down and go to “How Tos.” Then select “Security.”
From “Security,” look for “Mobile Device Unlock” and click it. Your phone’s unlocked. As easy as that.
However, if your phone is still unlocked, it may be because your phone does not have the Device Unlock app. If this happens, your best option is to use Method 1 to unlock your phone.
Note: Call 1-877-746-0909 if you have concerns or if you have trouble unlocking your phone.
Method 3 (Unlocking Through Third-Party)
There are third-party services that will help you unlock your phone for a price. However, you will need to check the carrier’s terms and conditions first before resorting to this method. Chances are, it’s against their terms.
Get the IMEI number
Before you can request for device unlock, you’ll need to find and get your IMEI number first. For Android users, they can do this by going to “Settings,” then scroll down to “About phone.” Open “Status” and there you’ll find your phone’s IMEI digit.
For a more detailed instruction, read this.
Find a third-party service
The next step is to find a third-party service that unlocks mobile phones. There are plenty of them. However, you’ll need to research carefully because there are many scammers and some are not fully legal. Compare and contrast your choices before deciding.
Enter the IMEI number
Once you’ve chosen a safe and legal third-party service, go to their website and enter your IMEI number on the unlock section. Depending on the service provider, you’ll sometimes need to create an account or provide certain information. Again, be wary of potential scammers when choosing this method.
Unfortunately, unlocking your phone through a third party is not free. You’ll need to spend a few dollars, maybe around $20, in order for you to get the code. Be sure to go over everything and check if all the information is correct before you pay.
Retrieve the unlock code
Wait for your unlock code. Typically, it will take a few hours, even days, before you can retrieve the code. However, some service immediately gives the code upon payment.
Insert a new SIM card
You’ll need to buy a new SIM card (the new carrier you’re switching to) and insert it into your phone.
When you change SIM card, your phone will restart. Once it has finished restarting, you’ll receive a prompt to enter the unlock code. Simply enter the code and your phone will be officially unlocked.
Will unlocked T-Mobile phone work on AT&T?
- Yes. T-Mobile and AT&T both run on GSM and use Band 4 LTE. This means that both carriers are compatible and will generally work fine.
Will unlocked T-Mobile phone work on Verizon?
- As far as 4G LTE goes, it may work on Verizon. However, it doesn’t work on 3G because T-Mobile runs on GSM, while Verizon on CDMA.
Who can unlock T-Mobile phones?
- T-Mobile can unlock the phones for you, as long as you have met their requirements and policies. You can also ask a third-party service to unlock your phone, but this comes with certain risks.
Ready to Make the Switch?
If you’re ready to make the switch, make sure that you have carefully read T-Mobile’s requirements and policies. We also suggest that you look up the Federal Communications Commission’s cell phone unlocking policy, especially if you’re going to use a third-party service.
Do you have other concerns? Let us know by leaving us a comment below.