Sticky Blog

Need to unlock a device? Here's some information to get you started.


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The magic of cell phones is that they are our companion wherever we go. They connect us to friends and family, work, entertainment, and everything in between. Cell phones have also been a convenient place for us to store our treasures like pictures and music. Changing phones can be a headache, which is why unlocking our devices is so important if we are traveling to other countries or changing wireless providers.

Let's take a look at the requirements and processes for unlocking your phone.

Eligibility requirements

To network unlock your device, you must first meet certain eligibility requirements. Some of the requirements are different based on your account type, but some things don't change. The device must be sold by T-Mobile. It mustn't be reported as lost, stolen, or broken. The account associated to the device must be in good standing. T-Mobile may need proof of purchase or some additional information, but most of the time the unlock process is seamless and easy.

If you are on a postpaid account, the unlock requirements are pretty straightforward. Make sure the device is paid off and it was used on your account for a minimum of 40 days. How easy is that?! :D

If you have a prepaid plan, your device will be eligible for unlock 365 days after the day it was initially activated on the account. One year can be a very long time to wait, but don't fret — there's another option available. Prepaid accounts that activated the device at least 14 days ago and placed $100 in refills per line are also eligible for unlock. Each line can only have two unlocks per year, though, so keep that in mind if you are trying to unlock a third device on the same phone number.

Process to unlock

So how does the unlock happen? As soon as your device is eligible, you will receive a text message notification letting you know that you can go through the unlock process. It only takes a couple of minutes as long as you are connected to the T-Mobile data network or reliable Wi-Fi.

Android devices are diverse, so the exact steps vary. Basically, you can go into settings and then to Network, Connections, or About Phone. You want to find the option for Network Unlock or Device Unlock. Finally, select Permanent Unlock and let it load. It may restart itself, but if it doesn't, you'll want to restart the phone and then you are ready to roll.

If you use iPhone, you just insert the new SIM card and restart the phone. You can also follow the normal steps to activate the eSIM with the other service provider like normal. Easy peasy!

To sum it up

I love that we have reduced the effort that it takes to unlock devices by sending notifications proactively when the eligibility requirements are met and empowered device owners with the ability to complete the steps easily right from the phone. It saves so much time because there is no need to contact customer support or wait for a ticket to be filed to gain approval.

I hope this helps answer any questions about our unlock process. You can find more information about our unlocking devices on our Support page. I would love to hear any thoughts or other questions that y’all have about unlocking devices.


101 replies

i’ve had an iphone 12 pro with tmobile since may 2021, i broke the original iphone in january 2023 and got a replacement through apple care from an apple store a few days afterwards. that being said i tried to get my phone unlocked but they are saying that it hasn’t been active with tmobile for 40 days? the reps have put in a request to get it unlocked from the “higher ups” but it’s been over 48 hours from then. I don’t understand what the mean by 40 days, when the phone is fully paid off.. is it 40 days from when it’s fully paid off? because that was in may 2023. 

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40 days of usage on Tmobile towers. Since Apple replaced the phone the imei# is not in Tmobile's data base to issue the request.

The new imei# needs to be entered into Tmobile's system.

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i’ve had an iphone 12 pro with tmobile since may 2021, i broke the original iphone in january 2023 and got a replacement through apple care from an apple store a few days afterwards. that being said i tried to get my phone unlocked but they are saying that it hasn’t been active with tmobile for 40 days? the reps have put in a request to get it unlocked from the “higher ups” but it’s been over 48 hours from then. I don’t understand what the mean by 40 days, when the phone is fully paid off.. is it 40 days from when it’s fully paid off? because that was in may 2023. 

40 days period. also keep in mind that since your current device was a warranty replacement its info is not in the TMO system. so it’ll show incorrect info and delay the unlock..especially if all things have been met..the updated info wont be and it’ll stop the unlock process. contact TMO preferably through either Facebook or Twitter and have the info for the device corrected.

Tmobile is the worst, i was trying to switch over to verizon recently after experiencing the worst customer service I've ever experienced when geting a replacement phone from Assurant.. i now have to reactivate my phone and pay for 40 days of service. Never heard of such BS. What a convenient way to trap dissatisfied customers into paying for service. On top of that its nearly double my usual bill. Never will be back and will let the world know how terrible tmobile is.   

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All carriers have unlock requirements.

 

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actually as long as the prior insurance replacement met all the requirements then this one will as well. the  device info will need to be updated in the TMO system though or what youre trying to get unlocked wont match with what you actually have in your hand.

The magic of cell phones is that they are our companion wherever we go. They connect us to friends and family, work, entertainment, and everything in between. Cell phones have also been a convenient place for us to store our treasures like pictures and music. Changing phones can be a headache, which is why unlocking our devices is so important if we are traveling to other countries or changing wireless providers.

Let's take a look at the requirements and processes for unlocking your phone.

Eligibility requirements

To network unlock your device, you must first meet certain eligibility requirements. Some of the requirements are different based on your account type, but some things don't change. The device must be sold by T-Mobile. It mustn't be reported as lost, stolen, or broken. The account associated to the device must be in good standing. T-Mobile may need proof of purchase or some additional information, but most of the time the unlock process is seamless and easy.

If you are on a postpaid account, the unlock requirements are pretty straightforward. Make sure the device is paid off and it was used on your account for a minimum of 40 days. How easy is that?! :D

If you have a prepaid plan, your device will be eligible for unlock 365 days after the day it was initially activated on the account. One year can be a very long time to wait, but don't fret — there's another option available. Prepaid accounts that activated the device at least 14 days ago and placed $100 in refills per line are also eligible for unlock. Each line can only have two unlocks per year, though, so keep that in mind if you are trying to unlock a third device on the same phone number.

Process to unlock

So how does the unlock happen? As soon as your device is eligible, you will receive a text message notification letting you know that you can go through the unlock process. It only takes a couple of minutes as long as you are connected to the T-Mobile data network or reliable Wi-Fi.

Android devices are diverse, so the exact steps vary. Basically, you can go into settings and then to Network, Connections, or About Phone. You want to find the option for Network Unlock or Device Unlock. Finally, select Permanent Unlock and let it load. It may restart itself, but if it doesn't, you'll want to restart the phone and then you are ready to roll.

If you use iPhone, you just insert the new SIM card and restart the phone. You can also follow the normal steps to activate the eSIM with the other service provider like normal. Easy peasy!

To sum it up

I love that we have reduced the effort that it takes to unlock devices by sending notifications proactively when the eligibility requirements are met and empowered device owners with the ability to complete the steps easily right from the phone. It saves so much time because there is no need to contact customer support or wait for a ticket to be filed to gain approval.

I hope this helps answer any questions about our unlock process. You can find more information about our unlocking devices on our Support page. I would love to hear any thoughts or other questions that y’all have about unlocking devices.

I am still waiting for my text, my phone was paid off and I never received a message after.  

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What type of phone?

Hi,

Need your help,

Have just purchased used Iphone from ebay, and it is locked to T-mobile. 

Please advice how can I request for unlock if Ii am not a T-mobile subscriber.

Thanks in advance!

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You need to contact the ebay seller.

Tmobile only unlocks phones for their customers.

 

I want to sell my phone but the buyer wants me to unlock before he even comes because he thinks it will take over 24hours. I called in and I read the message above. I just want to verify. I am already using my new phone with an e sim and I can’t get back on tmobile network. But I can connect to wifi. If I pay my balance will the iPhone be able to be unlocked within minutes or hours. It’s an iPhone 13 Pro Max I have 7 payments left and I don’t feel like gambling $360 and having this guy either try to lowball me because he knows I just spent $360. He has nothing to lose by coming here and just looking at it and assuring me he is actually paying.

 

please verify that it is an instant unlock 

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personal recommendation would be to meet at a TMO store..a bit less of a chance they’ll just roll you for your phone if youre in a fully public place.

feegg

I bought my iPhone 12 Pro at Sprint two years ago. T-Mobile acquired Sprint, and I have paid off all the money. Now I can't use this device abroad. Can T-Mobile unlock my device?

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I bought my iPhone 12 Pro at Sprint two years ago. T-Mobile acquired Sprint, and I have paid off all the money. Now I can't use this device abroad. Can T-Mobile unlock my device?

If you meet the requirements in the link below contact Tmobile support to iniate the unlock request.

https://www.t-mobile.com/responsibility/consumer-info/policies/sim-unlock-policy

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Trying to switch carries from T-Mobile, unfortunately, poor reception here

tm told me, phone is unlocked 

called other carrier (oc), they said it isn’t

called tm, told me phone is unlocked, called oc they said it isn’t

called tm and merged the calls, tm said ”oh, it can take 24- 48 hours to unlock phone” since I paid the balance of the monthly billing 

why not tell me that upfront? 

called me today to say “the phone is unlocked”

called the oc, they said it isn’t 

called tm again with oc on the call, tm said they show the phone is unlocked

but….. it can take apple a couple days to unlock the phone

 

???

the other reason I am leaving tm, the run around

what do I have to do and who do I need to talk to get the truth on this issue?

 

you know the other carrier would like to add a customer...so, I doubt they are stalling 

I wanted to bill tm for the run around I had over glitches in the new iPhone 13, resolving that took me hours and hours… and four 2 hour round trips to the apple store 

 

now, even less happy with them

 

at it’s worst, the other carrier, never wasted my time like this 

 

 

 

 

 

Userlevel 7
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Trying to switch carries from T-Mobile, unfortunately, poor reception here

tm told me, phone is unlocked 

called other carrier (oc), they said it isn’t

called tm, told me phone is unlocked, called oc they said it isn’t

called tm and merged the calls, tm said ”oh, it can take 24- 48 hours to unlock phone” since I paid the balance of the monthly billing 

why not tell me that upfront? 

called me today to say “the phone is unlocked”

called the oc, they said it isn’t 

called tm again with oc on the call, tm said they show the phone is unlocked

but….. it can take apple a couple days to unlock the phone

 

???

the other reason I am leaving tm, the run around

what do I have to do and who do I need to talk to get the truth on this issue?

 

you know the other carrier would like to add a customer...so, I doubt they are stalling 

I wanted to bill tm for the run around I had over glitches in the new iPhone 13, resolving that took me hours and hours… and four 2 hour round trips to the apple store 

 

now, even less happy with them

 

at it’s worst, the other carrier, never wasted my time like this 

 

 

 

 

 

do you meet all the requirements that are listed on the very first post?

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….at it’s worst, the other carrier, never wasted my time like this 

 

 

 

 

 

do you meet all the requirements that are listed on the very first post?

met them all and, they told me it was unlocked

they have told me repeatedly it is unlocked even though my phone shows it is “carrier locked” 

the apple rep was able to share my phone and see that and told t-mob … 

 

hours today in the att store, hours of prevarication and manipulative sales dialogue still not solving the problem and, the same defections 

the only fun was I had t-mob on speaker phone so other customers got to hear it

you should have seen their expressions

 

the att reps pulled out the stops trying to assist 

even calling other specialists and talking to the tmob rep who was clearly not listening or, just falling back on his patter… 

 

I really resent the wasted hours and the money I lost on this

but, I even tried calling the corporate office and ended up talker to another blather artist

who told me tmob uses the latest software to see if the phone is unlocked and, blah blah blah, “the same software everyone else uses” yeah, and the apple rep and att rep used the same software and it shows them it is still locked

what a total snafu of a company 

 

haven’t been scammed like that for years

 

I will follow up with complaints to the utility commission and BBB 

 

 

 

 

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Good luck with the BBB and even the FTC won't help you. It's because you are going after the wrong people. Carrier with the way Apple or any OEM doesn't do affects the unlock process

 

Carriers can't unlock devices that they don't have in their database. The only way to put IMEIs into the database is from the manufacturer. This is to prevent fraud and theft. Since your device was sold by Apple and locked to T-Mobile 100% Apple didn't give the new IMEI to T-Mobile and that's where the disconnect is. This has been happening since the Apple Reseller Flex Policy, and how OEMs in generally rarely give IMEI of devices OEMs sell on their own without giving those IMEIs to Carriers. 

 

With the current process I will always tell people buy unlocked especially for iPhone as there is no difference between unlocked and a carrier branded one. Android devices mat has slight differences in carrier aggregation but it's all marketing as most servers top out way less than the bandwidth you can get. You will always get the fastest the slowest speed is willing to give you. You can have 1 gb speeds but the server is only able to give you 50mb well you only getting 50mb. Speed tests are fun and all but not realistic in real world usage. 

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interesting information, thank you

I laugh when our internet offers faster speeds, never had the faster speed be faster than the slower speed, told a lot of stories about that, but, never worth the difference in cost 

 

Sounds like I should have told them I wanted an unlocked phone?

apple told me they don’t sell locked phones because, they are not the carrier

att told me they phones are not locked by apple

 

the issue is, as long and people don’t complain, we get scammed

 

nothing changes until we demand better service

 

and, more issues with t-mob than the locked phone, they LIED about local towers, I’d never seen the “sos” on a phone before unless I was really out in the wild but had  happen several times in los angeles with t mob, lied about the “fastest connection ever” “oh, you have the slower plan, do you want to upgrade for $$ more? “

 

a half hour at t-mobile today to return the cell spot 

they say there is a lock on the account… 

wanting to make sure I will never consider them anywhere, any time… 

 

funny, I never had a problem switching a phone between verizon to att

really scammed by the att>cingular fraud though and you are right, the bbb and ftc did nothing to help millions of customers then… people are so willing to be fleeced now 

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interesting information, thank you

I laugh when our internet offers faster speeds, never had the faster speed be faster than the slower speed, told a lot of stories about that, but, never worth the difference in cost 

 

Sounds like I should have told them I wanted an unlocked phone?

apple told me they don’t sell locked phones because, they are not the carrier

att told me they phones are not locked by apple

 

the issue is, as long and people don’t complain, we get scammed

 

nothing changes until we demand better service

 

and, more issues with t-mob than the locked phone, they LIED about local towers, I’d never seen the “sos” on a phone before unless I was really out in the wild but had  happen several times in los angeles with t mob, lied about the “fastest connection ever” “oh, you have the slower plan, do you want to upgrade for $$ more? “

 

a half hour at t-mobile today to return the cell spot 

they say there is a lock on the account… 

wanting to make sure I will never consider them anywhere, any time… 

 

funny, I never had a problem switching a phone between verizon to att

really scammed by the att>cingular fraud though and you are right, the bbb and ftc did nothing to help millions of customers then… people are so willing to be fleeced now 

 

actually the phones get locked to the first carrier they get added onto..most carriers lock it to their network for a certain amount of days to insure they dont just up and bounce and once said days are met then its unlocked… postpaid accounts its 40 days...prepaid is one year or $100 worth of refills.

 

Verizon is pretty much the same..i think theirs is 50 days..might have changed..

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Google Pixel 7 was paid off and unlocked using T-Mobile’s Unlock (Pixel) app.  But I still cannot OEM unlock (bootloader unlock).  I want to flash a new ROM on my device.

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Google Pixel 7 was paid off and unlocked using T-Mobile’s Unlock (Pixel) app.  But I still cannot OEM unlock (bootloader unlock).  I want to flash a new ROM on my device.

 

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actually the phones get locked to the first carrier they get added onto..most carriers lock it to their network for a certain amount of days to insure they dont just up and bounce and once said days are met then its unlocked… postpaid accounts its 40 days...prepaid is one year or $100 worth of refills.

 

Verizon is pretty much the same..i think theirs is 50 days..might have changed..

 

******** interesting, I’ve already received their “we’d love to have you back” mail, 

NO response to my complaint to them 

 

same from spectrum whose “retention”  specialist used the same dishonest dialogue techniques  that are defined as “emotionally abusive” in family counseling 

 

sadly, have had some issues with att, sloppiness in their communication, the account not set up to the account and features I chose and, poor connection with offshore reps with poor English, with two exceptions… 

still not as dishonest as t and s 

in years of dealing with dishonesty in both home and business, they set a new low 

 

they need to not send me more add, I’m being tempted to design a special t-mob voodoo doll 

 

 

 

l have an iphone 6 I had bought and used on Tmobile network back in 2015. I keep trying calling Tmobile to have it unlocked but they asked me to use it 40 days on their network. I’m a Tmobile customer for 11 years. There’s no way I’ll use this vintage phone for 40 days.. I needed it to use abroad for a few weeks installing a local sim card. It was used and paid off years ago. I could not find any person on customer service who could help me. They keep repeating me the same thing that I need to use it 40 days before they can unlock the phone. I already have a better phone I’ve been using, why would I use an ancient phone for 40 days because of their ridiculous requirement?! I gave up. Now I need to buy a phone somewhere else unlocked this time. Of course I will never ever buy a phone through Tmobile again. Paying off the phone does not make anybody eligible for unlocking an old phone. I called them 8 times but hit deaf ears in India including so called “supervisor”. 

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