What is a SIM lock

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SIM lock:

A SIM lock, NETWORK LOCK, CARRIER LOCK, IMEI LOCK or (master) subsidy lock is actually a technical restriction built into GSM and CDMA mobile phones by producers to be used by carrier networks to limit using these phones to specific locations and/or networks. This is not like a cell phone (retrospectively called SIM-free or unlocked) that doesn't impose any SIM constraints.

The vast majority of mobiles can be unlocked to work with any GSM network provider, but the phone might still display the original branding and may not support popular features of the new carrier. In addition to the locking, cell phones might also have firmware attached to them which is specific to the mobile phone network provider. This firmware is installed through the service provider which is separate from the locking mechanism. Many mobile phones can be unbranded by re-flashing a new firmware type, a process recommended for advanced users only.

Unlocking Technology:

Typically, a locked mobile phone will show a message if a restricted SIM is used, asking for the unlock code. On the latest phone models running Android software, the cellphone will display a message stating “SIM network unlock PIN” or “Enter Network Lock Control Key” if it is network locked. Windows phones are going to show the message, “This SIM card can only be used on specific networks. Contact your customer service center for the unlock code”. Alternative handsets may show differing messages including "Enter special code" or "Enter unlocking code," or in some instances the phone will simply display a message saying that it's locked. Right after a valid code is keyed in, the mobile phone displays "Network unlocked” or “Network unlock successful”.

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In many cases a SIM-locked device is marketed at a substantially cheaper price than an unlocked one due to the fact that the company is expecting income via its service. SIM locks are used on cheaper (pay-as-you-go) units, while special discounts on higher priced handsets require a subscription that gives guaranteed income. Unlocked mobile phones have a a lot higher market value.

Unlocking Services:

Plenty of organizations offer a carrier mobile phone unlocking service . This service requires those people that wish to unlock a phone to give their IMEI number to a unlocking company and quite often they will also require the country and service provider the device is locked to, often sent by email or entered on their website. The company then will supply (once you have paid) a unlock code for the mobile phone.

Unlocking Service Providers:

Regrettably there are a lot of fraudulent companies working in the cell phone IMEI unlocking industry. Consequently it is prudent to be certain you use a reputable service provider for these services. To assist with the search for a legitimate supplier, we've supplied an inventory below (and in no specific order) of a few legit organizations currently offering such services.

Reputable Mobile Phone IMEI Unlocking Service Providers: