What Exactly Is An Unlocked Phone And How To Get One
The word “unlocked” can be often spotted in phone notifications and is often involuntarily associated with freedom, rainbows and unlimited opportunities.
But what does it mean exactly to have an unlocked phone? What can “unlocked” refer to? What advantages will you get from sporting this type of device?
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the magical world of the “unlocked” and try to clear out all the grey areas.
First, let’s establish what exactly you want to have unlocked.
An unlocked SIM will allow you to use any network you want, as opposed to having one assigned to your smartphone. In a number of countries (especially North America), top network providers prefer to sell mobile phones that are tied to this specific network, justifying the commitment with a better price offer.
What do you do if you want your SIM card unlocked?
Your first option is to talk to your network providers directly and ask them for the unlock code. You will need to insert it when using another carrier’s SIM and things should go smoothly. If you have a long-term reliable contract with the carrier from whom you purchased the phone, there should be no trouble getting the code – but it all depends on your carrier’s policy (so make sure to check it in advance).
If it doesn’t work out with the carrier, you can also purchase the unlocking code online for a bit of cash. The code is the same you would have got from the carrier, but instead you will be getting it from a company who buys these codes in bulk. This should be a reliable option, provided you go with a trustworthy company.
A slightly more complicated way to go about the issue is doing it by getting a custom bootloader.
A bootloader is a program that loads an operating system. If you have ever had to reload your phone into safe mode, you have already met your bootloader face to face, so to speak. Typically, the programme loads things to the user interface, but if needed it can also bring up other interfaces.
The standard is that your phone comes with a bootloader locked by the manufacturer – and this is a good thing. A locked bootloader comes with much better security and significantly brings down the chances that things will get screwed up.
However, if you feel like making changes to the bootloader to allow yourself more developer-style options, this is also possible. Most manufacturers can even provide you with a code to unlock the bootloader, but you will have to pay the price of voiding the warranty. This is an understandable precaution on the part of the manufacturer, who simply doesn’t want to take responsibility for your meddling with the phone’s system.
If your phone is tied to a carrier (you have their logo printed on your smartphone), it means the software on your device was created for the specific carrier. Thus, they will not be too friendly to the idea of you messing around with the system. Additionally, custom ROM could create potential issues for the network itself and they wouldn’t want to take on the risk when it comes to customer service and warranty.
With all that said, there is always a way to unlock your bootloader, even if there are plenty of people who don’t want you to. First, you can always check if your phone comes with an unlockable bootloader before the actual purchase. Second, you could find someone crafty in encryption and go against your network’s better judgment at your own risk.