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You’re finally free to unlock your smartphone again – here’s what you need to know

Published Feb 11th, 2015 4:30PM EST
iPhone 6 and Android Unlock
Image: Zach Epstein, BGR

Starting on Wednesday, smartphone unlocking will finally be easier in the U.S. because both large and small carriers have agreed to the new proposals made by CTIA about unlocking devices. That means no matter what kind of smartphone you currently own, whether it’s the big iPhone 6 Plus or an entry-level Android handset, you have the right to unlock it as long as you’ve fully paid for it.

DON’T MISS: You can unlock your iPhone 6 for free on any carrier starting this week – here’s how

In order to unlock a device, you first have to be familiar with your carrier’s requirements and unlock policies. Generally, customers have to have an account in good standing to request an unlock. In order for the device to be eligible for an unlock, it also has to be paid in full — that can mean that you have to pay the full price for the handset even if you purchased it for a subsidized price, or you have to finish the usual two-year contract that comes with that subsidy.

For pre-paid plans, things are a bit easier, as you only have to wait a year to unlock it.

Usually, the unlock process should be available to carrier subscribers free of charge, though new customers might have to pay a fee that can vary depending on carrier and eligibility.

Naturally, each carrier has its own way of dealing with unlock requests, so users should check out the fine print for their own mobile operator. Check the following links for more information if you happen to be tied to one of the big four:

More details about cell phone unlocking are also available at this FCC link and at this GigaOm guide.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.