How to unlock a SIM card for an Android smartphone or tablet

Do you want to change to another network, but the new SIM card did not work in your phone. You’re at a loss, calling your new carrier, only to learn that your smartphone is locked to the first network, and there’s not much you can do about it.

Of course, this is not entirely true. If you’re using an Android device, there’s always something you can do. Here’s how to unlock the SIM card of your Android phone or tablet to go to another network.

How to unlock a SIM card for your Android smartphone or tablet - Android

Does rooting the phone unlock the SIM card? No

Before you learn how to unlock an Android phone SIM card, let’s have a look at what is network/SIM unlocking and what isn’t.

SIM unlocking requires a generated code that is entered into your phone via the keypad. So that the link between your phone and the network that charged it is severed. This enables you to insert a compatible SIM card from a different network and connect to its service.

How to unlock a SIM card for your Android smartphone or tablet - Android

However — and this is important — unlocking the SIM card does not root your phone or tablet.

Rooting your phone unlocks the bootloader, which is completely different. Rooting the phone will not unlock it, but it will allow you to customize the operating system or install a new one.

Both types of unlocking are legal, although SIM unlocking often requires help from the network/carrier.

Is your phone’s SIM card locked?

Unlocking your tablet or phone to use a new network is often not difficult. Not all phones are SIM or network locked, however.

Phones bought directly from a third-party manufacturer or retailer like Motorola, OnePlus, or Amazon at an unsupported price (usually $500-$700) are more likely to be unlocked than phones bought from carriers like Verizon or T -Mobile or AT&T by getting price support (usually free to $200).

But how do you know if your SIM card is locked?

  • Check the device documentation: If the word “unlocked” appears on the bill, you can be confident that it is not locked to other carriers.
  • Try a new SIM: If you inserted a SIM from a different carrier and it didn’t work, you know the phone is locked.
  • Call your carrier: Call and ask if the phone is locked.

But if you find out that your Android phone is locked using a specific carrier/network, how can you unlock it?

Ask your carrier to unlock your phone or tablet for free

Amazingly, you can communicate with your carrier about SIM unlocking your phone or tablet.

Since February 2015, US cell phone owners have been able to require networks to unlock their devices to switch carriers. A similar system is in place for phone owners in the European Union and the United Kingdom.

Furthermore, carriers must inform customers in their monthly bills whether the device qualifies for unlocking.

Start by calling your carrier and asking if the phone is eligible. There is a clause on smartphones purchased under contract, so if you don’t finish after the initial two-year deal, you’ll have to pay a fee. This will cancel the contract and give you the unlock code.

This allows you to use another SIM in your phone for free.

If you bought your phone directly from your carrier, it will usually be locked out for 12 months. After this time, if the account is up-to-date, the network should hand out an unlock code.

How to unlock a SIM card on your Android phone or tablet

To finish the network/SIM lock, your network will need the IMEI number. An IMEI number is a unique code used to identify your phone or tablet on any network.

In Android, there are two ways to find the IMEI number:

  • Open the phone app.
  • On the dial pad, enter *#06#.
  • Make a note of the IMEI information.
How to unlock a SIM card for your Android smartphone or tablet - Android

Instead of that:

  • Open الإعدادات -> حول الهاتف (On older phones, go to الإعدادات -> حول الهاتف -> الحالة).
  • Scroll down to find the IMEI information and make a note of the number.

When you connect to your network, either by phone or through the website, this 15-digit string is all you need. The network should then provide you with a code to enable your device to use the new network SIM card.

(Note that the full process can vary across networks. Also, be aware that your new network may require you to enter a specific code to work with that carrier.)

While US carriers are not allowed to charge for this service, your network in the UK and Europe may charge a small administrative fee for unlocking your phone.

In the meantime, if you are having trouble with the error “SIM 2 MM not provided”, we have come up with some tips to help.

Find a reputable smartphone unlocking service

If your network does not accommodate requests to unlock your phone, some specialized websites provide the service.

However, we advise to use this service only if there is no way to network unlock the device. Since these websites are not regulated by laws, they are not always reliable. You can get some protection by paying for the service via PayPal.

Try these websites (you can use them at your own risk) to unlock the SIM card on your phone or tablet:

Note that no matter which service you choose, there is no guarantee that it will unlock your smartphone or tablet.

Avoid scam Android SIM unlock apps

As we’ve seen, the process of unlocking a SIM card on Android is relatively simple. So much so that you won’t need any SIM unlock apps.

These apps are fake and pose a security risk to your device and the data stored on it. It is a fraud and therefore should be avoided.

So, don’t head over to Google Play to search for a SIM unlock app. Likewise, do not search for any “phone unlock tools” on download sites, Bittorrent or Usenet. They are usually associated with Trojans and other malware.

There are safe and legal means to unlock the SIM/Network of your smartphone.

But while you should be wary of SIM unlock apps scams, Google Play has useful SIM card management apps.

Have you unlocked your device?

SIM unlocking your smartphone or tablet is not ideal for everyone. We recommend that you spend a lot of time weighing the pros and cons of this process. It’s useful for some, for example if you’re traveling abroad and don’t have a dual-SIM device, for example.

And if you’re switching between mobile network providers, make sure you’re getting the best deal available!

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