A heavyweight in the US cellphone market, if you haven’t got an AT&T device now, chances are you’ve had one in the past. One of the largest telecommunications operators in the States, it absorbs around half of the US wireless subscriptions market, with 200 million (plus) wireless subscribers worldwide. And, as a key player on the field, being tied to the AT&T network comes with big benefits. High data caps, solid 4G coverage (and a fast-moving 5G rollout), lots of choice and good download speeds all make it a compelling choice for many. But not everyone. And if you’re one of those 200 million AT&T subscribers and thinking of changing to another carrier, you’re not alone. So, what’s stopping you? The lock on your phone is probably the only thing standing in your way. The simplest solution? Unlock your phone.
How? We thought you’d never ask…
Read more about it on the mobileunlocked.com AT&T phone unlock device guide. It has full details to unlock your AT&T phone using an independent phone unlocking service, without dealing with AT&T at all. And the reasons for wanting to do this. But first, a bit of background.
Why is there a lock on my phone?
Good question. In 2013, President Obama introduced the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act in America. Its aim? To make unlocking phones legal across the US. While this is good news for consumers (you), it didn’t stop network providers from locking phones in the first place. Which means it’s still pretty typical for phones to be locked to a network, at least for the first few months into a contract. And still up to you to remove that lock if you want to change carrier.
How does the lock work? Another good question. Hidden away in the back-end of your device, a SIM lock, network lock, carrier lock or master subsidy lock (they all mean the same thing) is a software code that tells your phone to connect only to a specific network. It’s not something you can see or remove simply by fiddling around with the keypad on your phone. And that’s what makes it so powerful.
But what’s the purpose behind the lock and why does it matter? Ask your phone provider and they’ll say it’s to do with security. Look up their phone unlocking policy and chances are you’ll find it under the ‘Customer Safety’ section on their website. The rationale behind this? The premise is that a locked phone is worth less than an unlocked phone. And, because of this, a deterrent to thieves. There is some credibility to this, yes. But it’s not the whole (or even a big part of the) story. The clue’s in the name, really. A locked phone keeps customers captive by holding them (against their will) to a network they may no longer want to use. And what does this equate to? Money. Because by locking a phone not only do you hold onto their custom, but you hold onto their money. Which, in turn, drives profits.
So… a deterrent for thieves or a way of boosting the bottom line? We know which answer we’re tied to.
What’s not to like about AT&T?
We touched on some of the benefits of belonging to a major network like AT&T. But like everything it’s got its downsides. There’s cost for one. AT&T plans can be significantly more expensive than others on the market. You may get more data, but you pay the price for it (especially if you don’t actually need or use all of that data). Coverage too can be an issue. While AT&T’s network is comprehensive, reaching about 68% of the US (around 84% if you include its 5G network), there are signal black spots, particularly in rural areas. So if you’re not in a highly populated metropolitan location, you may benefit from using a different or more localized carrier. Then there’s streaming. Using AT&T, video streaming quality, (particularly on-the-go), isn’t the best. Even if you pay extra for a high definition service.
So, there you go. All pretty compelling reasons for wanting to leave AT&T. But how to do it? Let’s look at the options for unlocking your phone.
How not to unlock your AT&T phone
You may think that because your phone’s tied to the AT&T network, you need to go through them if you want to remove the lock. It’s a fair assumption. But it’s not true. In fact, this is often the most complicated, stressful and admin-heavy way of doing things. Here’s why:
- First, you’ll need to do the advance prep. Before you can start the process you’ll need to make sure you comply with their eligibility requirements. These differ according to the type of plan you have (postpaid, prepaid or business device) so you’ll have to factor this research into your pre-lock prep too.
- Next you’ll need to provide AT&T with all of the required account information needed to submit the request.
- Having submitted the information and the unlock request, you’ll then need to wait for AT&T to approve your request.
- And then wait some more for them to confirm and process it. (Spoiler: This can take anything from two business days to a week or so.)
- Once this is all complete, you’ll need to wait for specific instructions on how to unlock your device.
All that done, you’ll finally be in a position to try and unlock your device. Sounds unnecessarily complicated? It is.
Harness the power of your phone’s IMEI number
You can bypass all the admin and agro associated with unlocking your phone through AT&T, by using a third-party provider. Experts in their field, they have the software and the processes in place to fast-track your unlock request with minimal input on your side. In fact, all they need is your phone’s IMEI number, a 15-digit code unique to your device. The good news is, as long as you have your phone to-hand, your IMEI is quick and easy to find. To locate it you can do either of the following:
- Type *#06# into your cell phone keypad.
- Go to the ‘Settings/About Phone/Status/IMEI Information’ menu on your Android or iPhone.
- Remove the battery and look on the white label underneath.
Simply share this with your mobile phone unlocking service provider and they’ll do the rest. Depending on the make of your phone, your unlock will either take place automatically “over-the-air” using wifi (this goes for iPhones and other Apple devices) or you’ll be sent an unlock code to input (the process for Android models). The beauty of this is that, as well as being easy, it’s fast and safe because everything takes place online. No forms to fill in. No on-hold calls to AT&T’s customer service team. No break in service (your phone stays with you the whole time).
It’s all about choice
Whether it’s a cheaper deal, better coverage, high definition streaming or just to go SIM-only, with so much choice available, why stick around? Unlocking your AT&T device means you don’t have to compromise. And if you get help from the right source, it’s a pretty painless process. Yes, you can go through AT&T to unlock your device. But if speed, security and simplicity are what you’re after, using an online unlocking service wins hands-down.
EDITOR NOTE: This is a promoted post and should not be considered an editorial endorsement