Unlock your phone legally starting today

President Obama to sign phone unlocking bill into law

President Obama will today sign a bill into law that will allow American citizens to legally unlock their phones in order to take them to another cellular carrier, either in the United States or abroad. The President announced his intent to sign the bill last week. The new law is only a temporary measure, and is only valid until 2015.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill last week, after it had previously been passed by the Senate, and both chambers passed the bill unanimously. The unlocking a phone while still under your carrier's contract has been technically illegal in the United States since the beginning of last year. Now, if your phone is capable of being unlocked, and you have complied with your contract, you will be able to unlock your phone.

How do you feel now that phone unlocking is once again legal? Sound off below in the comments.

Source: The White House


Reader comments

Unlock your phone legally starting today


c'mon now lets be fair. He had a blackberry and this other device he's got has one big button at the bottom and he's like " is this a garage door opener or wtf?"

US president cant buy iPhone for himself because its leaking info to NSA thats why he has to stay on blackberry

So? I've had Android and WP and when I got my hands on an iPhone I didn't know how to use it either. I first didn't get how to go back for instance since I wasn't expecting the back button to be that small and on the app. I wasn't sure about how to close the apps and I didn't know about that app bar or w/e on the bottom. So it's no surprise, really.

I've used android and WP and when a neighbor asked for help on her iPhone it took my a good 5 minutes to realize the back but to was in the app itself

What Sanchez said. In fact, before Obama, the white house was still using rotary phones and pagers. He had to get clearance for his specially made, ultra secure Blackberry.

Obama loves everything that's illegal. Let's see, illegal immigrants, illegal amnesty, illegal immigration reform, and 'Executive Illegal Action', just to name a few.

This is a windows phine forum lets talk about politics and make political comments elsewhere please

Maybe we will be able to brush cows in Alabama again.


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Do the Cow tipping down here in Auburn. This happens from lack of local activities available and viewed as mostly just entertainment also the fact we just bored.

I always thought the Interop Lock handled carrier locking, and wasn't part of the ROM image.  I mean if all it takes if flashing a CV ROM, why bother locking them down in the first place?

His goat won't be fine! The rich man that has exceeding many goats will come by and take jsnod25's only goat, that one that jsnod25 nourished up, the goat that grew up together with him...and will give it to a traveler...

It has no real effect on the US. Most all phones only have specific radios for the carrier they were sold to.

We could already do that with att, but you have to pay off your contract before they let you unlock. You either wait for the time period or pay off whatever is left on your contract immediately.

For long time I didn't aware of these.. Carrier contracts ..thank god...I live in India... Till now I've changed more than 20 numbers and 6 carriers... We Indians really blessed in this case... Incredible India :-p

Plus you will get discount if keeping same number on a new phone as it classes as an upgrade

He interviewed her on her thoughts on her Lumia 928, and whether she's looking forward to Cortana in Spanish ;-)

I have the htc m8 and the camera is not bad at all until you zoom in and crop.  As far as a dedicated camera button, you can assign the volume button in the camera settings as the camera button to snap a pic on the m8.  Don't know if they will carry that over in the w8.

Yea, no. That's just some gimmick the feds put together to eventually decide what can or can not be decimated to the masses. Don't let polished words like "neutrality" lull you into believing it's for your benefit. Censorship is the ultimate end of this game.


So, no thank you. You can keep your "Net Neutrality".

I think interopbyt means that he wants some legislation done to ensure such censorship can't be allowed to take place.

All data should be treated equally.

Either government forces them to behave opening his theoretical censorship door or companies do what they want and charge for prioritized traffic.

How does forcing the internet service providers to treat all traffic equally have anything to do with censorship?  One has nothing to do with the other.  The government is not taking over their datacenters.  They are just enforcing policy though regulations.  It's no different than any of the other regulations on broadcasting, radio spectrum, telephone networks, electricity, water, roads, etc, etc, etc.  Actually, if they were really interested in censorship then allowing the ISPs to have their way would make more sense.  Then if someone was saying something you didn't like on the internet you could just cut bandwidth to or from that person, website, whatever and shut them right down.

Well, that's just it - if you got your phone through your contract, it isn't your phone until the provider says it is.

Non Contract? Maybe Retail. And All Retail Phone Unlocked

well maybe isn't unlocked because they never been locked to begin with

Nope, we have Pay'n'Go phones, (pre-pay) that are locked to the carrier you buy them with, after a certain length of time you can call the carrier and ask for the unlock code, or pay an unlocking service to unlock them, only a small number of places sell them unlocked to start with

It depends though. My HD7 and my mum's 920 were both bought outright through specific carriers and both have been used with different carrier sim's from day 1, without any unlocking process.

I mean, even though its subsidized, we do buy our phones upfront. How do we not own them the minute we leave the store? Now if your on Next type plans, obviously you don't own them unless you buy it out

No it is not your phone. Subsidized means you got it free or low cost while promising to stay with them for two years. Read the contract, because it is not your phone till you complete contract or buy it out. Do you really think something is yours because you paid 100 for a 600 item?

As if the president deserves credit. What, no phone or pen to make this a law indefinite? Please. I'll celebrate when the law is not temporarily up for review in two years or less.

What would be the consequence in the states if unlocking a phone was "illegal". Living in the UK... It sounds absurd that a government would have any say on the matter regarding personal electronic devices.

Well Finally someone do something the monopoly in us whit the companys is tremendous why you have to ask permision to the company for unlock your phone went you pay for it.

Because there are so many carriers on different frequencies, and because most Americans buy their phones at a reduced, subsidized, price and the cost of the phone is rolled into the two years worth of monthly contracts, most phones only work well on a single network and customers didn't really own the phones until contract end or buy out...

Eh, while it was technically "illegal," and some web sites that sold unlock codes were unfortunately forced to go out of business: It also wasn't ever highly enforced, if at all.

I've yet to hear of a single case of someone being punished for simply unlocking their device during its brief stint of being "illegal."

Well, the U.S. do like to think of themselves as 'land of the free'.... Yes it is absurd. Europe is so far ahead in terms of mobile technology, it's embarassing. I mean they still call them 'cell phones' for christ's sake. We left that moniker behind in the 80''s.........

The GSM capability of Verizon phones that have GSM capability is unlocked. The CDMA side is not. As if you could find another CDMA carrier that supports a Verizon phone and is willing to provision it.

I've been loosely following this story.

So it's legal to unlock your phone but carriers are not required to give you the unlock code, correct?

You will either have to have bought your phone outright or be in good standing with your carrier. Least, that's what I'm getting from it.

No, not zero change. Before the patent office failed, or decided not to, extend the exemption, I could pay some guy (web service) $25-$50 bucks to unlock my phone. For a period of time it was illegal for me to contract for it, and for them to do it. Once again I can legally get my phone unlocked by a third party.  I will however continue to be liable to my carrier for the monthly fee I have contracted for, for the period agreed to. It was, BTW, not illegal for AT&T to unlock an AT&T phone, ever.

Finally. Been waiting for this so I can grab the phone I want without breaking the bank trying to buy an unlocked phone that someone's jacked the price on.

Doesn't make a difference to me. It's not like I can create my own cell towers and provide my own service. My Titan II was unlocked, but never needed it to be. It's a benefit to some, but most don't care.

So if I unlock my 820, which I bought off contract. Will my phone upgrade to 8.1 quicker without the Sim? (Do not want to do dev preview yet)

Nope. Unlocking does not, ever, remove carrier branding nor does the SIM. My phone is unlocked and I use a different carrier SIM, but I must always wait for the original carrier to release updates. You need to basically hack your phone or re-flash it to do such a thing. I don't think even Dev unlock can do it.

This doesn't mean carriers are now forced to provide you with the inlocking code even if you bought the phone outright, does it?

Verizon doesn't run GSM in the states. Their phones only have it so their users can keep their phones when they go out of country. In the US, Verizon runs voice on CDMA and LTE bands neither of which work with ATT phones unless you have an iPhone.

I have the AT&T LUMIA 1520 -without service- so if I call AT&T customer service they will give me the code to unlock it???

I'll try calling T-Mobile again and see if I can get this Lumia 521 unlocked.  I tried a couple months ago and they basically told me F*#! Off

Yes you can unlock it to use on other carriers But you have to pay attention to the Bands that the phone radio supports. If your new carrier uses different Bands/Frequencies then you'll have issues like only being on 3g or edge. It all depends. Do your homework on each phones hardware.

No problem. If you're interested in a 1520 and live in the USA, you'll want the 1520.3 rm-938. It will work fully on both AT&T's and T-Mobile's networks.

Does this law apply if I purchased a Lumia 520, locked to AT&T? I believe it was a 'GoPhone' with no contract. It was only after purchase that I learned that many others had issues in getting this phone unlocked.

Btw. I've seen the AT&T device link getting posted in the comments. This link requires you to be an AT&T customer with service for at least 6 months. I am aiming to unlock this phone for use on a Canadian carrier.

I had the L520 on AT&T service for a while, when trying to get an unlock code, the requirements they had said was clean IMEI and 2 months of service.

Aside from yet ANOTHER flipping executive order, how is this a big deal?  First, your device would have to actually be able to WORK on another carrier's system.  How many people in the U.S. are actually running into locked phones as a problem?  I suspect--again--that this was a solution in search of a problem.

No, it isn't. Why is it that so many people here have this attitude of, "if it doesn't affect me, it is not a problem"? it is a very myopic way of thinking.

I travel quite a bit. I need fully unlocked phones. I ALWAYS buy my phones outright. I had a Lumia 925 with T-Mobile; called them to unlock it and they wouldn't do it because I was running a prepaid SIM. I was left with no choice but to discard the phone. 

WIth this law passing, T-Mobile is required to unlock the phone since I do not owe them a penny on the phone. And yes, they are the only ones that can unlock it since it is their branded phone. Is there a technical work around I could have used to unlock the phone. Probably. However, this law is saying I don't have to do all of that. Paid for the phone in full. Unlock my phone. Simple as that. 

And in case you haven't noticed; most parts of the world operate like this. And yes, MANY Americans travel. Do not judge the world by your own little circle. 


I am so very lost on this unlocking business of phones.


1. Does this affect SPRINT at all?

2. Can't I take a Verizon phone (unlocked) to Sprint to get it to work on that network??

I guess no, yet I really don't understand the reason why it is a no.


You can unlock your phone..... But most phones will loose LTE and/or all internet/WAN access as well as MMS - none of which are protected by this new law.
So while you can use your Phone, you can't use the Smart.

Here in Brazil the carriers were obligated to unlock the phone for theirs customers for years.

I think now a days they even don't lock anymore. But you still need to sign a loyalty contract (usually 1 year).

And even with contract sign you still need to pay for high end devices.

so if i am out of contract i can unlock my phone....


how about all the OTHER carriers requirements... like ATT.. that i HAVE to be a customer or Xcustomer

(i want to buy a phone off ebay.. clean esn..att..locked...in order to unlock it to use abroad)

In europe we have that for 4 years now. Finally it's a good thing for usera which don't change much their phone.

So, if I get a contract-free phone (like those Lumias 520 from Amazon), I'm free to unlock it immediately??

I've bought used phones off craigslist and ebay and carriers have refused to unlock them for me, they asked that i contact the original owner and have them unlock it for me.

I'm not from the U.S. and in a country where our phones are mostly unlocked. AND I'm happy U.S. users can now have their phones legally unlocked. But I still don't get it how it can be legal when the carrier subsidized the cost of the phone. Doesn't the phone belong to the carrier until you can fully pay it and get the right to unlock it?

Sigh, it's so much simpler in my country where you just buy the phone unlocked and do with it as you like.

I am from Nicaragua and I have a nokia lumia 520 at6t you shop at amazon, I can unlock it?

I am from Nicaragua and I have a nokia lumia 520 at6t you shop at amazon, I can unlock it?

in Chile till two years ago the phones were sold locked , was up of your phone company  get unlocked when you asked to them to do but   you lost the legal warranty of your phone,  now all phones comes  unlocked to be used with any phone smart card  only in Chile but   if use an different smart card  than your phone originally was on loose the phone warranty, in fact my phone is of the company Claro Chile but i use an smartcard of Movistar Chile  so i lost my phone warranty , also if you install  another  smartcard, that will not prevent from  still tied to your phone original comapny updates even if use   another smartcard