So you bought a Samsung smartphone through your carrier, and now you’re trying to, as Freddie Mercury sang, “Break free.” There’s a way to do so without too much of a headache, though it’s all contingent on whether or not you’ve paid off your device with your current carrier. In most cases, the carrier will also want you to wait a few months after it’s been paid in full before you hop on the next train. The idea is to discourage you from leaving in the first place.

If you own the device, you are allowed to unlock it. Here are a few ways to divorce your Samsung device from your carrier. Note that some providers automatically unlock a device 60 days after it’s been paid off completely.

How to unlock a Samsung phone tied to a carrier

Remember to read your carrier’s terms and conditions before starting on the path. Also, be sure to back up your device and its files to the cloud before you attempt any of this—I suggest that as a general rule of thumb when doing anything on your computing devices.

On your Samsung smartphone, go to Settings and type in “IMEI.” Other places will tell you to dial a number using the Phone app. You don’t have to do this. The search bar in the Samsung settings panel can do the labor here instead. Once you reveal the number, you can long-press it to copy it to your clipboard.

Next, paste that IMEI number somewhere you can read it. Then, call your carrier to start the unlocking process. Find your way through the customer support rigamarole. Sometimes, you can even unlock your phone through a “chat” option with your carrier. They will ask you for all the requisite information, including your IMEI number, which you copied earlier.

Some carriers, like AT&T, require you to complete an online request form before unlocking your device. The process takes a few business days to complete, which is annoying. But again, these policies are constructed to encourage you not to bother.

Third-party unlocking services

I have never used a third-party unlocking service. I also tend to buy directly from the manufacturer. Of course, that’s not always the case for everyone, and you may find that your carrier is making it difficult to leave. In that case, you might try a third-party unlocking service like DoctorSIM. Essentially, you pay for them to take care of the process. But I would only consider this if you’re facing extreme difficulty divorcing a device from your carrier.


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