Sprint said it would unlock my phone – did it break its promise?

Sprint promises it will unlock Bill Fuller’s iPhone. Why won’t it?

Question: I have two iPhone 4S smartphones that I bought in 2011 under a two-year contract with Sprint. I made my final contracted monthly payment earlier this month. Both phones are now fully paid for and ostensibly are my property.

Sprint’s service coverage has been largely reduced in my area and I have frequent dropped calls and very low 3G speeds.

I recently received a notice from Sprint that on-network coverage in parts of Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas, (including along the I-70 Corridor), Southwest Kansas and Oklahoma Panhandle will change to roaming (off-network). Customers with Sprint-branded devices will be impacted when using services in the affected areas.

I need to move to another carrier and would like to take my expensive iPhones along with me.

I have explained all of the above to Sprint and despite this, Sprint refuses to carrier unlock the phones. I have spent two months getting contradictory information from their representatives and have been repeatedly lied to.

Over the last two weeks, I have exchanged multiple calls and emails with senior customer service representatives within Sprint. They repeatedly assured me that they were “looking into” my complaint but that they thought it was unlikely that they could provide me with the full carrier unlock I requested.

Thanks in advance for your time and any assistance you may be able to provide — Bill Fuller, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Answer: If Sprint promised to unlock your phone, then it should do so immediately. But did it?

Before I get to the answer, I should explain some of the wireless lingo we’re throwing around here. Your iPhone is locked by Sprint, which means it can only be used on Sprint’s network. But some carriers will unlock the phone at the end of your contract, and that’s what you were hoping Sprint would do after your two years.

You could have taken your unlocked phone to a different carrier that better meets your wireless communication needs, which is a perfectly reasonable request.

As I reviewed your chat transcript with Sprint, it seems the representative was offering you instructions on how to unlock your phone. She recommended taking it to a third party, who could unlock it. But I didn’t interpret it as an explicit promise to unlock your phone.

In the meantime, I’ve heard from several other Sprint customers who believe Sprint should unlock their phones. I agree. It would be nice of Sprint to unlock all of its phones after their contract ends. I also agree that Sprint may have led many other customers to believe that it could — and would — unlock its phones at the end of their contracts.

I list Sprint’s executive contacts on my site, but a review of your correspondence suggests you’ve already tried that route.

I’m not entirely convinced that Sprint promised to unlock your phone, but I still thought this issue should be clarified once and for all. Will the company unlock your phone — or not?

To find out, I contacted the company on your behalf. A representative assured me that, “Our team will reach out to Mr. Fuller directly,” but after several weeks, you hadn’t heard from anyone. I contacted Sprint again and asked about the progress of your case.

“Our Executive Services Team has been in touch with Mr. Fuller,” a Sprint representative said. “To protect customer privacy, we cannot share specifics.”

Ah, the old privacy excuse! Most reasonable people consider that waived when someone contacts me and shares their phone number, account number and address in an effort to get a case resolved, but that’s fine.

I checked back with you, and it turns out the communication was very private. So private that you never got the message. You say Sprint never contacted you.

That’s disappointing.

A few days later, Sprint posted a message on its forums that, “unfortunately at this time we are not able to unlock Sprint iPhones for domestic use.” I guess that’s Sprint’s final answer.

Did Sprint break its promise?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • polexia_rogue

    “the representative was offering you instructions on how to unlock your phone. She recommended taking it to a third party, who could unlock it.”

    i believe it

    a quick google search of “unlock iphone 4s” shows hundreds of sites that show you how to do it yourself. i think that is what the rep was trying to point at.

  • Justin

    “Sprint’s service coverage has been largely reduced in my area and I have frequent dropped calls and very low 3G speeds.

    As a begrudged 15 year customer of Sprint: Unlimited Data is limited by the unsustainability of their oversaturated network. 3g? More like “No G”. Sprint loads their towers without fixing capacity issues. Dropped Calls (Normal). Slow or no internet (Normal).

    I stuck with Sprint on the hopes the carrier instituted 4G within my lifetime. I gave up holding my breath and have missed the bandwagon on other provider’s unlimited service. Sprint has a problem of being easily distracted and running off in 10 directions. Sputtering along, Softbank now acquired Sprint.

    Ok Now onto your question:

    Seems from googling you can pay a company to unlock your phone or hope Sprint caves;

  • davidglass

    Notify the FCC, they have the ultimate authority to force carriers to stop using monopolistic, underhanded tactics on consumers after the owner of the phone has fulfilled all of the contractual obligations and should be free to use the phone as they see fit.

  • Jennifer M.

    I find it curious that a Sprint employee was providing information on how to unlock a phone through a third party service given that as of January 26, 2013, it is illegal to unlock a phone without carrier permission (even after your contract expires). There is a gov’t petition in front of the FCC now to reinstate the exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, but I think it is still winding its way through the system. http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2013/09/19/phone-and-tablet-unlocking-us-government-nudges-it-closer-to-law/

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    This time we agree. I’m guessing the stars are well aligned :-)

    Time to play the lottery.

  • Bill___A

    In Canada, I believe the carriers have a legal obligation to unlock phones, if requested, after three months. They are allowed to charge a fee for this service. A similar law in the USA would solve this problem once and for all. The carriers should compete on service, not forcing one to use them due to phone locking.

  • Joanne @ Anotefromabroad.com

    We chose to upgrade to the iPhone 5 because it is unlocked. We just returned from Thailand where it was easy to purchase a SIM card, insert, activate and we had a local phone with full Internet while we were there. When we returned yesterday, popped our original SIM cards back in and we were good to go here.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Out of curiosity, are phones subsidized in Canada? That being said, carriers should not be allowed to lock phones, even ones under contract. The contract is that you pay for the line. You should be able to do anything with the phone.

  • TonyA_says

    I’m curious. Isn’t Sprint’s network different from AT&T’s, Verizon’s, and T-Mobile’s. What good would an unlocked phone do since at best you are limited to HSPA+ on the other carrier’s network. Looks like you are stuck to your original network. Please educate me.

  • backprop

    The iPhone is CDMA/GSM capable. Sprint only uses the CDMA side. The GSM “side” on the OP’s phone is locked from other domestic carriers nonetheless.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Dude, just jailbreak it and unlock it yourself.
    If you can’t, find a 15 year old high school student to do it.



  • TonyA_says

    I understand that iPhones are “world phones” as you have indicated.
    However, I also understand, that for some reason, even if you get unlocked from your original carrier, its does not mean the new carrier can take your phone.
    Does this mean that there is truly no unlocked iPhone for the USA?

    Added: I have read that even unlocked Sprint iPhones can’t be used for Verizon even if both are on CDMA networks :(

  • Randy Culpepper

    What backprop said. I was able to get Sprint to unlock my phone just a few months into my contract because I travel a lot between the U.S. and Guatemala. When I’m here, The Sprint CDMA SIM runs the show. As soon as I land in Guatemala City, I pop in my Tigo SIM and I’m using GSM.

  • Randy Culpepper

    If he uses his iPhone to connect to his employer’s email or VPN, then he may be bound by a corporate technology or “bring your own device” policy forbidding jailbreaking/rooting.

  • EdB

    But it is now illegal for you to carrier unlock your phone yourself. That went into effect the first part of 2013 thanks to the Library of Congress dropping the exception to the DMCA.

  • http://www.pcmag.com/ Sascha Segan

    Sprint and Verizon both require CDMA authentication, and they won’t activate each others’ devices. AT&T and T-Mobile will both activate unlocked phones on the GSM side.

  • http://www.pcmag.com/ Sascha Segan

    Chris, this is a little more complicated than you’re putting on.

    The question is: what network does this guy want to use his phone on? The locations he wants to list aren’t good for T-Mobile, so they’re out. Verizon will not activate anyone else’s iPhones, unlocked or no, so they’re out. That leaves only AT&T.

    An unlocked formerly-Sprint iPhone 4S will work on AT&T’s 3G network, sure, but it won’t be able to hit AT&T’s LTE network, which is where a lot of the buildout is right now. So he’ll be trading in a mediocre cell phone experience for a different, mediocre, and more expensive cell phone experience. The best solution is to sell this phone on eBay – they have really good resale value – and buy a new phone for whichever carrier he actually wants to use.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    Sascha, thanks for the insights. This is very helpful, and I’ll be sure to pass it along to the OP.

  • TonyA_says

    Thank you.
    I was most concerned with moving an unlocked iPhone WITHIN THE USA to another carrier after one’s contract is over.
    So based on what you just wrote, if one has a Sprint iPhone, unlocking it does not mean one can move to Verizon using the same phone :(

    Also I had read that between AT&T and T-Mobile, unless you are using the new iPhone 5 or 5s, you won’t easily shift between AT&T’s LTE and T-Mobile’s 4G network.

    I guess all these maddening things were done in purpose.

  • BillCCC

    I do not see anything in this story to indicate that Sprint promised anything. It is really hard to break a promise that was never made. It would be nice if they did unlock the phone at the end of the contract but that is not same as claiming that they promised to unlock the phone.

  • TonyA_says

    The most interesting thing I found out traveling overseas is that we (here in the USA) pay a lot more for data. And, we are almost prisoners to our carrier’s data plans.

    I decided to buy a Samsung Dual SIM smartphone overseas and use prepaid SIMs. One of the foreign SIMs allows me to roam in the USA. As long as I have sufficient load on the card, it won’t deactivate so I can keep that number (for the country I visit often).

    The concept of locked and unlocked does not seem to exist in other countries :) They will unlock anything I guess.

  • Mike

    Get a new 4S for $49 or less IF willing to sign a two year contract.

  • EdB

    Does the iPhone 4s even have any type of 4G? I don’t recall it does so no matter what carrier he goes to, his speed will be limited by that.

  • http://www.pcmag.com/ Sascha Segan

    Hi, Tony. Yes, Verizon will refuse to activate a phone that was sold by Sprint. And you are correct, only the newest models have all the appropriate AT&T and T-Mobile frequencies.

    While the AT&T/T-Mobile thing had some technical reasons for it up until pretty recently (it’s tough to stuff all of those bands into one phone) the Verizon/Sprint thing is just pointless spite.

    As I said, just sell this phone and get a Verizon model. I’m looking on eBay right now and you’ll probably be able to get $175 for your phone. If you sign up for a two-year Verizon contract, that’s close to the price of a shiny new 5S.

  • http://www.pcmag.com/ Sascha Segan

    You’re right, the 4S is pretty slow. Especially if you’re looking at AT&T or Verizon as carriers, I find it really hard to recommend any phone without LTE nowadays.

  • http://www.pcmag.com/ Sascha Segan

    Seriously, if you ever have cell phone questions, you know where to find me :)

  • jerryatric

    Yes I received a “free” I phone after signing up for a THREE year contract. It is correct for a small fee my provider will unlock my phone at the end of the term. Our gov’t. Has finally stepped in & now 2 yr. contracts are the max. Allowable.

  • rn74

    Not true. That only applies to phones purchased after that change, and it really doesn’t say it’s illegal. It leaves it to the courts to decide should the carriers sue someone for unlocking a device. The carriers claimed it violates the DMCA and the Library of Congress simply dropped the explicit exemption.

    I would leave it to the attorneys here, but I find it hard to believe a court would penalize someone for unlocking their own property. I doubt a carrier would even attempt it.

  • EdB

    I was noticing the same thing. Wherr exactly did Sprint promise to unlock the phone? Even Chris acknowledged he didn’t think a promise wad made…

    “But I didn’t interpret it as an explicit promise to unlock your phone.”

  • Londoner1936

    Next time buy a factory unlocked iPhone, buy a SIM from a carrier which serves your area, and take it from there … That’s whatnot did.

    More importantly how and when do we stop these expensive monopolistic practices which tie abuser to one carrier? When buyers stop buying smart phones tied to those carriers, pay for the phone, and take it from there. The Europeans got this one right, no tied phones, a common technology for cell phones, and choose your carrier; and this is true in most of the remaining parts of the world.

  • TonyA_says

    Chris, from a consumer advocate’s point-of-view, this is not only the OP’s problem. The nuances that come with these smartphones make them “less standard” and make it difficult for consumers to switch from one carrier to another. Essentially you will need to buy a new iPhone if you want to move to another carrier and maximize the use their network (what you are paying for). Forget portability (except maybe for the phone number).

  • TonyA_says

    I wish it was that simple in the USofA. I almost did what you recommended last week. Went to the apple website and looked at the iPhone 5s. After some clicking at that site I realized I had to get married to a carrier.

  • rn74

    It seems that way, but if you just don’t click on a carrier but do everything else you can buy one unlocked.

  • Tinkerbellmarie

    I think that Sprint broke its promise when he “received a notice from Sprint that on-network coverage in parts of Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas, ……. will change to roaming (off-network). Customers with Sprint-branded devices will be impacted when using services in the affected areas.” He had been assured of better coverage when he bought the phone, and now they have defaulted to a lesser service. Hook customers and then default? Contract broken by Sprint if you ask me!

  • emanon256

    I am voting yes on this one. After the costumer has paid for the phone, in full, why would sprint have any reason to keep it locked, unless they are being evil. I have always though of Sprint as one of the best, most honest companies, and my opinion is totally changes now. I completely understand keeping it locked while its subsidized, but once its over, its as if the customer paid in full for the phone. It’s the customers phone.

    I have been with AT&T for quite a while now, and they have always unlocked my phones once I reach the end of the terms, and I generally give them to family on other comparable networks. One I sold to Gazelle. One time AT&T even unlocked my phone while I was still under contract, I told them I was traveling abroad and would like to use a pre-paid SIM, they told me no problem and un-locked it. They did send me a letter a little over a year ago when I got a new phone saying they can no longer un-luck it until the contract is over, so I guess that was a one-time deal

  • emanon256

    I don’t trust those sites. They all have disclaimers that the “unlocking” may not take, and the fee is still due regardless, and they make no guarantees it will actually be unlocked. My friend paid $30 to get his phone unlocked, and said it didn’t work. I put two and two together and decided that these third parties must be scams.

  • emanon256

    I can not agree more. The contract is still in force, even if the phone is unlocked, so why not unlock it?

  • emanon256

    My mom used to use my old iPhone 3 on T-Mobile with no issue. AT&T unlocked it, we went to T-Mobile and got a new sim, worked perfectly. Also, I believe a lot of the pre-paid carriers will let you use unlocked Sprint phones, because the rent network space from Sprint. I see ads for them a lot, and they all say they will accept any unlocked iPhone from any carrier.

  • emanon256

    I have a friend who lives in Ireland. He had to pay full price for his iPhone, he said no-one subsidizes phones over there, you always pay upfront. However, he pays 22 Euro a month (about $30) with no contract for unlimited LTE Data, text, and talk, including free EU roaming. I really wish we had that system here. I would gladly pay full price for my phone if we had reasonable carrier prices and unlimited everything.

  • TonyA_says

    I agree 100%. This whole subsidy thing is just smoke and mirrors. Probably costs more in the end.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Without question they make more that way, else they wouldn’t be doing it. It’s a far simpler model to just sell the phone for full price, then handle the monthly service as an unrelated transaction. The fact they’re willing to hand out phones worth hundreds of dollars for little or nothing makes it clear they’ve got to be making up for that somehow.

  • DavidYoung2

    We live in a major metropolitan area, and there are dozens of people who offer to unlock your phone at their site. That way you can be sure the phone is unlocked before you fork over any cash.

    BTW, T-Mobile will unlock your phone immediately after it’s paid in full. I know they’re the ‘Walmart of Wireless’ in terms of quality and coverage, but at least they’ll let you ‘own’ the phone for which you’ve fully paid.

  • So AbFab

    I just brought a new unlocked iphone 4 to the UK, where I temporarily will live. The phone is part of my family’s US AT&T-plan and cannot be unlocked in the US (new contract).
    Any idea where I can unlock it and start using a sim card ?
    Should I try an Apple store ?

  • TonyA_says

    Last week the AT&T branch sales lady explained to me the latest plan in this order:

    (a) pay xx dollars a month and get the latest iPhone EACH YEAR

    (b) pay $299 once and get the iPhone 5s 32gb with 2 year contract extension.

    Option (a) looks like a car lease to me. You always have a new phone at the end of the year.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    Values, ethics and morals. Do the right thing, Sprint, take care of your customer, it’s your duty regardless of the fine print. A more appealing reason to the corporate culture … you never know when he might be back. Or how many future customers you’ll lose who read about your useless CS department.

  • emanon256

    Is it locked or unlocked? If it’s unlocked, most mobile stores or even convenience stores can sell you a pre-paid SIM, or you can sign up for a month to month contract with any carrier. As far as unlocking it, I am not sure where to send you.

  • emanon256

    Ive never been a fan of leasing cars, I prefer to not always have a payment. Even witht eh subsidised phones, once it’s paid off, your monthly rate stays the same. At least when I buy a car, once its paid off, I no lonegr have car payments.

  • Londoner1936

    Right; is it locked or unlocked. If you bought for use in Britain using a locally bought SIM then you can use it in the US, also using a US purchased SIM as suggested above. Whether it will fit into ATT’s family plan or not is another matter, but you can certainly use the phone in the US. I travel between the US and France, and do it all the time – here on the T-Mobile network, and there on the ultra-cheap “Free.fr” network. Just change the SIM on the aircraft. The US phone providers have deliberately managed to tie up and control the US market, and the result = no choice or flexibility for the users, and absurdly high prices and profits for the providers. Give me the European approach every time.

  • Londoner1936

    Exactly; Apple, in cahoots with the carriers does all it can to obscure the availability of unlocked phones. I bought an unlocked 3GS that way, and a later one at an Apple store.

  • Londoner1936

    NO, it costs you more in the end, but makes big bucks for the carriers … and yes, in Europe (Ireland, Britain, France and elsewhere) you buy the phone, and you pay for the service … the carriers will sell you phones to be paid for on monthly payments, and they sell contracts for service, but there is no need to fall for that system. If it works, and it does in France, I know because a number of young people cannot put down the purchase price, but figure they can make monthly payments … those with the purchase money, normally buy up front and choose their carrier and plan.

  • Londoner1936

    Glad to note you make a dual SIM phone work in the way you describe. Until now I have changed my SIM on changing countries, but as we go almost entirely to France now, I am planning to buy a Dual SIM and do what you are doing.

  • TonyA_says

    To be very clear.
    I had to call my carrier here in the USA before I can attempt to transfer my old SIM card to any new phone (that came from overseas).
    They have to agree to mask the IMEI to “111…” or else automatic inclusion of a data plan will happen. In this particular dual sim phone I did not care to have a data plan in the USA.

    I don’t know how plans work in the UK. But if you are prepaid then I can’t see how they can ding you for buying your own phone.

  • Londoner1936

    Why would they care about losing a customer; for everyone they lose by being absurd, they gain another from another carrier which is equally absurd in its policies … US cell phone users have no real choice, are abused by the companies, as along as they buy into this system of phones locked into carriers. We need a protest, and an end to this system, and then an appeal to the “corporate culture” or more specifically to the rigors of a competitive business setting, might actually work … lowering prices, giving customers some real choice and real power. Right now most of the cell phone companies have an oligopolistic stranglehold on the customers they pretend to serve.

  • TonyA_says

    I wonder. If carriers did not “subsidize” the phones, wouldn’t the credit card or finance companies simply take over?

    How many people can afford to pay $700 cash up front for a phone? So a family of 5 needs $3.5k just to get iPhones?

    How do they do this in Europe or in Asia? Where is all the money coming from?

  • emanon256

    I assume the CC companies would take over, but hopefully the rates for the service would be lower to compensate for the new credit payments. Also, since people are paying less for service over the years, they should have more money for buying that next phone, or so one would hope.

    I have seen the mentality in the US change over the years. When I was younger, people had to “Save Up” for things. I remember saving up for many things so I could buy them. There also used to be layaway, I bought my first TV on layaway. Layaway has been replaced with instant store credit. Now its all about instant gratification, get it now, worry about paying for it later. I think that has been a huge problem in this country, people keep buying things they can’t afford an probably shouldn’t be buying. I also think owning something is more meaningful when I worked for it.

    When I used to teach personal finance, I would show my students what happens if they buy a car with a car loan, or they make pre car payments into a CD until they have enough money to buy a car outright. The difference between the interest paid and interest earned, netted them a $4,000-$6,000 gain depending on rates. So by not getting that car right now, and keeping their old car longer, taking the bus, bicycle, etc., they made an additional $4,000+ they could either put towards a nicer car, or save for something else.

    So, for the family of 5, first off, why do they all need new iPhones? And why at the same time? Regardless, if they get it here in the states, its still $1,000 cash upfront for the $200 phones, and then a much higher rate for the service because its paying back the subsidy and additional profit. In our system, that same family ends up paying more than they would in Europe.

  • sunshipballoons

    How can anyone answer “yes” to this poll? The letter from the reader literally never says anywhere that Sprint promised to unlock the phone. I’d think he would have said so if Sprint had said that. In fact, it literally says the opposite: “Sprint refuses to carrier unlock the phones.”

  • y_p_w

    The Electronic Frontiers Foundation claims that the locking mechanism isn’t a “digital rights management” concern, because it doesn’t technically protect copyrighted content (music or software). However, they’ve gotten the exemption to make it clear that there was nothing illegal about a phone being unlocked.

    The main issue with an unauthorized unlocking is that it may not work very well. The unlock code provided by the service provider will almost always work without a problem.

  • y_p_w

    It may not technically be illegal to have a phone unlocked without carrier permission. Some legal theories are that phone locking isn’t protecting content per se. However, it hasn’t been tested in the courts.

  • backprop

    That’s frequent (though mild) hyperbole used for dramatic effect, I think. Almost any mention from a company, no matter how small, how tentative, how many conditions are attached, or how low the person is on the totem pole is called a “promise.”

  • Grant Ritchie

    Why don’t people do a little self-help before pestering Chris with things like this? I just Googled “How to unlock Sprint iPhone 4S for any carrier,” and found a ton of websites with advice on how to do exactly that. Do your own damned work.

  • Grant Ritchie

    Have you tried Google yet?

  • EdB

    Yes, the information is out there. But the OP may not be experienced enough to do it themselves. Most of those sites have big warning messages that if you do it incorrectly, you could brick your phone.

  • jim6555

    AT&T uses the 1900 Mhz bands for 4G services. T-Mobile was using only the 1700/2100 Mhz bands for their 4G services. Last year,T-Mobile, in an effort to get AT&T customers to bring their unlocked iPhones to them, acquired 1900 Mhz bandwidth in almost all major US markets and has nearly completed turning up enhanced 4G or LTE service on this frequency. Newer T-Mobile iPhones are able to provide service on the 1700, 1900 and 2100 bands. I believe that 1900 Mhz is the international standard which means that unlocked iPhones from both US major GSM carriers will work in most countries overseas.

  • jpp42

    There are probably scams online, but the unlocking services offered by independent phone retailers/repairers, in their brick and mortar shops, aren’t scams by any means. Otherwise they’d never remain in business and be able to pay the rent. If it was done at a shop like this, your friend should take his phone back and have them retry it, and make them prove it works before leaving the shop.

  • TonyA_says

    Jim, thanks for explaining this.
    This is so clear.

  • jpp42

    In Australia, like Canada, the contract doesn’t need to be expired for the phone to be unlocked. The carrier will still unlock your phone after three months – or maybe even immediately – if you have a contract. This is so that you can put in different SIM cards to use overseas. The contract remains in force so the company is getting their money.

  • jpp42

    This is why in Asia, Samsung, HTE, etc, smartphones are so much more popular!

  • jpp42

    But aren’t those GSM-only phones which will only work on AT&T, T-Mobile, and international networks? If you want a CDMA phone for Verizon or Sprint, you have to choose the carrier-locked ones, and CDMA phones can’t ever be “unlocked” in a way to work on other CDMA carriers due to their authentication system.

  • jpp42

    Go to an independent mobile phone shop – not one operated by the major carriers – in the UK there should be plenty of these in any mall or shopping district. If you can’t find one in your immediate area try the closest Chinatown-like area.

  • jpp42

    I think you should check into T-mobile. They are the underdog right now and have much more customer flexible policies in an effort to woo customers from the Big Three (fast becoming the Big Two with Sprint’s decline). Yes, their network isn’t as widespread but if the coverage is okay in your area they need to be strongly considered.

  • EdB

    CDMA phones can be unlocked. The question is will the carrier active it.

    Just get a Nexus 5 and don’tworry about it. Even the ones sold through the carriers are unblocked and support both CDMA and GSM. :)

  • Asiansm Dan

    On your next trip to Asia, bring it with you, they unlock any phone for less than 5$.

  • omgstfualready

    If you have a crystal ball I’d love to know when Verizon is getting the Nexus 5. I’m dying for a new phone and don’t want to settle for the HTC One (I have to stay on Verizon for coverage). I am fairly certain the week after I get the HTC One the deal with Google will come out!!

  • Londoner1936

    Completely agree: myself, I use T-Mobile, and they are now the most flexible in choice of plans or pay as you go. It would be excellent if T-mobile could pull plenty of customers from the “legacy” US carriers.

  • http://www.pcmag.com/ Sascha Segan

    At this time there is no plan to bring the Nexus 5 to Verizon. If you like the Nexus experience, though, consider the Moto X.

  • Helio

    Tony, in Brazil an unlocked iPhone costs about US$1000… but our minimum wage is about US$300/month :-/

  • TonyA_says

    Did you miss a sentence?
    Like “but everyone has an iPhone in Brazil”… :)
    I observed similar phenomenon in Manila.
    Average call center employee makes something like US$450 a month. Yet you see them in Starbucks with iPhones AND iPads used at same time.

  • BMG4ME

    My parents visited from the UK and were able to get a SIM card from T Mobile to use their phone here for a small flat fee. Can you do that the other way round with any carrier here when you travel overseas? I suspect not, and if I am right, that should be changed.

  • BMG4ME

    Also you are breaking the terms of the contract that you agreed to when you signed up, so while the contract may not be a reasonable one, it’s still not ethical to renege on it.

  • EdB

    My boss has sprint and travels to Europe several times a year and just gets a SIM card over there to use. So I guess it goes both ways.

  • EdB

    There is nothing in my contact that says I can’t root, or jailbreak with iphone, my phone.

  • BMG4ME

    Is his phone unlocked or can anyone do this? BTW I have heard that some carriers have corporate plans that make this unnecessary when traveling overseas.

  • BMG4ME

    Are you saying that because you assume it, or did you read the contract from start to finsh?

  • EdB

    As far as I know, he has not unlocked his phone. You just have to make sure you get a phone with an accessible SIM card. He had a Note 2 but couldn’t replace the card so switched to a different one. We are a small company and don’t have any type of corporate plan.

  • EdB

    Because I have read it. Do you know there is such a clause because you have read it or just assuming?

  • BMG4ME

    Actually I thought I had read on their contract that it wasn’t allowed but apparently not so either they have changed or I am just assuming…

  • whatexit

    No mobile carrier worth its salt is going to allow a customer to get away. Unlocking phones are not in the carrier’s best interest.
    if the customer insists on becoming an ex-customer, the carrier probably does not want devices with its logo on them connecting with another carrier.
    I suggest the person in this story to suck it up, go to a new carrier and get new phones. Then take the old phones to have them recycled.

  • whatexit

    Sprint’s network is at best, weak.

  • Rob Rex

    A Sprint iPhone would only work on Verizon’s 3G (not 4G) network, and on any of Sprint’s MVNO’s. And that’s provided that the other carrier would let a Sprint phone onto their network.

    In short, going with Sprint is like buying HD-DVD’s, 8-Tracks, and Betamax.

  • Greg80

    But does not the article state that the OP is no longer under contract? It’s his phone, his contractual agreement is up, so he can do with it as he pleases although they are obviously not required to help him defect.

  • Greg80

    Just be prepared to spend a lot for the phone. I received an email from Costco today for a Galaxy S4 that would cost me $26 a month for 24 moths for a total of $624! No thanks.

  • James

    As somebody who works for Sprint, I can assure you that Sprint simply will NOT unlock your phone for domestic use. Period. In fact, they don’t have any kind of program in their system that is designed for domestically unlocking your phone. During my training period, I was explicitly told not to even MENTION anything about an MSL or unlock code under the threat of being a terminable offense. I was also told to pretend like I have never heard of jailbreaking a device for the same reasons.

    If you feel like a Sprint rep is lying to you, that may be true. I have personally seen employees fired for much much less than the before mentioned reasons. Just remember, these people are just doing their jobs and are trying to support their families. It’s not their fault that Sprint forces them to lie even if (like myself) they know the real reason Sprint won’t unlock your device.

  • EdB

    That’s interesting. Given the fact on my account page on sprint.com I have a link to get to codes to unlock my phone. Or is this a different code you are referring to?

  • EdB

    Damn link filter.

    That’s interesting given the fact that on my account page on the Sprint website it has a link for getting the unlock codes. Or are you talking about a different unlock code?

  • James

    They’ve changed their policy recently. This was when I first started. Now they will provide the unlock codes upon request considering you’ve met all the requirements. The code itself won’t unlock the device. We’re told that other carriers can use the MSL code to program the phone to their network. Whether that’s true or not I don’t know but I’ve had customers tell me that other carriers won’t touch the phone unless it’s specifically unlocked by Sprint…which won’t happen.

  • EdB

    I’m confused. You originally said, “I can assure you that Sprint simply will NOT unlock your phone for domestic use. Period.”, but then claim they have changed the policy to allow unlocking. And then you state “unless it’s specifically unlocked by Sprint…which won’t happen.”? So which is it? Are they allowing unlocking or not? And if not, why are they giving unlock codes? What exactly does those unlock codes unlock?

  • Owen Frederick

    Just to clarify Apple is one that actually unlocks the phone, they do it once the carrier has sent them the request along with the phone’s MEID. However, even if Apple unlocks the phone it’s unlikely you’ll be able to use it on another carrier. First of all the top 4 US wireless carriers don’t operate on the same frequency bands, and in most cases the device is made specifically for that carrier by the manufacture. Second because of this some carriers won’t allow you to use another carrier’s device on their network when you do switch. However, you will have the best luck using an AT&T device on T-Mobile and vice versa. Sprint and Verizon’s CDMA networks complicate device porting. So before you get your hopes up; you might want to check to see what frequency bands your device supports, and if the carrier you want to move to will allow you to use your old device!