What Does Carrier Locked Mean?

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If you have become the owner of a new device: a tablet, smart watch, and especially a smartphone, you are a real lucky person, because a new electronic device is always a new opportunity for communication. However, often the purchase of a new phone is accompanied by an unpleasant problem – binding to a certain telecom operator or carrier locked. Many of us face this situation, when a new gadget turns out to be “locking” to a certain operator, which limits the freedom of choice. In addition, this lock-in can restrict you from using the desired SIM card or tariff plan that is requiring for your needs. This causes inconvenience and can affect you financially. But don’t despair – there are several ways to get around this problem and unlock your device to enjoy all its features regardless of your service provider.

What is Сarrier Locked?

What does carrier lock mean? Imagine that you went to a mobile phone shop offline or online on the website and saw a phone that meets all your needs and desires at a favourable price. That is, not only have you found the necessary functionality on the device, but you also have to pay a very inexpensive price. However, during the consultation, the seller explains that the phone is relating to only one operator, so the price is such. So this example from real life is an explanation of what is the point of carrier lock. What are the features of this mechanism? Let’s find out.

What is Сarrier Locked? 

The nuances of carrier lock that a beginner and a professional should know about:

  • Firstly, your new gadget “locked” at the software level so that it recognises only SIM-cards of this operator and refuses to work with cards of other companies;
  • Secondly, it is important to remember that your smartphone is configurable to automatically connect to a particular operator’s network, even if others are available in that region;
  • Third, in some cases the carrier may block certain features of the phone, such as the ability to activate Wi-Fi giveaway mode to limit data usage;
  • Fourthly, if you want to use another organisation’s data plan, you may need to sent a letter with ask to unlock of your gadget from your current carrier. This is a complicating process, especially if the contract is not yet finalised, as it may be followed by opening a dispute over the issue;
  • Fifth, to make a more expensive device affordable, certain companies may sell it at a discounted price or in instalments in exchange for a long-term telecoms agreement.

If you have figured out what is carrier lock, let’s look at the reasons why this situation occurs.

5 Main Reasons for Carrier Locked

Carefully read five common reasons for carrier lock. After all, as you know, if you have information, you are 90% armed.

  1. Tempting promotions and discounts. Operators offer phones at a lower price or in instalments in exchange for a long-term contract for telecom services. This allows them to attract customers and ensure a steady income;
  2. Bid for long-term relationship. Bundling creates a barrier to switching to another mobile service provider due to early repayment of the contract or unlocking of the device. This helps operators retain their customer base and prevent loss of customers;
  3. Supporting technical capabilities. Some devices are optimising to work with a particular network or the specifications of a particular operator. It is worth contacting professionals to obtain information about the device;
  4. Device subsidies. Operators can subsidise the cost of devices by including them in contract payments. This makes expensive models more affordable for customers, but in return the device will only work with that operator;
  5. Manufacturer partnerships. Carriers can make deals with device manufacturers to create exclusive versions or features that work only with their network.

Can I Unlock My Phone with Carrier Locked?

Yes, usually it is possible to unlock a smartphone locked to a specific mobile company. What fears do I have to face before unlocking?

  • In some cases, deploying a device may void the manufacturer’s or carrier’s warranty, especially if the unlocking process is unable;
  • Incorrect deploying or use of unreliable services may result in loss of some device features or performance;
  • Deployed device may encounter problems installing official firmware updates, which may affect security;
  • Improper deploying process may result in temporary or even permanent locking of the device, rendering it inoperable.

However, if you turn to certified companies, you can safely unlock your device as there are advantages to such a device.

Benefits of Unlocking Your Smartphone with Carrier Locked

  • If you are travelling abroad, an after-locking phone will allow you to use local SIM cards to save on roaming charges. This can significantly reduce your communication costs when travelling;
  • After-locking allows you to choose the best data plan for your needs, without limits to terms from just one operator;
  • You will be able to use various features and services that may not be available or not on a locked gadgets.

How Do I Know if My Phone is Unlocked?

3 easy ways to do it:

  1. The first is to go directly to the mobile phone salon where you bought the smartphone and try to negotiate unlocking. Remember that the contract always describes this situation;
  2. The second is to turn to unlicensed services of companies that offer the service at a reasonable price and with fast speed, but read reviews about the company, study the reputation;
  3. The third – the simplest – to assess in advance all the pros and cons of buying a gadget with cellular blocking on one operator, and make an informed choice, taking into account the capabilities of the e-SIM, which is likely to be in the selected device.

Some tips: If you decide to change mobile company, the new one may offer you assistance in deploying your phone so that you can use their services. But how to check if my phone is unlocked?

The most effective way to check your gadget after-unlocking is to try to insert a SIM of another operator into your phone, or if you plan to use eSIM, try to activate Embedded SIM on your device using detailed instructions from mobile company.


Carrier lock plays a significant role in modern mobile devices. It provides an ecosystem of services and features provided by the operator and may include subsidised phones, special tariffs and offers. However, this option also limits the user’s freedom to choose an operator, change tariffs or use the device outside the country. Deploying your smartphone allows you to get rid of these restrictions and use your phone with a SIM card of any operator.

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