new bill passed the United States House of Representatives making iPhone, smartphone and cell phone unlocking from one carrier to another easier, except for bulk unlocking. The bill is called the "Cell Phone Freedom Bill."
Te bill legalizes iPhone, cell phone and smartphone unlocking, making cell phone unlocking legal if the unlocking is " initiated by the owner ----by another person at the direction of the owner, or by a provider of a commercial mobile radio service or a commercial mobile data service."
The new bill specifically excludes bulk unlocking which could be because of legal interpretations that unlocking relates to copyright law. The current Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it illegal to break digital locks on music/ebooks and software as wells as software that "locks" the mobile device to a specific carrier.
Recently, the FCC advocated that it should be easier to make iPhone, Android and cell phone unlocking easier for consumers. Carriers will be putting the new guidelines into effect, in March.
The FCC guidelines include:
- Easy-to-understand and accessible cell phone unlocking polices.
- Notification or automatic unlocking of phones at time of eligibility.
- Unlocking withing 48 hours of request by customers or provide an explanation.
- Unlocking of devices for deployed military personnel.
Getting an unlocking code from a carrier for an iPhone can be difficult. Policies can require jumping through lots of hoops.
If you want to unlock your iPhone 4/4S/5/5S in most cases you have to request the service from you carrier. If you buy an unlocking code it can be very expensive and not worth it.
With AT&T you can unlock your iPhone 4/4S/5/5S from AT&T when you have paid for it and completed you contract. Prepaid carriers will be required to unlock phones from the carrier after a year of service.
We previously published a free How to Unlock Your iPhone 5/5S/5c Free Guide that is still up-to-date.
We suggest that you do not buy a locked iPhone unless it is specifically for the carrier you will be using. Starting with the iPhone 5 Apple added more band frequencies to iPhone models for international roaming. If you are shopping for a used iPhone make sure that it is compatible withe right radio bands for your carrier.
If you have a SIM(the little card that connects to the network) you can try out your SIM, to see if it works. Often iPhones have different size SIMs that your old models. The iPhone 4S and 4 use a micro SIM card, while iPhone/iPhone3/iPhone3G use "SIM" card.
iPhone 5/5S/5C use the nano-SIM card. Sometimes, third parties such as Amazon sell SIM cutters that let you cut the SIM to the correct size. There are small cards with cut-outs called SIM adapter to make nano or micro SIMs larger.