SIM unlocking phones is something that comes up in the legal world every so often, with the most recent event making it completely legal to unlock your device. Like any other law, though, the fine print changes, and on February 11th there will be some slightly tweaked rules to go by when getting your smart device unlocked to use on other networks.
Most of the rules generally stay the same, but some of the details have been altered to keep up with the changing landscape of buying phones. When purchasing a subsidized phone, if you sign a 2-year contract for your device and it’s paid off, your carrier is still legally obligated to unlock the phone for you. This now extends to installment plans, too. Prepaid phones are similar, but the carrier has up to a year to unlock the device. A carrier can wait on unlocking your device for up to 12 months without doing anything wrong, which is frustrating, but if you’re buying prepaid phones and you want it to be unlocked, searching out a factory unlocked phone might be the better option.
So long as you’re still with the carrier that sold you the device, they’ll have to unlock your device for free, which is great. If you’re no longer with said carrier, they’ll be allowed to charge a “reasonable” fee, which will likely vary among carriers. Whether that’s good or bad depends on who you ask, but that’s how it’ll be.
A good thing that’s coming out of this is how carriers will start unlocking devices. Instead of dealing with unlock codes and pins, carriers will be able to push a signal out to a phone over the air, since that’s something most newer hardware supports. Sprint is reportedly going to start automatically unlocking phones like that once they’re out of contract or paid off, which is nice, if they manage to do it consistently.
via: Pocket Now