Verizon plans to start locking new smartphones this spring

In a move that brings Verizon in line with the rest of the wireless carrier industry, the company says they will start locking smartphones that it sells to consumers. By locking the devices, consumers will not be able to just pop in a SIM card from another carrier and have a working phone. The reason for the change according to Verizon is to combat theft of smartphones. Interestingly, Verizon notes the biggest source of stolen Verizon phones is stock lifted on its way to a Verizon retail store or criminals shoplifting devices from retail stores.

According to Tami Erwin, executive vice president of wireless operations for Verizon,

“We’re taking steps to combat this theft and reduce fraud. These steps will make our phones exponentially less desirable to criminals.”

Although this will be a change for Verizon customers, the carrier indicates new devices will be unlocked almost immediately – though the specific time period is not specified – after purchase via a software update. Probably the highest risk buyers who could see an impact would be one who buys a phone and then immediately travels out of the country with plans to install a locally-sourced SIM card to avoid international roaming fees. People in those situations will now need to contact Verizon to unlock the device before switching the SIM card.

Compared to other major wireless carriers, Verizon’s policy up to this change to sell unlocked devices was the exception rather than the norm. The other carriers – AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile – all require minimum time on the service ranging from 40 to 60 days and that the devices be fully paid for before they will unlock them. T-Mobile does offer to temporarily unlock a device for owners planning travel out of the country.

source: CNET


About the Author: Jeff Causey

Raised in North Carolina, Jeff Causey is a licensed CPA in North Carolina. Jeff's past Android devices include an HTC EVO, a Samsung Note II, an LG G3, and a Motorola Moto X Pure Edition along with a Samsung Galaxy Tablet 10.1. He currently uses a Samsung Galaxy S8 and (very rarely) a Nexus 7 (2013). He is also using a Verizon-branded Motorola Moto Z Play Droid supplied by his job. Jeff used to have a pair of Google Glass and a Moto 360 Sport in his stable of gadgets. Unfortunately, his kids have all drunk the Apple Kool-Aid and have i-devices. Life at home often includes demonstrations of the superiority of his Android based devices. In his free time, Jeff is active an active runner usually training for his next marathon, owns a MINI Cooper, and plays Dungeons & Dragons. Jeff has three mostly grown kids and a golden retriever.


  • Vince Callas

    In Canada our regulator just banned carriers from locking devices.