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The Guru Speaks -- Introduction to unlocking

Discussion in 'BoM Blogs' started by Disciple of The Watch, Apr 11, 2010.

  1. Disciple of The Watch

    Disciple of The Watch Preparing The Coming of The New Order Veteran

    Aug 20, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Fresh off my last post about unlocking the V3r and Hype, here is a post I dedicate entirely to the general topic of unlocking.

    "Unlocking", in the phone context, refers to the action of removing a SP (Service provider) lock, or a network lock. If you buy a T-Mo phone, it's going to refuse any kind of SIM card that's not T-Mo, while an AT&T phone would reject non-AT&T SIM, and so on. The act of unlocking a phone refers to removing that said lock.

    From a legal stance, the legality/illegality of removing SIM locks varies according to each country. But, there is nothing illegal per se in the act of unlocking the phone, since it allows the phone to do what it was designed to do -- lawfully connect to any GSM/iDEN/HSPA provider. And BTW... while GSM, HSPA and iDEN have some similitudes, THEY ARE NOT INTERCOMPATIBLE. YOU CANNOT USE AN iDEN PHONE ON AN HSPA/GSM NETWORK, A GSM PHONE WILL NOT WORK ON HSPA UNLESS IT'S EXPLICITELY DESIGNED TO SUPPORT IT! **SIDE NOTE** There are TWO instances of iDEN phones that support GSM, though ONLY the i930 can be used on North American networks... and only GSM 1900 is supported, though that's an EXCELLENT thing since GSM running at 1900MHz delivers significantly better voice quality than 850. Thankfully, single-band GSM phones usually have a 1900MHz radio, and I'll be honest, I have yet to see a single-band 850MHz GSM phone. And I'm glad, because 850MHz BLOWS. Except for iDEN at 800MHz... but that's because iDEN was based on TDMA, which to this day, remains UNPARALLELED. iDEN is crystalline clear... just like my TDMA Nokia 5165.

    ...wow, that got out of hand. Back to the main topic...

    What phones can be unlocked? iDEN, GSM, HSPA all can be unlocked, either it be through a code unlock, which uses a code generated based on a calculation scheme and using your phone's IMEI to produce the correct codes, or through a box in conjunction with a cable. For the casual user, a code unlock costs but a few bucks (except for Nokia DCT3/DCT4 codes, which I can supply for free if anyone needs it) and works. The box/cable option is worth looking for the avid modder, as the range of stuff they can do, ranging from unlocking to tweaking, including removing restrictions, such as... err, well, restrictions. I'll leave it at that.

    THE EXCEPTION TO THE RULE: TRACFONE/NET10 PHONES. While those phones CAN be unlocked, they use a firmware with built-in minute tracker, which means even if the phone is unlocked and is used on a different network, the built-in minutes will DRAIN as well, and when they reach ZERO, you CANNOT place any calls, even if you have an ACTIVE, VALID SIM that works fine in any other unlocked phone. The ONLY way to salvage those phones for normal use is to NUKE the minute tracking firmware and replace it with generic [phone model] firmware. BUT, any kind of USB connectivity is DISABLED, which means that USB port is no good for anything else than charging. IN SHORT, DON'T TOUCH TRAC/NET10 phones with a 10 FOOT POLE if you do not want to use them on Trac/Net10. Sure, they're cheap, but they're too much hassle, and sometimes there's nothing to be done, like that crappy W175G I bought down in the US. Sure, it costed $16, but USB connectivity has been FREAKING DISABLED, meaning I CAN'T FLASH/UNLOCK THE FORSAKEN PIECE OF TRASH.

    What are the advantages of unlocking? Other than being able to bring your own phone to any compatible network, if you ever want to sell the phone, the fact that it's not restricted to a single network will reap you a LOT of extra bucks versus a locked version.

    How do I know if my phone is locked? Try a SIM from a different provider. If your phone is locked, you'll get a "Network locked", "Phone restricted", "Subsidy password", "Enter special code" kind of message. An unlocked phone is going to power on as usual, and ask you for a Security code if the phone is set to ask for the code, and vary depending on what brand your phone is. Nokia phones with PHONE security activated will need to plonk in their security code whenever a new SIM is inserted for the FIRST TIME in the phone. Enter the code once, and that's it., and will connect to the network -- with an active SIM card, of course.

    That pretty much generally covers unlocking.
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