Getting a new phone is always exciting, but if you want to use it on another carrier’s network, you may run into problems if it’s still locked to AT&T. Unlocking your phone allows you to use it with any compatible network domestically or even internationally with a different SIM card. Fortunately, unlocking an AT&T device is easy in 2024 if you follow a few simple steps.
Why Unlock Your AT&T Phone?
Here are some of the top reasons to unlock your AT&T smartphone or device:
Use Other Carriers
An unlocked phone can be used on most GSM networks around the world. This gives you more choices for cell phone plans and carriers. You may be able to find better deals, rates, or coverage by switching carriers with an unlocked device.
Travel Abroad Easier
If you travel overseas frequently, having an unlocked phone makes it simpler to buy and swap out local SIM cards to avoid high international roaming fees from AT&T. You’ll be able to stay connected affordably.
An unlocked AT&T phone will command a higher resale price because more potential buyers can use it. Being able to unlock your old phone before trading it in or selling it means more money in your pocket.
You can use an unlocked spare or older AT&T device as a handy backup phone when traveling or as a temporary replacement if your primary phone is damaged, lost or stolen. With an unlocked backup, you don’t have to suspend or make changes to your existing AT&T service.
Also Read: Unlock Verizon Cell Phones: A Ultimate Guide
Check if Your AT&T Phone is Already Unlocked
Before going through the unlocking process, it helps to check if your device is already unlocked from AT&T:
- Remove the active AT&T SIM card from your phone
- Insert a different U.S. carrier’s SIM card (like T-Mobile or Verizon)
- Power on your phone
- If the phone works properly on the other carrier’s signal, your device is likely unlocked
- If you get an error message that the SIM card is invalid or unsupported, your phone is still locked
This quick test lets you confirm without making any permanent changes to your cell service.
AT&T’s Policies on Unlocking Devices
It’s important to understand AT&T’s own policies and eligibility requirements for unlocking phones before requesting an unlock. This will ensure the process goes smoothly.
According to AT&T’s current unlocking policy in 2024, you must meet all of the following:
- The device was designed for use on AT&T’s network
- You are the original account owner or have authorization to unlock the device
- All service contract, device installment plan, or early termination fees are fully paid
- The device has not been reported lost or stolen
- Your AT&T wireless account is in good standing
Keep in mind even if a device is eligible to be unlocked, AT&T reserves the right to deny the request under certain circumstances.
How to Request AT&T Mobile Phone Unlock
If your AT&T phone meets the unlocking criteria listed above, you can follow these steps:
Through Your AT&T Account
- Login to your myAT&T account online or using the myAT&T app
- From the menu, select “Devices”
- Choose the device you want to unlock
- Tap “Unlock Device” and select “Permanent Unlock”
- AT&T will then process and review the request
- You should receive confirmation from AT&T once completed (typically within 2 business days)
Contact AT&T Customer Service
Call 800-331-0500 and speak to an AT&T customer representative:
- Provide your account details, phone number, and device ID
- Request that your device be permanently unlocked
- Expect an email and SMS text confirmation from AT&T once finished
Use Official AT&T Unlock Portal
Even without an AT&T account, you can submit an unlock request through the AT&T Unlock Portal. You’ll just need to provide the proper identifying details on your device and SIM card.
First, locate the following on your phone:
- Wireless number (MEID/DEC for older devices or IMEI for newer phones)
- SIM card number (ICCID)
Then visit AT&T’s prepaid phone unlock portal and enter your details to unlock it. There is typically a short waiting period to process prepaid unlocks.
Request Temporary Unlocks
Rather than a permanent unlock, AT&T offers temporary unlocks if you’ll be traveling internationally but still wish to resume AT&T service afterwards. Temporary unlocks expire after 60 days.
Follow the same steps to request a temporary unlock through your AT&T account, customer support, or the unlock portal. Just specify it is for overseas travel instead of a permanent network unlock.
Also Read: How To Unlock A TMobile Phone Free
Unlock Your AT&T Phone Through Third-Party Services
While AT&T provides official unlocking services, you can also use third-party unlocking websites for convenience:
- CellUnlocker.net – Unlocks AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and 200+ networks starting at $19.99 with a money back guarantee. Safe and easy using remote IMEI unlock codes.
- DC-Unlocker – Specialized online service focused solely on carrier unlocking with automated systems, support agents, and money back guarantee. Pricing starts at $11.99 for older AT&T phone models.
- UnlockBase – Established unlocking service offering both individual AT&T phone unlocks ($24.95 and up) as well as account/multi-device unlocking. Guaranteed permanent unlock delivery.
The top third-party phone unlock sites have simple order forms requesting your IMEI number, device details, and email. Once payment is submitted, the unlock code can be sent digitally within a short waiting period, often instantly. This allows unlocking without dealing directly through your AT&T account or reps.
However, keep in mind unauthorized unlocking may technically violate your AT&T service agreement. Reputable sites offer money-back guarantees but read all disclaimers first.
Unlock Your iPhone from AT&T (Extra Steps)
The iPhone has additional steps to complete the carrier unlock process after receiving the clear approval and unlock code from AT&T:
- Backup your iPhone through iTunes or iCloud in case any data is lost
- Insert the new non-AT&T SIM card
- Connect your iPhone to iTunes on a computer
- A message will prompt you that a different SIM card was detected
- Click ok and follow the onscreen unlocking instructions
- Enter the unlock code provided by AT&T
- iTunes will submit and process the code
- An “Unlock Successful” message will appear once finished
- Your iPhone is now fully unlocked from AT&T’s network
As long as you have the proper unlock code for that specific device, unlocking an iPhone through iTunes takes only a few minutes once initiated.
Use Your Unlocked AT&T Device on Other Carriers
Successfully unlocking your AT&T smartphone or device means you can now use it on compatible wireless networks by swapping out the SIM card.
Domestic U.S. Carriers
Most unlocked AT&T phones will work on T-Mobile and its MVNO networks with full service capabilities after unlocking. Support and connectivity may be more limited on Verizon, Sprint, or regional carriers. Confirm compatibility before switching.
With an unlocked GSM phone from AT&T, you’ll be able to use local SIMs while traveling internationally, avoiding roaming fees in 200+ regions. Swapping the AT&T SIM for a local carrier SIM lets you pay lower local rates for calls, texts and data.
AT&T Prepaid & MVNOs
Besides the major postpaid wireless networks, unlocked AT&T devices also work with AT&T Prepaid/GoPhone plans or mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) like Cricket Wireless, Consumer Cellular, and TracFone Wireless. These prepaid carriers rely on the underlying AT&T network for coverage.
Troubleshooting Issues After Unlocking AT&T Devices
If you experience issues using your AT&T device on another network after unlocking, try the following troubleshooting tips:
- Restart your phone – Power cycle the device completely after inserting the new SIM card.
- Reset network settings – From Settings, choose General > Reset > Reset Network Settings to wipe all connections.
- Check for software updates – Install available operating system and firmware updates which may include carrier updates.
- Verify the unlock again by inserting your old AT&T SIM back in the phone. It still should not lock onto AT&T service if fully unlocked.
- Contact customer support for the new carrier and provide device details. They may need to add your IMEI to their database.
Getting a new SIM is usually the only step needed post-unlocking but rarely an additional troubleshooting step or carrier-specific configuration is required for connectivity.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Does Unlocking an AT&T Phone Wipe It?
No, the unlocking process will not erase or delete any data or settings on your AT&T phone once successfully completed. However, if done improperly, bugs may occur so consider backing up sensitive data beforehand.
Can AT&T Unlock a Phone From Another Carrier?
No, AT&T can only service-unlock devices that were sold specifically by AT&T, not other carrier phones or imported international devices. Each carrier has their own unlock policies that must be followed.
How Can I Check if My AT&T Phone is GSM or CDMA?
You can check the model number against AT&T’s published list of supported devices to verify the exact technology. Or try inserting another carrier’s SIM card – GSM phones will read the card while CDMA phones won’t.
If I Switch Carriers, Can I Keep My Phone Number?
Yes, you can complete a mobile number port to transfer or “port” your current wireless number to a new carrier when you switch after unlocking your AT&T device.
Can You Unlock a Phone With Bad IMEI?
Devices reported as lost, stolen or having bad IMEI are ineligible to be unlocked by any official means. You may risk getting scammed if requesting unlocks from uncertified online third-parties. Avoid unlockers claiming miracle unlocks for blacklisted IMEIs.
Free unlock codes?
No, unfortunately, there’s no universal free unlock code for AT&T phones. Unlock eligibility and procedures depend on specific circumstances.
Free iPhone unlock with AT&T?
AT&T will usually unlock your iPhone for free after it fulfills specific eligibility requirements, mainly meeting minimum service tenure and having no outstanding payments.
Bringing unlocked phones to AT&T?
Yes, you can bring any unlocked phone compatible with AT&T’s network to their service.
Unlocking old AT&T phones?
Yes, AT&T allows unlocking eligible old phones, even after termination of your service. Just ensure it meets the unlock criteria.
Free phone unlocks?
Generally, not for AT&T postpaid contracts. However, some prepaid plans or specific circumstances might allow free unlocking.
Unlocking without an AT&T account?
No, you need an active or recently terminated AT&T account associated with the phone to be eligible for unlocking.
AT&T unlock cost?
If not eligible for free unlock, AT&T typically charges a one-time fee, usually around $45.
Buying unlocked iPhones from AT&T?
Yes, you can purchase certain iPhone models unlocked directly from AT&T.
Unlocking phones yourself?
DIY unlocking might be possible with some technical knowledge and specific tools, but it’s not officially supported by AT&T and could void your warranty.
Checking IMEI unlock status?
You can check your IMEI’s unlock status through AT&T’s online portal or by contacting customer support.
AT&T vs. Verizon comparison?
It depends on your individual needs and priorities. Both have pros and cons in terms of coverage, network performance, pricing, and plans. Comparing their offerings thoroughly would be the best approach.
Getting eSIM on AT&T?
AT&T offers eSIM compatibility with various devices. Check their website or contact customer support for specific model availability and activation instructions.
Unlocking your AT&T mobile phone or device enables more flexibility and freedom to use it domestically or internationally. By meeting eligibility requirements and following the proper steps outlined above, you can complete the AT&T unlock process through official account channels or third-party services. With an unlocked GSM phone, you can easily swap SIM cards to use other carriers for more choice, better deals, traveling convenience or resale value. The unlocking process is quick and hassle-free if done correctly.