What does it mean to unlock my phone?
Most carrier provided phones are “locked” meaning they are programed to only work with their specific network. For example, if you purchased a smart phone through AT&T, chances are, it is locked, meaning you can’t take it to T-Mobile or Sprint and use it with their Sim card. Unlocked phones can be freely used on other networks simply by swapping out the SIM card.
Why should I unlock my phone?
Essentially, if you want a phone plan while you’re in Italy, your phone must be unlocked. I recommend getting a phone plan while here as data plans in Italy are about 1/5th of the price in the US. For example, I pay 20 Euro per month with WIND(a local italian phone network) and in exchange I get 3 gigs of data, 500 texts, and 200 minutes every month. At home this would cost me well over $100 on a single plan.
How do I unlock my phone?
Unlocking your phone should be a very easy process and requires no technical knowledge.
Simply call your network carriers customer support line, or visit a local retail store and ask them if your phone is currently locked or unlocked, chances are it is locked. If it is, tell them you would like to unlock it. Often they can do this for you over the phone or provide you with a simple numeric code, or special software update and walk you through how to unlock it.
It is important to note that some carriers may give you a hard time as staff is often trained to tell customers that it is not possible, however, they are obligated by law to unlock your phone upon request.
Is unlocking my phone the same as Jailbreaking it?
No. Jailbreaking is essentially hacking your phone so that it allows apps that wouldn’t otherwise be able to run on your phone’s’ operating system, to do so. For example on a jailbroken iPhone, you could use apps that do not exist in the itunes app store. Jailbreaking your phone however, will NOT allow you to run a data plan through another network provider.
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL MOBILE WEB SURFING! 🙂