All major cell phone carriers will now allow customers to network unlock their devices, provided those customers meet certain conditions. So if you’re a Verizon customer with a Verizon-bought device, you may be wondering what you need to do to take your tech to a competing carrier.
Fortunately, and surprisingly, Verizon has the most relaxed unlocking policy of the big four carriers, because the company doesn’t actually lock the majority of its smartphones.
All Verizon 4G LTE devices are network unlocked straight out of the box. So if you want to cancel your Verizon service and head somewhere else, you’ll only need to meet the following requirements:
- If your phone was purchased on a two-year contract, you must have fulfilled the terms of your service plan – all 24 months of payments must be made, and you’ll need an account in good standing.
- If your phone has been financed via Verizon Edge, or a two-year device payment plan, you must have paid off the device completely and again, have an account with no overdue bills.
- The device itself must not be reported as lost or stolen, and can’t be associated with fraudulent activity.
Not with Verizon?
If you have a phone bought from a different network, follow the link below to learn about the different rules and procedures for the network you're currently on. If you've unlocked your phone already, check out our picks for the best plans for your device.
Exceptions and prepaid
The only postpaid exception is Verizon’s non-iPhone Global Ready 3G Phones, but the good news is that the carrier is happy to provide an unlock code for these devices: try 000000 or 123456 to use these phones on a different carrier.
As for prepaid, Verizon’s Prepaid Phone-in-the-Box devices are locked to the carrier for the first twelve months after activation (the exception is for customers who are deployed military personnel). After this, you can contact use the same simple codes provided for Global Ready devices – either ‘000000’ or ‘123456’ – and attempt to unlock your phone yourself, or call Verizon to request assistance.
Before you unlock
As Verizon is a CDMA carrier, it operates on a different technology than AT&T and T-Mobile. However, you should still be able to use your unlocked Verizon 4G LTE device on AT&T or T-Mobile plans, as most handsets will be compatible with both carriers’ LTE bands. This isn’t guaranteed, so you’ll need to check with your intended new carrier.
Although Sprint is also a CDMA network, you may not be able to take your phone to a Sprint plan – the carrier (mostly) operates on different bands of spectrum to Verizon. Previously, this meant that it was impossible to get a non-Sprint device activated on its network, but today Sprint will allow selected Verizon iPhones - from the iPhone 5c and up - on its BYOD plans. However, earlier Apple smartphones, and Android, Windows Phone or Blackberry devices, are generally ineligible; you may need to check with Sprint to find out your specific device's limitations.
If you're happy with Verizon's network but don't like the carrier's prices, you can always take your phone to one of Verizon's MVNOs. Here are a few of our picks below.
Original cell phone and lock image via Shutterstock