Knowing whether or not your Samsung phone is network locked can come handy in certain situations. One such situations can be the time when you’re trying to buy a preowned phone. Learn what network unlocked means and other things related to it.
What does network unlocked mean?
Samsung devices are usually made-to-order by carriers. This means that Samsung build their devices according to specifications of carriers that buy them. In some cases, “global” or “universal” or “international” Samsung devices may be built for those wanting to have a generally “generic” device. Carrier-branded devices show the logo of the carrier and is generally custom made for its services. Thus, you’ll see that Verizon Samsung devices have the Verizon logo on them as well as Verizon proprietary apps installed. A modified Android firmware by Verizon is also installed on the device, which is also tailored for Verizon specifications. Such specifications include Verizon-specific network configuration too. This means that the phone may not work with other networks. This is what network locked means. Fortunately, most Verizon devices are network unlocked these days so they may work right off the bat if you use them in compatible network.
How to check if your Samsung phone is network locked
There are two ways to check if your Samsung device is network locked or not.
Method 1: Insert a different SIM from another carrier
This is the easiest way to know if your Samsung device is network locked or not. SIM card is carrier-specific so if another one is inserted to your phone and shows one of the messages below, it’s not unlocked at all. Your Samsung phone is network locked if it shows these messages:
- SIM Network Unlock PIN
- Enter Network Lock Control Key
- Network Locked
In some cases, “Emergency calls only” will be shown on the status bar to indicate the same situation.
Once you inserted a valid SIM card to the phone, try to place a call and see what happens. Make sure to take note of the error if you get one. You can then use Google to search for the meaning of the said error. Normally, if the SIM card works and your phone has been unlocked properly, your first call should go through without a problem.
Method 2: Use the Phone dialer
For some select Samsung devices, dialing this code will show you if it’s network locked or not: *#7465625#
If your phone shows an a screen with these three items, check out the explanations below to know what each of them means:
[ ] Network lock
[ ] Subset lock
[ ] SP lock
If all three items are indicated as OFF, then your Samsung phone must be network unlocked.
If Network lock says ON, then your Samsung device is network locked.
If Subset lock is ON, then your Samsung device has to be unlocked and requires a code from the original carrier.
If SP lock is ON, then your Samsung device has to be unlocked and requires a code from the service provider. Some third party retail shops can provide you this code.
If nothing happens when you dial *#7465625# you can assume that your phone’s firmware does not allow the code, or its service menu has been disabled.
What network unlocked is NOT
Having a network unlocked device does not mean it’s fully compatible with any other networks out there. Network unlock is only a modification at the software level to allow the device to use another network. If your Samsung device is network unlocked but its hardware is not compatible with the network you’re trying to connect to, it will not work. Any Samsung device has a specific radio frequency so if the other network has a different frequency band, your phone won’t be able to “talk” to the tower at all.
A network unlocked Samsung phone also does not mean that all features in the device can work normally. For example, a lot of Verizon devices may not allow MMS or has trouble with mobile data when used outside Verizon networks. This is because Verizon’s software is coded differently and sometimes, there’s no way to modify them effectively.
Other reasons why a phone may be network locked
Aside from the fact that carriers may not voluntarily unlock their device, other factors may come at play.
Unsettled bills. This is a common reason for many network locked phones sold online. Some people may want to get rid of their phones and sell them online to ignorant users. The thing is, many of phones being sold online are carrier-branded with unpaid bills associated with them. In other words, the original owner may have intentionally tried to sell their phones despite the fact that they haven’t fully paid their subscription yet. If that’s the case, an unwitting buyer may find out too late that their purchased device may not be used in their own network because it still needs to be unlocked by the original carrier.
Blacklisted. In some cases, phones may be reported as stolen or lost by their original owner. This will prompt the carrier to blacklist the said device. If a device is blacklisted, it can no longer use any cellular services like texts, calls, or mobile data. Before you buy any preowned Samsung device, be sure to check if its IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number or ESN (Electronic Serial number) is blacklisted. You can either use a website to check it, or contact the original carrier.