All Sprint devices released after February 11, 2015 to be unlockable

By , Apr 23, 2014

Unlocked-iPhone 4S

As much as carriers would want to keep devices locked to their network to make switching service impossible, this is fortunately just a pipe dream. Last December, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was able to successfully pressure major U.S. wireless companies to agree to unlock their devices for use on other domestic networks.

The US House in February passed a device unlocking bill and now the nation’s third-largest wireless operator Sprint has responded by announcing it will make all of its devices released after February 11, 2015 unlockable for use on competitors’ wireless networks without repercussions…

As noted by MacRumors, an updated unlocking FAQ on Sprint’s website makes it clear that in accordance with its voluntary commitment contained within CTIA’s Consumer Code for Wireless Service (“Unlocking Commitment”) it is working to ensure that all devices developed and launched on or after February 11, 2015 are capable of being unlocked domestically.

For eligible devices, Sprint will unlock the SIM slot, to the extent that a device SIM slot is capable of being unlocked.

It is important to note that not all devices are capable of being unlocked, often because of the manufacturers’ device designs, and that even for those devices capable of being unlocked, not all device functionality may be capable of being unlocked.

Sprint cautions that devices manufactured with a SIM slot within the past three years can’t be unlocked to accept a different domestic carrier’s SIM for use on another domestic carrier’s network, which “includes all iPhone devices.”

“Sprint has no technological process available to do this,” notes the company. CDMA devices with no SIM card slot may not be eligible for unlocking because Sprint and Verizon networks use CDMA technology that’s incompatible with T-Mobile’s and AT&T’s GSM networks.

However, the ambiguous statement is misleading because people have been able to unlock their Sprint iPhone 4s and iPhone 5s devices for GSM use to work on T-Mobile without any problems.

This is possible because Verizon and Sprint iPhones have both CDMA and GSM functionality – that’s how Verizon has been able to sell unlocked iPhones (with a 2-year contract) since the iPhone 5. For those wondering, iPhones sold by AT&T and T-Mobile, as well as unlocked iPhones found in Apple stores, only support GSM.

As part of the agreement with the FCC, all five major U.S. carriers promised last December to implement the changes within 12 months – that is, by the start of 2015. Therefore, other carriers will follow Sprint’s lead whether they like it or not.

It’s worth pointing out that in many markets around the world carriers are obliged by law to sell phones unlocked or unlock them at the end of a two-year contract. In certain EU markets, for example, consumer laws prohibit carriers from refusing to unlock customers’ devices as the unpopular practice devaluates hardware.

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  • El Matador

    This is the LEAST they can do for their poor customers! Such a horrible service provider.

  • Maxim∑

    Will this include subsidiaries like virgin mobile?

    • Mark

      yes…..all us carriers will have to adopt this policy by the start of 2015.

      • Maxim∑

        ok thanks

  • Mark

    this is huge for us. Carriers will now have to be on their game to keep you. Power balance has shifted, albeit slightly, it has shifted…..

  • Rowan09

    Not sure what this means for the consumer. You can currently unlock a Sprint or Verizon iPhone with a gevey sim or r-sim to use on GSM networks since the 4S. Is this saying all their phones will come unlocked or they will unlock it for you?

    • felixtaf

      Verizon comes unlocked since iPhone 5. Sprint is unlockable with RSim. But recent phones like 5c and 5s are not 100% unlockable (many are stuck in activation)!
      For consumers, the resale value will be high… Now a 32Gb iPhone 5s sprint is selling for ~350 while others are at ~500$.

      • Rowan09

        I heard about Verizon phones after the 5 being unlocked for international usage. I stopped unlocking phones since AT&T messed up the market for iPhones, but thanks for the information.

      • felixtaf

        ya.. I paid 58$ to unlock a 5S and today is the 10th day.. Patiently waiting…
        Reg verizon, I have personal experience that its unlocked. All 4G LTE verizon phones are global unlocked (while some claim that they are using it on ATT and TMobile too, but no 4G)

      • Rowan09

        It’s hit and miss with iPhone unlocks now and that’s why I stopped doing it.

      • sprintissuck

        Almost all online unlock services are fake. Does ur sprint iphone being unlocked now? If yes, i wonder where did u pay $58 to buy unlock service?

      • felixtaf

        Not sprint. I ordered an ATT unlock. Yes, my phone is unlocked. But there is no unlock for sprint now. Whatever online is fake.

  • JS3

    i guess better late then never… anyways in september im gone from sprint…. att is the king where i live so thats where i will be going. sprints service is absolute shit!

  • felixtaf

    That means resale value of sprint iPhones will be high!

  • Marshall Blr

    it would be easily addressed to the T-mobile too!
    i’ve the original bill and other papers for with the phone.
    After the phones’ contract just over..they said..it’s not enough to provide to get the phone unlocked..wtf?!
    they are on the best way to lose their customers ..with this marketing policy…i hope they will wake up and say that their phones could be unlocked..

  • sprintissuck

    so can my sprint iphone4s unlocked after that date? Sprint service is annoying. The worst carrier ever.

  • ALii Ch

    there is one website who is unlocking sprint iPhone 4 ,4s ,5 ,5s at cheap price but don,t know these guys are scam or really unlocking sprint devices (unlockmy dot net ) if any one use there service plz reviews its trusted site or not