Many people think that to unlock cell phones you have to be sneaky. That you need special unlock software, or need to stealthily find unlock codes, or, at very minimum, will have to pay someone in a back-alley cell phone unlock deal, or, if they’re lucky, find a mobile phone unlock service to which they must pay good money, just to unlock their phone. In fact, if you have a T-mobile phone, they will happily provide you with the phone unlock code so that you can unlock your T-mobile cell phone for free!
Below we show you exactly how you unlock a T-mobile cell phone, for free. In our example we are going to unlock our Samsung Galaxy 5 (T-mobile Vibrant), using the unlock code for the Samsung provided by T-mobile. Yes, you read that right – T-mobile provided us with the Samsung unlock code, free for the asking. And they don’t just do this with unlock codes for Samsung – you can get the Tmobile unlock code for any T-mobile phone, provided that you have had the phone for at least 30 days (they don’t want you just buying a phone and turning around and unlocking it and moving to another carrier).
To unlock your T-mobile phone, you will need to assemble the following:
– The phone you wish to unlock.
– The T-mobile unlock code, provided to you by T-mobile (we’ll get to that below).
– A SIM card from a carrier other than T-mobile.
As we mentioned, in our case we wanted the Samsung unlock codes, because for our ‘how to unlock a phone’ tutorial, we are unlocking a Samsung Galaxy (Vibrant) phone. But the instructions will be the same for any phone, and what you will see will be similar to the images here.
The first thing you will want to do is call T-mobile customer service (dial 6-1-1 from your T-mobile phone) and let them know that you would like their help unlocking your phone.
You will need to give them the IMEI number of the phone you wish to unlock, so be sure to have the phone with you when you call.
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They may ask you why you want to unlock your cell phone – we told them that it was because we had upgraded to the G2, and so we wanted to unlock the Samsung phone to allow someone else to use it. And, this was all true. We don’t know how they would react if you said “We want the T-mobile unlock code so that we can take our phone to another carrier.”
T-mobile will then email you instructions for unlocking your phone. They say that they will email them within 24 hours of your call; ours were sent about eight hours after we called.
Next, make sure that you have your phone and the non-T-mobile SIM card ready, and once the email arrives, you’ll be ready to go.
Here is the email that we received:
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From: AR Notification
Subject: T-Mobile Sim Unlock Notification
T-Mobile Sim Unlock Request
Sim Unlock Reference: [omitted]
Unlock Code: [omitted]
Thank you for taking the time to contact T-Mobile. Below you will see the Instructions for unlocking your Samsung device. Please be advised a non T-Mobile SIM card MUST be used to unlock this device.
– Insert a NON T-Mobile SIM & turn Device on
– The Device will automatically prompt you to enter code into an empty field.
– Tap in the empty field above the “Unlock & Dismiss” options (this will display a key pad on the screen).
– Using the key pad input the Unlock Code provided by T-Mobile.
– Press the Back button to remove the keyboard from screen.
– Tap the “Unlock” option; handset should display “Network Unlock Successful”.
Sim Unlock Department
T-Mobile USA, Inc.
So, the first thing we did was to dig up an old SIM card, and put it in the Samsung phone:
Next we powered the Samsung up, and sure enough, just like the T-mobile email said, we were presented with a screen with an empty input field above buttons reading “Unlock” and “Dismiss”
And, just as T-mobile said it would, tapping on the blank field box caused a numeric pin pad to pop up:
…so that we could enter the unlock code:
And… it worked!
The “Network Unlock Successful” screen flashed by too quickly for us to grab a picture of it, but here is our Samsung Vibrant, sporting some AT&T voicemail.
And that’s all there was to it! (Anybody want to buy a barely used, unlocked Samsung Galaxy?)
Hopefully this has demystified the process for getting your T-mobile cell phone unlocked.
No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free? Thank you!
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