Unlock your phone legally starting today

President Obama signs phone unlocking bill into law

President Obama will today sign a bill into law that will allow American citizens to legally unlock their phones in order to take them to another cellular carrier, either in the United States or abroad. The President announced his intent to sign the bill last week. The new law is only a temporary measure, and is only valid until 2015.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill last week, after it had previously been passed by the Senate, and both chambers passed the bill unanimously. The unlocking a phone while still under your carrier's contract has been technically illegal in the United States since the beginning of last year. Now, if your phone is capable of being unlocked, and you have complied with your contract, you will be able to unlock your phone.

How do you feel now that phone unlocking is once again legal? Sound off below in the comments.

Source: The White House

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Joseph Keller

News Writer for Mobile Nations. Fascinated by the ways that technology connects us.

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Reader comments

Unlock your phone legally starting today


Sure, as long as you are not using the subsidy from the phone carrier. It becomes "your" phone after you complete the contract or if you pay the full price for the device.

Meh. Technicality. This is one of those things that should be legal simply because the only people who care about it are telco CEOs.

Anything to cheese those buttheads off is alright by me.

I was getting my phones and those of associates unlocked anyway prior to the decriminalization of phone unlocking. I'll continue to do so after this law expires as well. My money (full price/no contract) my device.

hey i went to a store and paid them to unlock my phone since im still paying AT&T off they wouldnt do it so i went to a phone store near my house where i believe it doesnt matter if you still owe money on the account it can still be done if it doesnt happen id get my money back regardless my question is how do i know when my phone is unlocked and what do i have to do to KNOW if it worked or not

Great. I bought an unlocked iPhone 5 a year and a half ago. Glad to see that more of my investment is going down the drain (for resale)!

I know your pain. Two iPhone 5's (not 5S) that I got the day T-Mobile finally got the iPhone. Now I see many people selling them for about the same price as a 4S which to me was a considerable upgrade. The difference that even half an inch makes to the wonderful sounding EarPods (worked great with my unlocked 4S).

Now it being a pentaband GSM phone, I wonder if I still will be able to use AT&T 4G/LTE? I'd like to know as my iPhone 5 being a T-Mobile model would work as expected from what I've read. If a larger iPhone 6 does happen in the near future I'd like to upgrade and use the money from selling this phone especially if it can take full advantage of either major GSM carrier or their budget spin offs such as Simple Mobile etc.

I always kept second guessing this phone despite its solid performance for the sake of getting an Android device with a larger display.

I had a T Mobile Galaxy Note 3 that I got unlocked and used it for a few months on Straight Talk using AT&T towers. As long as it's a gsm phone, you should be fine.

Sent from the iMore App

sprint unlocked my iPhone 5S for international carriers only and I was able to use it on a GSM network outside the States. Does this law require sprint to unlock it for domestic use GSM as well ( tmobile)????

It should I would assume since Sprint is being absorbed by T-Mobile. A odd move for them as Tmo has been GSM for over a decade. Unless they intend to run Sprint as they are and mainly wanted the extra towers which was a minimal gain.

Switching Sprint to GSM is no easy task and will lose a lot of customers regardless due to being disenfranchised with the investment they had already made in existing CDMA devices.

Sprints Network does have potential when stress testing a WiMAX mobile router and running several iPads from it streaming Netflix. It did amazingly well even in a area with average coverage.

If T-Mobile plans on using the existing Sprint network for future and existing VoLTE that may be the route they go since the cost to re farm an existing network entirely would break the bank. iOS 8 has VoLTE in the works along with Wi-Fi calling which may answer the problems of carrying a GSM device in a Sprint covered area. As long as the LTE bands work, the problems may be less of a major issue and the existing CDMA phones will work as is.

Don't quote me on all that though. It's just what I've been able to put together with info from both Apple and Tmonews

Not necessarily. Most new Sprint LTE phones and all Sprint iPhones from the 4s on have GSM capabilities (Samsung Galaxy 3, 4 & 5; LG G2, G3, Flex; iPhone 4s, 5, 5s, 5c; HTC One, One M8). Sprint already allows unlocking the GSM portion of your phone for international carriers SIMs. This legislation hopefully means that Sprint will now also unlock for domestic GSM carrier SIMs. If T-Mobile is where you are wanting to go, you can already unlock your Sprint GSM compatible phone to go to T-Mobile. Just Google GPP SIM or AIO SIM or R-SIM and you can read all about it.

With everything going on in the world, it's good to see where our governments priorities are.

Good job! <sarcastic golf clap>

Whats the big deal?
"Now, if your phone is capable of being unlocked, and you have complied with your contract, you will be able to unlock your phone."
Phone companies (ATT at least) will unlock devices that have fulfilled the contract without any hassle. Just fill out a form online and they send you the codes.
What has changed?

I used to be able to unlock my iPhones 6 months into the contract (subsidized priced phones) until it became "illegal". Now, almost a year into my contract I have still not been able to unlock my iPhone (officially via AT&T).

Sent from the iMore App

The same way you can change carrier and go with your phone number, unlocking your phone should have been normal. It is great that it will finally happen!

Sent from the iMore App

iPhones are still made in two formats. So even if you unlock a cdma iphone, you still can only pick from cdma carriers.

Sent from the iMore App

See, righties and lefties can work together - as long as it's the most trivial possible thing.

But yes I'm glad I can finally have what probably is my inalienable right anyway.

If I buy an IPhone from us and take it to my country and unlock my phone on my own (which Is legal in my country) right after I buy iPhone on a 2-year contract do I still need to pay the monthly bills?