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How to Unlock Your Sprint Phone
T-Mobile acquired Sprint in April 2020. As such, we won't continue to update this article, but you can read our full review of T-Mobile here.
So you want to ditch Sprint and take your phone far, far away? We get it. And luckily, it’s not too hard to get your phone unlocked so you can switch to another network (or sell it, if that’s what you’re going for).
Before you unlock your phone
Make sure you meet Sprint’s eligibility requirements before you get too hyped about popping in a new SIM card. Sprint makes you check off a few details first.
Sprint unlock eligibility requirements
- Your phone’s spent more than 50 days on the Sprint network.
- You’ve paid off your phone (if it was on a lease agreement).
- You’ve paid all your bills and don’t have an outstanding balance.
- Your phone hasn’t been reported stolen (awkward).
Your phone also has to be able to be “SIM unlocked.” If your phone is just a couple years old, then don’t worry about it. But if you’re still holding on to that iPhone 5 from 2013, you might run into some issues.
SIM unlock means your phone carrier (in this case, Sprint) can program your phone to work with another carrier’s SIM cards. Any phone made after 2015 should be able to do this, but you’ll have to double-check if older devices have the capability.
How to unlock your Sprint phone
Good news! Your Sprint phone might already be unlocked. If you have a postpaid Sprint plan (where you pay your bill at the end of the month), then Sprint automatically unlocks your phone once it’s eligible.
If you’re not sure if it’s unlocked, you can call Sprint’s Customer Care team. You’ll need to give them a few pieces of information so they can finish the process.
Info to have on hand before you call Sprint
- Your full name (should be an easy one)
- Your account number
- Your account password
- The last four digits of your social security number
- Your phone’s IMEI or MEID number. (You can find it on the body of your phone, usually on the back.)
You might also need to call Customer Care if you bought a Sprint phone from someone else and want to take it to a different carrier. Keep in mind, you’ll still need all that detailed info, so make sure you get it from the buyer before you close that Craigslist deal.
Can I use my Sprint phone with another carrier?
Short answer: yes. But not all carriers and not all your phone’s features will work with every carrier.
Cell phone carriers use two types of technology to connect your phone to their network: GSM and CDMA. Sprint phones use CDMA technology, which means they sometimes don’t play as well with GSM networks.
Which phone carrier uses which connection type?
- Sprint – CDMA
- Verizon – CDMA
- AT&T – GSM
- T-Mobile – GSM
Sprint phones transfer most easily to Verizon since they both use the same technology to connect your phone. But just because both carriers use CDMA technology doesn’t mean every phone will be a perfect fit. Always double-check your phone’s ID number with the carrier you want.
Not sure which carrier to choose?
Lucky for you, we’ve reviewed all the major wireless carriers (and some lesser-known ones, too).
What’s the difference between a prepaid plan and a postpaid plan?
With a postpaid plan, you pay your bill at the end of the month after you’ve used the phone service. Before you can get a postpaid plan, the phone company will usually run a credit check.
But if you want to skip that credit check (or you just want to control how many calls you make or how much data you use), then a prepaid plan might work better for you. With prepaid plans, you pay for your phone service before you use it. No surprise mega-bills.
How do I unlock my Sprint phone if I have a prepaid plan?
The biggest difference with a prepaid plan is that Sprint won’t unlock your phone automatically. You’ll have to call them (wamp wamp). The eligibility requirements are also a little bit different.
Sprint prepaid plan unlock eligibility requirements
- Your phone’s been on the Sprint network for over 12 months.
- Your phone has not been reported lost or stolen.
If you meet the eligibility requirements, then just give Sprint’s Customer Care team a call and have them start the unlocking process.
Is unlocking the same as jailbreaking?
No. Unlocking just lets your phone be used with other cell phone carriers. Jailbreaking is where you override all the handy security protections on your phone so that you can download apps that you can’t usually access.
For example, if you jailbreak your iPhone, then you can download apps that you can’t find on the Apple App Store.