T-Mobile is really taking a run at this whole kinder, gentler carrier thing. Among its many initiatives is the Samsung Galaxy Avant, a modestly specced phone that you can unlock (to use on other carriers) with the newly released SIM unlock app. It might come to more phones later, but it's a step in the right direction anyway.

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The app will currently install to any T-Mobile phone—even devices that are already unlocked and weren't purchased directly from Tmo. If you're using a device that isn't supported (currently everything but the Avant), the app will inform you of this. On the Galaxy Avant, you can choose between a permanent unlock and temporary. It doesn't look like an immediate toggle, but probably issues a request to T-Mobile to unlock the device. It usually takes a bit for something like that to go through.

If the device unlock app is updated with support for more phones, it will probably only work for a device that has either been paid off in monthly installments or was purchased for full price.

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • Oobiewan

    goood, very good

  • Izzy

    why is this called SIM unlocking?

    • guest

      You unlock your phone to work with any carriers SIM

      • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

        Sucks to be a US carrier user, ain't it?

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Shawn De Cesari

          Carriers all over the world institute SIM locks for devices that customers don't purchase at full price. This is far from a US-only thing.

          • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

            Not in Russia - we never heard of sim locking and such crap here, thankfully

          • anmolm97

            Not here in India either..

          • Mr.BumScratcher

            In India we can buy only at full price, hence no Sim locking, Flipkart,amazon offers EMI's which is much better than being locked in a contract, also I don't think carriers can legally lock phones here,

          • blumpkinator

            Except with American carriers it doesn't matter if you bought it at full price or not. Every handset sold in a carrier store is locked. You can then turn around and request an unlock if you pay full price but you still have to request it and it's a hassle!

            Sim locking should be banned in all markets!

          • h4rr4r

            So don't buy them in carrier stores.
            I assure you my Nexus5 from the play store is not SIM locked. Nor is my wife's Moto X.

          • bn

            SIM locking is banned by law in some countries, and unheard of in many others.

        • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

          Verizon phones comes SIM unlocked :) Used my G2 and G3 on T-Mobile just fine.

          • trolldisliker

            Verizon uses coma phones, t-mobilw uses gsm, so that's imposdible.

          • trolldisliker

            cdma. Not coma. Stupid spell check!

          • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

            Verizon phones come with GSM radios, they have for a few years.

      • Izzy

        isn't that phone unlocking?

  • Kesey

    Meh. Just stop locking the device in the first place.

  • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

    I discovered a few days ago that unlock codes won't work when you're running a custom ROM; have to flash back to stock for it to successfully network unlock. It will probably be the same story with this app as it supports more phones: have to be stock.

    • Starcube

      If the ROM is TouchWiz-based (based on Samsung stock ROM), then it will work. If you're using an AOSP ROM, then the dialer cannot communicate with the baseband, since it's not using the stock RIL (Radio Interface Layer).

      • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

        Yeah - running CM11. A translation proxy workaround would be nice, though.

        I'll just keep my unlock code unused until I'm actually ready to sell the phone with stock touchwhiz.

  • Leonardo Baez

    temporary unlock???? WTF!

    • http://jamiehamilton.me/ Jamie Hamilton

      I'm guessing the temporary unlock is allowed if you're still under contract. Useful for travel.

      • ProductFRED

        I'll tell you what it is (100% sure, but not because I work for T-Mobile). SIM and networks have two three-digit numbers that identify the network and the country it's in (worldwide). The country code is the MCC (mobile country code) and the MNC is the network code (mobile network code). So every US network, for example (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, etc) is 310 for the MCC and a unique number for each network (310-260 for T-Mobile I believe).

        Most phones are locked to the network (MCC). So basically a T-Mobile phone is locked to 310-260 SIM cards only. A "temporary unlock" isn't temporary in that the phone re-locks itself after x-amount of time. It's probably an MCC unlock. Sprint does this with all of their phones (except the Nexus 5, obviously). When they unlock your Sprint phone, what they do is unblock non-US SIM cards. So it'll block AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon SIM cards because they have the 310 (US) MCC, but it won't block a Canadian Rogers SIM, or a European Vodafone SIM, etc.

        It's temporary in the sense that your vacation is temporary. It's assumed you're not moving anywhere. So if I'm right about this, then you could permanently move to outside the US and the phone would be unlocked except for in the US lol.

  • Santos

    Nah listen for its price it ain't bad $9 per month if paid in installment, I think the phone is perfect for people new to android/smartphones and if my needed the high end or on budget. I bought this as a back phone but mostly for fun. Performs wells comparable to an s3 but slightly better, not much though

  • Debbie

    I remember an 'alarm' on the phone if I lose the phone (in my house). How can I access this since my phone is missing.