You’ve been saving up to buy a new phone and have been comparing different companies’ prices. After a few hours of research, you discover locked phones are cheaper than unlocked ones.
You’re on a tight budget, so you’d love to save some money if possible.
But, what is a locked phone? Will it work with any Wi-Fi network? If you’ve just bought a phone second-hand, how can you check if it’s locked?
Keep reading to find out!
What Is a Locked Phone?
Locked phones have software that links them to a specific carrier. This prevents you from using the phone with another carrier, especially since locked phones are frequently paid for in installments to said carrier.
On the other hand, unlocked phones do not have this software, allowing you to use any carrier of your choosing and freely switch carriers later.
Additionally, locked phones tend to have a different voice network compatibility, with certain models only supporting GSM (Global System for Mobile) or CDMA (Code-Division Multiple Access).
While iPhones locked to Verizon and Sprint are compatible with both voice networks, AT&T and Verizon limit their locked iPhones’ compatibility to GSM.
So, if you’re looking for a phone with a specific voice network compatibility, read a carrier’s fine print before committing to one of their plans.
Do Locked Phones Work With Any Wi-Fi Network?
Yes, locked phones can connect to any Wi-Fi network.
The only difference between unlocked and locked phones is their ability to switch cellular network carriers.
Since a phone’s carrier does not affect its ability to connect to various Wi-Fi networks, you will be able to connect your locked phone to any available Wi-Fi network.
This means that you can, for instance, connect your Verizon-locked phone to an AT&T Wi-Fi network with no problem at all.
How to Check If a Phone Is Locked?
Have you just bought a second-hand phone and want to find out if it’s locked or not? If so, follow our instructions below to check for any SIM restrictions.
Step 1: Open your Samsung phone’s Settings app.
Step 2: Tap the Connections tab.
Step 3: Go to Mobile Networks.
Step 4: Tap Network Operators.
Step 5: Select OK.
Step 6: Now, a list of available networks will appear on-screen. If more than one network name appears, then your phone is unlocked and you can freely switch between carriers. If only one network appears, the phone is locked and you cannot change its carrier.
Watch the video below demonstrating how to see if a Samsung phone is locked or not.
Step 1: Launch the Settings app.
Step 2: Go to General, marked by a gear icon.
Step 3: Head to About.
Step 4: Scroll down and check Carrier Lock. This option may also be labeled Network Provider Lock. If this tab says No SIM restrictions beside it, then your iPhone is unlocked. Otherwise, your phone is locked to a specific carrier.
Watch the video below to see how to check an iPhone’s lock status.
Step 1: Turn off your phone.
For Android phones, press and hold the Power button and then tap Power off on-screen. On an iPhone, press and hold the Lock button before sliding the red Power symbol to the right.
Step 2: Remove your phone’s current SIM card and replace it with another SIM from a different network carrier.
Step 3: Turn on your phone.
Step 4: Try calling someone using the cellular network. Making a call using Wi-Fi on apps like Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger will not suffice.
If the call goes through, then your phone is unlocked and can be used with any carrier. If the call does not go through, then your phone is locked.
Watch the video below demonstrating how to check if any phone is locked.
Wrapping Things Up
Locked phones can only be used with their dedicated cellular network carrier, while unlocked phones can be used with any carrier.
If you’re looking to buy a phone overseas, ensure it’s unlocked so you can use it will local carriers.
Additionally, some locked phones may only be used with a certain voice network.
A phone’s lock status will not affect its ability to connect to Wi-Fi, even if the router is from a different carrier.
You can verify if your phone is locked by either checking its settings or trying to make a call on it using another carrier’s SIM.
Did you know the difference between locked and unlocked phones?
Let us know in the comments below!
Yesenia Achlim is a technical copywriter and editor with a focus on AV equipment. She aims to break down complicated topics and make technology accessible, no matter your technical expertise. When she’s not teaching you how to replace a projector lamp, you can find her reading and baking.