Unlocking is an extremely easy concept to explain, sort of . Unless stated otherwise, cell phones purchased from carrier retail stores are “locked” to that specific carrier. For instance, a Blackberry storm from Verizon won’t work on an AT&T calling plan. The Sprint Palm Pre won’t work on T-mobile. Even your iPhone from AT&T is “locked” to that infamous blue-mapped carrier.
So what do you do if you want to purchase a phone you like but use it with a different carrier, perhaps one that costs less or gets better reception in your area? For most folks I’d say forget about it. But for those of you lucky enough to have apples on the back of your phones, there are ways to make your iPhone SIM free and unlocked for use on any network.
Hardware Unlock Vs. Software Unlock
Technically, there are 2 ways to go about unlocking your iPhone. There is a hardware unlock, which is invasive (you have to open the phone), that I don’t recommend that anyone tries unless they’ve got a pretty extensive background in some kind of electrical engineering.
The 2nd, much easier way, the software unlock, could be done on your lunch break by your 6th grader. Just like jailbreaking, this can be as easy as hooking your iPhone up to the computer and clicking ‘start’.
There are many reputable online companies that can provide this service for a small fee, they can unlock your iPhone within minutes. Alternatively you can try do it yourself by following instructions online.