T-Mobile releases a SIM unlock app — but for one device only so far

Samsung Galaxy Avant the only phone able to use it

Some big news out of T-Mobile tonight — it's released a SIM unlock app that will allow a phone to work on other GSM networks.

The catch? (Of course there's a catch.) As of this moment, it's only available for the Samsung Galaxy Avant — a low-ender that's just a coupe hundred bucks. (We were able to install it with ease on a couple other phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S5, but unlocking was a no-go.)

There are two options at play here — a temporary unlock, intended for use overseas (which generally is what you want a SIM-unlocked phone for), or a permanent unlock. TMo News earlier reported that the temporary unlock is a 30-day deal, and the permanent unlock will be subject to "certain eligibility requirements."

Of course the usual frequency caveats remain no matter what, so there's that. No word yet if more devices will be able to take advantage of this, but we wouldn't bet against it.

Thanks, Austin!

  • Hell no, why temporary unlock? Posted via Android Central App
  • A temporary unlock would be useful if you travel overseas and want to use the phone on another GSM carrier...this option would apply if the T-Mobile phone you have is still in the payment plan (before the 18-month or whatever the date is to request an unlock). If the phone is fully paid then a permanent unlock would be adequate.
  • I guess Posted via Android Central App
  • This is actually a bit disappointing, though it is really just closing a loophole in T-Mobile's current unlocking policy. This seems to be a way to access-control the unlocking for those with devices on EIP plans. Currently, T-Mobile will not unlock your device until the EIP is paid off, unless you tell them you are traveling internationally and want to use a local SIM. Then you have to have made at least 2 payments on the device and they will give you the unlock code. It is a permanent unlock, so it is super easy to get any device unlocked, paid off or not. If they roll this out to all future devices, they will be able to restrict permanent unlocking to only paid-off devices. I wouldn't be surprised if customer care can still request the "permanent" unlock code if you travel frequently.
  • If you haven't paid the phone off, then it's not your phone. I don't understand why you think they should let you take their phone to a new service?
  • Please feel free to quote the part where I said anything about taking the phone to a new service. I was referring only to unlocking for travel. Having it only unlocked for 30 days can be a bit restrictive especially if you travel frequently or for more than a month at a time. The other thing this worries me is how this temporary unlock actually works, as it could complicate the resale market. If someone just temp-unlocks the device and then sells it, when the 30 days are up the buyer is screwed. Also, will the app work over wifi so if you happen to hit the 30 day mark, and then have no cell service, will it allow it to be unlocked again? Just some possible implications of this new method of unlocking.
  • I bought mine outright. The z1s. I just asked and they emailed the unlock code. Very nice of them. And kitkat finally was released for z1s. Now all I need is a computer. Men.
  • Great, Verizon will probably start charging people who want to unlock their phones, even if they own them outright. Verizon still charges me subsidy on my bill even though I'm off contract, WTF is that about?
  • Not sure about the Verizon subsidy charge, but that is likely one of their famous fees. As for unlocking, once your contract is completed, generally they have to unlock it. There may be exceptions, probably for things like fraud.
  • Says it in the article. I wonder how many times you can temp unlock in a row?
  • People that want to unlock recently new devices, Search "UnlockUnit" in the play store. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Posted via the LG G2 Android Central App
  • Why pay for it though?
  • So you can download it, genius.
  • This method is free Free is better than paying, genius Posted via Android Central App
  • @NoNexus The method I'm referring to here is for people that are still paying for their devices. Now the carrier free unlocking, but only if you meet our requirements, can be bypassed. Posted via the LG G2 Android Central App
  • I would assume as many times as they want, otherwise it kind of defeats the purpose of even having the app. Right now, on any other device, only two unlocks per 12 month period. The device must be in use for at least 40 days and a minimum of two payments must be made on the Equipment Installment Plan.
  • Oddly I can see the temp unlock actually being very popular with people who are going overseas and want to use their phone with a local SIM but intend to use Tmo when they get home. Having said that, with their free DATA (all be it slow EDGE data) overseas I am less certain Tmo customers are going to need to unlock their phones if their sole reason for unlocking is use their phones with a local network. Dan Posted via Android Central App
  • I think that's pretty true for most unlocking. I'm still a fan of unlocked devices on principle, but it's not like it magically transforms your phone or adds frequencies. Posted via Android Central App
  • +1 Posted via Android Central App
    on VZW Moto X
  • I think this is a good test for this type of app but until I started working for *******, I never knew anything about this device.
  • Samsung leading the way!!! Sorry I really could not resist that one. This is another reason/service that I wish TMO was decent in my are and also why I wish they would have teamed up with Sprint. This is one I hope goes to the other carriers as well.
  • Are you turning into Richard Yarrell? lol but a Sprint - T-Mobile merger would not be good at all. Posted via the 64 GB OnePlus One
  • OUtside of saying that going from 4 to 3 carriers being a problem (which it is most certainly not) may I ask why?
  • Sprint and T-Mobile have VERY different networks for one. The only phone I can think off that have (and please somebody correct me) radios to work across both networks are the Nexus 5..
  • Lot's of Sprint phones would work for T-mobile and AT&T if they domestic unlocked... People have been able to domestic unlock the Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy S4 through root. HSPA+ works LTE doesn't, which is usually what happens with the Verizon phones that are already unlocked.
  • Yeah, that's why he asked if there's another phone besides the N5 that would be 100% operational on Sprint and Tmobile. There's not to my knowledge.
  • No one said anything about 100% but yeah Nexus 5 is the only one with LTE access to both. A sprint iPhone also could potentially but good luck to anyone trying to get that domestic unlock.
  • The only difference between, lets say, the Sprint version and the Tmo version of Note 3 radios is the way they are configured. They have the capability of supporting both networks, they are just locked out. If could be as easy as a software patch, and then a "connection optimizer" that automatically switches depending on which network is stronger. Combining GSM and CDMA is not that hard and will be easier later on with LTE-A
  • Great job T-Mobile they are KICKING CARRIER butt on so many things it's comical. From my Galaxy Note 3 on T-Mobile via Android Central App
  • Speak of the devil... Posted via the 64 GB OnePlus One
  • Hey you called him up...
  • But he's not suppose to show up until you say his name the third time.. Posted via Android Central App
  • Richard doesnt need that. He has a Google Alert set
  • You have to say it 3 times in front of a mirror. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Dumb.
  • Should be always unlocked from the beginning. This Sim lock phone BS is stupid. OnePlusOne Special Edition
  • Oh yeah. Right. T-Mobile should just let someone finance a $700 phone, and unlock it whenever they feel like it, and just leave the country. Brilliant idea.
  • It's sad you even had to say that.
  • Yes u pay for the monthly plan anyway correct? So that's basically what pays the phone. I am soon Europe I am not used to branded simlock phone bs. They are always simlock free and normally unbranded and most of the time u don't even pay anything when u sign up for a 2 year agreement. An free S5 or Sony xperia z2 or so lg g3 and so on are cheaper with a 2 year agreement then in the USA and no simlock branding and no locked tethering either. No extra pay to use ur phone as a WiFi hotspot. Bam that's how it should be. Step up the game USA. OnePlusOne Special Edition
  • Excellent.. T-Mobile.. Just Excellent.
    Your company's innovation has you on a path to becoming the Number 1 "Metro Area" Carrier in the United States of America by the End of 2015... Per my Prediction.. Amazing..
    Don't worry about the Country and Mountain Dwellers... That's what AT&Ripoff and Verhighzon are for.
  • I'm going on a 5-day cruise next weekend, and I've got the Samsung Galaxy S5 by T-Mobile...does this mean I could use it on the cruise?
  • No, I doubt you'd have service in the first place, but T-Mobile gives free international roaming with EDGE. Posted via the 64 GB OnePlus One
  • I think that apply to post paid customers only. Just for clarification.
  • T-Mobile representative, here. You definitely don't want to use your phone on a cruise with the new roaming rates. It only applies to a large list of specific countries, not including cruise ships. The rates you'd pay are outlandish. You can call and someone can let you know what to expect when it comes to using your phone on a cruise.
  • Umm...wifi? Posted via Android Central App
  • Internet service on open water is nonexistent except for what the cruise ship provides. And it is outlandish regardless of it being WiFi or not. Posted via Android Central App
  • When you're on the ship turn your phone completely off. Even when phone is on and you are not using it you will rake up a gang of roaming charges. Do not use your phone on the ship they have their own air time your bill will be ridiculous. I went on a cruise called my carrier which is T-Mobile told the rep i was going on a cruise what was the procedure that would keep me from getting roaming charges. He never told me to turn my phone completely off so i had a lot of roaming charges. Call your carrier let them know you're going on a cruise where you are going they will tell you where you can use your phone.
  • I called the president and he told me if I don't put my phone in my underwear, then lather it in ketchup and chant Hindi prayers, that I'll owe my carrier two Justin bieber tshirts and 28 million dollars. Or I could just disable mobile data and not make calls in the middle of the ocean. Not sure which one I'm gonna do while I'm on my boat. I went to college.
  • To use your phone on a cruise ship, unless you purchase some kind of plan that some cruise lines offer, you'll be paying $5.99/min for voice calls. Think about it...when's the last time you saw a cell tower in the middle of the ocean? If you are on the Simple Choice plan, once you are on dry land (in most countries) your data and texting is free, and voice calls are .20 cents/min. You can check the rates for whatever country(ies) you'll be traveling to at tmobile.com. Also, make sure when you leave the ship, that you look at the phone to see what carrier it shows you're using. Sometimes you have to be a certain distance away from the ship before it will disconnect from the ships carrier. Hope this helps. And enjoy your cruise. Bon voyage!
  • Thanks, I have all of my information now.
  • You needed to write an app to do this? Last time I checked, as long as your contract has expired, all you need to do is call your provider and ask for the code. Pop in the new SIM, enter the code and you're done... Not sure why this is all necessary...
  • App is faster.
  • Carriers still don't have to give you the unlock code if they don't want to. Posted via the LG G2 Android Central App
  • You missed some news. As long as you have met the criteria, they have to. Bill just got signed todya/yesterday
  • T-Mobile doesn't have contracts any longer. No carrier will permanently unlock your phone if it is financed, if your account is past due, if it hasn't been in use for at least 40 days, or if you haven't made at least two monthly payments and/or paid two payments towards the Equipment Installment Plan.
  • Not true
  • I was messing around and installed it on my nexus 5. It says it is locked by the carrier lol. I bought it straight from the google. Having said that the app doesn't even check if it's locked or not. It just straight out tells you you are locked. It is just running on a script like a slide show. Either way.. This is a nice approach. Posted via Android Central App
  • It will only work on the Samsung Galaxy Avant at this time.
  • I still don't get this Locked SIM BS.
    Carriers sell phones w or without contract and those that are sold at full price have to be unlocked - one owes them only for services provided and those on contract should not be treated any different, simply because they committed to keep making payments for a specific period (for the discounted price of the phone in return) and if fail to do so , agreed to pay early termination fee that would add to the original price of the device. So, I would need someone to explain , in what way the SIM Lock Protects the carrier. Posted via Android Central App
    on VZW Moto X
  • What is to stop you from moving to another carrier? THey bill you? How many can just ignore that and be happy with whatever carrier they move to. With locking you have to pay them off before you move. It is as simple as that
  • I get that and it makes sense , but those who are to switch have least trouble with unlocking the SIM - it's done for as low as 1.75 on e web or 25-40$ at local shops. Posted via Android Central App
    on VZW Moto X
  • Buy an unlocked phone, problem solved.
  • It's partly to protect you, and partly to protect the carrier. The SIM unlock (speaking to the international travel) is in place because you have to meet certain eligibility requirements. If the phone is financed through TMO on an Equipment Installment Plan (EIP), the device has to be in use for 40 days, have to pay at least two MRC payments and two EIP payments, and the account must not be past due. This is to prevent someone from ordering a $718 Galaxy Note 3, requesting a SIM unlock, and leaving the country without ever paying for the device. If the device is paid in full, then you can request a SIM unlock for international travel or to use with another carrier (if you are canceling your service with TMO) at any time, as long as your final bill was paid in full.
  • It really doesn't matter if you haven't paid off the eip, your gonna be billed either way, and if you goto another company, you'll have to pay the termination fee and that will include the remainder of the eip. So if would permanently unlock my phone and give it to someone as a gift.
  • Honestly, while in theory this is better than other carriers.
    It's decidedly not "UnCarrier", if they want to call themselves "UnCarrier"
    the phones should be sold unlocked, you've already decoupled the service charge and the device financing payment . I don't see the need for a network lock.
  • If you buy a phone on installments once it's paid in full tmobile or any carrier should allow you to sim unlock. Plain and simple. If its not paid for how is that not stealing?
  • All T-Mobile cell phones will eventually have this ability. Temp unlock and permanent if the phone meets the requirements (financial) once again T-Mobile is the first to move the Mobile industry in a positive direction. Thank You T-Mobile.
  • You can now able to Register any IMEI as “Eligible” in the T-Mobile Database so you can unlock your Cell Phone using the “Device Unlock” App. Turnaround time for delivery is less than 2 Business Days. To officially unlock your T-Mobile USA Cell Phone using the Device Unlock App, please click here: https://blog.unlockbase.com/t-mobile-usa-mobile-device-unlock-app/