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Verizon will begin locking phones to its network this spring

Verizon logo
Verizon logo (Image credit: Android Central)

In the United States, most all carriers require you wait a certain amount of time after buying a phone before you can use it on another network. It's a process called "locking", and it's something that's instituted by AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. Beginning at some point this spring, Verizon will follow suit.

With Verizon's current policy of selling unlocked phones, you can purchase any device from the carrier and instantly start using it on another network that supports it. It makes it easy for consumers to take their devices to other providers as they see fit, but according to Verizon, it also makes it easier for crooks to steal these devices and sell them on the black market.

Verizon's following the industry norm.

Once Verizon changes this, you'll need to wait for an undisclosed amount of time after buying a phone before taking it somewhere else. The carrier hasn't said how long this waiting period will be, but if its similar to what we already have, we'll likely be looking at anywhere from 15 - 60 days.

I don't buy into the idea that something like this helps to cut down on theft, and instead feel that Verizon is making this change as a way to deter customers from buying its phones and using them on a competitor's network. It can certainly be seen as a hostile act towards consumers, but from a business point-of-view, it makes sense for Verizon. The rest of the industry already does this, and if it can keep more people on its network in the process, it might as well.

There's no timeframe as to when these changes will be made aside from "this spring", so if you were planning on buying a Verizon phone and using it elsewhere, I'd suggest doing so soon before this goes into effect.

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Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

48 Comments
  • Still not buying a phone from Verizon. Been there done that -not doing it again. I think this is just an excuse to prevent people from buying a Verizon phone and using it on another carrier.
  • I'm glad the CRTC regulated against the practice of carrier-locking phones in Canada.
  • And you pay more for phones as well
  • Considering in the US full price payment plans for 2 years is the norm and the US Canadian exchange rate, I rather have legislation that is pro consumer.
  • I think you mean that Verizon is returning to normal.
  • It's just to stop thieves from ripping off stores. My word people are easily offended. This is like how gift cards have no value until purchased. Yes people will have to wait. Buy elsewhere, don't give them your money
  • IMEI black lists already exist and would serve the same purpose.
  • If that's the case then why would the customer have to wait to unlock it? If it's been purchased then it can't be stolen Don't believe everything
  • This is already done by blacklisting the imei. This is redundant and just an excuse so that you need an account to purchase a phone and can't take advantage of any cell phone deals and then using it on t-mobile or att. But hey, keep telling yourself otherwise.
  • Don't worry, Verizon promised they wouldn't do this when they were awarded the 700MHz Upper Block C spectrum, so the FCC will jump in here any minute and.... Oh, who are we kidding? This FCC isn't going to do a damn thing about it.
  • You're correct. The FCC under this administration is owned by the likes of Verizon.
  • No. It's not. Seriously, where do people like you get this crap?
  • Issues that concern the country as a whole are voted on by a group of 5 which the majority are in the pockets of these companies.... What world are you living in slim, cause I want to join you in that fantasy land.
  • He is an ex Verizon lawyer. https://www.engadget.com/2017/12/09/fcc-chairman-jokes-about-being-veriz...
  • From reading. You should do the same
  • I thought they had to be unlocked because of the 700mhz spectrum deal?
  • Hold on a minute. Is it even legal?? Verizon uses 700Mhz spectrum, right?? So there is restriction for this band from I believe 2008... (e)Handset locking prohibited. No licensee may disable features on handsets it provides to customers, to the extent such features are compliant with the licensee's standards pursuant to paragraph (b)of this section, nor configure handsets it provides to prohibit use of such handsets on other providers' networks. (Emphasis added)
  • I don't think people are looking at this from Verizon customers point of view...... they don't care. They won't go to another carrier anyway. Majority of those people are NOT tech people, they want Verizon's coverage. That's all. Has anybody heard of Verizon's pre-paid rates.... they are the bomb!!
  • 3 GB's of data, for $40 PLUS Taxes is the bomb? No thank you.
  • I got a Chromebook for all my social media, videos, and e-mail....etc. Some of us use a phone as a phone. Strange as that is to most.
  • What else is new? They use to lock them, then they unlocked them (which I thought was required by law now) and now somehow they are able to lock them again. Verizon is a joke.
  • Last I looked Verizon is the most expensive carrier. I know first hand I'm on it. So spare the Verizon bashing comments of its true the other carriers already lock.
  • And the FCC will do nothing about it. If I spend $1,000 on a device (full retail), I should be able to use it on whatever carrier I damn will please. It's my property at that point.
  • If you buy flat out. If one makes payments, not your device. You are right though, if you pay full retail the device should be unlocked on day one. If not bunch of BS.
  • Then buy it unlocked.
  • Hey I agree. That is want I do. I will never go through a carrier ever again.
  • Not really true. A device payment plan is an interest-free loan, not a lease. As long as you make your payments on time, the phone belongs to you. Look at it this way. Do you own a house? If so, it's likely you're paying on a mortgage. Can your lender tell you what color you can paint it? No. Can they tell you whether you can rent it out, invite houseguests, or sell it? No. The only thing they can do is foreclosure if you default on the loan.
  • We need to stop comparing autos , houses to phones.We can still root if we want to, depends on OEM actually. Bottom line, if you buy a phone through a carrier you are using their Network, their rules. If you do not like it buy unlocked phones, end of story.
  • You can't compare a phone payment to a mortgage payment lol. At this point, let's say you pay monthly for a phone and they unlock it, then you decide you don't want to pay the rest that's due..... That sucks for the company that sold it to you. That is why a phone on a monthly payment is not sim unlocked.
  • If you buy it flat out you wouldn't have to wait for unlocking. This only applies to phones on payments (or stolen ones). Like on every other carrier.
  • Not true. I've paid for AT&T phones straight up before and they pulled the crap of having to wait 60-90 days to get it unlocked. It was like pulling teeth to get them to unlock it prior to that. Didn't matter that I didn't owe them a thing for it, nor was taking a subsidy. Tough luck. No, they won't unlock your bootloader either. Now I just buy straight unlocked from the beginning and call it good. That way I can get bootloader and SIM unlocks without the carrier hassle.
  • Preach on!
  • Not true if you're paying full price at a carrier. Example, t-mobile phones remain unlocked even after you pay full price. To unlock them you need to activate it and have it on an account for 40 days. On the other hand, buy a phone outright at Amazon, a phone not attached to any carrier, that phone will be truly unlocked.
  • Wait, I thought carriers used to SIM lock into their network, then they all stopped because of some FCC ruling? Now they are all back to locking phones?? Or am I horribly misinformed? I will say that when traveling in Europe, it was a huge PITA to use a european SIM card when friends on AT&T didn't have any issues, plug and play.
  • Looks like you guys got some bad info.
  • I'm so happy I left Verizon. I DON'T miss them
  • Lol literally every major carrier in the US does this. Them doing it stinks for different reasons, but they are not unique.
  • I bought a Verizon S8 cuz I knew it was unlocked and that I could flash the unlocked firmware. Guess that won't be an option anymore... Lol
  • Don't understand why you guys over in America don't buy sim-lock free devices more?
  • True but I've been buying unlocked since 2014 they think is convenient.
  • Most smartphone users in the USA don't have a clue what sim unlock is anyway. Me I won't buy another carrier branded phone again. My PCs never had software I couldn't remove so why shouldn't I be allowed to remove apps from a pocket size computer with a phone built in? Sim locks are unlocked after a time or money so it's really not an issue if you know what your buying which I would guess most have no clue.
  • Damn, you got that straight. Unfortunately USA is in a debt crisis, government and consumer. Everyone this they have to have the latest and greatest. Bottom line, if you have to make payments on something that costs a thousand dollars you need to reevaluate your life.
  • Guys over in America do buy unlocked. Just because you see one article about this doesn't mean everyone buys from carriers lol
  • How does this affect those on payment plans with Verizon?
  • I have this feeling if you buy phone outright this will not apply. Could be wrong, let's see the fine print in a few weeks.
  • No surprise, I found it kind of odd that their devices were unlocked to begin with. There should be some exclusions though. Such as if someone was to buy their phone outright that they should be able to unlock the device instantly. On a finance agreement that is a different story.
  • Can be theft in a way. Someone steals an Android phone, then Verizon's blacklist doesn't apply since it's on another carrier that ignores the blacklist, or overseas. As long as they offer unlock the second the account holder asks, that's fine. Of course, they're not doing that, but then I'd be fine with it.
  • If you buy a phone from Verizon, it's unlocked as soon as you activate it on Verizon.