How to Unlock My CDMA Phone

By Jeff Grundy

Many cell phone service provides issue Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) phones to their subscribers as a way of ensuring the phones are not usable on rival networks. CDMA phones employ special software "locks" that prevent use of the phone on other networks, and you must unlock the phone if you want to use it with another provider.

To unlock a CDMA cell phone and remove network restrictions, you must enter a special "unlock" code. The service provider that issued the phone can provide you with the needed code; however, the company will usually charge a hefty fee before they give it to you. For most CDMA phones, though, there are usually other less expensive sources for the unlock code.

Press "*#06#" on your keypad, then wait for the phone's International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number to display on the screen. Write the 15-digit IMEI number on a piece of paper.

Call the cellular service provider that issued you the phone. Provide the company representative with information to verify your account. Also, provide the customer service representative with the model number of your phone and its IMEI number. Ask the representative how much the provider charges for providing you with the unlock code for your phone. Write down the price quoted to you by the customer service representative.

Browse websites of online companies that provide unlock codes for your model phone and compare prices. Online companies such as Cell Corner, Cellular Locksmith, Unlock to Talk and others usually offer lower unlock code prices than cellular phone service providers. An Unlock code provided by one company will be the same as one offered by another vendor because of the mathematical algorithms used to derive the code. Therefore, choose the vendor with the lowest price for the unlock code.

Buy the unlock code online or call the company and make your purchase over the phone. Wait for the service to provide you with the unlock code via email or over the phone, then write down the code sequence. Some unlock codes consist of only numbers, while others are a series of numbers and other characters.

Turn off the cell phone, then remove the battery. Locate the SIM memory card in the phone and remove it. Insert the SIM card from the new service provider, reinstall the battery and turn the phone on again.

Wait for the phone to prompt you for an authorization code to change networks, then enter the unlock code on the keypad and press the "OK" key. Wait for a "Restriction Off" or similar message. The phone is now usable with the new service provider's network.