How to Unlock a Samsung Phone: A Complete Guide

Unlocking your Samsung phone allows you to use it with different carriers, take full control over customizations, and even resell your device more easily. But the unlocking process can seem daunting if you’ve never done it before.

This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to successfully unlock your Samsung Galaxy or other Samsung smartphone or tablet.

What Does “Unlock a Samsung Phone” Mean?

When you purchase a Samsung phone from a carrier like AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile, it comes “locked” to only work on that carrier’s network.

This means that the phone will only accept SIM cards from that specific carrier. For example, if you purchase an AT&T Samsung S21 phone, it will have an AT&T SIM card in it and will only work properly with AT&T.

Unlocking a Samsung phone removes that carrier restriction so you can then use SIM cards from other carriers – whether other American GSM networks like T-Mobile or International carriers when traveling or using local SIM cards abroad.

Unlocking gives you way more flexibility in using your device.

Key benefits of unlocking your Samsung device include:

  • Use local SIM cards to save money when traveling internationally – For example, you could purchase an inexpensive data-only SIM in London to get internet access during your trip rather than paying outrageous international roaming fees from your American carrier. Unlocked phones mean swapping the SIM is fast and convenient.
  • Switch freely between domestic carrier plans whenever you want better deals – Since your phone works on multiple networks, you can change plans month-to-month. This makes it easy to switch to new promotions from other carriers to always get the lowest price.
  • Resell an unlocked Samsung phone for more money later on – Unlocked phones have significantly higher resale value on sites like Swappa or eBay. There is high demand as they work across all major carriers after the sale.
  • Get software updates faster, as they don’t need carrier approval and testing which often delays updates for months. This leads to better performance and more security patches to protect your personal data against threats.
  • Full control over customizations that carriers often restrict – Want to enable WiFi hotspot tethering? Or customize advanced calling options? Unlocked phones allow all tweaks since you don’t deal with carrier limitations.

Determine If Your Samsung Phone Is Already Unlocked

Before going through the unlocking methods, it is important to check and verify if your Samsung phone is actually locked or not.

Signs your Samsung Galaxy device or tablet is locked include:

  • Error messages or notifications appear when inserting another carrier’s SIM card or foreign SIM card such as “Invalid SIM”, “Network locked”, or “Insert correct SIM card”.
  • Being unable to choose alternate network carriers in the connection settings. Only the currently locked carrier appears.
  • Permanent carrier branding, logos, or apps pre-installed that cannot be removed. Usually locked retailer phones have customized software restrictions.

You can also officially check your unlock status right in the Android Settings app:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Select About Phone
  3. Choose Status
  4. Check if any Lock Status is listed – “Network locked” indicates it is still locked.

If nothing shows and you can freely swap in other network SIMs with no errors, your device is already unlocked.

Next let’s go over the available methods to unlock Samsung devices still locked down.

Unlocking Methods for Samsung Phones & Tablets

There are several main options to unlock a locked Samsung Galaxy phone or tablet:

Unlock a Samsung Through Your Current Service Carrier

Contacting your phone’s carrier and asking them to unlock it is the official way to get an unlock code. However eligibility and requirements vary greatly:

  • Some carriers like Verizon unlock most phones automatically 60-90 days after purchase while others make it very difficult.
  • There may be eligibility requirements related to your length of continuous service – like 1 year before ATT unlocks a device. Upgrading and getting a new phone can also reset the clock unfortunately.
  • Fees may apply depending on your contract and payment status. If you paid full retail price up front, carriers tend to unlock free of charge after a few months or immediately. Those with payment plans may need to complete all device payments first before performing an unlock.
  • Prepaid phones also have more relaxed and faster unlocking timeframes compared to contract postpaid phones.
  • Each carrier has different bureaucracies and procedures to apply and request an official unlock. Expect long hold times and the need to escalate for exceptions frequently.

So while the official carrier unlock method seems simple on the surface, in practice it can be tedious and take weeks to months depending on their archaic restrictions. However success rates are higher when going the official route.

Use a Third Party Unlocking Service For Samsung Devices

Many websites exist to purchase phone unlock codes from for a small fee. Popular and reputable sites like DoctorSIMUnlockBase, or UnlockUnit offer unlock codes starting around $10-20 bucks normally.

The major benefits of using a third party unlock service over your carrier include:

  • Lower cost – Just around $10-15 on average from sites with lots of discount promo codes too. Much cheaper than carrier fees.
  • Fast delivery – Unlock codes get delivered generally in 1-3 days via email rather than waiting weeks for carrier approval.
  • Reliable success rates – These sites specialize in unlock codes for all phone models and have automated systems to handle the codes reliably to customers.
  • Easy to use – Follow straightforward instructions on which menu to input the codes provided in order to complete the Samsung unlock.

The process involves providing your device details like model number, IMEI number, and country it is currently locked to in order for the right factory unlock code to be generated and sent to you quickly.

Then input this special network code on the Samsung device when prompted and it will complete the unlocking process so you can use any GSM SIM card worldwide!

Attempt to Unlock a Samsung with Paid Software or Apps

Some paid smartphone applications or PC/Mac computer software claim to be able to generate unlock codes as well. Popular options include:

DroidKit – Android Unlocker

  • Reliable app with generally good reviews and ratings for code generation.
  • Capable of calculating unlock codes for many Samsung devices.
  • Also provides other Android modding and maintenance tools.

Google Find My Device

  • Google’s own security app that lets you remotely track and unlock Android phones.
  • Works on lost or stolen devices to access info and unlock.
  • Success rates vary for unlocking purposes. Designed more just for device recovery functions.

The major downside to using phone apps for unlocking compared to third party unlock services tends to be lower reliability and success rate in getting working, valid unlock codes for your specific Samsung device.

Many times the codes do fail to properly SIM unlock the phone in the end so success is hit and miss. Proper research is required to find the best app unlock methods and steps to follow too.

There are also risks of installing malware or other security vulnerabilities from shady apps promising easy, fast unlocks. Stick to Play Store recommended unlocker apps from developers with good reviews to stay on the safe side when trying this route.

Step-By-Step Instructions to Unlock Samsung Devices

Below are the complete steps to unlock Samsung Galaxy smartphones and tablets using unlock codes from whichever source you choose:

Prerequisites Before Unlocking

Prior to getting into the actual unlocking process, ensure:

  • You have a compatible Samsung Galaxy series device. Most newer models from the S, Note, A, J, and M series lines work. Very old phones may be permanently locked however.
  • You know the exact device model number and details – Samsung phones come in many regional model variants which can affect unlocking eligibility. Know the SM model code.
  • The automatic initial network lock time passed. New devices from carriers often have a mandatory 6 month or 1 year lock period before unlock codes begin working.
  • The current device software is fully up to date. Try checking for and installing any pending Android OS or security updates prior to unlocking for best results. Outdated firmwares can cause unlock issues.

Once you’ve verified those prerequisites are met, you can safely move forward to obtain and enter Samsung unlock codes.

Step 1 – Generate Samsung Unlock Codes

There are a few ways to get the crucial network unlock codes depending on if going through your carrier, third party website, or phone app unlocker:

Carrier Unlock Codes

Contact your phone carrier’s customer service by phone call or live chat and request they generate an unlock code for your Samsung mobile. Provide any details like IMEI number that they require. This officially unlocks through your provider’s systems.

Third Party Unlock Website Codes

Visit sites like DoctorSIM or UnlockBase to purchase a factory unlock code by submitting your device info which then automatically generates and delivers unlock codes to your email inbox generally in 1-3 days. Easy!

Software Unlock App Codes

Download a recommended mobile app like DroidKit – Android Toolkit and run it to calculate your device’s own unique Samsung unlock code for input directly on your smartphone. Convenient but reliability varies across apps.

Step 2 – Back Up Important Data on the Samsung

To keep all your precious photos, contacts, videos, messages and other irreplaceable data protected through the upcoming unlocking process, be sure to fully back up the Samsung device first before making major software changes.

You have several backup options:

  • Back up wirelessly to your Google Drive cloud account automatically through Android by enabling that setting. Great to also have a secondary cloud copy of everything for redundancy.
  • Connect the phone via USB cable to a Windows PC or Mac computer and use built in Android data transfer and backup tools. Lets you save entire internal memory contents to a safe folder on your computer as cold storage just in case.
  • Insert a microSD memory card and use it to export photos, videos, music files and certain app data like offline maps onto the external card for simple safekeeping during the unlock period.

Once backed up, you have assurance that no matter what happens or even if a full factory reset is required, your memories and important info remains retrievable.

Step 3 – Insert Non-Accepted SIM Card

Grab a spare compatible nano-SIM card from another GSM carrier/network than what your Samsung is currently locked to originally. This is what triggers the device to prompt for the unlock code next.

For example, if your phone is locked to T-Mobile for instance, try inserting an AT&T or Verizon SIM card instead. Essentially a competitor mobile network’s card.

Upon insertion, you should receive an error message that the inserted SIM card from the other carrier is invalid for an unauthorized or locked device.

Typical error notifications like “SIM card rejected”, “Incorrect SIM card inserted”, or “This device is network locked” indicate you are ready for step 4’s unlock code entry.

Seeing those messages means the backup foreign SIM card trick worked to put the device into official unlock mode. Time for entering the network key to complete the unlock!

Step 4 – Enter Unlock Code on the Samsung

Next, with the unaccepted SIM card still inserted, you need to input the special unlock code sequence to fully unlock network restrictions:

Samsung has a standardized unlock code input dialer sequence that works to enter the code:


Simply dial that code string above on your phone’s dial pad but substitute CODE with the actual unlock code digits you obtained in Step 1 by either your carrier, doctorSIM website, or unlocker app results.

So for example if your unlock code from the provider was: 5738492 You would dial: #7465625638*5738492#

Tap dial and it should instantly process the code. Most times the phone will automatically reboot itself once successfully unlocked!

If it does not, go to step 5 of manually power cycling and testing for confirmation.

Step 5 – Confirm Successful Samsung Unlock

To validate all carrier restrictions were removed by the network unlock code, check a few indicators:

Unlock Status

Navigate back to Settings >> About Phone >> Status menu and it should no longer say anything about a Lock Status if truly unlocked.

Insert Foreign SIM

Try inserting still another international SIM card from a carrier different than the first one you tested with. It should now accept it without any errors about unauthorized network or SIM invalid like before. Full unrestricted access means success!

Reboot Phone Into Safe Mode

Manually reboot and power on the device into safe mode by long holding power key and tapping Safe Mode. Then check for same unlock status indicators above. Exit safe mode and check normal boot too. This clears out any quirks.

If for some reason unlock issues still persist, repeat steps with the same unlock code again until resolved. Consult unlocking forums for troubleshooting tips as well. But majority of the time it works instantly.

Enjoy Using an Unlocked Samsung Galaxy Phone or Tablet!

Congratulations, with all steps completed, you can now enjoy an unlocked Samsung device and all the awesome benefits that come with unlocking!

Here are some of top advantages to using an unlocked phone on any GSM carrier:

Use Affordable Prepaid Plans & Easy Carrier Switching

Go prepaid for big savings or freely hop networks whenever better deals arise. No contracts and unconditional plan & carrier switching whenever works best for your needs.

International Travel Just Got Easier

Heading overseas? Pick up a local pay-as-you-go SIM card in the country you’re visiting for cheap data during your entire trip. Way better than paying crazy roaming fees!

Resell Value Just Went Up

Unlocked Samsungs demand higher resale prices because more potential buyers exist. Sell privately or trade-in for more cash at top value thanks to flexibility.

Freedom Of Customizations

Remove carrier bloatware apps, enable tethering, customize interface with themes, install unapproved apps, and enjoy full unrestricted access that carrier versions prohibit.

Plus guarantee you’ll receive the latest Android OS and security updates much quicker since nocarrier testing causing delays before pushing updates.

We hope this complete start-to-finish walkthrough helped explain exactly how to unlock Samsung cell phones of any model – new or old! Whether using an official carrier unlock code from Verizon, AT&T etc or third party service for unlock codes instead, the process works reliably on Galaxy S and Note mobiles note that the steps would be the same for tablets as well. Let us know if you have any other questions down in the comments!


Kevin is a seasoned tech enthusiast with a passion for diving deep into the intricacies of the tech world. With a background in computer science, he guides readers through the latest trends, software developments, and everything tech-related.

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