Before buying an Android Phone it is really worth making sure whether the Android Phone that you are considering to buy is an unlocked Phone or Locked Phone. You will find below the methods to find out whether an Android Phone is unlocked or locked.
Difference Between Locked and Unlocked Android Phone
It is important that you know about the difference between a Locked and an Unlocked Android Phone, so that you can go for the type of phone that suits you better.
Unlocked Android Phone: In general Android Phones that are sold by the makers of the phone like Samsung, Nexus, Xiaomi and others are sold as Factory Unlocked Android Phones.
The clear advantage of owning an Unlocked Android Phone is that it can be used with any Carrier or Network. You can insert SIM card from any service provider on an unlocked Phone and it will start working.
Locked Android Phone: Android Phones that are sold by Carriers are generally locked to the network of the Carrier and cannot be used on any other network. Most Locked Android phones are sold with a network plan and are generally locked for a period of 18 to 24 months.
After the lock-in period ends, a locked Android Phone becomes eligible for being unlocked. The unlocking can be done by the Carrier or by other Phone unlocking services.
How to Find if Your Android Phone is Unlocked
The easiest way to confirm whether an Android Phone is Locked or Unlocked is to take out the existing SIM Card from the phone and insert a SIM Card from another Carrier into the Phone.
In case you are buying your Android Phone from an independent seller, you can arrange a meeting with this seller and seek his/her permission to check the Android Phone with another SIM card.
1. First, make a phone call using the Android Phone (with the current SIM card). This will ensure that the Phone is working with the current SIM.
2. Next, Power OFF the Android Phone and remove the existing SIM card from the Phone and Insert the SIM card from another Carrier into the Android Phone.
3. After replacing SIM, press the Power button to start the Phone.
4. Now, make a phone call from the Android Phone
The Android Phone is definitely Unlocked, in case the Call goes through, even after changing the SIM Card. In case the Call does not connect after changing the SIM Card, it confirms that the Android Phone is Locked to a Carrier.
Check Using IMEI Number
In case you do not want to go through the process of changing the SIM Cards, you can ask for the IMEI Number of the Android Phone and follow the steps below to check whether your Android Phone is unlocked or Locked.
1. First, get the IMEI Number of the Android Phone from its seller. Depending on the stage of the deal, most genuine sellers should have no problem providing the IMEI Number to you.
In case the seller does not know the IMEI number you can refer them to this article – How to Find IMEI Number of Your Android Phone.
2. Next, go to imei.info website using your phone or computer.
3. Type the 15 digit IMEI Number of the Android Phone into the dialog box as shown below and click on the Check button (See image below).
4. On the next screen, you will see information about the Android Phone belonging to the IMEI Number that you had just entered. Click on SIMLOCK & WARRANTY button.
5. Once the process is complete, you will get information about the network to which the phone belongs to and whether it is an Unlocked Android Phone or a Locked Phone.
After IMEI check, the website also offers unlocking service for a fee in case your Android Phone is locked.