Unlocking a Sprint phone
In this guide, we'll help you with the process of unlocking your Sprint phone: whether your phone is eligible for an unlock, the carrier's requirements, and the information you'll need before you can submit an unlock request.
We'll then show you the world of Sprint MVNOs, so you won't have to pay Sprint prices for Sprint's network!
Unlocking Your Phone
Sprint is the second-most friendly major carrier (after Verizon) when it comes to phone unlocks. First of all, Sprint will notify you when your device is ready to be unlocked, but the even better news is that your device will be automatically unlocked after fulfilling specified requirements if it has been purchased after February 2015.
Sprint's Requirements for Unlocking
You'll need to make sure that you are able to fulfill the following requirements:
- The device must be compatible with SIM unlocking
- The mobile device must have been active on the Sprint network for a minimum of 50 days
- Your account must be in good standing
- The phone must be paid in full, whether through an installment plan or through a lump sum payment
- Your Sprint device must not have been reported as lost or stolen
- Each phone number on the account is allowed up to two unlocked devices within 12 months (military only)
Info You'll Need When You Talk to Sprint
So before you unlock your phone - which requires you to contact Customer Care's customer service (for domestic unlocking) or call Sprint Worldwide Care (for international and military) - you'll need to have some important information on hand, including:
- The IMEI or MEID number. You can find the number located on the device itself or in the phone's "Settings" option (from there, finding the number will be dependent on the type of phone and its operating system). Alternatively, you can call *#06#, which will retrieve the 14 or 15 digit number and post it on your phone's screen
- The account number associated with the device
- The account's password or the last four digits of the account holder's social security number
- Deployment papers, if the unlock is used during military deployment
Eligible Sprint Phones
The good news is that most of Sprint's modern, newer phones are eligible for unlocking. So once you fulfill the requirements for unlocking, you can insert a different carrier's SIM card and switch!
Here are some phones that are eligible for Sprint's unlocking program:
- iPhone 5s/5c
- iPhone 6s/6s Plus
- iPhone 7/7 Plus
- iPhone 8/8 Plus
- iPhone X
- Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+
- Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8
How to Unlock Older Sprint Phones
If you've purchased a phone before February 2015, your Sprint phone will be Master Subsidy Locked (MSL). Basically, your phone is locked with a type of disabling software and a locking code. Sprint can provide you with the MSL code to eligible customers, but the device may be unable to be used with any carrier domestically. You'll have to contact the carrier and ask whether or not they can or will reprogram the device.
You can apply to Sprint for an international unlock, allowing you to take out their SIM card and insert one from a carrier in the country you're visiting. Sprint's requirements are that you be a Sprint customer, your device has been active for at least 90 days and has no outstanding payments, and you can not have unlocked more than one device in the past year.
Sprint Worldwide Care customer support can be contacted by chat or email at sprint.com/swwsupport or by phone at 888-226-7212.
You might also want to check out our guide to international travel with your phone.
Bring Your Own Phone
While unlocking a Sprint phone is simple (after all, the device is automatically unlocked if it has been purchased after 2015), many people report that actually swapping to another network can be a troublesome ordeal.
Although Verizon also uses CDMA technology, Sprint operates on a different band, so Sprint phones aren't always compatible with Verizon, so you should check the IMEI with Verizon first.
If your device is an iPhone or LTE capable, it is theoretically possible to use it with GSM carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile, but you might find that not all features will work, so again you'll need to check first (with the IMEI) with your proposed new carrier to see if your particular device will work.
If you're thinking this all sounds too complicated, there is some good news. You can still use your Sprint phone with one of the excellent Sprint MVNOs listed below and make major savings on your monthly bill!
Mobile Virtual Network Operators, or MVNOs, are lower-cost carriers like Twigby, Tello, and Ting. These fantastic alternative carriers lease coverage on the Sprint network and make that available to customers at discounted prices.
Of course, there are plenty of advantages that come with Sprint MVNOs, including:
- Better Prices: Sprint MVNOs offer affordable service plans because they do not have expensive marketing or overhead costs, unlike major carriers. As a result, they can charge lower prices for their plans.
- Customized Plans: Nowadays, major carriers offer one main plan - unlimited 4G LTE data. Unfortunately, not a lot of customers require unlimited data. The average consumer, in fact, only uses roughly 3GB of data per month. With MVNOs, you'll only pay for what you need; some MVNOs allow you to build your own plan too!
- No Contracts or Credit Checks: All MVNOs offer prepaid plans, so you won't have to stick around if you're not happy. You can easily drop the MVNO in favor of a different one.
- BYOP: Bring your own phone is an option most, if not all, Sprint MVNOs offer. You can bring your own phone rather than pay an arm and a leg for a new phone. Best of all, you can keep your own phone number if you bring your own device.