Trade-In Tech
by on August 23, 2021

Throughout the world, one of the most popular types of electronics remains the smartphone. By combining functionality with convenience, it’s easy to see why smartphones are so in-demand. As you might know, there are lots of smartphones out there. However, in this article, we’ll explain locked and unlocked cell phones.


After reading this post, you’ll have a much deeper understanding of:

  • Why phones get locked

  • If it’s legal to unlock phones

  • How to know if your phone is locked

  • The benefits of unlocked phones

  • How to unlock cell phones on every major carrier

  • Where to find unlocked phones for sale online

  • What cell phone brands can help bring you the most money


Why Do Phones Get Locked?



It’s understandable to wonder why phones get locked. As it turns out, there are several reasons why this happens. Considering that, it’s important to learn why phones get locked and if you can do anything to resolve this situation. Here are the most common reasons why phones get locked.


Locked by Carrier


Many smartphones contain interchangeable parts. One of these parts is a SIM card. This important part is something that enables a smartphone to perform many of its functions. With that in mind, most smartphone carriers have SIM cards that only work on their networks. By doing this, someone couldn’t use a SIM card from carrier A in a phone that’s locked by carrier B.


If you were under a contract with carrier A and wanted to become carrier B’s customer, the first carrier would have to unlock your phone. With that said, making this decision can sometimes require you to buy out the remaining balance of a contract.


As Part of a Payment Plan


As you likely know, most smartphones aren’t cheap electronics to purchase. This is why many smartphone retailers don’t only offer phones for customers that pay for them in full. Instead, many retailers create contract or payment plans for their customers. Under these plans, someone can buy a phone for hundreds of dollars less than paying for it all at once.


Let’s say that you needed a new iPhones. However, you didn’t want to spend $800 on it. Instead of doing that, you visit a phone retailer and spend $199 for the same phone. You would then make monthly payments of $50 until you’ve paid off the rest of your phone’s balance.


By locking their phones, the companies that sell these items to customers can stop them from working if a customer doesn’t continue paying their remaining balances.




If you’re like most people, your life tends to move at a fast pace. Considering that, it’s easy to have moments when you misplace an item. Unfortunately, this item can sometimes be your smartphone. And, it’s unlikely that you want someone gaining access to your smartphone.


Many people have extremely private information on their phones, including pictures, videos, messages, and even financial information. If you lose your smartphone that’s on a retailer’s payment plan, you can contact this company, and they’ll lock your phone.


This type of temporary lock is a great way to protect your lost phone. Plus, a lock helps ensure no one will try to sell your device. It also protects your private information from getting accessed by a random stranger.




Unfortunately, not everyone who loses their cell phones is lucky enough to find them. If you’re in this stressful situation, the best thing to do is report your phone as stolen. This process is similar to what you’d do if your phone was lost. Reporting a stolen phone might even help ensure that those responsible for stealing it get caught. 


Is It Legal to Unlock a Cell Phone?



Yes, unlocking your phone is perfectly legal. As long as the phone in question doesn’t have a balance that’s owed to a carrier. If you’ve heard differently, that’s because, at one point, unlocking phones was illegal. However, there was a recent ruling concerning voluntary industry principles that allow for the unlocking of wireless phones with major carriers.


If the request to unlock a phone is one that’s reasonable, it’s illegal for a carrier to not carry out this request. It can also enable someone besides an account owner to unlock a phone.


How Do I Know If My Phone is Locked or Blacklisted?



You might think that finding out if a phone is locked or blacklisted is hard to do. Fortunately, that isn’t the case. You can find out your phone’s condition by contacting the carrier this phone is linked to. After providing them with information about the phone, they should be able to let you know if your phone is either locked or unlocked.


Or, you can simply use an online IMEI/ESN/MEID checker to achieve this goal. These convenient checks should enable you to learn about the status of your phone online. Once you have the number for your device, you simply enter these characters into your online checker of choice.


Within a few moments, most checkers will display more information about your phone. This information often includes whether the phone you’re checking is either locked or otherwise blacklisted.


Where Do I Find My IMEI or ESN Number?


Cell phone manufacturers, carriers, and other companies in this industry need a way to keep track of the millions of phones on the market. To do this, almost every manufactured smartphone has a unique way to identify it. These identifiers are known as an IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity), ESN (Electronic Serial Number), or MEID (Mobile Equipment Identifier).


If you want to unlock a phone, you’re going to need the unique identifier for the phone or phones you have. Think of IMEIs or ESNs as you would an automobile’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). Each vehicle around the world has a unique VIN. Each smartphone has a unique ESN, IMEI, or MEID. The type of identifier you need depends on the brand of phone you’re working with.


How to Find an ESN or IMEI on an Android Phone:


To find the ESN or IMEI for an Android phone, you have several options. If you don’t have any luck with the first method, try the others, and you should eventually pull up your phone’s ESN or IMEI.


Option 1:

  • On your Android phone, access the Settings option.

  • Select the About Phone option.

  • Tap on the Status option.

  • After scrolling down, you should soon see the MEID or IMEI of your Android device.


Option 2:

  • Pull up your Android phone’s keypad.

  • Dial *#06# on your phone’s keypad.

  • Your phone’s IMEI or MEID number should appear on your screen.


Option 3:

  • Carefully remove your phone’s back cover.

  • Remove the phone’s battery.

  • On the back of your phone, you should see the IMEI or MEID number.


Hopefully, one of these options helps you find the IMEI or MEID of your Android phone. But what about iPhone owners?


How to Find a MEID or IMEI on an iPhone


Fortunately, there are also several proven ways for iPhone owners to find this important information. If you need to find this information, try one or all of the methods below.


Option 1:

  • Dial *#06# on your phone’s keypad

  • You should soon see the IMEI or MEID of your phone appear on the screen.


Option 2:

  • Find a paperclip, SIM-eject tool, or something of a similar length and smallness. 

  • Slowly insert this item into the hole beside your phone’s SIM card tray.

  • If you inserted this device properly, your SIM card’s tray should eject.

  • Find the IMEI on your phone’s SIM card tray.


Option 3:

  • Pull up your phone’s Settings menu.

  • Tap on the General option.

  • Tap the About option.

  • Scroll down until you find the IMEI or MEID of your iPhone.


What Are the Benefits of Unlocked Phones?



It’s now time to learn about the benefits of unlocked phones. Whether you buy, sell, or own them, unlocked phones have many advantages. Here’s a closer look at the benefits of these types of phones.


Completely Functional


The main benefit of an unlocked phone is that it is fully functional. These phones aren’t under a contract with any wireless carrier. They’ll also be ready to seamlessly get tied to a carrier when the owner is ready. After this happens, unlocked phones should be able to make and receive both calls and texts.




Another reason unlocked phones are so great is that they’re flexible. In most cases, a person or company purchasing an unlocked phone can transfer it over to almost any carrier. This situation is also great for someone who might have had a bad experience with a carrier in the past. 


If someone had a bad experience with Verizon, they probably wouldn’t want a phone that’s locked to this same company. By selling unlocked phones, you and your customers have peace of mind. You’re not selling items that customers will have problems using. Plus, your customers have the freedom to choose any carrier they want to sign up with.


Potentially Using Two or More Networks on One Phone


While this might not be a major factor for you, some people prefer using dual SIM cards on their phones. By doing this, it’s possible for someone to use two networks on one device. An example of this would be someone using SIM card A for calling and texting. And they might use SIM card B only for data.


Someone can do this if they’re getting better rates from certain carriers for calling, texting, or using data. This isn’t always possible on every kind of cell phone. But, for those that offer this feature, it can be great to use multiple SIM cards.


Your Business Makes More Money


Whether you work for or own a business that sells cell phones, it’s essential to provide value to your customers. Unfortunately, it’s not going to be easy to achieve this goal when you’re selling locked phones. While a niche market can benefit from having locked phones, they’re not going to provide much value to the average customer.


Because unlocked phones are far more useful than locked phones, the former can resale for much more money than the latter device.


Free From “Bloatware”


Yet another advantage of unlocked phones is that they don’t often contain bloatware. It’s understandable if bloatware is an unfamiliar term. This is another word for the various apps and software that mobile carriers often place on their phones.


More often than not, bloatware doesn’t do much besides take up space. Since unlocked phones don’t belong to any carrier, they don’t contain a lot of apps or programs that take up free space.


How to Unlock Phones From Any Carrier



It might seem like trying to unlock a phone is hopeless. However, under certain conditions, it’s possible to unlock these kinds of phones. To make this situation easier, we’ve included instructions for how to unlock phones on any major carrier.




If you need to unlock smartphones that are locked to Sprint, you’ll first need to contact this company’s Customer Care line. Fortunately, this phone number is connected to Sprint and is available 24 hours per day.


To unlock a Sprint device, you’ll need to have the account information associated with this phone. You’ll also need the IMEI number of the phone you want to unlock. Once you have everything you need, it’s a good idea to check out Sprint’s device unlocking requirements. Some Sprint devices won’t be eligible for unlocking.


If you meet all required criteria, contact Sprint’s 24-hour customer service phone number. After contacting Sprint, let them know you need to unlock a device. If your device can’t be unlocked through a SIM unlock, Sprint will send you an MSL code.




As you can imagine, you’ll also need account holder-related information to unlock one of T-Mobile’s phones. You can provide this information by contacting T-Mobile and providing the information they require. After doing this and verifying the information they receive, they’ll send you an unlock code.




Many people find AT&T’s phone unlocking process to be fairly straightforward and simple. To get started, you’ll need to obtain and fill out a Device Unlock Request Form from AT&T. You’ll also need information for the account you’re trying to unlock, including a name, phone number, and an identifying number or password. 


The last thing you’ll need is the IMEI number of the device you’re trying to unlock. Once you have all of this information, an AT&T employee will need to verify the information you’ve given them. You might also be able to complete this process online. 


If everything goes smoothly, you should soon receive a confirmation link from AT&T that has a code to unlock your phone. You will also likely receive some type of communication from AT&T to confirm your unlock request’s status.




It’s important to note that Verizon’s unlock policies are a little different from the previously mentioned carriers. After July 2019, all of Verizon’s phones remained locked for the first 60 days after getting purchased. Once this 60-day period is over, all of Verizon’s phones will automatically unlock.


With all of that said, you might wonder how to unlock Verizon phones bought before July 2019. To unlock these devices, gather any required information and contact Verizon’s customer service number. You can also call Verizon’s customer support number to confirm that one of your devices is unlocked after the 60-day period passes.


Where Can I Find Unlocked Phones?



At this point, you understand that unlocked phones offer many benefits that locked phones can’t. Before you can start selling unlocked phones, you’ll need a place to find them. With that in mind, there are plenty of places to find these types of phones online. When you’re ready to buy smartphones, check out these great places.


Trade-In Tech


If you’re looking for a top-notch and trustworthy platform to buy phones, look no further than Trade-In Tech. Since 2012, this platform continues to welcome all sorts of people working in the electronics industry. Our members work as electronics retailers, distributors, refurbishers, wholesalers, and in many other roles.


Joining Trade-In Tech is fast and simple. Once you’re verified, you can start enjoying the many things that Trade-In Tech has to offer. You can also find plenty of unlocked cell phones for sale on our platform. If you haven’t heard of us, it’s understandable to want to know more about what we offer. Trade-In Tech aims to be your company’s solution for all things electronics-related. Here’s more information about everything Trade-In Tech offers its members.


A Popular Marketplace


We have a popular members-only marketplace where our large network of members lists electronics for sale. Plus, this marketplace is meticulously organized, meaning it’s easy for you to find exactly what you need quickly. We carry electronics from a wide range of popular companies, such as Sony, Apple, Samsung, LG, and many others.


Buying electronics on our marketplace is as simple as making a couple of clicks. Best of all, we offer no fees to any of our buyers or sellers. Not paying fees after every transaction can help put a lot more money back into your company’s pockets.


Guaranteed Leads


Another major advantage of our electronics platform is that we guarantee you’ll receive leads. Whether you’re a buyer or seller, each of our members receives at least 75 leads per month. Understandably, this isn’t a feature that most companies can offer. However, we proudly make this possible so that our members have everything they need to watch their companies succeed.


Attractive Wholesale Pricing


If you buy phones, sell them, or do both, it’s likely that you have more than several phones in your company’s inventory. With that in mind, you might enjoy that Trade-In Tech offers many types of wholesale electronics. When you’re buying larger amounts of electronics, you can also receive more attractive pricing.


Wholesale pricing can enable your company to buy more than one cell phone at a group price. The amount of phones getting offered depends on the seller you’re working with. Some sellers offer one or a few phones at a time. Other sellers move larger quantities of electronics, sometimes selling 50 to 100 (or more) phones per listing.


A Worldwide Network of Members


When you’re getting ready to buy unlocked phones, it’s understandably important to have a large selection of items to check out. If this is what you want, you’ll love everything available on Trade-In Tech. One reason we’re able to offer so many electronics is that we have members from all over the world.


On Trade-In Tech, you’ll find buyers and sellers from the United States, Asia, the United Kingdom, India, and many other locations worldwide. With such a wide-reaching network, it’s easy to find phones from the world’s most popular brands.


Chat Rooms and a Direct Messaging System


Sometimes, you might not want to use a marketplace to find the unlocked phones your business needs. If that’s the case, Trade-In Tech also offers a direct messaging system and chat rooms to all of our members. These features provide you with even more ways to connect with others and buy unlocked phones.


Novetta Wireless


Another great way to find unlocked phones is by checking out Novetta Wireless. This company carries phones from some of the world’s most popular carriers, such as T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint.


This company’s large network includes distributors, retailers, refurbishers, and many others. If you need to buy unlocked phones, Novetta Wireless might have what you’re looking for.


Buying Locally (Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and others)


You can also find unlocked phones by checking out local resources. Fortunately, there are several ways to potentially find unlocked phones locally. Check out these sources when you’re ready to start buying locally.




If you’re familiar with buying and selling items locally, you might consider checking out Craigslist. Surprisingly formed all the way back in 1995, using Craigslist is now one of the world’s most popular ways to buy and sell items locally.


If you’re going to use Craigslist, one of the drawbacks is the fees you’ll have to pay. Some categories of Craigslist won’t allow free postings. This can mean paying as much as $3 to $5 to list your items. These costs can definitely add up as time passes.


Since electronics are extremely popular, you could find it difficult to get your listings seen at the top of Craigslist. This means you’ll need to spend time re-posting your items every few days or so.


Unfortunately, as many local-based platforms are, it’s also common to deal with scammers or Craigslist. Be prepared to receive potentially bogus offers from people before you find something legitimate.


Facebook Marketplace


Another popular online destination is Facebook Marketplace. This can be another source to consider if you want to buy unlocked phones online. One of the pros of Facebook Marketplace is that it’s popular, meaning there are a lot of things for sale on this website.


However, Facebook Marketplace does have several disadvantages. One of these disadvantages is that it won’t have the same protections that Trade-In Tech or other platforms can offer. Essentially, you’re meeting people to buy and sell items.


Since this service is powered by Facebook, you’ll also need to exclusively use this app to communicate with interested buyers.




Lastly, you might also try LetGo if you’re trying to find unlocked phones locally. One of the strengths of LetGo is that it’s an intuitive service to use. You can post your listings or search for other people’s listings all through the LetGo app.


However, the major flaw of using LetGo is that it has a limited reach. This means that it might not be easy to find lots of unlocked phones on this platform. However, it could be worth your time to consider checking out what LetGo has to offer.


What Unlocked Phone Brands Are the Most Popular?



One of the last things we wanted to let you know about is popular phone brands. If you’re interested in buying unlocked phones, you don’t want to carry items that aren’t going to sell. Fortunately, we’ve done the research for you with our list of some of the world’s most popular phone brands.




If you’re looking for popular unlocked phones to sell, finding devices made by Apple is a great place to start. For over a decade, Apple continues to be the manufacturer of one of the world’s most popular smartphones: the iPhone.


Fortunately, there are many types of unlocked iPhones for sale online. One of the best places to find unlocked iPhones is on Trade-In Tech. On Trade-In Tech, you’ll find a wide range of unlocked iPhones from our massive membership network.




Another incredibly popular smartphone company is Samsung. While this business might not have gotten its start creating smartphones, they’re now some of the company’s most popular products.


Some of Samsung’s most popular line of smartphones are the Galaxy models. But, like Apple, Samsung also continues innovating by manufacturing tablets and similar types of electronics. However, unlike the iPhone, Samsung’s phones run on the Android operating system.


If you can find unlocked Samsung phones, these items can bring your business lots of profit.




In the past, most people who knew about Google knew them as one of the world’s most popular search engines. However, as many growing companies do, Google wasn’t content with just being a search engine. With that in mind, Google began launching a series of smartphones.


Known as the Google Pixel, this company’s line of smartphones hasn’t replaced the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy in terms of popularity. However, Google Pixels are in-demand smartphones that many people will spend money to own.




While this company is still gaining popularity in the United States, many consumers around the world know of Huawei. This company’s smartphones are incredibly popular, sleek, and stylish devices. One of their most popular smartphones is a device that features a folding screen.


Huawei phones operate using a modified version of the Android platform known as the Emotion interface. What’s also great about Huawei smartphones is that they’re often far less expensive than iPhones or Samsung Galaxy devices.


Some consumers also like the special cameras and lighting systems that help power Huawei’s smartphones. If you’re looking for a popular line of smartphones to buy, Huawei’s devices might be best-selling items.




In the business world, a company’s profit margin is an extremely important factor to consider. Essentially, a profit margin lets a business know how much money it has left after selling a product or service. 


When it comes to the profit margins of Xiaomi smartphones, the profit margins for these devices are extremely thin. It’s been reported that Xiaomi only makes a 5% profit on every smartphone it sells.


Fortunately, these low profit margins mean that Xiaomi smartphones are incredibly popular devices for people that don’t want to pay a lot of money for a smartphone. Plus, these phones give a consumer quite a lot of powerful technology for the price of these devices.


Xiaomi smartphones have also gained a lot of popularity within the modding community. As strange as it may seem, Xiaomi doesn’t mind if you root its phones. Doing this also won’t void your phone’s warranty.




Founded in 2004, Oppo first began making and selling audio devices. A few years later, it would launch a line of smartphones. This was a smart decision for Oppo to make, as it’s now one of the world’s leading smartphone brands. 


Currently, you can find Oppo smartphones for sale in over 40 countries. While there are several popular smartphone lines manufactured by Oppo, one of their most popular products is the X3 smartphone.


As you can see, there are potential ways to unlock cell phones on most major carriers. With a little patience and effort, you can start unlocking phones to sell to your customers. If you want to find out more about running a business reselling phones, make sure to check out Trade-In Tech’s blog. We have all sorts of content about flipping phones, finding phones, and selling them for the most money.


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