Friday, June 08, 2007

Enter Subsidy Password or Unlock Code

This is the message you will most likely see on your Motorola cell phone if you have just tried to switch to a different cellular network's SIM card not prepackaged with your cell phone. The Subsidy Password is the specific term Motorola uses to refer to the 8-digit unlock code needed to remove the operator lock or subsidy lock. Other cell phone brands may also be locked, depending whether the cellular network you purchased your cell phone from requested it to be locked by the OEM or Original Equipment Manufacturer (e.g. Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, etc.).

The cellular networks who request such locks do so to preserve customer loyalty and ensure that their customers are sticking to their plan and using their cellular network. Although customers are given a good deal on the service provider's showcased locked cell phones, many customers (especially new ones), only discover this to be irritating as they now have to spend more money to get their phone unlocked in order to use it on a different cellular network. And cell phone service companies should keep this in mind, as they may actually be losing customers who no longer will purchase cell phones from them because they are locked.

How to Unlock Your Cell Phone

First ensure that your cell phone is either a GSM or iDen capable phone.

After inserting a different cellular network's SIM, your cell phone outputs a message similar to "Enter Subsidy Password", "Contact Service Provider" or "Enter Unlock Code," then yes, your phone is locked.

If you purchased your cell phone from a US service provider, then it is most likely locked. Also, in the Philippines there is now a growing possibility that it is locked if you purchase the cell phone from one of the major cellular networks (Globe, Smart, Sun).

In order to get your cell phone unlocked, you may first try to approach your service provider to unlock it for you. However, in many cases, they will not. And if they do, your cell phone may lose some of its capabilities.

Otherwise, you can try to unlock your cell phone using your phone's IMEI number and the phone's model number. There are many cell phone unlocking services on the internet, and providing this information, can get your cell phone unlocked relatively quickly (sometimes in minutes or hours, but others can take a day or two). Prices for such remote cell phone unlocking services varies and is dependent on your phone's brand and model (pricing online is typically $25 and up).

If you are overseas or in the Philippines, there is a cheaper way to get your cell phone unlocked (or open-line). Just head down to your nearest city's market or mall area and seek a cell phone seller or cell phone repair center that has equipment for cell phone unlocking. Pricing again depends on the make and model, but lower end models should be around 200 PHP, while higher end models possibly reaching 800 PHP or so. However, these prices are still only estimates, they could be less if you are a good bargainer or it could be more if the serviceman wants to take advantage. My best advice is to ask around and compare prices, and ask others who have unlocked their phone.

There are some cell phones that allow one to enter a secret code based on the IMEI number. However, getting hold of such secret codes is the trick. Try searching the internet or more specifically Ebay for people selling such codes.

Finally, if you have quite a few cell phones that you want to have unlocked or you want to put up your own mobile phone servicing center, then you may want to look into purchasing your own unlocking equipment. Some phones can be unlocked using just software tools and a USB cable. For more expert equipment, there are professional unlocking devices and unlocking clips that can be purchased online.

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