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How to unlock an AT&T phone yourself

It's easy to ditch AT&T but keep the phone you know and love.
By
June 18, 2022
ATT logo stock image 2
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

AT&T offers just about everything you can ask for in a mobile carrier. However, it’s not the right option for everyone. You might be ready to change to Verizon, T-Mobile, or another carrier, but you don’t have to ditch the phone you know and love. It doesn’t take much to set your phone free so that you can bring it along with you. Here’s how to unlock an AT&T phone by yourself.

Read more: The best AT&T phones you can buy

QUICK ANSWER

To unlock your AT&T phone, the company has a few requirements you have to hit. Once you meet the requirements (detailed below), you can head to AT&T's unlock portal. You'll be prompted for your phone number and your phone's IMEI number, and then AT&T will unlock your device. The requirements vary slightly for prepaid AT&T devices and business devices, which we'll get into below.


HOW TO UNLOCK AN AT&T PHONE BY YOURSELF

Requirements to unlock an AT&T phone

unlock an AT&T phone by yourself
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

AT&T won’t just let you unlock any phone at any time. Instead, you’ll have to follow a specific list of requirements before you can set your phone free from Big Blue. Here are the requirements for each specific category of device.

Postpaid personal device

Most AT&T users will be here looking for a way to unlock a postpaid device. After all, AT&T offers most of its phones on monthly contracts to help you spread out the cost of your device. Here are the requirements to unlock a postpaid AT&T phone yourself.

  • It must be an active AT&T device on your account.
  • It must be paid off through monthly bills or paid off early.
  • It cannot have an outstanding account balance.
  • It has not been reported as lost, stolen, or involved in fraud.

Prepaid personal device

You might also be looking for a way to set your prepaid AT&T phone free, and the requirements are mainly the same. However, there’s one key difference before you can unlock a prepaid AT&T device. It must have at least six months of service on the AT&T network.

Business device

The third and least likely type of device you might be looking to unlock at AT&T is a business device. Maybe you got a work phone that you love, or you’re just hoping to keep it as a backup device. Here are the requirements you need to meet to unlock an AT&T business phone:

  • You have your company’s permission to unlock it.
  • You complete your contract or term agreement, if applicable.
  • You wait 30 days following an early upgrade on a two-year contract.

See also: How to unlock a Verizon phone | How to unlock a T-Mobile phone

Steps to unlock an AT&T phone

iPhone 13 Pro taking a phone call
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

If you’ve taken the steps to ensure that your AT&T phone is ready to be unlocked, you’ve already done the hard part. Now it’s time to roll through the three-step process on AT&T’s Device Unlock hub. Before you start, make a note of your phone’s IMEI number, which you can usually find either printed on your phone, hidden in the settings menu, or by dialing *#06# on your device.

Once you have your IMEI number, follow these steps:

  • Answer Yes to the prompt Are you an AT&T wireless customer?
  • Enter your 10-digit phone number and confirm that you’re not a robot.
  • Enter the name and email address associated with your AT&T account. AT&T will then send you a confirmation email.
  • Open the email and click on the confirmation link within 24 hours, or AT&T will cancel your request.

Once you’ve confirmed your request, all that’s left to do is sit and wait for AT&T to process the request. This could take a day or two, at which point AT&T will follow up with specific instructions for your device.


Read more: The best unlimited plans in the US

FAQs

Yes, your local AT&T store can help you to complete the unlock process. However, the service representative will likely walk you through the steps detailed above. They do not have the authority to approve your request, so you will still have to wait on AT&T’s approval.

No, to unlock a Straight Talk phone, you will have to complete a different process. You can check out Straight Talk’s unlock guide right here. Once you’ve unlocked your Straight Talk phone, you can bring it to AT&T if you want, as both carriers are GSM-based.

No, as with Straight Talk, carriers can not unlock another carrier’s devices. If you want to unlock an AT&T phone for use with Verizon, you will have to follow the steps above. However, Verizon has historically relied on a CDMA setup, while AT&T is GSM-based, so not all phones will be compatible with both carriers.

Once you start the process, it should only take a day or two. You have 24 hours to accept the confirmation email, followed by a few days for AT&T to complete its end of the process.