The latest craze in the mobile phone industry is "unlocking", as more and more cell phone users do not want to part with their current cell phone, but are looking for another cell phone service provider for one reason or another. Reasons for keeping their phones can range from price to feel to style, while reasons for not keeping their current cell phone service can differ greatly.
Mobile phones come with a variety of charges and fees, not to mention the fact that you usually need to pay for the actual cell phone itself. It's not an easy task to get a new service provider to use your current phone. Basically, you'll have to buy a brand new phone for your new provider.
Every cell phone bought in the world has a "serial number", referred to as IMEI, or International Mobile Equipment Identity, which directly connects a particular phone to a service provider and also connects the same phone to the user. Inside many cell phones is a removable card called a SIM (Subscriber Information Module), which serves as the medium between the phone and user as well as the phone and the service provider. Some such providers put a lock on the SIM inside of your phone so that they are the only service provider that you can use on that particular phone.
By unlocking your phone or SIM, you are simply allowing your cell phone purchase to be more useful to you, as it enables you to use your phone with absolutely any SIM card, anywhere in the world, regardless of which company you originally purchased the phone from.
The benefits are staggering! Including alleviating roaming charges and the freedom to choose your service provider, you can actually increase the resale value of your phone! As long as the unlocking process is done properly, no harm will be done to the phone and service should go on uninterrupted.
Of course, unlocking your mobile phone will not get you out of a current contract with a mobile phone service provider, as you'll still be responsible for paying the monthly maintenance fee for the reminder of your contract.
There are primarily two different ways in which a mobile phone can be unlocked. Firstly, is the archaic means of sending your phone through the mail to a legitimate company to complete the service for you.
Secondly, more recent advances are allowing mobile phones to be unlocked with the use of a "secret code". Such a code is based on the IMEI serial number assigned to your phone and the service provider who originally locked it. This particular option is much less costly and time consuming, as it can usually be completed via email or other type of website correspondence with a legitimate mobile phone code provider, or even by downloading your own private lock kit.