How to unlock a Samsung Galaxy S10 from its current carrier so you can switch it to a new one

Galaxy S10 5GHenry Nicholls/Reuters

  • By law, cell phone carriers are now required to allow you to unlock your phone and use it with a different carrier, but it generally must be fully paid off to unlock.
  • To unlock your Samsung Galaxy S10, you will need to find the IMEI number for your Galaxy S10 through its Settings app or by dialing *#06# on your phone.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

One of the most frustrating aspects of owning a cell phone is that it's locked into a particular carrier - if you buy an AT&T Samsung Galaxy S10, it only works with AT&T, for example.

At least, that used to be the case. Thanks to a law passed back in 2015, it's possible to unlock your phone and use it with any carrier, generally with one big caveat - the phone needs to be completely paid for in order for your carrier to unlock it.

Make sure your Samsung Galaxy S10 actually needs to be unlocked

Before you attempt to unlock your S10, you should ensure it's actually locked to a carrier - this can save you some time and money.

Most Galaxy S10 handsets come locked to a specific carrier. There are a couple of exceptions:

  • It's a Galaxy S10 from Verizon. Verizon no longer locks its phones, so if you have a Verizon model, you can remove the Verizon SIM card and replace it with one from another carrier. It should work without a problem.
  • The handset was purchased unlocked. Most carriers only sell unlocked phones for the full purchase price. If you have any recurring payments on your Galaxy S10, it is almost certainly locked.

You can test your phone to see if it's locked by removing the SIM card and replacing it with one from another carrier. (Carefully insert the SIM card tray key in the slot until the tray pops out, then switch SIM cards and replace the tray). If the phone works properly and does not request an unlock code, it's already unlocked.

unlock 1Use the SIM card tray key to swap SIM cards to test if the phone is unlocked.Dave Johnson/Business Insider

How to get an unlock code for a Samsung Galaxy S10

In order to unlock your phone, you will need an unlock code, which you will need to enter into your Galaxy S10 after inserting the SIM card from your new carrier.

You should contact your carrier to request an unlock code. You will only be able to get a code if the handset is completely paid off. If you have recurring payments, the carrier won't unlock the handset for you.

To get an unlock code from your carrier, you may need to find your phone's IMEI number, which we will discuss in the following steps.

How to unlock your Samsung Galaxy S10

1. Open the Settings app.

2. Scroll to the very bottom and tap "About phone."

3. On the About phone page, find the IMEI number, which appears with the phone's model number and serial number. Copy the number carefully, or tap and hold your finger on the number for several seconds to copy it to clipboard.

4. You can also find your IMEI code by dialing and calling *#06#. When you do this, your phone won't actually make a call, but will instead display a screen with your code.

unlock 3Use the SIM card tray key to swap SIM cards to test if the phone is unlocked.Dave Johnson/Business Insider

5. Get an unlock code from the carrier. You may need to provide your IMEI number.

6. Turn off your Galaxy S10 by holding the Power button until you see the shutdown options, then tap "Power off."

7. Remove the SIM card from your phone by inserting the SIM card tray key in the slot firmly but carefully until the tray pops out. You'll find the key in the Galaxy S10's original box.

8. Replace the SIM card with one from the new carrier and slide it back into the phone.

9. Turn on the phone.

10. After it powers up and recognizes the new SIM card, you should see a message to "Enter your network unlock code." Enter the unlock code and tap "Unlock." You're now unlocked from your carrier.

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