When you purchase a smartphone, the device is typically locked to the carrier's network. That means the phone can only work with the carrier you bought the phone from, even if it's compatible with another network. If you know how to unlock a Samsung phone, you can use it with your carrier of choice.
Information in this article applies to all Samsung Galaxy smartphone models.
How to Get Your Samsung Galaxy IMEI Number
You'll need your device's IMEI number to get started. You can find this number in your device's settings, or you can do the following:
Open your phone app to the keypad.
Type *#06#. Your phone will immediately go to a screen with the IMEI and MEID numbers.
Write down the whole IMEI number (even though you typically just need the first 15 digits), then tap OK to return to the phone keypad.
The IMEI number is also called the serial number, sometimes listed as S/N, on some Samsung Galaxy devices.
Unlock Your Samsung Galaxy Phone Through Your Carrier
To unlock your phone through your carrier, you typically must own the device. Some carriers even require a certain amount of time to pass after it's been paid for. Contact your carrier or check the website to see if your phone qualifies. You should have your IMEI handy, and you may also be required to provide account passwords and other identity verification.
If your device is eligible, your carrier might be able to unlock your device for use with other SIM cards without you having to do anything. Alternatively, they may provide an unlock code that you will need to enter upon inserting a different carrier's SIM card.
Use a Third-Party Carrier Unlock Service
If your phone isn't eligible for unlocking by your carrier, there are websites that sell unlock codes. You must provide your device's information including the manufacturer, model, and IMEI number. In a day or two, you'll receive your unlock code in your email inbox. When you insert a SIM card from a different carrier, you will be prompted to enter the unlock code.
There are endless options, so make sure the service you select has positive reviews and is legitimate. One of the top rated and most reliable is UnlockRiver. Services like these will typically cost you anywhere from $50 to $150 per unlock code. You only have to unlock your phone once, but each device must be unlocked individually.
Once your Galaxy phone is unlocked, you should be able to use SIM cards from any carrier in any country.
Unlock Your Samsung Galaxy at a Repair Shop
Some phone repair stores will unlock phones for a fee. You typically must leave your device with the shop for a day or two, and it will run you about the same cost as using an online service. Most repair shops will just use an unlock website to generate a code to unlock your device, so it's not a recommended option if you're comfortable doing it yourself.