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FAQs about unlocking your Sprint device

Last updated: 3/13/18


What does it mean for my device to be "locked?" or "unlocked?"

The term "locked" typically refers to a device that can only be used on the Sprint network and cannot be activated on a competing carrier's network. An "unlocked" device is no longer locked to Sprint's network and the user may attempt to activate it on another carrier's network. There are generally two scenarios for device unlocking:

SIM Unlocking: A device may be referred to as "locked" if that device was manufactured with programming restrictions that prevent another carrier's SIM card from being inserted into the SIM slot for use on a different network. Generally, most smartphones launched after February 2015 are SIM unlock-capable—meaning the SIM slot can be unlocked for potential usage on other carriers in the United States. Even if unlocked, Sprint SIM unlock-capable devices may not work on another carrier's network. Whether an unlocked Sprint device can be used on another carrier's network is subject to that carrier's policies and network compatibilities.

MSL Unlocking: A device is "locked" if it is manufactured with a type of disabling software and a locking code (referred to as "Master Subsidy Lock" or "MSL"). Generally, MSL locks were utilized on devices launched before February 2015. Sprint can provide the MSL code to eligible customers, however this does not mean that the device will be able to be successfully used on any other carrier domestically.

How can I unlock my device?

Eligible postpaid customers can request a SIM unlock and/or request the associated MSL Code by contacting Sprint Customer Care at 888-211-4727. Sprint Forward customers can contact Customer Care at 855-639-4644.

If I’ve requested my device be unlocked, is there anything I should/should not do to ensure the unlock request processes?

The unlock request can take up to two business days to process, once a device is near financial eligibility. During that time, the following steps can help ensure the request processes properly:

  • Android devices on Sprint
    1. Ensure the Sprint SIM card remains in the device (removing or replacing the Sprint SIM card will cause the unlock request to fail)
    2. Ensure the device is powered on and within Sprint’s network coverage area, or at minimum connected to a Wi-Fi network
    3. Upon receiving notification the device is unlocked, check the UICC unlock, as follows:
    4. UICC Unlock: Go to Settings > System > System updates. UICC unlock or go to Settings and search for UICC Unlock. Tap UICC unlock for a settings refresh.
      If UICC unlock is not available, try updating the data profile as follows.
      Update Profile: Go to Settings > System > System updates > Update Data Profile
      Please note: Performing an ##RTN# function on an Android device will re-lock the device to Sprint.
  • Apple devices on Sprint
  • If Unlock issues occur with Apple devices after Sprint confirms we have unlocked your phone.

    1. Ensure the device is powered on and within Sprint’s network coverage area, or at minimum connected to a Wi-Fi network
    2. Back up your phone.
    3. Restore your iPhone to factory settings
    4. Restore your iPhone from a backup

Will Sprint notify me when my device is eligible to be unlocked/has been unlocked?

For postpaid customers with SIM unlock-capable devices, Sprint has chosen to simply unlock active eligible SIM unlock-capable devices without requiring our customers to initiate an unlock request. Once you meet the requirements outlined in the Unlock Policy, Sprint will automatically unlock your active eligible SIM unlock-capable device.

Sprint Forward customers must contact Customer Care at 855-639-4644 to request their device be unlocked.

For devices that are not SIM unlock-capable (generally, devices launched prior to February 2015), Sprint will send a bill message to postpaid customers when they become eligible to receive a MSL unlock code, provided a MSL code exists for the device. Sprint Forward customers are not notified that they are eligible to receive a device MSL code; they must contact Customer Care at 855-639-4644 to request a device's MSL code, if they believe they are eligible under the Unlock Policy.

How do I know if my device is SIM unlock-capable?

Devices manufactured prior to February 2015, in general, are not SIM unlock-capable. Devices introduced to the market after February 2015 are typically SIM unlock-capable.

I have the MSL code for my device. Does that mean that my device is unlocked?

No. Sprint can provide the MSL to eligible customers to provide to their intended carrier. Whether another carrier is able to or will reprogram a device is subject to that carrier's policies and practices.

I've been told by another carrier that Sprint needs to unlock my SIM slot in order to use my phone on the other carrier's network.

For SIM unlock-capable devices, Sprint will unlock the SIM slot for devices that are eligible under the Unlock Policy outlined at sprint.com/unlock. If you believe that your postpaid device is eligible to be unlocked and want to request a SIM unlock, contact Sprint Customer Care by dialing *2 from your Sprint mobile device or call 888-211-4727. Sprint Forward customers must contact Customer Care at 855-639-4644 to request that their device be unlocked.

It is important to note that not all devices are capable of being unlocked. Specifically, devices and device models manufactured prior to February 2015 generally cannot be unlocked to accept a different domestic carrier's SIM for use on another domestic carrier's network. Sprint has no technological process available to do this.

I've been told that my device is not SIM unlock-capable. What can I do?

Many devices that have been manufactured for Sprint simply are not SIM unlock-capable. This is because, prior to the development of the voluntary commitment contained in CTIA's Consumer Code for Wireless Service ("Unlocking Commitment") carriers were not required to, and many carriers did not, develop their devices to be capable of being unlocked. Sprint strongly encourages owners of such devices to consider Sprint's Buyback Program, which may enable them to trade in their old devices to receive an in-store credit toward the purchase of a new device or to receive an account credit. For more information, visit sprint.com/buyback.

I am a former Sprint customer or was never a Sprint customer but have purchased a Sprint device from a third party other than Sprint. Can I have the device unlocked or receive the MSL code?

For individual owners who can provide the account number or full account name last associated with the device, Sprint may be able to unlock the device or provide the applicable MSL Code respectively, provided the device is eligible under the applicable unlock policy. If a device is not eligible for any reason under the respective applicable policy, a non-Sprint customer requestor may be required to work with the original purchaser and/or the person from whom the requestor purchased the device to ensure any financial or device eligibility criteria are met. Customers are strongly encouraged to contact Sprint about a device's unlock eligibility before purchasing through a non-Sprint channel as Sprint cannot share any information regarding the previous account.

This policy is subject to change without notice at Sprint's discretion.

 

 

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