How to unlock a Google Pixel phone, so you can switch carrier networks

Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderDepending on where you bought the phone, you might need to unlock your Google Pixel to switch carrier networks.
  • If you want to use your Google Pixel on a different network – like switching from Sprint to Verizon – you might have to unlock it.
  • All Pixel phones bought through the Google Store automatically come unlocked, so you don’t have to worry about unlocking those – you’re already free to use it with any carrier.
  • For those who bought their Pixel through a specific carrier or another retailer, you might have to wait up to two years or until you’ve paid off your phone plan.
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If you’re looking to take your phone from one carrier (think: Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon) to another, you’re going to need to unlock your phone – or, more specifically, that means you’ll need to have a SIM-unlocked phone in order to be able to use it with that other carrier.

Here’s everything you need to know about locked and unlocked SIMs for Google Pixels, how you’d know what your phone’s current SIM-lock status is, and what each status means for unlocking your Pixel phone.

Check out the products mentioned in this article:

Google Pixel 3 (For $US649.99 at Best Buy)

How to unlock Google Pixel: Google Store-bought phones

If you bought your Pixel directly from the Google store, you don’t need to do anything. You can already use your phone on any network, because those phones come unlocked as their default.

And if you think about it, it makes sense: Since Google does not have its own carrier network, it needs to provide phones that can adapt to other networks.

1 UNLOCK GOOGLE PIXELDevon Delfino/Google PixelBuy your Google Pixel from the Google Store to ensure it is unlocked.

How to unlock Google Pixel: Non-Store bought phones

If you didn’t buy your Google Pixel through the Google Store, and instead through a carrier or even another retailer, you more than likely have a SIM-locked phone. And in that case, your phone may stay SIM-locked for up to two years, since that is determined by your carrier.

So, essentially, you’re at the carrier’s mercy and will likely have to wait it out (the timeframe starts when you purchased or leased the phone).

Oftentimes, carriers also require you to pay the entire cost of the phone before you can unlock it.

Still, it’s worth calling the carrier to see what your options are, and what their policies are regarding unlocking phones.

Related coverage from How To Do Everything: Tech:

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