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How to Activate an Unlocked Phone

Last Updated: Jun 9, 2023

In an era where our smartphones hold vital information, it’s essential to understand how they function, especially when it comes to unlocking and activating them. If you’ve recently purchased an unlocked phone or unlocked your device, you might be wondering what the next steps are. Moreover, with the integration of various technologies, it’s possible to add enhancements to your phone, such as a wireless backup camera for iPhone, which can further elevate its functionality.

This article will guide you through the process of verifying if your phone is unlocked and activating it, either with a physical SIM card or an eSIM.

Understanding the Difference Between Locked and Unlocked Phones

A locked phone is a device that is tied to a specific carrier’s network. It can only operate on that carrier’s network and cannot be used with another provider’s SIM card without unlocking it. The main reason for this practice is to ensure that consumers stay with the carrier for the length of their contract.

On the other hand, an unlocked phone is not tied to any carrier. It allows you the freedom to switch providers without having to purchase a new phone. This flexibility can be advantageous for those who travel internationally or wish to switch providers for any reason.

How to Confirm if Your Phone is Unlocked

Before activating your phone, it’s crucial to verify if it’s truly unlocked. There are a few ways to do this:

  1. Check with your carrier: The most reliable method is to contact your current carrier and ask. They can confirm whether or not the phone is unlocked.
  2. Try a different SIM card: Another method is to insert a SIM card from another carrier. If you can make a call or send a text, your phone is likely unlocked.

Activating Your Unlocked Phone: A Step-by-Step Guide

Once you have confirmed that your phone is unlocked, it’s time to activate it. This can be done using a physical SIM card or an eSIM, depending on your device’s capabilities and your service provider.

Activating with a Physical SIM Card

  1. Purchase a SIM card: You’ll first need to buy a SIM card from your chosen carrier. This card contains information needed to access the carrier’s network.
  2. Insert the SIM card: Turn off your phone. Then, locate the SIM card slot (usually on the side or the back of the device) and insert the SIM card.
  3. Turn on the phone and follow the instructions: After inserting the SIM, turn on the phone. It should recognize the SIM card and take you through the setup process.

Activating with an eSIM

An eSIM, or embedded SIM, is a newer technology that allows you to activate a cellular plan without a physical SIM card.

  1. Confirm your phone and carrier support eSIM: Not all phones or carriers support this technology, so you’ll need to check beforehand. One of my favorite places to check if the phone has an eSIM or other specs is: GSMArena (just put your phone model in the search box)
  2. Obtain an eSIM activation code: This will typically involve reaching out to your carrier and requesting the code. They can activate the eSIM remotely.
  3. Add the eSIM to your phone: Go to your phone settings and find the option to add a cellular plan. Then, scan or input the activation code provided by your carrier.

Troubleshooting Common Activation Issues

Sometimes, you may encounter issues while trying to activate your phone. The most common problem is the ‘SIM Not Supported’ message, which means that the phone is still locked. In this case, you’ll need to reach out to the carrier or seller.

If you’re using an eSIM and are unable to activate your phone, ensure that your phone’s operating system is up-to-date. If problems persist, contact your carrier for further assistance.


Having an unlocked phone provides more flexibility and can save you money in the long run, particularly if you travel frequently. Activating an unlocked phone might seem challenging, but by understanding the difference between locked and unlocked

Is it easy to unlock a phone?

You would need to ask the carrier that the phone is locked to .

What are the disadvantages of unlocked phones?

There are no disadvantages to having an unlocked phone, it gives you the freedom to go with any carrier that phone is compatible with.