Ok, so this one is not about hacking or rooting, just a quick 20 min to get a working unlocked phone before you go on the road (TLDR: read the last paragraph of this post)
If you are like me and are subscribed to a major mobile carrier in the US, you probably have a locked phone. Which is not a problem until you need to change carriers or travel. Travel is particularly painful, since it’s temporary and you want everything to just work – even if you are just going somewhere for business for a few days – it’s super-annoying to switch phones on the go and to scramble for the information when you need it most.
Roaming is out of question, of course, since in 2015 stupid idiots at AT&T charge $1.5 a minute and $2 per megabyte of data on the road. Maybe they designed their latest roaming plans specifically for Floyd Mayweather after following his Instagram for a while, but to me the current state of roaming seems like one of those repulsive ugly throwbacks that need to die in pain, like typewriters, life without antibiotics or charging people for 160 letters of text like you are running a countrywide fleet of real carrier pigeons.
So unlocking the damn phone is a pretty popular option. So popular in fact, that a whole industry of scammers and semi-legit unlockers has cropped up around the carriers, so I can imagine a conversation that happened at some point at the headquarters:
– What do we do boss? Our support lines are blowing up from all those people demanding to unlock their phones!
– Let’s call a cross-departmental meeting and lock ourselves up with our best and brightest minds in a war room for a week to brainstorm this urgent matter.
… a week later
– Easy: kick everyone over to our official page that offers “free unlocking”. This page should be deeply humiliating to the everyone who tries to use it: we shall disable cut and paste, make the form long and demand every entry to be typed in digit by digit.
Upon submission, we shall invariably barf up a thoroughly crafted idiotic message with something about how “we’re sorry, but we’re having technical difficulties with our network at the moment. Please try again later.”
Our users will desperately try to re-type all numbers one or two more times with the same maddening outcome, and then, in dark despair and humiliation, they will give up on their weak attempts to escape, forever becoming our loyal slaves who shell out $1.5 a minute and $2 per megabyte of data. Our stock price will go through the roof and we will become rich!
Naturally, this approach only serves to demonstrate how stupid, stagnant and backward are the present-day major US carriers. Feel free to take a minute to call the number they give you in that error message (T-Mobile does the same), and let them know what you think about that.
Lucky for us, there is a solution. Don’t try Googling “unlock the phone” – it’s mostly overpriced scams. Just go on Ebay, type “unlock” + your model, and find a seller with a bunch of good reviews. After parting with literally a couple of bucks, an hour or two later you’ll get a code, and will be able to pop in a SIM card for a measly $20 with 3GB worth of data (that’s 300 times cheaper – screw you, AT&T!!) and a boatload of local minutes in any country you decide to visit, all on your own phone with all your apps and data.