Carrier-locked phones

In USA carrier-locked smartphones seems still common. This is ridiculous and much worse when preinstalled Windows on PC. On PC you can freely install another OS you want.


But at least people understand it’s an unjustified arbitrary choice of the vendor, unlike Windows on PC.

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Actually, in most cases, carrier-locking a smartphone is the choice made by the cellular network corporation, rather than the device vendor, because cellular brand stores (Verizon, AT&T, etc.) are the places where people normally obtain such devices, especially if they’re also signing up for a phone plan at the same time… but I digress :stuck_out_tongue:

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Why? Why is not considered violating anti-monopoly law? I remember that in 200x Russia there were no cellular stores tied with carrier. You buy a cellular phone without a SIM card. SIM card were sold in separate store (in an envelope). This is how it should work.

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I imagine the reason why it’s not considered a violation of anti-monopoly laws might have something to do with the fact that there are still at least 5 major cellular network carriers competing with each other here in the US :stuck_out_tongue:

That being said, though, I agree that such things should be done differently. Though that’s just like a lot of other things here…

The ‘racket’ in the US is that the cost of the phone is subsidized by the carrier. You buy the phone that you want to be seen with (vanity) and you are locked into a contract with the carrier. You pay dearly for that latest and greatest phone. It is possible to purchase unlocked phones in the US which can be used on any supported network.

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Mobile phone is technically unrelated to carrier. You can even use it with some other country carrier. This is the same stupid as selling PC locked to internet service provider contract.


tbh we still have some phones that work that way, where you can get a card and prepaid service if you want to, but on those networks you either have to bring your own phone or buy one outright (which can cost hundreds). Or get one in a plastic case on the shelf for under $100 with a sus version of Android. Not sure how old BeDifferent is, but as a college dropout who’s broke… it’s somehow easier for me to pay for an iPhone SE 2 per month (and know it’s locked to a carrier) than to do it the other way, and I guess that’s what a lot of us in the US go for too, sadly. I mean it is possible to get it unlocked but it’s usually easier just to find one unlocked already. And we got a few companies trying to change carrier locked stuff, but yeah, AT&T and Verizon are pretty much our big corporations. And… not to get political too much, but this is why a lot of Gen Z likes Bernie and AOC and is hoping the big corporations get some sort of regulation but boomers don’t want it to happen (or care) over here (or it at least it feels that way, could be wrong). It do be that way :cry:

I guess the larger thing I worry about is people don’t know what stuff like /var/cache, /etc, /Users/, /root, /home or what other stuff is. And I mean it’s on systems like iOS and Android, not just traditional systems. Nothing makes a dude feel more like an autistic alien in a crowd than seeing people don’t know what files are (then reading an article about it). And I mean it makes sense, everything’s an app or subscription service now and we’ll all start living in a Ready Player One type of planet soon. Makes me legit worry about the future of Linux, Haiku, and so on for sure. How will people try them or know what they are or care? Not sure how it is in Russia, but imho that’s how it is over here in America atm (or from what I can see anyways)


UK and Japan applied a law that allow everybody to unlock their phone from carrier if it is locked.

USA with carrier-locking, DMCA, software patents etc. looks one of most problematic counties considering IT related freedom topic.


Yeah, except that giving people the right to break a vendor lock-in with a complex and obscure procedure without even telling them is really not the same as not allowing this vendor lock-in to happen in the first place. A small fraction of the users will learn about it, and an even smaller fraction of them will actually perform the procedure. The others will stay blissfully ignorant about it.


This is also the case in the US (carriers must unlock your phone free of charge if you want) for some years now.

Suffice it to say that I’m old enough to get a job, but am not comfortable applying for the sort of job I’m qualified for, due to the COVID-19 situation…

So, among other things, I’m unable to buy a $200 unlocked smartphone, which is something I’d gladly do :frowning:


… I didn’t know this, I was under the impression that it would cost quite a bit of money to unlock any phone.

I always buy second hand phones and use a contract only SIM card. But beware that e.g. Sony handsets do not allow you to unlock the bootloader unless the phone was sold as a non-carrier locked phone. You can unlock them to operate with any carrier for free by contacting your network carrier, but you can’t unlock the bootloader and install another OS. I think this is also a carrier imposed restriction: Carriers do not want people installing other operating systems, and Sony want to explicitly allow users to unlock bootloaders to install other OS (like Sailfish for example, which only supports Sony phones officially) with their “open device programme”. Of course the situation is different for different manufacturers. It’s a real problem that manufacturers and network carriers work so hard to lock down these devices and prevent you using them in any way you’d like to.


To have a PinePhone Pro is about the only worthwhile bootloader unlocked phone available in the USA but, of course, it’s got a Chinese-made RockChip RK3399S SoC. I think Pine64 products may be all Chinese made as well, so it’s not really an alternative at all.

No, it is free if you’re in the US, by law. You can usually do it online, even. What’s your carrier?

AT&T: Unlock a Phone or Device - AT&T Device Unlock Portal

Verizon: Devices are automatically unlocked once paid off

T-Mobile: T-Mobile device unlock | T-Mobile Support

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Unlook a phone? Should it be better a new thread?
As with licence issues?

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If you’re so worried about Chinese hardware,there’s also the Purism Librem 5 USA Edition.
It costs 5 times as much as the PinePhone Pro and you get less performant hardware so I don’t think it’s worth it,but it’s an alternative.
Link: Librem 5 USA – Purism

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Fairphone seems pretty cool, but:
(1) I’m in the US, and the latest model is currently only available for pre-order in Europe.
(2) ~€500-€650 seems like a bit of a steep price for any phone - starting to get up toward iPhone levels…