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Thread: Can I use an AT&T locked phone?

  1. #1
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    Can I use an AT&T locked phone?

    The info on this so unclear to me across google searches and asking on twitter. My sim card says "AT&T compatible or unlocked GSM device". To me, because GSM was specifically noted as unlocked and AT&T compatible was not, that means the AT&T device can be locked. A locked AT&T phone is certainly AT&T compatible. Also because it used 'or' instead of 'and'. I wouldn't expect it to work, it just reads to me as if it works.

  2. #2
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    A phone locked to AT&T will see a TF/AT&T SIM as a native AT&T SIM and accepts it.

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    Things have changed a bit so yes it can work. There is grey area. If you cannot get that AT&T phone unlocked for some reason (whether or not the sim is ATT compatible) then don't bother. You dont have to unlock it & it can work if it is free & clear from any restrictions.

    If you can unlock it then you should just do it & give yourself the freedom to go wherever you want. There site has a BYOP page that you can use to enter your IMEI number in to check. But the answer is yes it can work.

    Also if the phone is an AT&T go phone there a good chance it won't work without an unlock. I've run into issues with it not being possible to do from several carriers' prepaid versions of their phones.

    Sent from my SM-N960U1 using Tapatalk
    Helio Touch...

  4. #4
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    I've not heard of ATT Prepaid phones being prevented from working on the ATT network, even MVNOs. But you need to be 6 months continuous on ATT Prepaid to officially be able to unlock the phone.
    iPhone 11 is my current primary phone. I have older model iPhones and Moto phones available on other lines. Trying to simplify to 2 prepaid lines, one on the Verizon network and a limited minute plan on ATT to improve coverage area. 12 month plans to help me fight the urge to switch. The good old days of contracts where you had to pay a hefty ETF to leave

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    This is not totally true. If locked to ATT then you need the ATT compatible BYOP sim card. If the AT&T is unlocked then any GSM sim will work (ATT/tmobile/tracfone)

    Sent from my SM-N960U1 using Tapatalk

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    This is why I said it's a grey area. Depends on which phone it is, what frequencies the phone supports. But it can be very hit or miss at times. I am also talking generally. But yes you can run into scenarios where it won't work.

    Sent from my SM-N960U1 using Tapatalk

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    The general answer is yes whether prepaid or not but with certain conditions being met.

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    Between ATT and Verizon, that is an advantage for ATT. If there is a prepaid phone you like on discount, you can buy it and use it more places (ATT Postpaid, ATT MVNO, Cricket). As long as you don't have an expectation to unlock it. With Verizon, you can't even use the discounted phone on Verizon postpaid, let alone Verizon MVNOs.

    Seems many MVNOs lock their phones for 12 months, probably due to smaller margins than the main carriers. Though I've seen reports of moving phones within the corporate umbrella.

  9. #9
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    Just order one of tf att compatible sim cards from their site. Only a few dollars that way. I bought my tmobile compatible sim for $3. My phone is unlocked though. I bought the tmobile compatible sim anyways because it is easier to get more features working being on the Tmobile then with any other. In my case I needed wifi calling to work.

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    Yeah.. same with Sprint. The way the SKUs are setup in their system you wouldn't be able to use their prepaids anywhere else without luck.

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    AT&T has only a slight advantage but there are many people who say once they do they cannot get certain features working. Also I hate even bothering to use the ATT phones like that. There's all the ATT apps on them which wont work anymore once you move over. You'd have to root the phone to remove them. If you can root it. I most cases any root method is temp cause ATT likes to make it hard.

    I had an ATT phone I was using & the phone always had one notification up all the time from some ATT app which could no longer work. & you couldn't swipe it away. After awhile it annoyed me.

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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackhalo View Post
    The info on this so unclear to me across google searches and asking on twitter. My sim card says "AT&T compatible or unlocked GSM device". To me, because GSM was specifically noted as unlocked and AT&T compatible was not, that means the AT&T device can be locked. A locked AT&T phone is certainly AT&T compatible. Also because it used 'or' instead of 'and'. I wouldn't expect it to work, it just reads to me as if it works.
    All AT&T phones, including the Prepaid models, can be used on all AT&T MVNOs and Cricket without being unlocked. There are few exceptions* to that. I did it with a locked prepaid model on Tracfone, but that was a couple of years ago.

    Some of the discussion has veered off into what, when, why a phone can or needs to be unlocked. That varies and can get complicated. For sure, if you want to use an AT&T phone on T-Mobile it needs to be unlocked. Otherwise the answer to your basic question is above.

    *Exceptions: Truphone uses AT&T in the US, but requires an unlocked phone. I don't know for sure, but international and global SIMs may require an unlocked phone.

  13. #13
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    I have the sim already but wan't sure if I needed to buy an unlocked phone. I had a chance to get a deal on a locked phone but Tracfone twitter said it can't be a locked phone and I was worried about buying it and not being able to unlock it for whatever reason. Thanks to this info I will try to get that deal and save some money on my new phone, thank you.

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