Historically it’s always been a pain to unlock your smartphone without having to cough a little cash, or without having to beg your carrier to do so with some traveling excuse. AT&T and T-Mobile phones have always been the ideal for this, and now that both Verizon and Sprint smartphones support LTE, and therefore SIM cards, we do see this reaching traditional CDMA carriers as well. Verizon has actually been legally forced to sell all of its LTE smartphones factory unlocked for other GSM carriers because of the LTE band it uses (smile if you didn’t already know this), and it seems that now Sprint will join the wagon as well.
After many legal actions going back and forth about the legality of making smartphones unlockable, companies are now legally forced to do so, and therefore Sprint has update its unlocking FAQ with how things will be after February 2015:
“I’ve been told by another carrier that Sprint needs to unlock my SIM slot in order to use my phone on the other carrier’s network.
For eligible devices, Sprint will unlock the SIM slot, to the extent that a device SIM slot is capable of being unlocked. It is important to note that not all devices are capable of being unlocked, often because of the manufacturers’ device designs, and that even for those devices capable of being unlocked, not all device functionality may be capable of being unlocked. Specifically, devices manufactured with a SIM slot within the past three years (including, but not limited to, all Apple iPhone devices), cannot be unlocked to accept a different domestic carrier’s SIM for use on another domestic carrier’s network. Sprint has no technological process available to do this. In accordance with Sprint’s voluntary commitment contained within CTIA’s Consumer Code for Wireless Service (“Unlocking Commitment”), Sprint is working to ensure that all devices developed and launched on or after February 11, 2015 are capable of being unlocked domestically.”
So yeah, one of the biggest hurdles is that your current Sprint LTE smartphone most likely doesn’t have a SIM card slot. Devices like the iPhone, and other rarities do, so just keep this in mind for your next smartphone purchase next year.