This is T-Mobile’s Device Unlock App [pics]

We’ve reported a number of times on T-Mobile’s phone unlocking app. Its purpose, seemingly, is to allow customers to unlock their devices for use on other carriers without needing to contact a customer care rep. It first showed up on a test unit of the Samsung Galaxy Avant, and we can confirm that it is pre-loaded on the publicly available model.

One of our readers bought the device using the special discount we discovered earlier this week, and was kind enough to show us the step-by-step walkthrough of the app. With all the images, you can click to see them full-size.

1. App Icon

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 13.29.14

As you’d expect, the app icon is in bright magenta and rather unoriginally is designed to look like a keyhole. Saying that, it’s difficult to imagine what other icon they’d use.

2. Options

As we’ve already stated, there are two options: Permanent unlock, or temporary. The idea with having both is that you can unlock a device for 30 days if – for instance – you’re going on vacation abroad and want to be able to use a local GSM carrier’s SIM. Once you select an option, it checks a remote system for eligibility and then unlocks your device.

3.  Restriction

Screenshot_2014-08-06-20-24-46

With the recently passed law, customers can now legally unlock their phones, as long as they’ve paid what they owe. And that restriction appears to be built-in to the Device Unlock system. Our customer had only just bought the device, and wasn’t able to unlock the device permanently right away. We suspect that you need to pay off your EIP in order to unlock it permanently, but temporary unlock to be less restricted. We’ve reached out to T-Mobile to see what the terms are on this, but are yet to receive a response. It’s very likely that the device needs to meet existing criteria, as set out in T-Mobile’s terms:

  • The device must have been active on the T-Mobile network for at least 40 days on the requesting line.
  • If the device is financed using T-Mobile’s Equipment Installment Plan (EIP), all payments must be satisfied and the device must be paid in full.
  • If the device is on an account that is under a service contract term, at least 18 consecutive monthly payments must have been made or the account has migrated to Simple Choice no contract rate plan.
  • If the device is associated with a canceled account, the account balance must be zero, including all pending charges
  • T-Mobile may request proof of purchase or additional information in its discretion and certain other exceptions may apply.

If indeed the terms are the same as they are now, then the app is essentially just a method of cutting out the middle man, and avoiding customer services. The fact it’s only available on the Avant now suggests the company is testing it on a low scale before making it more wide scale. Although it shows up in the Play Store, it’s only downloadable from a Galaxy Avant.

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  • JMF_mobile

    Maybe this app will be part of Uncarrier 7.0?

    • matt

      i was thinking maybe uncarrier will be paying for other company’s unlocks!

      • Cam Bunton

        lol. As cool as that sounds, there’s nothing in that for T-Mobile. A customer could say they were bringing their device over to Tmo, get a SIM plan and cancel it within 30 days.

  • wezra

    I may have missed something… was their anything in the federal law that disallows the carriers to void your warranty if you unlock now?

    • Adrayven

      nope

  • impasse

    now for someone to rip out the apk and framework dependencies..

    • Nurdface Gamerhandz

      Won’t work, since it contacts T-Mobile auth servers. It doesn’t actually DO anything anyway, besides saving you the call to customer service. Unlock requirements are still the same. All this app does is enter the unlock code for you

      • impasse

        er..i know how it works. my point is i’d still rather have a one-click app for every other phone i have than have to call customer service, wait for the email, and follow the device-specific instructions, NOT that i think this will magically unlock my phone even if i haven’t met contract requirements.

  • Mike Coleman

    this app shows up on the app store, you can download it, but it specifically says that it is compatible with only the avant at this time. all you will get is “this application is not compatible with this device”. :p

  • zeiferx

    im sorry but why must all the payments be satisfied to get the unlock ? at the moment if ou call customer service they will send you the unlock code as long as you are good on payments, plus since i financed the phone i technically own it and even if i cancel my service i will be on the hook for that amount, i would understand if we were talking about phone i got for free and then i just pay the etf (which it will be less than the “value” of any phone) but that is not the case with the current way tmobile is doing phones.
    i think there should be no restrictions to Tmo customers as long as they are current on their payments!
    on a separate note, this is actually great, unlock your phone on the spot in case you are traveling but forgot to call or you didn’t enroll into jump and just want to sell it to go get something new.

    • xmiro

      why? you can’t figure out why?

      Same reason when you lease a car you don’t own the title until you pay for it in full.

  • GreatNews

    Share the apk please

    • Paul

      I’ll be released pretty soon, I’m sure. It just hit the market and may not be compatible with ALL devices.

    • niftydl

      Anything low system level like this is probably specific to each device model. Every manufacturer uses different short codes/system tools to modify their firmware. I doubt just the APK would function outside the specific phone model.

      Alternatively, the app will have a database of different system calls to issue based on every supported phone model. Probably only T-Mobile branded devices in the future.

  • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

    Last year, I collected a bunch of phones from family and friends to donate. Though not a customer of ATT’s, I called them and they immediately provided the unlock codes for all of their phones, no questions asked. I called TMUS and they gave me grief about the phones not having been connected to the network for a while, their not belonging to me, yada, yada, yada… nada. I just got them to unlock one phone, the one I myself was donating. ATT was the uncarrier carrier in that instance.

    • dtam

      I’ve never had any issues or headaches getting unlock codes from TMo

    • Paul

      I’ve heard stories of the opposite of your experience and both parties being easy to work with. It just depends. MY dad never had an issue with either carrier.

    • notyourbusiness

      That’s shocking. Everything I’ve ever read/heard is the opposite of that. ATT is always the one that gives customers grief about unlocking phones. On the other hand, I requested unlock codes for two of my T-Mobile phones through their online chat and had zero issues. Next thing I knew, I received the unlock codes.

      • xmiro

        I can attest at&t do give you grief over unlocking. The process takes a while week. I had to call executive support to get an unlock code. Went Through 2 weeks of getting the runaround. Second time I requested an unlock after paying the ETF in full, they waited until the last possible day to decline with some bogus train that information doesn’t match so i still got declined but by that time I had gotten the unlock code already.

        • ginagelatina

          depends who u talk to i like augustine had a similar on att when i had my g2 with them ,first time i called they gave me unlock code no questions asked gurl was very nice,fast foward 3 months later called in again to have another phone unlocked this time i was talking to a guy he was being an AHOLE didnt give me nada, now on tmobile its been the same i had good luck once 2nd time no.

    • matt

      AT&T changed their unlock form recently. you can’t even click on submit unless the imei has some kind of history of being used on AT&T. i tried entering imei #s from my playstaion vita and imei #s from amazon fire phones off of ebay to see if i would get an exclusivity error and every single time i got a message saying no record of this imei # and i was not allowed to click on submit. i gave them the phone number and the imei # of my plaustation vita i had 3 years ago and i still was not able to click submit. i gave them this years imei # and phone number off of my iPad air and i got the same error. no history. the iPad air should of came back and said it was not locked. i had an iPad data plan for 3 months between feb and july or in that time frame

  • http://robert.aitchison.org raitchison

    Why would you ever choose temporary unlock? Unless the eligibility requirements for temporary are easier to satisfy than they are for permanent.

    • xmiro

      for when you travel to a destination outside the US for couple weeks

      • http://robert.aitchison.org raitchison

        Still why wouldn’t you just do a permanent unlock? it’s not like there’s any kind of downside to having your phone be unlocked.

        • superg05

          there not going to unlock a phone not fully paid for

    • loopyduck

      You kinda answered you own question there…

      • http://robert.aitchison.org raitchison

        But are the requirements easier? Neither the article nor the T-Mobile requirements page linked in the article say anything about the requirements for temporary unlock being any different than permanent,

        • Nurdface Gamerhandz

          You don’t have to pay off the phone for temp unlock.

        • Cam Bunton

          That’s what I’ve been trying to find out, but so far, all my T-Mo official contacts are keeping quiet. Despite the fact it’s no longer a secret app. May have to do some digging along less official lines if they can’t answer me.

  • adam

    first you try permanent unlock if that fails, you do temporary one

  • adam

    this is going to complicate buying tmobile unlocked phones from other people. How will you know if it is temp or permanent unlock

    • xmiro

      Same way you Don’t know of they paid their EIP or not

      • Concorde

        Or if its a phone that’s gonna get reported 2 days after you buy it cause we see that plenty, too.

        • xmiro

          yep
          those cheap Galaxy S5 phones on ebay are often like that, suddenly blacklisted. Back in the time of contracts people would get phones on credit then stop paying their bills

        • Nurdface Gamerhandz

          Most of the eBay phones are sold for $300, reported stolen, and replaced via JUMP for $175.

      • matt

        a reputable seller will give you the imei # so you can check to see if its blacklisted or not on sites like swappa or imei dot info but they can still report it stolen afterwards. sigh

    • Stefan Naumowicz

      You could request a permanent unlock through the app before buying it, and see what happens

  • PiCASSiMO

    Anyone know if T-Mobile will unlock other carrier’s phones? I’ve got a Nokia Lumia 520 that I’ve purchased in full from Amazon ($30 when it was on-sale) and I’d like to use it on T-Mobile from time to time.

    • Billz

      No, they won’t.

    • Stefan Naumowicz

      I’m sure they would love to, but they don’t have access to the codes or have permissions to do so for phones that aren’t theirs. AT&T phones are fairly easy to unlock though, have a friend who is a current or former AT&T customer (or yourself if you are/were) fill out the request form on att(dot)com/deviceunlock

      • PiCASSiMO

        Tried that with an existing AT&T customer and the IMEI number didn’t show up on AT&T records (or something along those lines). We even tried using his SIM card to register the phone with his account, made some calls, and that didn’t help.

        • matt

          requirements:
          the device must be associated with an existing or current account. if you have the former customer’s billing account # and telephone number it would help. just putting a AT&T sim in the device is not good enough the imei must be associated. the person needs to be a post paid customer for 2 months or a go phone customer for 6 months. go to the AT&T store / or call AT&T directly and ask them to put the imei # on the account. once this is done then you should be eligible for unlocking. i had several go phones get turned down because they were never officially associated. i bought a 3GS from powermax. we had a go phone account for a year. the unlock was turned down. i put the AT&T sim in the go phone. i went to the AT&T store and had them put the imei # on my go phone account. after a day, we submitted a new unlock request and was approved. until the ZTE dumb phone and the iPhone 3GS had their IMEI numbers associated on the account all unlocks were denied.the imei #s must have a history of being used with AT&T that they can find.

          also worth noting. once AT&T allows your phone to be unlocked you only have a limited time to complete the unlock process or the phone stays locked. this time limit can be anywhere between 24 hours to a week.

  • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

    I recently requested (and received by email in 18 hours) an unlock code for my Note3 via T-Mobile’s Live webchat (soooo glad I didn’t have to call in for it). xda thread: http://forum.xda-developers.com/galaxy-note-3/general/how-to-unlock-code-24-hours-via-t-t2835345

    Unfortunately, the network unlocking FAILS if you’re running a custom a ROM like CyanogenMod instead of the stock Touchwiz. Hope this unlocking app will work on custom roms, but I’m not getting my hopes. (I’m just too lazy to flash back to stock just to unlock, and I’m not planning on selling the phone or switching carriers, so there’s no rush really)

  • S. Ali

    Isn’t this just compliance with the new law Obama signed allowing users to unlock their devices legally. This seems like a front-end to avoid calling customer service to do the same thing (except it happens immediately)

    • silver_arrow

      Just because they can doesn’t mean they have to.

  • jj

    So you still have to wait 40 days even if you walk in and buy the device outright on the spot?

    • jonathan3579

      I’d rather pay for the convenience.

    • Nurdface Gamerhandz

      Yes. Ostensibly its to prevent people from buying a phone on credit, unlocking it, disputing the charge, and selling the phone overseas. My guess is its because T-Mobile is a mobile carrier, not a device retailer.

      • jj

        That’s a good point.

      • MastarPete

        Oh, but the US carriers ARE device dealers. If they weren’t you could buy any phone with full carrier band support, without carrier branding and carrier unlocked at any electronic store. As it is now consumers are at the mercy of their carrier as far as what devices will be directly offered and have full band support.

  • Medion

    The device needing to be paid in full is a new requirement. We still owe on my wife’s iPhone 5s but they unlocked it after 40 days a few months back.

    • Jeffrey Wang

      Same with me. Got my iPhone 5 unlocked without paying all of my ETF.

  • logan

    And what if you’re not a tmobile customer? I buy all my phones second hand and unlock them for a different carrier. I’ve heard only Tmobile customers can use this app? Can any people in the know/T-mobile employees answer that for me? Not to mention the “device has to be ACTIVE on the Tmobile network for 40 days on the requesting line” in order to meet the requirements – so that right there negates anyone who’s not a Tmobile customer and buys their phones second hand and unlocks them. And if this is only for Tmobile customers- would I just have to buy a code from a third party and enter the code when I power on my phone with my other carriers sim card? Help!