GSM phone unlockers in Toronto
July 30, 2009 5:39 PM   Subscribe

I'm in Toronto, and I need to get a GSM phone unlocked. How much should I expect to pay, and do you know of any reputable place where I can get this done? (I'm fond of my cheap, but well made phone, and am wary of letting just anyone play inside it).
posted by jb to Shopping (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What phone? Depending on the make/model it could be a software hack you can do yourself.
posted by floam at 5:43 PM on July 30, 2009

I would recommend eBay, actually. I'm also in Toronto and prices varied from $20 to $30 in shops and Craigslist. eBay was like $7 or something. You just have to email them before buying and tell them the model number to make sure you should buy.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 5:48 PM on July 30, 2009

Oh, and what Floam said. Many phones you just enter a series of numbers that are dependent on your phone's SEI number or whatever the hell it's called. That's how it's worked with every phone I've unlocked via eBay sellers.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 5:49 PM on July 30, 2009

I have used (nokia only) and in the past, both of whom I'd use again (though both of whom are just generic names in a sea of companies that do this). It's possible to find the software and generate the codes yourself, but since I do this once every few years, I'll pay the few bucks and not worry about staying up to date.

If your phone is older, like you say it is, I'd pay no more than US$5 or so. Newer phones sometimes have a premium (I paid US$15 or so for my blackberry)
posted by devbrain at 6:12 PM on July 30, 2009

(remove that recommendation for unlock123 ... I just checked the cert on their site and it expired in 2008. I did last use them in 2006; should have mentioned that in my first post)
posted by devbrain at 6:17 PM on July 30, 2009

You could try CarrierUnlock. It's a newcomer, so they have some deals on at the moment. Not sure if they cover your phone though.
posted by purephase at 6:30 PM on July 30, 2009

My phone is a Motorola clamshell - it's not very old (about 1.5 years), but is not on the manufacturer's website, nor the service provider's. I can't seem to find a model number on it, but if I can find the manual I will update. It was originally sold by T-Mobile prepaid USA and it can be used with T-mobile prepaid elsewhere (I've used it in the UK), but sadly T-Mobile doesn't exist in Canada. Which is a kind of irony - I would jump at the chance to get prepaid from them rather than Rogers, but they aren't here, so I have to crack their phone to get bad expensive service from the company that is here.
posted by jb at 7:25 PM on July 30, 2009

My girlfriend payed $10 at a mall kiosk...
posted by glider at 7:34 PM on July 30, 2009

I have a Motorola KRAZR from Rogers for which I've been unable to find an unlock code. So I went to Pacific Mall in Markham and paid 20 dollars in one of 20 or 50 kiosks there. They told me to backup my phone to a SIM card, took the card out and gave it to me. Then they took the phone for about 20 minutes and when I've got it back it was unlocked and cleared of any infomation, so I had to restore it from thw SIM card. The phone works perfectly and since then I've used it in several Europian countries with SIM cards from different providers without any problems.
posted by m1dra3 at 7:52 AM on July 31, 2009

I've unlocked four phones in the past year by simply calling the carrier and asking them to do it.

Three were AT&T GSM phones, and I am not an AT&T customer. I just called the regular customer service number, told the rep that I had a [Samsung BlackJack/Samsung BlackJack II/Nokia something-or-other] that had been passed down to me by a co-worker and which I wanted to use with my t-mobile account, and in ten minutes the deed was done.

For the Samsungs, there was a back-and-forth with the rep where I read her the IMEI and she walked me through a procedure on the phone entering some other magic number.

For the Nokia, she took the phone details and in a day or two I got an email describing the process.

The fourth was a new Nokia which I had just bought from T-Mobile. We were going to Europe, and I wanted it unlocked so I could use a German prepaid SIM. Same drill as AT&T. Ten minutes on the phone and a day later I got an email with Teh Codez.

It may be worth the call to tmobile customer service to see if they'll just do it for free.
posted by chazlarson at 8:38 AM on July 31, 2009

>I can't seem to find a model number on it

Often that information is on the same sticker that carries the IMEI, which is often hidden under the battery.
posted by chazlarson at 8:39 AM on July 31, 2009

Calling the provider sounds like a good idea, especially as it was a not-especially-much-subsidized prepaid phone, and we were with that provider for 1.25 years. And it's not like we've switched to their competition, because they do not exist in the country we have moved to. I would have stayed with T-Mobile otherwise - they've been not bad (better in the UK than in the US, but that's because the whole US market is worse than the UK - charging for incoming calls, having money expire, etc).
posted by jb at 8:58 AM on August 1, 2009

I called the provider (T-Mobile US), and they have given me the unlock code. I did have to have put money on it within the last 30 days, so that cost me $10 (the minimum top-up), but at least I can use that money while waiting for my new sim-card to arrive. Thanks for all of your help, and especially for chazlarson's suggestion to call the phone company itself. It was much cheaper - and safer - than trying an unlock service.
posted by jb at 10:48 AM on August 12, 2009

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