Legal Policies

U.S. Cellular® Device Unlocking Policy

U.S. Cellular® as a participating carrier in the CTIA's "Consumer Code for Wireless Service" has voluntarily agreed to unlock handsets and tablets (hereinafter referred to as "devices") under certain circumstances described below beginning on May 11, 2014. "Unlocking" devices describes the disabling of any software on a device that would prevent a device from being used on any compatible network. Some current devices are not eligible to be unlocked because of the age of the device or because there is not technology readily available to permit the device to be used on any other compatible network.

It is important for consumers to know that an unlocked device is not an assurance that such device will:

  • Operate on any other carrier's network due to technical differences between carriers networks (for example, U.S. Cellular operates a CDMA network while some carriers operate GSM networks which are incompatible)
  • Or, if it does operate on another network, perform all of the functions that it performed on the U.S. Cellular network
  • Be accepted by any carrier for use on their network even if the device is compatible with that network to some degree.

Definitions

For the purposes of this policy, the terms device and equipment are interchangeable, and include:

  • Phones
  • Tablets
  • Routers
  • Home phones

An unlocked device is not restricted to a specific wireless carrier.

Policy

4G LTE Devices

All 4G LTE devices launched by U.S. Cellular on or after February 1, 2016 are sold unlocked.

Select 4G LTE devices (listed below) that were launched before February 1, 2016 are unlocked by installing the latest software update. Please refer to the Software Updates page to find the latest software version available for these devices and for instructions on how to download the latest software update.

4G LTE Devices Unlocked via Software Update
  • LG — G3 (US990)
  • LG — G Pad7 (UK410)
  • Samsung — Galaxy Note 3 (SM-N900R4)
  • Samsung — Galaxy Note 4 (SM-N910R4)
  • Samsung — Galaxy Note 4 Edge (SM-N915R4)
  • Samsung — Galaxy MEGA (SCH-R960)
  • Samsung — Galaxy S4 (SCH-R970)
  • Samsung — Galaxy S4 Mini (SCH-R890)
  • Samsung — Galaxy S5 Mini (SM-G800R4)
  • Samsung — Galaxy TAB4 (SM-T537R4)
  • Samsung — Galaxy TABS (SM-T807R4)

The following 4G LTE devices launched prior to February 1, 2016 cannot be unlocked:

4G LTE Devices that cannot be unlocked.
  • Kyocera Hydro XTRM (C6721)
  • Kyocera Duraforce (E6762)
  • LG Optimus (US780)
  • Samsung Metrix (i405)
  • Samsung Mesmerize Galaxy S (i500)
  • Samsung R680 Repp (SCH-R680)
  • Samsung Galaxy S II (SCH-R760)
  • Samsung Axiom (SCH-R830)
  • Samsung Aviator (SCH-R930)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II (SCH-R950)
  • Samsung ATIV Odyssey (SCH-R860)

1X/3G Devices

Upon request, U.S. Cellular can provide the lock code for the 1X and 3G devices. This will enable unlocking of the device. Please contact Customer Service for assistance with these devices.

Eligibility

For devices capable of being unlocked, what are the eligibility requirements that need to be satisfied before a device may be unlocked?

  1. The requesting party:
    • Must have an active account with U.S. Cellular or
    • Is a former customer who has fulfilled all financial obligations to U.S. Cellular or
    • Is an individual owner of an eligible device
  2. Prepaid customers may have a pre-paid device unlocked any time after 12 months from the first activation of the device sought to be unlocked on the U.S. Cellular network
  3. U.S. Cellular will not unlock devices that are lost, stolen or obtained fraudulently.
  4. U.S. Cellular cannot unlock devices that have not been sold or provided by U.S. Cellular.
  5. Due to compatibility, differences in technology, obsolescence and/or hardware/software limitations:
    • U.S. Cellular may not be able to unlock a device.
    • U.S. Cellular cannot guarantee that an unlocked device will operate on another carrier’s network and/or perform as it would on the U.S. Cellular network
  6. Military Personal may have the device assigned to their account unlocked upon presentment of deployment papers for locations outside of the U.S. Cellular operating areas such as overseas provided the account has no past due balance.