Skip to main content

Freedom! It’s finally legal to unlock your phone in the U.S. again

finally legal unlock smartphone cell phone unlocking
Image used with permission by copyright holder
President Obama signed the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act into law just before the weekend, making it perfectly legal to unlock your phone, freeing it up to be used on any compatible network. Unlocking was made illegal via the Digital Millennium Copyright Act last year, and over the past month, the new law which would change all that made its way through the Senate and Congress, before reaching the President’s desk on Friday.

All this came about in an interesting way. It began with a petition created by a digital rights activist being put up on the White House’s We The People website, where ideas are put forward for the government to consider, requesting a change to the relevant section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. More than 114,000 people ended up signing the petition, and the huge response prompted the FCC to work with Congress, networks, and the government to come up with a solution. Once signed, the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act became the first We The People petition to bring about a legislative change.

What does it mean to you? It doesn’t stop phones from being locked, but it does mean you’re free to unlock them and choose another network if you want. Also, it makes it legal to look for phone unlocking services if you can’t do it yourself.

The change is expected to have “a real impact,” according to a post on whitehouse.gov, where it’s described as “a win for American consumers, a win for wireless competition, and an example of democracy at its best.” It’s great news, so let’s hope another decision in the future doesn’t reverse all the hard work. In the meantime, if you want to unlock your phone, feel free to do so – legally.

Andy Boxall
Andy is a Senior Writer at Digital Trends, where he concentrates on mobile technology, a subject he has written about for…
Want to use Apple’s AI features? Make sure you have one of these iPhones
Blue Titanium (left) and Natural Titanium iPhone 15 Pros on a concrete bench.

Apple’s WWDC 2024 keynote was one of its biggest in years. Not only did we see some big changes coming to iOS 18, like new ways to customize your home screen even more but we are also getting a ton of new AI features.

Apple Intelligence, as Apple calls it, is a suite of powerful AI tools that will help make your life even easier. From new writing tools and summarization features to image generation and even creating any emoji you’d ever need, Apple Intelligence definitely looks impressive.

Read more
I can’t wait to make my iPhone look like Android with iOS 18
An iPhone home screen with iOS 18.

Apple’s WWDC 2024 keynote was quite a spectacle. It showed off a ton of new features coming to iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia, with most of it being powered with Apple Intelligence -- Apple’s own brand of AI.

But there were some other non-AI features, too, including some much-needed changes to the iPhone's home screen. It’s been a while since Apple really overhauled the home screen, the last time being iOS 14 and the ability to add widgets and create custom app icons through Shortcuts. With iOS 18, users can further customize their home screen with new ways to rearrange apps and widgets, plus the ability to theme app icons like never before.

Read more
The Apple Watch Series 10 could be the biggest Apple Watch upgrade in years
Control Center on the Apple Watch Series 9.

Over the past few months, we’ve come across multiple rumors claiming that the 10th-anniversary edition of the Apple Watch will finally bring a major design and functional refresh. Now, TFI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is also backing those predictions.

In an investor post shared on Medium, Kuo writes that the Apple Watch Series 10 will be thinner. This comes just a day after Bloomberg reported that Apple is also eyeing a thinner iPhone and MacBook for the 2025 product upgrade cycle.

Read more