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You Now Need 180 Days of Service to Get a Phone Unlocked by MetroPCS

Yesterday, T-Mobile's MetroPCS prepaid brand quietly modified its unlocking policy. Effective immediately, a phone must have 180 days of paid service om MetroPCS to be eligible for a free SIM-unlock. Until yesterday, the requirement was 90 days. SIM-unlocking a phone allows it to be used on other compatible carriers like AT&T or most international mobile operators.

I believe the change was driven by the aggressive free phone offers that MetroPCS and other prepaid operators have been offering recently. Giving a customer a free or deeply discounted phone in return for porting a phone number to a carrier is a customer acquisition tactic that's been around for years. But the free and discounted phones used to be low end devices. Not any more, you can get a free Samsung Galaxy J7 or an iPhone 6 for porting to Boost Mobile and until recently Cricket was offering its J7 version, the Samsung Galaxy Halo, to switchers for $19. But leave it to MetroPCS to come up with one of the best free phone offers, a free iPhone SE or $150 off any other iPhone when you port a number to MetroPCS and activate on the $50 plan. Increasing the time required for an unlock, encourages switchers to stick around longer bringing in more revenue for the carrier to recover the cost of the free phones.

Metro's 90 day unlock policy was the most lenient of all the US prepaid carriers. Boost and all the TracFone brands require a year's service for a free unlock, AT&T and Cricket require six months service.

Source: MetroPCS via Howard Forums

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18 comments:

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  1. So they're trying to kill their phone sales by pushing people towards unlocked devices, effectively increasing churn when people find out their network sucks.

    Legere must've gotten into the kool aid cabinet again, or it's part of his master plan to steadily crush the usage of locked devices.

    Maybe both?

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    Replies
    1. No. They can't be "trying to kill their phone sales by pushing people towards unlocked devices" because unlocked devices=customer can leave at any point. And they don't want that. No carrier does. Just look at what they have done on the postpaid side: balloon EIPs upon cancellation, device discounts in the form of monthly statement credits, 40 day usage requirement for unlocks even if you pay for your phone in full on day 1.

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    2. Yeah, so you might as well sidestep all the red tape and buy unlocked right from the very beginning.

      But if your goal is to actually sell locked phones, price gouging and devaluing their utility is a pretty bad way to try and recapture churners.

      Delete
  2. I just crossed metro off my list of cellular providers.

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  3. So... I used 60 service days.. So now do i have to wait 120 more days..?

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    Replies
    1. Most likely, but there's nothing to stop you from trying to run the unlock app at 90 days.

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    2. I would expect T-Mobile to honor the terms as they were laid out at the time of your phone purchase, so 90 days.

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  4. is this new activation or old activations as well ?

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  5. Metropcs places an unlock app on their Android devices that allows the customer to unlock their phone on their own after 6 months and that has not changed. What changed is iphones were 90 days of self unlock and that is now 180 days

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  6. The website doesn't mention effectivity dates or categories of devices, so it's probably for all "locked" phones.

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  7. Any reason why Metro phones are married to the SIM? Kinda defeats the GSM purpose, and is very inconvenient when swapping phones. I find this to be much worse then my phone being locked for 6 months, esp when I received said phone for free

    Question: I live in NYC where prepaid dealers honor no promos, but I'm very interested in the free J7 with 6 months of Hulu/Tidal and $60 20GB hotspot plan on Boost. Any way to get this online or a reputable dealer like Best Buy/Target?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Any reason why Metro phones are married to the SIM?"

      It's probably a holdover from Metro's pre-TMO days. And T-Mobile must not be affected negatively by this policy or they would have changed it.

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    2. I believe that Metro SIMs are tied to IMEIs for the same reason that Metro SIMs aren't available online, to drive traffic to Metro dealers.

      Delete
  8. Prepaid carrier corporate stores honor promos. Find the nearest one.

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  9. Dennis,
    Does this apply to phones purchased when the policy was 90 days? Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know for sure but the new MetroPCS unlocking policy page doesn't mention any exceptions for phones purchased before April 1.

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  10. I confirmed from Metro PCS -- Phone activated before April 1 still effect from old policy (90 days).

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    Replies
    1. can you please confirm again, i asked a metro store near here in nor cal and they said all phones 180 days :( so now i am confused.

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