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Want to use your Mobile Operator branded phone on a different network? You might not be able to. Why? Because many phones come SIM locked, preventing SIMs from other MOs from being used on those phones.

John Dvorak on is twitter feed (http://twitter.com/THErealDVORAK) asked, “Is there a good mobile phone site for unlock codes? I have a Nokia E-62 that needs its freedom.” This is a very popular issue for smart / cell phone owners these days. With a Windows Mobile SIM locked phone, like the Blackjack II, if you insert a non-ATT SIM into the phone, you will see the following error message:

"This phone can only be used with a specific SIM. Enter the unlock code or insert an approved SIM."

So what can you do? Prior to the ruling by the U.S. Copyright Office in November 0f 2007, you would have to use one of the third party web sites that sell unlock codes. However, the ruling allows cell phone users to legally break the software "lock" placed on their cell phones and move their phones from one carrier to another. This does not mean that the carriers have to unlock your phone, it means they cannot prevent you from SIM unlocking your phone. Some Mobile Operators, like AT&T will unlock your phone even if you are not a customer of theirs. Let me tell you my experience…

I am a T-Mobile customer and recently received an AT&T branded Blackjack II. To my disappointment, when I put in my T-Mobile SIM, I received the error message above. I had read about this ruling and heard that some MOs will give you the unlock code if you ask them. So I called AT&T Customer Care, pressed ‘0’ when prompted to enter my AT&T phone number and was routed to an agent. I explained to the agent that I had a Blackjack II phone that I would like to unlock. They did ask for my AT&T phone number and I told them I was not a customer and therefore did not have one. To my pleasant surprise, they asked for my IMEI number which is on the box, and then gave me the corresponding unlock code. Cool! I entered the unlock code in response to the prompt above and saw the sweet T-Mobile tag line “Get More…” on the home screen.

I would be interesting to know if this would work for removing the SIM lock from an iPhone or the T-Mobile G-1. Also, if you wish to resell your phone after unlocking it, you can advertise this, making the phone a more attractive purchase.

So long story short, before messing with unlock codes from web sites or other third parties, try calling the MO and ask them for the unlock code.