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I'm considering buying a network-locked phone and unlocking it myself (cheaper than buying an unlocked phone). I'm wondering where Android phones store information about what networks to connect to. Is it a part of the carrier-customized OS (flashing an aftermarket OS such as Cyanogenmod would then remove the restriction) or written into the radio firmware directly, so that it also must be flashed in order to remove the SIM lock.

Is the bootloader even unlockable on such devices?

  • Network locked phones are locked by parameters in a special place in internal storage we can't touch. It is neither ROM or radio based, flashing a custom OS or changing radios has no effect on carrier lock. On most devices, you must obtain a valid unlock code from the carrier to undo the SIM lock, however, most major brands can be done for $5-$50 via an unlocking service. Be aware many phones have a permalock mechanism as well, if you attempt to manipulate it or enter an invalid unlock code too many times, it locks permanently and only the manufacturer can enable an unlock after that. – acejavelin May 29 '16 at 12:12

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