Image Credit: @CWeberatNokia (Twitter)
As we all know, the Nokia Lumia 900 is an exclusive to AT&T in the United States. What you may not know is how that affects the carrier's relationship to the device, and how willing a carrier would be to unlock your phone. When we say unlocking, in this case we mean unlocking the quad band GSM radio found inside the Lumia 900. This would allow you to place any SIM card inside the device and use the phone on any compatible network around the world. It's one of the main strengths behind the GSM standard, making it very easy to travel worldwide with your phone of choice.
However, it's not that simple in the United States. The other day we noticed a forum post on XDA-Developers, addressing the Lumia 900 fanbase there about the unlocking situation. Moderator 'sensboston' pinned the thread to the top of the forum and said the following:
I decided to create this thread in order to protect newbies from the potential loss of money/time, trying to unlock Lumia 900.
There is no way now to unlock AT&T Lumia 900. Period!
According to my conversation with AT&T's tier #2 support, they have NO plans to release the codes, now or in future. Also, based on this thread and many other threads from the another forums, all internet/ebay offers are scam or (at least) unfair/dishonest.
Read on to find out exactly why this happens in the United States, plus what AT&T had to say in response to the matter when we asked them for more information.
It's disheartening to hear that AT&T apparently has 'no plans' to release the codes for its owners. That's not to say it's surprising though, since we've seen this behavior before. In particular when the iPhone was an AT&T exclusive between 2007 and 2011, which forced many to seek help from third-party services found online and on eBay. Unfortunately this led to a lot of scams, and it appears the same mechanic is at work here again.
So what's really going on? We contacted an AT&T representative for more information and this is what she said in response:
The Nokia Lumia 900 policy is the same as any other phone. AT&T will unlock phones for customers who fulfill all contract obligations or have paid the ETF.
That's about it, we suppose. As long as your contract is paid off or you have purchased the phone off-contract, you should be able to get a SIM unlock code from AT&T. If not, then the carrier will refuse to give you one simply because the phone is one of their paid-for exclusives and also a "hero" handset.
If your phone or contract is paid-for and AT&T still refuses to give you an unlock code, then there's a problem. You'll probably have to argue your way through customer service to get it done (plus you can show them this article if they're giving you an especially hard time).
Here's the best advice we can give you: if you want to travel with a phone from AT&T, buy it off contract and scream to the high heavens if they still won't unlock it for you.