The ultimate guide to Canadian carrier unlocking fees

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  • vn33

    Is the unlocking fee the same for iPhone and Android?
    My understanding is iPhone is more expensive to unlock due to Apple’s fees (?)

    • Will Maitner

      What fee?

    • Rose

      Carriers charge the same, but with third-party services there is certainly a price difference.

    • Ali F.

      Yeh, the price difference is higher for iPones and lower for others.

    • It’s Me

      Same if you go through the carrier.

    • gommer strike

      If you buy from Apple and request an unlocked device, there are no fees.

      Even if you buy the phone from Apple and it has to be a locked device, then it is the service provider/carrier that you deal with to unlock the phone, not Apple.

    • Brad Fortin

      Unlocking an iPhone is the same price, it just takes a bit longer since it’s locked through Apple’s activation server and the carrier has to send an unlock request to Apple instead of issuing an unlock code.

    • Ali F.

      It is not longer. I unlocked two Telus iPhone 6 and 6+ using Telus Chat. At the end of the chat session, both were instantly unlocked and I tested a Rogers SIM card in them. It is even no more needed to connect the iphone to iTunes like before. I do this quite frequently, on a condition that iPhone is activated for more than 90 days.

    • Word

      iPhones are the only ones which I can actually support consumers using the carrier to do the unlock. $50 is actually quite fair for an iPhone compared to virtually any other device. I’ve unlocked dozens of phones from many different unlocking companies and iPhones are always crazy expensive this way, as little as $75 to as expensive as $150. On the flip side, carriers will charge you $50 to unlock a phone you could have paid $3 to unlock on ebay. They may not all be that cheap, but even $10 is obviously more fair than $50, which they also will charge you tax on.

    • Ali F.

      iPhone are unlocked through Apple DB which means only carriers can submit the unlock request, hence the at least $50 fees. All other android devices are unlocked with a code that can be generated by an algorithm, hence the lower than carrier fees.

  • jsebean

    You know I’ve been really disappointed with Eastlink in their tone compared to the other independent carriers. In fact, often times I find myself getting way more competitive deals from the big 3 & co providers than from them. I get our population in the east is smaller, but then again there isn’t as much area for them to cover either. I just wish they would try to compete a little in the wireless front, especially from someone who’s ineligible from getting any of their wireline services. It just feels like we don’t have the level of competition as seen in other parts of the country when it comes to wireless and the prices prove it.

  • Will Maitner

    There should be no unlocking fee as you’ve more than paid for the phone through your contract. It should be free after the contract is completed. Make it a simple link on the billing site. Contract is done, click here to unlock your phone. Simple. Or make it part of the upgrading phones process when you stop at the store to upgrade, you get the unlock..

    • It’s Me

      There shouldn’t be locks to begin with. Locks have nothing at all to do with contracts, which is why carriers lock phones even if you buy them from them off contract.

      They don’t enforce the contract. All they are meant to do is ensure than you can’t use your phone elsewhere even while you continue to pay your contractual obligations.It’s a racket, plain and simple.

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  • Steve

    Service providers still have the cheaper rates compared to some other online or retail stores at least in my area. I was just in a local cell shop and someone called asking for their fee to unlock and he said $100…That’s crazy.

    • Victor Creed

      You must work Bell, Telus or Rogers

    • Ali F.

      That is for an iPhone for sure. Remember, unlocking an iPhone is mainly done through the carrier and then Apple DB. It is not an algorithm. There must be a person that works for Bell or Apple that should manually submit the unlock request (illegally). This person gets paid the regular $50 + tax + his fees (say $20) + the rest of the $100 for the third party unlocker. That is why it is $100. While all other devices are unlocked by a generated code that is entered directly on the phone. In most cases this can be generated by some algorithms so the cost is pretty much nothing.

      Furthermore, if you look at unlock fees for AT&T iPhone, it is always less than $5, because AT&T charges $0 for unlock up to 5 times for each customer. So third party unlocked, gets the few dollars and submit the request through another AT&T personnel or persons who are with ATT.

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  • Rimtu Kahn

    I think the law should be simple…if a phone is purchased outright from any of the carriers it should not come locked… it’s kind of an add-on fee for the device… in other words the actual cost of buying a device outright from these carriers is the price they are charging plus the unlocking fee plus taxes. If these carriers chooses to sell locked devices outright, then they have to highlight clearly next to the price, the unlocking fee and total cost.

    If a device is purchased on contract and / or tab, it may be a good idea to keep providing locked devices as it provides additional protection against run-away customers or stolen phones. However, after the end of contract / tab the device should be unlocked free of charge. Once contract / tab commitment is completed the device is legally owned by the customer but the lock keeps a restriction on the customer on where they can use it by the locking carrier. This is unfair.

    Also everyone should realize most devices now (maybe all new devices) simply require a code to be entered on the phone to unlock it. No warranty-voiding procedure is needed to unlock a device. These carriers do not have to act like and should not be a gate keeper of devices owned by the customer (which is the case for devices not under contract / tab). In reality a customer owned device after end of contract / tab, does not get any support from the carrier anyways. They are not going to help you find it or replace it.

    • Laer

      Freedom’s statement in the article was very clear to me. They said they don’t want lock fees but are bound by a weak market position. Seemed like they were straight up asking the CRTC to ban locks.

      What value is any of this carrier optimization offer anyway? Locked phones, bloatware, and “signal optimization”

      Now signal optimization is where the Carrier tweaks the number of bars you see so that it seems you actually have better signal strength then you do.

      Just more BS getting shoved down consumers throats for our benefit.

  • gommer strike

    Something the article doesn’t mention is the 3rd party unlockers which can be easily Googled and provide you unlock codes for a fraction of the price.

    However. It should be understood that the databases which contain these unlock codes are not available to just anyone – they are typically only available to the providers(of course) and various businesses. The people who throw up these unlock code websites(or advertise themselves “silently” through RFD and other places such as ebay) are usually offshore call center agents who run a little business on the side for some extra cash.

    This is the reason why when you buy an unlock code from the Internet, that there’s a bit of a delay before you get it. The agent has to either travel to the call center(or surreptitiously remote in one of the workstations) access the database, and get the code. That’s partly the reason why XDA developers doesn’t have a complete database dump for all their forumgoers to dive into, and for some reason rationalize it as “stealing” if they went that far.

    • Michael Jon Abrams

      The other down fall to this is that manufactures of phones can see that it is unlocked through the software. If unlocked and not done through either manufacture or the carrier before your manufactures warranty is over you void your warranty. While the online options are cheaper and fairly easy it still voids your warranty. If the device comes from the manufacture unlocked you don’t have to worry about voiding that for wanting to use another carrier.

    • gommer strike

      Well how it is different when unlocking from the carrier? Does the carrier tick off a box in the database that says “yup we did it, it’s official”?

      They are retrieving the unlock codes the same way as if you went to the store for it.

    • Ali F.

      Unlocking does not void warranty.

  • tarta70

    It is a big Mafia and Politicians are in it. Customers are dumbs waiving money.

  • Ian

    The unlocking fee is the carriers’ way to deter people from changing carriers. But the main deterrence that keeps me from changing carriers is that they’re all pretty much the same. I’m with Rogers and the level of dissatisfaction I read from customers of their competitors leads me to believe it’s not worth the hassle to change to Bell, Telus or others.

    • Ali F.

      I fully agree. I have been trying to find better deal and service for my family but that is it, I reached the same conclusion. How unfortunate.

  • Bob Loblaw

    An extortion fee charged by the telecommunications mafia of Canada aka Robellus.

  • MrQ

    $2-4 unlock via various reliable 3rd party unlockers for various Android phones. I think Samsung even provides free unlock codes if you contact them.

    Or just buy unlocked phones

    Until Canadians keep being ignorant, the big companies will keep milking them

  • Samuel Gomez Recuero

    There is really no need to keep the phones locked to a carrier after the period on which you are allowed to cancel your new contract and return the phone without further obligation on your part. After that period, you are legally bonded to pay the balance of the phone anyways. And then can easily make the phone unusable in Canada and probably USA too.

    I know for a fact (at least with Samsung) that the phone natural state is to be unlocked. Phones sold to carriers (at least with the S7) come with a boot sequence that once the sim is inserted will make the phone reboot and then locked to that carrier.

    It is funny how despite “competition” they all charge the same. I guess despite all the difference in how they make business the cost of it all is still the same at the bottom line. piece of crap!

    • jplunks

      Just a Question, but wouldnt they do away or change the construct of offering phones through them on a contract if it could be used else where?

  • James Wii U 3DS

    Is it really costing them 50$ for a simple code? No. Hey, have a free code generated by an algorithm: 1234567890. See? That costed 0$ to both you and I. No matter how complicated the algorithm is, the only cost would be a very small amount for energy consumption by the computing device and little paperwork.

  • ArclightX

    We’re still talking about this in 2017?

    Folks, just buy you mobile devices unlocked and outright from a 3rd party provider like Google, Expansys or Swappa or wherever and be done with it.

    This feels like those “you should wear sunscreen” stories that come out at the start of every summer as if the topic had never previously covered before.

    Buying your mobile device on contract from a service provider is the perfectly wrong thing to do and has been for years and years..

  • Shaun Conway

    Since the carriers added the Canadian mobile blacklist, carrier locks are antiquated. If a user doesn’t pay their bill, blacklist the device, simple. Stop making the honest people pay this fee for the few that steal.

  • Whome

    Phones should come unlocked.
    However since I don’t see that happening anytime soon.
    Phones should be unlocked by the carrier for free once the subsidy is paid. It’s just that simple.

    • hardy83

      Yes, phones should be unlocked out of the box. No other option makes any sense from the consumers perspective.

      The tying it to a contract makes no sense because even if the phone was unlocked, the customer is still bound to the contract. Whether the phone is locked or unlocked doesn’t change the fact the customer would have to end it’s contract early and face the penalties tied to it if they wanted to switch.

      Same goes for buying it outright. There shouldn’t even have to be an extra hoop for consumers to go through to unlock a phone it they buy it outright.

      ANY option aside from banning locking all together is not consumer friendly in any way, shape or form.

    • Whome

      I don’t disagree but the cell phone companies aren’t consumer friendly in any way shape or form. Just like when your contract is over your monthly fee should go down as the phone is considered to be paid off. Therefore your monthly fee should go to the price of a BYOD plan.

    • jplunks

      Once that happens, good luck on getting a phone on a contract… That will slowly happen with them not being able to lock phones

  • Ali F.

    Unlocking fees for already paid cellphones is simply stealing our money. I bought the other day a fully paid iPhone locked to Bell from a BestBuy auction. I asked my friend who is with Bell to use it for a day and we called them to unlock it, they insisted on using it for 90 days before. The same with Rogers. So far I had better chance with Telus but all depends on the person you are talking with.

  • Me Ted

    This is why I’ve always purchased Nexus devices. All come unlocked and the 90-day nonsense doesn’t apply.