If you’re traveling, you can’t use eSIM on a locked phone because it won’t have the freedom to connect to new networks.
When a phone is locked to a particular carrier, it’s only allowed to connect to that specific network. Having a locked phone will prevent you from being able to connect to the new networks available at your new destination.
Locked vs Unlocked Phones
You might want to expand on the difference between locked and unlocked phones. A locked phone is tied to a specific carrier, either through a contract or an installment plan, while an unlocked phone can be used with any carrier that provides service for that particular phone.
Why does my phone need to reach new networks?
Typically, a travel eSIM package will support 1–3 different networks. By keeping your network selection on ‘Automatic,’ your phone will automatically connect to the strongest supported network in any given location on your trip, so you always have a solid data connection.
How do I know if I have a locked phone?
Your phone settings will show if your phone is locked to one particular network or if it is unlocked and able to connect to any network. It only takes a minute to check.
Is my iPhone locked?
1. On an iPhone, go to “Settings.”
2. Tap “General” and then “About.”
3. Scroll down to see “Carrier Lock” or “Network Provider Lock.”
If the name of a carrier is displayed, that means your iPhone is locked to that carrier. You can’t use eSIM with a locked iPhone, so you’ll need to contact your carrier and ask to have the iPhone unlocked.
If you have a brand-new iPhone 15 or you’ve purchased your iPhone within the last six months and/or you’re on a payment plan, they may refuse to unlock your iPhone until a specific date.
If you see “No SIM restrictions” or more than one carrier listed, that means your iPhone is unlocked and should be able to use eSIM normally, assuming it’s an eSIM-compatible iPhone model.
Is my Google Pixel locked?
1. On a Google Pixel phone, to go “Settings.”
2. Tap “Network & Internet.”
3. Toggle off “Automatically Select Network” to see available carriers
If the name of only one carrier is displayed, it’s likely that your Google Pixel is locked to that carrier. In order to use eSIM on a locked phone, you need to contact your carrier and ask for it to be unlocked. (Recent phone purchases and/or phones on payment plans may get in the way of this.)
If your Google Pixel displays “No SIM restrictions” or shows multiple carriers, your Google Pixel should be fully unlocked and able to use eSIM, as long as the phone model supports eSIM. (Not sure? (You can use our device checker.)
Is my Samsung phone locked?
1. On a Samsung phone, go to “Settings.”
2. Tap “Connections.”
3. Tap “Mobile Networks.”
4. Tap “Network Operators.”
5. Toggle off “Automatically Select Network” to see available carriers
If the name of a carrier is displayed, that means your phone is locked to that carrier. In order to use eSIM on your locked phone, you should contact your carrier and request to have the phone unlocked. (If you’ve bought your Samsung phone fairly recently or signed onto a payment plan, this may be delayed until a specific date.)
If you see “No SIM restrictions” or more than one carrier listed, that means your Samsung phone is unlocked and should be able to use eSIM normally, as long as it’s a Samsung that supports eSIM.
How to use eSIM on a locked phone
1. Contact the carrier listed in your phone settings
2. Ask for your phone to be unlocked so you can use eSIM
Exploring Alternatives to eSIM: Connectivity Solutions for Non-Compatible or Locked Phones
When traveling abroad, connectivity is essential, and there are several alternatives to consider:
- Local SIM Cards: This is one of the most common alternatives to eSIM. Once you arrive at your destination, you can purchase a SIM card from a local carrier. This will give you a local phone number and a data plan. It’s usually relatively inexpensive and provides good coverage since it’s from a local provider. However, this option requires changing your SIM card every time you travel to a new country and may not be feasible if your phone is locked.
- International SIM Cards: These SIM cards work in multiple countries and can be purchased before you travel. They’re convenient as they don’t require changing the SIM for each country you visit. However, they can be more expensive than local SIM cards and may not offer as good coverage.
- Portable Wi-Fi Devices (MiFi): These are portable devices that create a personal Wi-Fi hotspot. You can connect multiple devices to them, including your phone, laptop, and tablet. They work in many different countries, so you don’t need to worry about compatibility issues. However, they require charging and can be another device to carry around.
- Roaming Plans: Some carriers offer international roaming plans that allow you to use your home data plan abroad for an additional fee. This is a convenient option, as it doesn’t require changing SIM cards or carrying additional devices. However, roaming fees can be quite high, so it’s important to check the rates before you travel.
- Wi-Fi Calling and Messaging Apps: If you have access to Wi-Fi, you can use various apps to stay connected. Apps like WhatsApp, Skype, and Facebook Messenger allow you to make calls and send messages over Wi-Fi, avoiding cellular charges.
Each of these alternatives has its pros and cons, so it’s important to consider your specific needs and circumstances when choosing the best option for you.