Sprint plans to make all devices unlockable by February 2015

Sprint Unlock Phone
Sprint cuts the chains on locked phones

Come next February, Sprint customers will be able to unlock any new phone or tablet they've purchased from the carrier.

The yellow carrier recently updated it phone unlocking FAQ page and among the tweaks, wrote it's "working to ensure that all devices developed and launched on or after February 11, 2015 are capable of being unlocked domestically."

When the service kicks off next winter, Sprint customers will be able to request an unlock code for any device that's not longer under contract or requires payments.

Some restrictions may apply

With the device unlocked, users will be able to take their mobile phones to any other carrier as long as it's equipped to work their network.

Sprint phones can switch to other CDMA-based networks such as Verizon. Alternatively, smartphones equipped with multiple radio types, such as the Nexus 5, could move over to GSM networks like AT&T and T-Mobile.

Sprint is also quick to note that "all device features or functionalities will be fully or partially operational" even if the device is ported to a different service provider.

Other devices such as the iPhone 5S and Apple's older generation smartphones won't be on list of unlockable smartphones due to built-in manufacturer restrictions.

(Next) winter is coming

In the same FAQ, Sprint spells out that it currently can't unlock certain phones due to the manufacturers' device designs. Meanwhile, those that can be unlocked might come away missing some of their functionality.

However, last December US carriers - including Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Verizon - struck a deal with the FCC to remove restrictions on cell phone unlocking. This new open policy to unlock phones just happens to be among the six new principles added to the Consumer Code for Wireless Service.

Essentially Sprint is required to unlock phones when asked, which is good news. The other carriers will have to eventually follow suit, so stay tuned to this space as all the wireless providers are sure to update their phone unlocking policies in the near future.

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Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee was a former computing reporter at TechRadar. Kevin is now the SEO Updates Editor at IGN based in New York. He handles all of the best of tech buying guides while also dipping his hand in the entertainment and games evergreen content. Kevin has over eight years of experience in the tech and games publications with previous bylines at Polygon, PC World, and more. Outside of work, Kevin is major movie buff of cult and bad films. He also regularly plays flight & space sim and racing games. IRL he's a fan of archery, axe throwing, and board games.