There is a bit of confusion out there as to what the differences are between unlocking and flashing your cell phone. They are quite a bit different.


When a cell phone is "locked" it means that it is locked into a particular service provider. Service providers like AT&T and T-Mobile do this in order to prevent customers from switching cell phone providers.

When a cell phone is "unlocked" it means that it can be used on multiple providers or plans, just by switching SIM cards. This is handy for traveling and if you want to switch providers and don't want to have to buy a new cellphone.

There are two methods for unlocking a cell phone:. Unlocking a cell phone by "Code", and unlocking a cell phone via a software tool. Some manufactures’ phones support the unlocking by "Code" method. For instance: many Nokia, Samsung, Siemens, Panasonic, Sony and other brands of cell phones.

The other method, using a software tool, is quite a bit more involved. This method requires some software and hardware to unlock your cell phone. Thankfully, there are companies out there that do this for you. Companies like can unlock your cell phone fast and cheap.


Flashing your cell phone is the process of installing new software. Firmware, to be more specific. When a cell phone exhibits symptoms like not powering up or re-booting (or many other software related issues), the firmware is often to blame. Flashing a cell phone is quite an involved process. It requires a computer, flashing device, flashing software and a cable to interface the cell phone to the computer.

This is not something I recommend for the average user. However, there are also companies out there that are able to do this for you.

So there you have it. A brief overview of the differences between Unlocking and Flashing your cell phone.

Keep in mind that neither of these are Illegal. Some may think that unlocking your cell phone is illegal, or wrong, but, I assure you, it is not. Cell phone providers only lock cell phones to insure that customers don't switch providers.

Originally posted 2010-07-27 20:57:15.