You should be able to use a non-blacklisted but locked T-Mobile phone on any T-Mobile account.
I've purchased locked T-Mobile phones from other customers and had them unlocked almost immediately but I have a postpaid account. Not sure how it works for prepaid. Generally, a postpaid account is allowed two unlocks per-line per-year.
If you buy a non branded locked phone you will need to pay a 3rd party company to unlock the phone
to use with Tmobile. Also the phone won't support wifi calling or some other features of T-Mobile. Make sure
the phone also has the bands that T-Mobile uses.
If you buy a Tmobile phone that's locked , you can unlock the phone once you meet the requirements.
I purchased a used T-Mobile phone off ebay and was able to get an unlock code once I met the requirements.
Here's a link to check the status of the phone.
Here's the unlock requirements.
Thanks to both of you. Yes, I was already planning to *only* shop for a used 930T model number (the T-Mobile version). There are plenty of stories about the difficulties people have had with trying to match a non-T-Mo phone to the T-Mo network (and features such as wi-fi calling). I intend to avoid all that by getting a 930T phone.
I had browsed the unlock requirements but not read them thoroughly before now (I already knew about online IMEI lookup). My understanding now is that either:
a) I can contact T-Mobile with the IMEI before buying and verify the unlock requirements are already met (if that's actually possible?), or
b) I can buy the phone, making an educated guess that it's unlock-eligible, then request an ebay refund if unlock cannot be done.
Any advice on which path to take? I've found ebay returns to work in the past; obviously don't want to have to go that route.
The only way to get a refund from ebay is if the phone is sold as unlocked. If it's
sold as locked to T-Mobile you shouldn't be eligible for a refund since the seller didn't misrepresent
the listing of the phone.
Yes you can contact T-Mobile with the imei or you can use the link I posted in my previous post.
Thank you, that's a fair point about the (hypothetical) listing not misrepresenting the phone, even if it turns out later than it can't be unlocked for whatever reason (plan balance not paid off, etc.).
I also did not realize your IMEI lookup link was specific to T-Mobile. That's possibly better than the generic IMEI lookup for this specific question (unlock eligibility). Using an online resource means no need to wait a very long time for a telephone call to be answered, so I tried the T-Mobile IMEI link just now.
I entered an IMEI that I found on an ebay listing, for a phone that says T-Mobile (model 930T), but does not say unlocked so I'm fairly certain it's currently still locked. Here's what the lookup page returns for it:
Congratulations! Your device is ready for use. Select one of the SIM cards on the previous page to get started.
You can use this device on an existing line with a compatible plan. If you already have a T-Mobile SIM card, simply insert it into the device. You may begin using your device on the T-Mobile network immediately.
This looks good (I checked other phones that came up with "unpaid balance" warnings), but I don't see a way to determine what the compatible plans are for this phone (e.g. is prepaid compatibile with this phone if it's still locked?). Nor does it say directly that this phone is eligible to be unlocked, but I assume it is? My preference would be to unlock it regardless, and then use it with my prepaid plan.
You can use any phone with any plan.
It looks like I need to reply one more time to say that I think my question's been answered. Thanks again. My takeaway here is:
a) verify the IMEI on the T-Mobile IMEI lookup page ("your device is ready to use")
b) move my current T-Mobile SIM (prepaid $30/mo UL plan) from the old phone to the new one
c) start using the new phone, maybe also call or go online to register the new IMEI with the old SIM
d) [optional] unlock the new phone if desired
If your old sim is the same size that you need for your new phone you
won't need to register the new imei#. T-Mobile will automatically detect it
in their system.
The only hiccup you have is if the new phone uses a different size sim and if it
does and you're on a prepaid plan you will need to make a trip to a T-Mobile store
to get a new sim .
When I've unlocked phone, my T-Mobile SIM had to be in the phone to get the unlock code. Back when it was a manual process and you had to call Customer Service, I had a new-used phone and the CSR said, "I don't see that you've used that phone". I replied "One minute" did a quick SIM swap and rebooted the phone. She then said, "OK now I see it" and submitted the unlock request.