Verizon has announced that it will start locking the phones it sells so as to deter thieves from stealing them. However, this will also prevent users from using a SIM card of a different carrier on their device.
Initially, all phones purchased from Verizon will be unlocked when the customer signs up and activates a new service. However, later in spring, the carrier will start locking the phones down for a certain period of time. Users will only be able to unlock these locked phones by contacting Verizon, though the time after which the carrier would allow one to unlock a device remains unknown. The carrier says it will provide more details about its policy before rolling it out in spring.
Verizon says that it is taking this step so as to deter criminals from stealing smartphones its stores and then selling them on the black market. As per the company, armed robberies were up by 200 percent in 2017.
“We’re taking steps to combat this theft and reduce fraud,” Tami Erwin, executive vice president of wireless operations for Verizon, said in a statement. “These steps will make our phones exponentially less desirable to criminals.”
“This is an industry problem which becomes a Verizon problem because our phones have been unlocked all the time,” Erwin said in a follow-up statement. “Just this weekend, four armed, masked men, stormed into one of our locations and held employees at gunpoint as they loaded phones from our inventory into a truck. We need to protect our employees from criminals with guns and protect customers from criminals who try to use their identities to fraudulently purchase phones.”
Despite what Verizon says, the move will also act as a deterrent for customers looking to switch from Verizon to another carrier. The move is unlikely to be noticed by most consumers, but will definitely bother those who frequently travel outside of the United States as they won’t be able to use a local SIM on their device before getting it unlocked from the carrier.
If you want an unlocked phone, you can always buy it directly from your OEM and then use your Verizon SIM card in it.