Compared to the mobile industry in other parts of the world, the US carriers are kind of weird. It's basically only the US where you'll see a different variant of the Galaxy S5 for every carrier. While outside the US every carrier gets basically the same variant of the Galaxy S5. This is due to the different bands and different technologies they are all using. Sprint and Verizon are doing CDMA and LTE. While AT&T and T-Mobile do GSM and LTE like the rest of the world. That's why unlocked smartphones are probably only going to work on AT&T and T-Mobile's networks. However, with Sprint and Verizon, their devices will probably still work on AT&T or T-Mobile because they do have a SIM card. Most Verizon devices do work on T-Mobile, I've often put Verizon smartphones on my Verizon line by swapping the sim cards and worked great. Sprint on the other hand not so much, but that's about to change.
As of February 11th, 2015, All Sprint smartphones will be domestically unlockable. Right now, you can only unlock Sprint devices for international traveling, but in less than a year you'll be able to unlock your Sprint Galaxy S5 and put it on T-Mobile or AT&T. Now this may not sound like a huge deal. But if you're thinking of testing out AT&T or T-Mobile to see if they have good coverage in your area, it's a great thing. Because you just need an active SIM card to test that out.
"I've been told by another carrier that Sprint needs to unlock my SIM slot in order to use my phone on the other carrier's network.
For eligible devices, Sprint will unlock the SIM slot, to the extent that a device SIM slot is capable of being unlocked. It is important to note that not all devices are capable of being unlocked, often because of the manufacturers' device designs, and that even for those devices capable of being unlocked, not all device functionality may be capable of being unlocked. Specifically, devices manufactured with a SIM slot within the past three years (including, but not limited to, all Apple iPhone devices), cannot be unlocked to accept a different domestic carrier's SIM for use on another domestic carrier's network. Sprint has no technological process available to do this. In accordance with Sprint's voluntary commitment contained within CTIA's Consumer Code for Wireless Service ("Unlocking Commitment"), Sprint is working to ensure that all devices developed and launched on or after February 11, 2015 are capable of being unlocked domestically.
Sprint's unlocking policy appears to apply only to postpaid customers. I am a prepaid customer. Am I eligible to have my device unlocked?
Neither Sprint nor its prepaid affiliates (Virgin Mobile, Boost Mobile, and Assurance Wireless) currently unlock devices for prepaid customers. However, in accordance with the Unlocking Commitment, Sprint and its prepaid affiliates are working to create new policies and procedures in order to unlock prepaid devices, or to provide the information necessary to unlock the devices, after certain eligibility requirements to be established are met. Consistent with the Unlocking Commitment, Sprint and its prepaid affiliates will implement these new policies and procedures no later than February 11, 2015."
Kind of exciting times for Sprint and it's customers. Now that we are really starting to see Softbank's choices appear in Sprint's changes. It's going to be interesting to see how things really change in the next few months. Softbank has big plans for Sprint.