Verizon will temporarily lock phones to its network starting this spring

Verizon currently has the most generous unlocked phones policy of all wireless carriers, but according to CNET, that will be changing soon. To combat phone theft, Verizon will begin locking the phones it sells to consumers starting Monday. The phones will immediately be unlocked as soon as the customer activates service. Later this spring the wireless carrier will begin keeping phones locked for a certain amount of time after purchase.

According to Verizon, shipping phones unlocked has made them a target for theft. The phones are more likely to go missing on the way to the carrier’s stores or to consumers because thieves know they can get a higher price for unlocked phones that work on any network. Although, Verizon should simply be able to blacklist the IMEI numbers of stolen phones, so they don’t work on any network.

Sprint requires that devices be “active on the Sprint network for a minimum of 50 days” before it will unlock the device, although, for devices launched after February 2015, Sprint will automatically unlock phones when they become eligible without requiring users to submit a manual request.

AT&T has the strictest rules, requiring that the phone be active for at least 60 days. There’s an additional caveat that if users have upgraded to a new phone, they still need to wait 14 days before AT&T will unlock the old phone they’ve upgraded from.
T-Mobile requires that a device be active at least 40 days, with a limit of two unlock requests per line per year.

Verizon has said that it’ll provide more details on the extended wait period closer to when it rolls out the new policy, although the company hasn’t offered any details on when that will be aside from the vague “spring” date. But if you’re planning on getting a Verizon phone, it’s definitely something to be aware of going forward.