Wireless Service

Does Your T-Mobile Phone Work on AT&T?

By
Kyle Reyes
October 18, 2022

T-Mobile’s process to unlock your phone and switch carriers is pretty simple! The exact steps vary depending on your device. We will cover the general steps in this article, and if you ever run into something weird, you can call up customer service and they will (hopefully) give you the help you need. 

With an unlocked phone, you have the liberty to switch to almost any carrier there is. 

How to Unlock Your T-Mobile Phone

Before your T-Mobile phone can work on AT&T’s network you have to unlock your phone. T-Mobile doesn’t unlock your phone automatically, but if you meet the requirements (mainly, that it’s paid off) then you can contact them and request an unlock. Unless you unlock your phone, you will not be able to transfer it to any other network. If you’ve got a new phone that you want to keep, your primary goal should be to pay it off in full so you can start the unlock process. 

T-Mobile’s Unlock Requirements

In order to ensure that your request is accepted, you must meet T-Mobile’s phone unlock eligibility requirements, which are as follows. 

  • You must have bought your phone from T-Mobile’s store
  • You must have an active account in good standing
  • For postpaid accounts, your phone must have been activated more than 40 days ago
  • Prepaid phones must have received $100 or more dollars in refills or have been active for longer than one year
  • Your phone must be fully paid off
  • Your IMEI is not blocked (which happens if the phone is reported lost or stolen)

If you meet all of these requirements, you can move on to unlocking your T-Mobile phone

How to Unlock Your T-Mobile Phone

There are slightly different paths to take when it comes to unlocking T-Mobile phones. This depends on the specific operating system on which your phone runs, but prior to the device-specific steps, you have to do this: 

  • Find your phone’s IMEI number
  • Obtain a new SIM card from the carrier to which you will switch
  • Prep all of your account information
  • Call T-Mobile’s customer service line (information in hand) to begin the unlocking process
  • Wait until you receive a confirmation email. At that point, your phone is unlocked!

How to Unlock Your T-Mobile Android Phone

After getting your confirmation email from T-Mobile you can go to the second part of the unlock process. This one varies slightly depending on the make of your phone, so if you have an android phone, you can follow these general steps.

  • If you have a Samsung device, find the connections menu in your settings, then go into “more connection settings.”
  • If you have a Google device, download the T-Mobile Device Unlock app.
  • If you have a OnePlus device, enter the Wi-Fi and Internet menu and select SIM and Network. 
  • If you have a T-Mobile device, choose Network and Internet in your settings app and select “advanced” under mobile network. 

Once in the respective menu, find “network unlock” and select “permanent unlock.” After your phone completes the process give it a restart and then you should be good to go! 

How to Unlock Your T-Mobile iPhone

Back up your phone after receiving the confirmation email that you are able to unlock your phone once the backup is complete, power off your phone, and insert your new SIM before powering it back on. At this point, you should receive “first-time use” prompts and be able to set up your phone with your new carrier. 

If you are running into problems don’t hesitate to reach out to a representative at your new company for assistance, or reset your iPhone and run through the process again. \

Unlocking Another Device on T-Mobile

If you don’t have an Android or an IOS phone, your process might look different from the ones explained above. If that’s the case, search for your phone’s specific unlock guide, as it should be similarly simple to execute. Should you run into any trouble with finding the relevant information, reach out to your new carrier for assistance. 

Confirm Device’s Unlock Status

Both prior to and following your unlock process, double-check the status of your phone. Your phone might be unlocked right now! Just go into your settings and, if you have an iPhone, go to cellular and cellular data. If you see “Cellular Data Options'' then your phone is unlocked. For Android phones, go to settings and mobile networks. If you see network operators then your phone is unlocked!  

Switching Your T-Mobile Phone to AT&T

Different carriers offer different nationwide coverage. Your t-mobile phone might work better on AT&T depending on your location in the United States.

AT&T is one of the major carriers in the United States and provides excellent coverage nationwide. They have a variety of high-speed unlimited data plans as well as a lot of other features that make it a good carrier to which to switch. As you switch carriers, taking your phone along lets you save some extra money because you don’t have to get a new device, especially now that phones are reaching the expensive heights that they are today. 

Buying a new phone when you switch carriers comes with its own benefits, as often new customers gain access to other deals along the lines of money off a new phone or money credited towards your new account or something along those lines. Keep your eyes open for those deals, as they can provide further savings when you switch your T-Mobile phone to AT&T. 

GSM Versus CDMA

When switching networks, your phone must be compatible with your new wireless network, and there are currently two major types of technology — GSM and CDMA. Both T-Mobile and AT&T use GSM, so once your phone is unlocked you can switch to AT&T with no sweat! 

Verizon is the major network that uses CDMA, so it is less certain that your GSM phone will work on Verizon’s network. That being said, most new smartphones are designed to operate flawlessly on both styles of network, so the newer the phone that you are bringing into the equation, the less likely it is that you will run into any trouble even if the types of phones are different than the network. Alongside AT&T, your newly unlocked T-Mobile phone will work on a wide variety of MVNOs. 

Can a T-Mobile Phone Work on AT&T?

Yes! They both use GSM networks so there’s no chance that your T-Mobile phone won’t work with AT&T. These days there are few reasons why any phone won’t work on another network, but you should always check their list of compatible devices, especially if you have a phone that is less common!

What are MVNOs?

Mobile virtual network operators are the names given to all of the phone companies (of which there are many) that operate through another major company's network. The major networks in the United States are AT&T, Verizon, T Mobile, and US Cellular. MVNOs only rent out those networks, letting them offer significantly lowered prices while continuing to provide that excellent service that is expected from major wireless networks. The major benefit of MVNOs are lowered costs while the major downside is that the major network’s customers get priority during times of high bandwidth usage which results in slower speeds for MVNO customers at that time. 

Pros of MVNOs

The big pro of an MVNO is that they can offer cheaper plans than major carriers. Alongside that, MVNOs are able to operate in a different sphere. AT&T is competing mainly with Verizon and T-Mobile for its customers while MVNOs are competing with other MVNOs. In terms of service, there are not too many differences between getting your cellular plan through an MVNO and getting it through one of the major providers. 

MVNO phone plans are so cheap because they don’t have to run their own network. They can focus on providing high-quality and affordable plans with all of their perks and incredible multi-line discounts since they are an MVNO and not a major service provider. 

Alongside that, MVNOs are not a new kind of service provider. They have provided great service to lots of people for decades, making them a reliable source of affordable phone plans. 

Cons of MVNOs

The major con of using an MVNO is the deprioritized service. When a major company is under stress from high data usage, the MVNOs are the first customers to experience a slowdown in internet speeds. Of course, this does not affect Wi-Fi speeds, just the speed of your cellular data. 

The Case for a Major Carrier

Major carriers own and operate their own cell phone towers. This means that you get the fastest service at all times, and know exactly where your service is coming from. Major carriers are, well, big. They have a huge staff of customer service representatives and should be giving you fantastic service to ensure that you stick around. 

Perhaps the biggest case for a major carrier is the deals, the offers, and the bundles. If you are currently a customer of a major carrier or are considering switching to one, make sure to comb their selection of deals and offers to see if there is one that will save you money in other areas. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Switching from T-Mobile to AT&T

Finding a phone plan that fits your lifestyle is the best way to ensure you aren’t spending too much money on your monthly phone bill.

Can AT&T unlock my phone?

Nope! It has to be unlocked through T-Mobile if you are a T-Mobile customer. When you are switching to a new carrier it has to be your current carrier that unlocks your phone. In this case, it has to be unlocked through T-Mobile, but that will vary depending on your current carrier. 

What is my IMEI number?

IMEI stands for international mobile equipment identity and it is one of your phone’s unique codes, not to be confused with your phone’s serial number! Serial numbers are used by the manufacturers to identify their phones, and your IMEI is used by an international organization that allows them to keep accurate records of all the phones out there. That’s how phone companies can decline to unlock requests originating from phones that have been reported lost or stolen. 

Where can I find my IMEI number?

The IMEI number is found in your settings, but you can also find it by going into your T-Mobile dashboard online. 

I just replaced my phone through warranty. Will it still work with AT&T?

Yup! As long as your old phone was ready to be unlocked then your new phone under warranty will be too! The unlock conditions are mainly around phones that have recently been purchased, and your warranty and protection plan do not interfere with that. 

How do I activate my T-Mobile phone on AT&T?

AT&T has its own “bring your own device” steps that are easy to follow. Make sure that you have your new SIM card, and once you clear your phone and put in the SIM card it should happen automatically. That being said, we recommend completing this activity with another person so that if you run into any trouble they can call the customer service line in your stead. This activation period is the only time your phone is well and truly off the grid!

Your T-Mobile Phone on AT&T

There are a lot of reasons why you might want to switch from your current carrier (T-Mobile) to a new one (AT&T). We hope this cute dog is making the whole process just a little less stressful. If you have a phone that’s in good working order we absolutely recommend bringing it over and keeping your current phone going, as the general pressure is always to get a new phone. Phones last a while, and switching from phone to phone with haste adds up quickly in the cell phone bills. The ability to unlock your phone with T-Mobile and switch it over to AT&T is an excellent way to jump to a new carrier without having a spike in your budget. 

Is AT&T the Best Carrier for You?

There are so many carriers out there, and it is worthwhile doing the research before switching to a new one to figure out exactly what plan you are looking for and by extension what carrier you are looking for. Each carrier offers slightly different plans with slightly different perks, but we’ve got your back! You can check out our other guides on what you should be looking for when it comes to picking out what carrier is best for you. We are more than happy to do the research and come out with the pros and cons of major carriers and MVNOs as well as the pros and cons of each company. 

Looking to Save Money on Your Phone Bill?

Phone bills are getting rather expensive, and it is always tempting to search for ways to lower your monthly bills. If you want to save money on your phone bill, then we recommend thinking about:

  • What you need out of your phone plan
  • What you need out of your phone
  • Whether an MVNO or a major carrier is better for you

What do you need out of your phone plan?

The majority of wireless providers have unlimited plans, unlimited plus plans, and limited plans. Most of these come with unlimited talk and text and the data varies from plan to plan. Do you need unlimited data, or do you consistently use only a few gigabytes each month? Especially if you are on a single-line plan, the cost of a limited plan is much cheaper than an unlimited plan. You can look at AT&T’s limited data plans as well as other companies to see if there’s a plan that fits your style! 

What do you need out of your phone?

There are so many phones on the market, but the newest generation of models isn’t that different from the ones that came before. Cameras and screen resolution are two of the biggest changes, and if you don’t need those to be excellent it opens a lot of doors for older phones that still work on the network while saving you a lot of money when you need a new one. 

Is an MVNO or major carrier best?

If you are willing to sacrifice the fastest data speeds to save a substantial amount of money on your wireless bill then an MVNO is a great switch. If you can, find a plan that does not hold you as a customer for a long time so you can switch back to a major carrier if you don’t like it!

Kyle Reyes
Kyles Reyes is a journalist from Pittsburgh, PA that specializes in the wireless industry, phone plan comparisons & advice.