iPhone X
It will be harder to use your Verizon iPhone on other
networks.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac



Verizon
plans to start locking all phones, including iPhones, to its
network for a certain period of time. The carrier is hoping
the move, which will prevent customers from using other SIM
cards in Verizon devices, will help it fight theft.


It’s common for carriers to
lock the devices they sell to their own network. This
prevents customers from jumping ship before they’ve paid off
their plan. But Verizon generously started selling handsets
unlocked when it introduced 4G LTE devices.


No more
unlocked phones

Now the company is reversing its decision in an effort to
combat theft and reduce fraud.


Starting
soon, all handsets Verizon sells will accept only Verizon SIM
cards. Initially, the phones will be unlocked as soon as a
customer signs up and activates their service. Later in the
spring, however, the lock will remain active for a certain
period of time after the phone is purchased.


“These
steps will make our phones exponentially less desirable to
criminals,” explained Tami Erwin, executive vice president of
wireless operations for Verizon.


Unlocked
handsets are easier to sell because they can be used in
almost any country on almost any network, and they typically
fetch larger price tags as a result. That makes them a bigger
target for smartphone thieves.

It’ll be harder to use your phone abroad


You might
assume you won’t be impacted by the lock if you don’t plan to
switch from Verizon to another carrier. But it’s worth noting
that the lock also prevents you from using a SIM card from a
local carrier when you travel abroad.


Buying a
local SIM can make calls, texts, and web browsing in
particular significantly cheaper when you’re outside of the
United States. Now you’ll have to remain connected to Verizon
and pay higher roaming fees, or buy a cheap, unlocked
device.

Verizon won’t confirm how long its lock will last after this
spring. It told CNET
it will provide an update after its new policy rolls out.



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