Why are RW phones locked?

I can see why phones discounted or bought on time in conjunction with a phone plan must be locked until agreements expire. But if I own my RW phone and am on a no contract month to month 5.0 plan locking only seems like a trap to prevent customers from switching providers, or at least making it more difficult (must call RW
Customer Service). Is there some additional advantage to the customer to being on a locked phone. Better service? Additional features? Better data prioritization? Hopefully there are some advantages to the customer other than feeling trapped.


The phones in the Republic Wireless store are moderately discounted. I assume any service provider who offers discounted phones wants to recover some revenue by requiring some minimum service term (which appears to be next to none with regard to Republic Wireless). Boost offers deeper discounts, but requires a 1 year service term to perform a SIM unlock.

Good question. It might be that locked phones cost carriers & MVNOs less because they don’t compete with unlocked phones. It is more likely they are locked because locking all models makes a locked phone available for purchase on a payment schedule and cash buyers have an easy unlock path.

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The phone I’m looking at is the Galaxy S21 5G and it sells for $799.99 everywhere, one penny less than RW sells it for. If I buy it outright, other than the obvious advantages to RW and/or AT&T, are there any advantages to me, the customer, to leaving the phone locked?

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You get a Galaxy S21 5G that will work with all available features of the Republic Wireless service with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.

I agree cb, those are great reasons to buy from, and continue to be a customer of RW. But if I buy the phone from RW, contact Customer Service and request/obtain an unlock, will I lose any features or capability?
I also have a companion question: If I buy a compatible Galaxy S21 5G unlocked from someone else, and bring it to a RW 5.0 plan, does it get locked when I put in the SIM or does it stay unlocked?


I wouldn’t think so, but why would you do this unless you wanted to take the phone somewhere else immediately?

It should stay unlocked, although I’ve seen scenarios where locking can happen (usually when you buy your phone from a less than reputable source).

Another advantage to buying the phone from Republic Wireless is it takes away one convenient (but valid) excuse from the support team:

“I am afraid setting up your ________ is not applicable since your phone was not originally bought from Republic Wireless.”

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It is obvious from other posts related to this topic…that RW is re-using phones sourced from Boost…which started their life locked to Boost…have since been carwashed and now are RW phones. My guess is , eventually RW will also likely start offering multi-month plans where the RW phones will be bundled and offered at some additional discount.

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It is not possible for a carrier to lock a phone simply by having their SIM used in the phone. An unlocked phone is an unlocked phone no matter what SIM you put in it.


I think one answer is that some (not all) unlocked phones do not have WiFi calling, but if purchased directly from RW, locked, they do. Example: Moto G Stylus 5G (*). In the case of the Samsung S21 5G this does not apply for (unlocked) approved TACs listed in the RW 5.0 compatibility list. None of this seems particularly sneaky, given that 5.0 RW is monthly, and that RW will unlock their phones on request, delays due to current engineering difficulties notwithstanding. From my point of view, if I were to buy a Moto G Stylus 5G, I would want it locked.

Edit: (*) and if this isn’t true I would like someone from RW to correct me ASAP.

It’s not so much that you want the phone locked but you want the wifi calling and MMS to work which for now only guarantee is with a phone from Republic on-line store, with that phone is lock or not should matter until one wishes to change provider (or temp phone swap with someone from a different provider which can not be done on a locked phone until unlocked (just a step that should not be need and something else for support to do), I do not want a locked phone no should I be seeing a lock on a phone that not have a heavy discount) personally all my phones will be BYOD due to this lock

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Republic has said that phones can be unlocked immediately after activation. While I appreciate the sentiment this isn’t a Boost type lock that requires 12 months of service to unlock. While I don’t like it, it isn’t a huge barrier.

It may have been stated in one of the previous replies and, if so, my apologies for being repetitious. I think we should not overlook the obvious. Generally, the only time someone asks for their phone to be unlocked is when switching providers. Republic has made it clear they will unlock phones purchased from their online store after December 14, 2021 upon request. The fact one must make that request provides the opportunity for Republic to ask if their’s anything they might do to keep you from leaving.

Please note the above applies only to phones purchased at Republic’s online store for use with a 5.0 plan after December 14, 2021. If you purchased a phone at Republic’s online store prior to that date for use with a My Choice plan, it is already factory unlocked.

If you have an older 1.0/2.0 phone (Moto E1, E2, G1, G3, X1 or X2), it’s technically unlocked but due to its custom firmware may only be used with Republic.

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Mostly out of curiousity… once an RW phone has been unlocked, and let’s assume for the sake of argument that the unlocked phone is taken to another carrier temporarily, and then brought back to RW, does it then need to be re-locked, and if the answer is No and is left unlocked, does it lose it’s WiFi Calling capability?

What I’m really getting at is whether the lock is just an annoying lock, or is it firmware enabled features.

It’s just an annoyance. Several of us have tested unlocked phones with 5.0 SIMs. Many are not supported for WiFi calling but come are:

It’s not a phone’s locked/unlocked status that determines WiFi calling support or lack thereof.


But if the lock is just annoying, and not firmware based features, then why/how does the Moto G Stylus 5G from RW have WiFi Calling, but the unlocked one (from that other seller whose name begins with A) does not?

Different variants of the same model phone may very well have different firmware. Different firmware and a phone’s locked/unlocked status are not the same thing. Further, network features may be enabled or not by the network owner (in this case AT&T) based on factors having nothing to do with a phone’s locked/unlocked status or firmware such as an IMEI number as one example.

I mean no offense, however, I believe you’re overthinking this one.

I would contest that.

When I heard that RW phones are now locked I spot-checked a couple cheap phones and their most expensive phone. All could be found on Amazon for less money, unlocked, brand new.

I don’t think I’m the target customer for RW phones. I have moderate phone tech knowledge and I’m as cheap as they come :smiley:


AT&T certified?

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Is “AT&T certified” even a thing? 4G LTE and beyond don’t have carrier compatibility issues, to my knowledge. With newer technology, I don’t even think that’s an issue anymore. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Although I will state I did another spot check just a few minutes ago and found that Republic’s prices were actually competitive and even in one case better than what I found on Amazon for the three phones I checked.

If RW’s phones cost less and they have a friendly unlock policy, I would consider purchasing through the store. I’ll continue to monitor pricing every once in a while.