Android Q

Android Q May Give Carriers more power to SIM Lock Your Smartphone

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Mobile handsets are sometimes ‘locked’ to the network from which the handset is purchased. This means the handset will usually only work when used with that particular provider. If you want to switch to a different provider but keep your existing handset, you may need to get it unlocked

However, the most recent pre-release code of Android Q indicates that phone makers and wireless carriers will have expanded capabilities for locking down smartphones to specific networks. This will be done through the SIM card, with Android Q introducing controls to essentially create whitelists and blacklists of what can and cannot work.

These new controls are found under a section of code titled “Carrier restriction enhancements for Android Q.”

As things currently stand, carriers can already implement restrictions for each SIM slot. What changes with Android Q, however, is that carriers will also be able to lock out a second SIM slot if there is not an approved SIM card in the first slot. The lock kicks in automatically and immediately, and stays in place even if a user factory resets his or her smartphone.

The only exception, of course, is making emergency phone calls. Users would still be able to dial 9-1-1 on a phone that’s been locked out of a network.

In total, the Android code that’s been leaked out includes four commits under the aforementioned heading. They outline how a wireless carrier can designate a list of allowed and blocked carriers. In addition, the new controls would allow a phone to use a SIM card from the primary carrier while blocking MVNOs that operate on the same network.

This will not affect most users, but some will certainly find it restrictive. For example, as it stands right now, a phone that is SIM-locked to O2 should also work on Giffgaff and Tesco Mobile, Sky Mobile and other MVNOs that operate on O2’s network. Android Q would make it so that O2 could block a SIM-locked phone from working on Giffgaff (and others), if it wanted to.

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