Do-it-Yourself BlackBerry Phone Unlocking is Possible!


Almost all of us own a cell phone these days. But when some use it for calls and messages only, others benefit from all the available repertoire of possibilities, ranging from e-mails, web browsing to navigation, writing and even photo editing. This article is aimed for those passionate fans of full featured phones, who like it functional, social and cutting edge. The modern phone market is stuffed with cell phones and smartphones for everyone’s taste. From the cheapest Chinese ones to the world's famous brands like iPhone and BlackBerry. By the way, the last one is the phone this article is all about.

BlackBerry is a Canadian brand, that belongs to R.I.M. (Research In Motion) company. It's famous due to many factors, but the most important ones are the following: 1) excellent quality produced only in Canada, Mexico, Hungary and recently, for the Asian market, exclusively in Malaysia; 2) the latest BlackBerry smartphones have excellent specs and are pretty functional; 3) genuine software that is fast, precise and pretty much error-free, allowing its owner to install a lot of third party tools and games.

But like every good gadget BlackBerry also has a flip side of the coin. Due to the limited number of factories that produce these phones, they're quite expensive. In addition, the distributional companies, in particular, carriers, sell them with significant restrictions, allowing customers to operate within one network only. One of the options to purchase these phones for less is to buy them directly from the U.S., Canada or Mexico. But in this case, everything becomes even more complicated. Devices usually are locked by the carrier of the country of origin and may have other restrictions, such as disabled Wi-Fi, blocked GPS module, etc. But how can you avoid this? Like any other problem, this has a solution as well. There is an operation called "mobile phone unlocking" that can technically vary: unlocking of the operating frequencies, phone flashing and other software debugging operations. The technicians who specialize in this field usually are skilled in all the techniques and methods of unlocking. However, many smartphones owners prefer to do it themselves. Thus, the following information will be very useful for them.

Unlocking is done with the special instruments also known as servicing boxes and dongles. Boxes are often made of plastic, rarely of metal, are pretty small in size and filled with electronic components. They serve as a link (interface) between the phone and PC with servicing software. Dongles are usually USB flash drive sized and don’t link the phone to PC. They serve as software authentication key only. In most cases you’ll need a special interface or a cable with a special chip to connect the phone to PC. There’re lots of servicing boxes and dongles. Most of them service a certain phone brand. Some phone models are hard to unlock. Probably the hardest way is via powerful servers. In this case you’ll need internet connection. Sometimes special credits are needed to gain access to the server. Some models are easier to unlock. In this case the box or a dongle is used as a standalone tool that doesn’t need any credits or activations. Below you’ll find a comparative table showing the advantages and disadvantages of boxes and dongles that are able to service the most popular BlackBerry smartphones: Torch, Bold and Curve.

The first thing you’ll need to figure out in order to unlock your phone is its model, then search for it in the list of supported models. Be aware that BB phones are usually identified by the number (eg, 8520, 9860, 9790, etc.) not their name. All boxes and dongles have lists of supported phones. If you’ve found your model in the list, then you’ll be able to unlock it. However, there is one very important detail that needs to be considered – a MEP number. With this number you can identify the carrier your phone was locked to (AT & T, Orange, Movistar, etc). Some boxes do not work with devices that were locked to the certain carriers. Don’t worry, supported MEPs are usually listed with supported phones. In order to see your phone MEP, you’ll need to connect it to PC and read the information from the phone. But be very careful while entering the unlock code (aka MEP2), because BlackBerry phones allow a maximum of 10 entry attempts. After that MEP number will show up as "0", it means that further unlock is pretty much impossible*. (Only one of the following boxes is able to unlock a BlackBerry phone with zero MEP number. It’s Furious Box. But the list of supported models is very limited).

Box brand * Read codes Direct unlock (MEP = "0") Flash Repair IMEI
AsansamDongle Yes No No No
Cyclone Box Yes No No No
Easy Unlocker Box Yes No No No
Furious Box pack 4) Yes Yes Yes Yes
GB-Key Yes No No No
Infinity Box Yes No No No
Micro Box Yes No No No
MXBox/HTI Yes No No No
NCK Dongle Yes No No No
Polar Box 3 Yes No No No
ZZ-Key Dongle Yes No No No

* Follow the link to see details about the product and check out the full list of supported models and MEPs.
** Prices are approximate and may vary depending on the country, the distributor and the accompanying accessories.

Due to the fact that servicing boxes and dongles are multifunctional tools designed for repeated use and they can unlock many brands in unlimited quantities, the price depends primarily on the number of supported devices.

As you’ve already noticed, the most cost-effective tools for unlocking - are dongles. They’re usually under $80. Probably the best of them considering price and number of supported brands are GB-Key and NCK-Dongle.

However, if you have some technical knowledge, want to unlock more than one phone and to go pro in this business, you should get yourself a full-featured box. As you can tell from the table above, almost all of the boxes and dongles that let you work with BlackBerry phones, have similar features, and only "Furious Box" with activated Pack 4 stands out of the crowd. It can be used not only for direct unlock, but also for firmware flashing and IMEI repairing.

Summarizing all above-mentioned, we can conclude that unlocking of mobile phones is not something impossible, but it’s the process that requires minimal technical experience and some cash investment. Of course, like any other business, mobile phone unlocking has its own nuances, subtleties and some difficulties. In these cases, you can always get help on the specialized forums, where users share their experience and more skilled professionals can give you a good advice.

By Andrey Sadovy, translated by Volodymyr Svinchuk