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Repair guides and documentation for the Google Pixel 6a with 5G smartphone. Released in July 2022.

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Is the eSIM carrier locked after SIM unlocking?

I have a Pixel 6a I originally bought for parts due to a financing issue mentioned in the listing (to fix an unlocked 6a that had a broken screen) at the time the screen was out of stock. I got it for parts since it was cheap because these never last with a active balance as nobody ever pays them off after sale so they get blocked in 60 days or so (so far 90 days on this so I think I got lucky).

Because the phone is so new and was worth unlocking I verified the financial status with T-Mobile before I put it in the parts bin. I was told the IMEI was clear so I got it setup on my 2nd phone number and did the 14-day/$100 balance unlock process. The physical SIM is confirmed to be unlocked, but I am still seeing the same restrictions as when it was locked with the eSIM:

T-Mo 6a (T-Mobile ROM, Sprint supported):

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Factory unlocked P7 (Google ROM, TNX required for Sprint accounts):

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My P7 is a "virgin" in the sense it was never carrier locked as it was sold factory unlocked, but this 6a still appears to have the eSIM locked down while my 7 shows all of the current US carriers except Sprint being TNX only.

I put a dead AT&T test SIM in it and it took it so I can indeed confirm the physical SIM is unlocked and I no longer get the carrier not supported error on the physical SIM, but the eSIM only shows T-Mobile/Sprint, even after getting it unlocked but without the carrier not supported error. Normally unlocked Pixels show AT&T/T-Mobile/Verizon/Sprint/Fi (TNX optional) or AT&T/T-Mobile/Verizon/Fi (TNX REQUIRED), not just the original carrier. I can also toggle the bootloader unlock option which is normal when the SIM lock is gone or never existed*.

*Outside of Verizon on some? A lot of Verizon Pixels are perma locked :(.

Is my eSIM still "locked" or is this just a nuisance which will not cause issues due to the original carrier? It still happens after a factory reset, but showed me AT&T/T-Mobile/Verizon/Sprint/Fi at the OOBE setup (which was done to ensure the unlock was permanent and fully settled, but not required).

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Does anyone have an answer for this?

da

@nick What happens if you choose the "Use a different network" option on the eSIM-locked phone?

da

@andrewsawesome I need a test eSIM sadly, but I no longer get the not supported error at least. Nobody has one that isn't pre generated like T-Mobile. However I have seen people sell the AT&T eSIM cards online.

The snag is I can't just walk into an AT&T store and just buy the card for testing since I'm on T-Mo, who locked the phone originally (hence why it unlocked so easily). The coverage between the two is nearly the same and I get 5G at the low end, not with AT&T.

da

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This ex T-Mo 6a is weird on the eSIM. I put a Keepgo data-only eSIM on it ($8 test) and it defaulted to T-Mobile despite Keepgo using AT&T and T-Mobile -- the point of using an MNVO and not a straight carrier is the test was cheap and would in theory go to their best network rather then one on the ROM APN/PRL preferred list, and it still goes to T-Mobile first; you have to swap it manually with a MNVO like Keepgo unless the provider does it under the tower level vs the phone and they only show one provider. What kind of disturbs me a bit is I never told the phone it was formerly carrier locked and was originally a locked T-Mobile phone (and making sure that it's free by erasing both the phone and eSIM at once as I needed to pay the troll toll). It somehow seen it was formerly a locked T-Mobile device and picked their APN with no regard for other providers first. I no longer considered it a T-Mobile device once the unlock was done and finalized. The ONLY VISIBLE DIFFERENCE WITH T-MOBILE is it won't flag their system as my unlocked P7 does 🙃. At this point they know I own my phones, will never buy a locked phone and don't give me a lick of trouble about it (either my P7 or iPhone). The fact I can even unlock the bootloader which is a unicorn in itself because knowing how rotten Verizon is about it (with AT&T being a runner-up for their list of excuses) so I've essentially made it 95% of a factory unlocked phone now, outside of the ROM and internal flags T-Mobile has.

I can confirm it is eSIM unlocked since I was able to override this but despite unlocking it the phone took the T-Mobile APN settings first thing before anything else could pick. I never told Keepgo I unlocked this phone, or even called them. The phone spoke for it. This makes me think they unlock the eSIM in the way Sprint unlocked phones for years but without the lies about it being impossible when that was a load of BS -- they fully unlock it (in comparison, Sprint only SIM unlocked for international use, but hard locked domestic use), for these eSIM T-Mobile phones the eSIM is biased towards THEM or their network. The physical SIM doesn't give it that kind of control, so if I put in an AT&T SIM it does what the SIM commands.

I might try another Keepgo eSIM on my unlocked P7 as a test since I know it was never carrier locked for $8 to add a data point because those can take two SIMs (6a can hold two, but run one only) and see if I run into this weird behavior with the eSIM being biased towards the original carrier, but I have unlocked it in every other sense. Sorry, I am not paying for AT&T service to test further, and no AT&T MNVO has a cheap plan I can dump on it for whatever the minimum is. I despise AT&T.

Maybe I need to take it to another area; the coverage with AT&T and T-Mobile is about the same here. In a way, I guess this vindicates why I think AT&T is a ripoff. As well as why I buy my phones unlocked exclusively outside of weirdos like this 6a.

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The phone may accept other eSIMs but when you use a provider which has T-Mobile network options it tends to bias as I have seen on my P7. However, it went to AT&T right after it realized the coverage was meh here under roaming.

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Unlocked P6a, verified unlocked

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My infamous "financed" 6a I unlocked

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THERE IS A DIFFERENT ROM ON THIS PHONE COMPARED TO THE UNLOCKED SKU, as can be seen here on a known unlocked 6a, the (ex-locked) 6a has a ROM variation for T-Mobile that nudges the phone towards T-Mobile. This is why I think my 7 didn't do this; I have a factory unlocked 7, so mine has always had the carrier-agnostic ROM. Short of unlocking the bootloader to dump this T-Mobile ROM and flashing the Google ROM on it (the part numbers on the carrier SKUs also vary between phones whereas the "unlocked" phones use an unlocked part number exclusive to the unlocked phone, likely due to carrier ROM signature variants and so Verizon can hard lock their bootloader out of sheer spite) and having to restore to back to stock for it to boot with a "locked" bootloader, the only solution to this problem is to use a physical SIM to make the phone obey your wishes or force it to use other networks with eSIM with MNVO providers who source out service from the big 3. RIDICULOUS.

This is again, why I would rather give the manufacturer my money, even if it has to be all at once over a carrier who will do this crap. If I can't buy the phone unlocked at Best Buy, I will buy it online like with Apple out of principle; if you won't respect my wish to not have a phone molested with a carrier tie because it's a "universal" iPhone which always SIM locks since you do not respect my right to fully own my phone if I'm paying up the nose all at once, you won't see the sale. If I am paying full price new this BS won't be tolerated. Once I pay full price or get it unlocked, it is MINE; you have no right to stick your nose up whose network it biases by tweaking a ROM or permanently locking the bootloader. IMPORTANT: MNVOs like Mint Mobile with an eSIM may show all 3 carriers on the list but refuse to connect. This is expected behavior on unlocked phones and may not be present on ex T-Mobile phones as the ROM has been tweaked for their network. These two findings lead me to believe the eSIM unlocks with the physical SIM slot as well as they are on the same radio but due to the default APN preference it hides all other options under "other".

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6 Commenti:

Yeah, I have never bought a phone that was sim locked with a carrier, and never will. The only sim-locked phone I have is a free phone (Cricket was doing a free cell phone deal, and my previous phone [LG Rebel crap] was locked to Tracfone, so I took the free phone). My family has bought iPhones from Cricket, but I believe they were just the normal phones (iPhone 6, for example, didn't show "Emergency Calls Only" until the SIM was inserted).

da

@andrewsawesome to be fair I got lucky with this one and was essentially going to use it for parts. That's the only reason I have a formerly locked phone after getting angry at AT&T and the other 2 for being annoying.

da

@nick Fair. It's just kind of annoying that with this carrier locking, perfectly good phones end up getting used "for parts".

da

@andrewsawesome or blocked due to debt and gutted. Which is what I was about to do until it was free and clear.

Some like TracFones are better dead or being used to donate a good unlocked motherboard to a phone which is otherwise trash. Their policies are ridiculous or they hard locked it to TracFone.

da

@nick My Tracfone was terrible. Terrible battery life (LG Rebel or LG Rebel 2) and really high prices for the low call minutes you're getting. Shortly after I stopped using it, the touchscreen stopped working.

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Nick sarà eternamente grato.
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