There are a few things you can do to make sure your Android phone stays as safe as possible should it stray from your hands—a good lock screen password is a solid start. What you may not realize is that there’s a way to take that security a step further by enabling SIM Lock.
Before we discuss how to enable SIM Lock, let’s first talk about what it isn’t. Judging by the name, it’s easy to assume that this is some sort of setting that will sound an alarm should the installed SIM be removed. That’s not what this is, however. Essentially, SIM lock requires your lock screen PIN, pattern, password, or fingerprint and SIM card to be in place before the phone can be unlocked. You can kind of think of it as physical two-factor authentication, which deters thieves from removing the SIM in order to avoid being tracked.
Now, a few things you should be aware of before setting up SIM Lock. First off, you’ll need to know your carrier’s default unlock code. For many, this is just 1111, but be aware: if you enter this incorrectly three times, it will render your SIM useless (that’s part of the security of it, after all). You can start by trying 1111, but if that doesn’t work on the first try, you’ll probably need to contact your carrier to get the default code.
Secondly, and this should really go without saying, but if your carrier doesn’t use SIM card, then SIM Lock won’t work (and probably isn’t even available on your handset). So this article isn’t for you.
With that out of the way, let’s get into it.
The first thing you’ll need to do is jump into the Settings menu. On most phones, you can do this by pulling down the notification shade and tapping the cog icon.
Once in the Settings menu, things can get even trickier—every manufacturer does their own thing in this menu, so there’s no clear way to say “tap this, then this, then this.” So the easiest thing to do will be to use the Search tool, which is generally found in the top right corner. Tap that, then type “SIM Lock.”
If it’s available on your phone, then “Set up SIM card lock” will show up at the top of the list. If not, well…I’m sorry.
Go ahead and tap that option, which will open the SIM Lock menu, which is super simple—it’s literally two options. When you tap the “Lock SIM card” box, it’ll automatically prompt for the SIM PIN and show how many attempts you have left. Like stated earlier, the default is usually 1111, but if that doesn’t work, you’ll need to contact your carrier to find out what they use.
Once you’ve entered the correct PIN, SIM Lock will be switched on. At this point, you’ll want to tap the second entry in this menu: Change SIM PIN. You’ll enter the current PIN (again, the default), then select one of your own between four and eight digits. Make it hard to guess, but easy to remember (it can be different from your normal lock screen PIN). If you forget, you’ll only have three tries to get it right before your SIM is toast!
After you confirm the new PIN, you’re all good. From now on, the phone will require both your current lock screen security entry and the locked SIM to be installed before it’s usable. Solid.
This is probably one of the least-used security methods available in Android, despite being around for many years at this point. It’s an excellent tool to add an additional layer of protection against would-be wrong-doers should your device get lost or stolen.