Android Q Code Hints At New Method For Carriers To SIM Lock Your Smartphone

Android SIM
One of the standout features of Android Q, the next major release of Google's popular mobile operating system, is a system wide dark mode that got skipped over in Android P. A legion of users is sure to appreciate that. Wireless carriers are getting a treat too, however, and it probably will not be as widely lauded by users as a dark mode.

The most recent pre-release code 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 annoying. For example, as it stands right now, a phone that is SIM-locked to Verizon should also work on Straight Talk and other MVNOs that operate on Verizon's network. Android Q would make it so that Verizon could block a SIM-locked phone from working on Straight Talk (and others), if it wanted to.

No release date has yet been set for Android Q.