Since last week’s leak, it’s been clear that Android Q is going to include some positive changes for Android going forward, like system-wide dark mode and new permissions settings. Unfortunately, it’s not all good things coming in Android Q, as new code changes show that network carriers will have more ability to lock your phone down to specific networks via your SIM card.
Over the weekend, four commits were posted to various parts of Android’s Gerrit source code management, all entitled “ .” In them, we see that network carriers will have more fine-grained control over which networks devices will and will not work on.
More specifically, it will be possible to designate a list of “allowed” and “excluded” carriers, essentially a whitelist and a blacklist of what will and won’t work on a particular phone. This can be done with a fine-grained detail to even allow blocking virtual carrier networks that run on the same towers as your main carrier.
Restriction changes are also on the way for dual-SIM devices. At the moment, carriers can set individual restrictions for each SIM slot, but with Android Q, carriers will be able to lock out the second slot unless there’s an approved SIM card in the first slot. This SIM lock restriction is applied immediately and will persist through restarting the phone, and even doing a factory reset.
Thankfully, in both cases, emergency phone calls will still work as expected, regardless of any restrictions on the particular SIM cards in your phone.
Looks like buying an unlocked phone instead of one from a carrier will become more important in Android Q and beyond.