The Librarian of Congress banned the practice of buying a cell phone and unlocking it last October. Now the window in which it was legal to do so will close on Saturday, Jan. 26. 

Unlocking a cell phone frees the device to work on more than one carrier's network. It's especially useful to international travelers who'd prefer to use their phone than a pricy calling card.  

But not everyone will have to make do with locked phones. As Mashable notes, "Verizon's iPhone 5 comes out of the box already unlocked, and AT&T will unlock a phone once it is out of contract." What's more, you can pay full-price for a phone, as opposed to the discounted price that comes with a multi-year contract, to receive it "unlocked from the get-go." 

[via Mashable]