The MSL, or Master Subsidy Lock, is a code used to go in and fiddle with the innermost settings of your phone. It’s a code used by carriers to transfer a phone from one carrier to another, and it’s used by root junkies like me to disable LTE bands, nuke Sprint’s proxy servers, and otherwise poke and prod at settings until the phone works the best it can on network.

Seriously – try living next to a tower as damaged as mine was for three years and see if you don’t start disabling bands.

For those who think I’m complaining here no, just letting you know what I’ve found so you don’t have to spend as much time investigating the MSL rabbit hole as I did. Sprint’s got valid reasons, I’m not faulting them for this policy.

I’d mentioned a while back that getting it wasn’t as easy as it used to be on Sprint, but I was told that in 14 days the code would be available. Well cut to 20 days later and my code still shows as all zeroes in the Sprint system.

Based on an excruciatingly long second conversation with a Sprint rep, it appears that if the phone is on a payment plan, which was the only way to get it when I purchased it, you’re not getting your MSL.

Sprint rep: So, technically, you will perform some programming steps on your phone using the MSL code of your device, right?
Sprint rep : Paul, I hope you understand that this question is answerable by “yes” or “no”.
Me : If your tower messes up again yes, I will disable a band. So as long as your people keep the tower working, I will not disable the band
Me : So for your purposes we’ll say yes
Sprint rep : Because if you’re asking for the MSL code for unlocking the device for domestic use, then, we cannot provide that since the device is under Easy Pay installment agreement with Sprint.

Sprint’s payment plan was weird, it has no prepayment penalties, no late fees, was run by another company, it just seemed to be there and worked on by a third party just to keep you hanging with Sprint.

My guess is that most people who are attempting to get this as fervently as I am are attempting to float a phone to another carrier, but I just want it so I can do more with what I’ve got (seriously, I’ve got a SIM unlock code, S-OFF, SuperCID, and 4 loaner SIMs to play with, and a Sprint dead zone I’m going to for several days – I’ve got stuff to write. Sprint also didn’t offer an unlocked version).

Ah well, upon reading through the Sprint policies it appears after the device is paid off they’ll release the MSL to me at device paid +50 days, so T-50 and counting as of 12 minutes ago for me. Probably less than that, but who knows. Should be noted that they’ve given me my MSL in the past on financed devices.

Anyway, if you want to pay off your phone on Sprint, it’s buried in the catacombs of the voice support options, but I don’t see anywhere online to do it.

To be clear, MSL Reader (last updated in 2010,) no longer works for this purpose, searching the logcat after entering into MSL country no longer returns it as of Android 6, and the activation code you might have received is not the MSL. It’s also not listed on the website any more (used to be).

Update: There is a root method (got my MSL/SPC for the M9 and the HTC One with it,) it may involve some fiddling to get it to work as it did not want to work for me as described on the page. Download the Basic Flasher, connect phone, dial ##3424#, adb shell, su, and at this point I ended up doing a couple of things including remounting some things writable before ##3423# just didn’t bother asking for a code when I went in (got failure to create on their next steps). From there it was DM on, run basic flasher, scan, connect, read SPC. -Thanks Kisakuku – wouldn’t have re-tried it without your note.

If you manage to get your MSL on Sprint from a phone that was financed, drop me a line and let me know I’m wrong (and that the rep I talked to yesterday was wrong) – I’d like to know.