Unlocking Your Phone: A Guide

April 15, 2024

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Unlocking your phone usually conjures up the horror of forgotten passcodes, the scanner not recognising your face or fingerprint (you can’t forget those and make up and facial hair shouldn’t make a difference but that’s a different topic) or running out of chances to get back into your phone.

However, when we are talking about unlocking your mobile phone, we are referring to breaking your phone away from being tied to a specific carrier or network.

The process for breaking your phone away from a specific carrier is very technical and generally way beyond most people’s know-how, however there are other ways to do it.

In this article, we breakdown how to tell if your phone is unlocked, the benefits of unlocking your phone and give you a simple step-by-step guide for how to unlock your phone.

 

Contents:

  • How Do I Know if my Phone is Unlocked?
    • Android
    • iPhone
    • Other
  • The Benefits of Unlocking Your Phone
  • Simple Unlocking Guide [Table]

 

How Do I Know If My Phone Is Unlocked?

With so many different devices, settings and operating systems (not to mention chargers, but let’s not get started on that), it can feel even more complicated to find out if your phone is locked or unlocked.

If you got your phone through a specific carrier, the chances are your phone is locked, but there are a few simple ways you can check:

Android

Some Android handsets may have slightly different phrasing but the general steps are:

  1. Go to ‘Settings’
  2. Open ‘Connections’ or ‘Network and Internet’
  3. Select ‘Mobile Network’
  4. Go to ‘Choose Network’ or ‘Automatically Select Network’

If your phone is showing a few network options, then your phone is unlocked. If there is only one option, however, then your phone is locked. Skip to our table below to find the best way to unlock your phone. 

iPhone

Checking if your iPhone is unlocked is very simple:

  1. Go to ‘Settings’
  2. Select ‘General’, then ‘About’
  3. Tap on ‘Carrier Lock’

If it says ‘No SIM Restrictions’, then your handset is already unlocked. If it shows the name of a network, then that’s the one the phone is locked to.

Other

An alternative way to check is to go straight to the SIM card itself. If you can swap your SIM card to another and continue to use your phone as normal, then your phone is unlocked.

 

The Benefits of Unlocking Your Phone

The benefits of having an unlocked phone far outweigh the negatives.

We have selected our top 5 benefits of having an unlocked phone below:

1.     Better Plan Pricing & Choices

With an unlocked phone, you can shop around for the best deals and plans, depending on your personal phone usage. This means you can save more money on your phone bill, which can only be a good thing.

2.     Flexible Carrier Selection

Along with being able to choose a better plan, you can also shop across all of the networks that are available in your country, opening up a whole world of opportunities (and, potentially, take advantage of any incentives). This also means if you want to pass on your phone to a friend or family member, they can choose the best carrier for them.

3.     Faster Updates

Unlocked phones don’t have the additional filter of going through the phone’s carrier before being updated, and so any patches or bug fixes can be dealt with faster than on locked phones.

4.     Ability to use international SIM cards and eSIMs

When travelling abroad, using your phone can get expensive and complicated, especially when you’re using data. Unlocked phones can take advantage of international SIM cards or the more flexible option, eSIMs, which allows you to utilise local networks for less money.

5.     Better resale value

When you are done with your handset, you may be tempted to sell it, especially if it’s in good condition. Due to the flexible options available to unlocked phones, you can get a better price for your old phone, so it’s worth bearing that in mind.

 

Simple Unlocking Guide – UK Carrier Specific

We’ve put together all of the details needed that covers the best way to unlock your mobile phone depending on your current carrier, covering whether they usually lock handsets as standard, what the cost is to unlock them and how to get in touch.

Some carriers will require you phone’s IMEI number to unlock your phone which can be found by typing *#06# (asterix, hashtag, zero,six, hashtag) into the dial pad.

How to Unlock an EE Phone

·       EE lock both their Pay As You Go and Pay Monthly.

·       To unlock, text UNLOCK to 150 or call 0800 956 6000.

·       An IMEI is required to unlock an EE mobile phone.

·       Or use the online unlock EE mobile tool with the IMEI number.

·       It may take 7-10 days to unlock an EE mobile phone.

How to Unlock a Vodafone Phone

·       Vodafone phones purchased after the Jan 2022 are unlocked.

·       Request a Network Unlock Code from Vodafone online.

·       Or call 191 from your Vodafone handset, or 03333 040 191.

·       An IMEI is required to unlock a Vodafone mobile phone.

·       It may take 10 days to unlock a Vodafone mobile phone.

·       Before unlocking, you must use your number for 30 days minimum.

How to Unlock a Three Mobile Phone

·       Phones from Three purchased after Dec 13th 2013 are unlocked.

·       Call 333 from your Three phone or call 0333 338 1001 via landline.

·       It may take up to 7 days to unlock a phone.

·       An IMEI is required to unlock a Three phone.

How to Unlock a Sky Mobile Phone

·       Sky Mobile don’t lock phones.

·       Any issues, you can reach customer support on 0330 041 2639.

How to Unlock a Tesco Mobile Phone

·       Free to unlock after 12 months or £10 before 12 months.

·       An IMEI is required to unlock a Tesco Mobile phone.

·       It may take between 7-20 days to unlock your Tesco Mobile phone.

·       Visit the Tesco website to submit an unlock request.

·       Or call 4422 from your handset or 0345 301 4455 from any device.

How to Unlock an O2 Mobile Phone

·       It’s free to unlock your O2 mobile phone with no time restrictions.

·       Phones from before June 2018 can take up to 72 hours to unlock.

·       Request to unlock your O2 mobile phone by calling 202

·       Or call 0344 809 202 from a landline

·       You can also use the O2 website or MyO2 app.

·       An IMEI is required to unlock an O2mobile phone.

How to Unlock a Virgin Mobile Phone

·       Pay monthly phones are unlocked & some models are locked for PAYG.

·       £15.32 to unlock phone if you’ve owned the phone less than 1 year.

·       It’s free if you’ve had the phone for longer than 12 months.

·       Request to unlock your Virgin Media phone by calling 789.

·       Or ring 0345 6000 789 from any other mobile phone or landline

·       An IMEI is NOT required to unlock a Virgin Media mobile phone.

·       It may take up to 30 days to unlock your Virgin Media phone.

Conclusion

Unlocking your phone brings a host of benefits including the freedom to choose the best plan for your phone use, the flexibility to switch carriers, and the ability to stay updated with the latest software updates and bug fixes.

From better pricing options to a higher resale value, the decision to unlock your phone opens up a world of possibilities.

So, whether you're a frequent traveler looking to save money by using an eSIM and avoiding international roaming charges or simply wanting more flexible options with your mobile, unlocking your phone is a step worth considering.

Not sure if you have eSIM technology?

Our guide can help you find out if your phone is compatible.

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