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Unlocking your phone

If you bought your mobile phone from a network provider before December 2021, it may be locked to their network.

This means you won't be able to use your handset to get service from a different mobile network, at least until the lock has expired.

This article will explain what SIM locking is, and how you can go about unlocking your mobile phone if you think it is SIM-locked.

Is my phone unlocked?

The easiest way to know if your phone is locked is to try a SIM from another network.

If you get a mobile network signal and can make or receive calls with another network's SIM card installed then, hey presto, your phone is unlocked.

Note: If it's locked, you'll usually get an error message on the screen after installing the other network's SIM.

Is SIM locking legal in the UK?

As of December 2021, mobile networks are banned from selling locked phones in the UK. Though O2, Sky, Three, Virgin and some other networks began selling their new phones unlocked before December 2021.

However, a phone bought from another network provider, or one bought before that date may be locked.

How long does a SIM lock last?

Different network providers place different rules on how long a SIM lock lasts. Until recently, there was no law regulating SIM locking in the UK. Meaning that networks were free to lock your phone indefinitely.

But don't fret. Most networks will agree to unlock your phone if you simply contact them and request it.

Some networks, however, will unlock your phone after a set time. This is usually once your contract expires or after two years, whichever is sooner.

How do I unlock my phone?

Contact your network operator and ask for an unlock code. This is the official way to do things, and the way we recommend.

Or, you could unlock your phone yourself. Depending on the way you do this,it could cost you on average around £10, according to the BBC.

There are many websites which will give you instructions for unlocking your phone using your IMEI number. These services often incur a fee.

Finding your IMEI number: Open the dialling screen (like you're making a call) and type *#06#.

Please note: Unlocking your phone is legal. However, there's a risk that by using a high street unlocking vendor, or trying to do it yourself, you could invalidate your phone's warranty. That's why we recommend reaching out to your network provider first.

With that said, let's explore how to unlock your phone depending on which network you're with, and which phone you have.

How to unlock your phone by network

To find out how to unlock your phone by network, choose the network your handset is locked to from the list below

How to unlock your phone by manufacturer

To find out how to unlock your phone by manufacturer, choose your handset manufacturer from the list below