Most devices are what's called 'locked' to the network.
This means the device will usually only work on that particular providers network. So for example, you've had a phone on contract with Vodafone then after your contract has ended, you buy a SIM-only deal with say O2, but the O2 SIM will not work in your device as Vodafone have locked it to their network.
You may also need to get your handset unlocked if you want to use a local SIM card in your handset when travelling abroad to avoid roaming charges.
There are only four (4) mobile networks in the UK and it is usually one of these providers that you need to contact to get your phone unlocked.
These providers are: O2, Vodafone, EE, Three
(Remember, T-Mobile and Orange now fit under the EE banner)
Here is my advice regarding unlocking of your phone.
- Firstly, if you have an existing relationship with the provider the phone is locked to (for example, if you are with O2 and have upgraded to another O2 phone), just call them and they will usually unlock the phone for free
- Secondly, of the 4 UK networks, Three seems to be the easiest to do an unlock. Usually, if the phone was purchased after 1st January 2014, the phone will be automatically unlocked. If it is not unlocked, Three will unlock it for free - follow this link.
- Next is EE. Again, if you have an existing relationship, EE will do the unlock for free. If the phone was purchased after 1st September 2015, the phone will automatically unlock after 18 months. For any other situation, EE will unlock the phone for £8.99 - follow this link.
- O2 will do an unlock for free if you have a contract with them (there are conditions with this free unlock). Pay-as-you-go will cost you £15 (only after 12 months). Follow this link.
- Finally, Vodafone who are the worst network to unlock from if you have no relationship. Again, if you have an existing relationship with Vodafone, you can usually get an unlock done for free - follow this link.
So, you've purchased a second-hand device or you've got an hand-me-down?
If none of the above work for you and you just want to get an unlock on your device, I can do that for you.
Please refer to my unlock page for details of what phones and networks can be unlocked, and also costs involved.