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Your iPhone can be locked to your current carrier or network provider if you’re considering switching from your current network provider to a new one while retaining it, or if you bought one used. The good news is that unlocking an iPhone nowadays is typically considerably simpler than it was in the past, when it could be a major hassle.
Your network operator should be able to unlock your iPhone for you; frequently at no cost to you. You might even be able to do it on your own.
In this post, we demonstrate how to unlock any iPhone model using either a network unlock code (which is typically easy and free) or a third-party service like Doctor SIM.
Since all providers will be prohibited from locking smartphones to their networks by the end of 2021, unlocking an iPhone will soon be a thing of the past. Yet, it is clear that not all already in use gadgets will be impacted. Hence, in order to unlock your iPhone for the time being, you must follow the instructions in this post.
We’re concentrating on unlocking an iPhone connected to a UK carrier, however readers in the US can consult the article on how to unlock an iPhone on our sister site.
You can learn how to unlock an iPhone, iPad, or Mac when its owner dies if you need assistance with gaining access to data on a device in the tragic case of its owner’s passing.
Is iPhone unlocking legal?
If you’ve paid off your contract or paid for your iPhone directly, without a subsidy, unlocking it is entirely legal. It’s important to check with your carrier before unlocking your iPhone if you’re still in the process of paying off your contract because you don’t yet entirely own it.
Is my iPhone locked?
When you try to set up your iPhone, you typically get a notice saying something like SIM Not Supported if it is locked. See how to determine if your iPhone is locked for more details.
If you acquired the gadget used or inherited it from a friend or family member, that is most likely why it is locked. The iPhone may have been purchased by the previous owner as a part of a contract, and the network provider has long used software restrictions to bind the device to its service for the term of the contract.
How to unlock your iPhone
In only four easy steps, you can unlock an iPhone:
- Contact your provider and request an unlock using the contact details and online tools listed below.
- If you haven t got the original SIM, you ll need to reset the phone before it can be unlocked.
- Power down the phone, then replace the old SIM card with a SIM from a different network.
- Check that the iPhone is able to connect a phone call over the new network.
The above is a condensed version; however, let’s go through those processes in more detail.
Contact your network provider
In the sections below, we’ll go through how to unlock your iPhone from each of the most prominent networks in the UK. To learn more about that carrier’s specific procedure, scroll down to your carrier.
How to unlock an iPhone on EE
According to EE, an iPad or iPhone will be automatically unlocked 18 months after purchase (or after it was shipped, if it was a replacement). So, if you are aware of the purchase date, the device may soon unlock itself. You can still ask EE to unlock the cellphone if this is not the case.
EE will unlock your iPhone for you if you’ve had your EE account for at least six months and have paid all of your bills as of the due date. If you’re still under contract, it will cost you $8.99 and take about 72 hours. When your contract expires, EE will unlock your iPhone at no cost to you.
EE will unlock your iPhone for you if you use Pay As You Go and have enough credit to cover the 8.99 admin fee.
If you purchased your iPhone used, such as from eBay, EE will unlock it for you for a fee of $8.99. It does state that we can unlock a used device as long as it is older than six months and hasn’t been reported lost or stolen.
The procedure is quite simple. Simply dial 0800 956 6000, choose option 2, and then option 4. After passing a security check (to stop someone from snatching your iPhone and unlocking it), you’ll be given the unlocking instructions.
On EE’s, you’ll discover all the information you require.
How to unlock an iPhone on Vodafone
How can I use an EE gadget with another network after unlocking it?
On its website, Vodafone claims that all Apple items the business has provided are already unlocked.
If you discover that this isn’t the case, you must obtain a Network Unlock Code from Vodafone. Be advised that the firm advises, “Unfortunately, if you purchased your phone from a different network or, for example, Carphone Warehouse, we can’t unlock it.” before attempting this. You’ll need to get in touch with them personally.
How to unlock an iPhone on Three
Hence, it’s possible that the other carrier, not Vodafone, has the device locked.
You can utilise Vodafone’s online unlocking form to complete the process if you’re thinking about giving your iPhone to someone else but are concerned that it might still be locked to your Vodafone account. According to the firm, it normally succeeds in unlocking your device within 72 hours, but depending on the situation, it could take up to 10 days in some cases. The method is uncharged.
It’s pleasant and easy when there are three. According to the carrier’s website, any iPhone acquired from Three after January 1, 2014 will be instantly unlocked once it is connected to Wi-Fi, iTunes, or The Finder (depending on the version of macOS you are using).
How to unlock an iPhone on O2
But even if you bought your iPhone before then, you may still unlock it by connecting it to iTunes or the Finder and doing a device restoration. You ll want toback upfirst, though, as restoring will delete all the info.
You can also complete Three’s online form.
Your iPhone is likely already unlocked if you or the original owner bought it from O2 after August 1, 2018.
If you are a current O2 client and discover that you are still unable to use another SIM with it, you can take the following actions:
Use your browser to log into My O2. Unlock your device is the second option after choosing More from the menu bar at the top of the page. Now, adhere to the directions to unlock your iPhone.
You can also use the O2 website’s Live Chat tool, but you’ll need to have your IMEI available for that (here s how to find it).
How to unlock an iPhone on Virgin Mobile
On the corporate website’s page titled “Unlocking an O2 mobile for usage on a another network,” the entire procedure is clearly laid out.
When the iPhone is unlocked, the company promises to text you to let you know. The new SIM card only needs to be inserted at that point for it to show as unlocked. If not, you must use the non-O2 SIM to connect the device to iTunes or the Finder, where iTunes will verify the unlocking.
Any iPhone purchased from Virgin will already be unlocked, but some older iPhone models could not be. But since your phone is an iPhone 4 or before, there’s a decent chance it’s unlocked.
How to unlock an iPhone on Tesco Mobile
If you are using an iPhone 4, which is still a fantastic device, you should still be able to unlock it by performing a full restore of the device. To prevent data loss, make sure you first make a backup of your files.
How to unlock an iPhone on Giffgaff
Our tutorial on how to factory reset an iPhone and iPad has further information on how to accomplish the former.
Using a third-party unlocking service
You can acquire a free unlock code from Tesco by filling out the online form if you’ve had Tesco Mobile for 12 months or more or if your contract has expired.
You can use a helpful tool provided by Giffgaff to learn how to untether your Apple iPhone from both its own network and other networks. Unlockapedia is a beautiful name for it, and it is really worth looking into.
Using a mobile phone unlocking service is an alternative to requesting that your carrier unlock your iPhone from them.
Most retailers will provide an unlock code for a modest price (usually around 25).
How much should I pay?
Online services that will unlock your iPhone are also available, but we normally advise against using them because they are not always reliable. If you do choose to use one, be sure to read all the fine print before making a purchase because they may come up with unexpected charges at the end of the process.
How to tell if the unlock worked
If you’ve tried all of the techniques above without success, you might want to try Doctor SIM, which guarantees to give you a refund if the unlock is not successful. We feel confident in suggesting Doctor SIM because they successfully unlocked our phone with no issues or additional costs.
- Power down the phone: hold down the power button (or the power button and volume down, if it s a Face ID equipped iPhone) and swipe your finger across as directed.
- Use the SIM card tool (or a straightened paper clip, but preferably the proper tool) to eject the SIM card holder from the side of the phone.
- Remove the old SIM card from the card holder. Place your new SIM from a different network into the card holder.
- Reinsert the SIM card holder into the iPhone.
- Make a phone call, and check that the iPhone is able to connect over the new network. If so, it s unlocked!
How to update an unlocked phone without the SIM card
In a perfect world, your carrier would unlock your iPhone for free, so there would be no need for you to pay anything. Nonetheless, some carriers continue to set admin fees, so you might wish to consider third-party services. We wouldn’t spend more than what they appear to charge, which is between $10 and $25. If somebody offers you a higher price, compare offers.
- Back up your iPhone to iCloud or via iTunes/the Finder.
- Erase your iPhone. Click on Settings > General > Transfer or Reset iPhone > Erase All Content and Settings.
- Complete the setup assistant and restore from your backup.
You will get a confirmation from the carrier after your phone has been unlocked. Now take these actions:
You might need to reset the phone in order to unlock it if you requested an unlock from your carrier but don’t have the original SIM card or if you bought a locked iPhone from someone else. To reset the iPhone, adhere to following steps:
Hopefully, the phone is now unlocked.
Complete the setup wizard and restore the iPhone from your backup when you switch it on again. The new SIM card should now be inserted and function.