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If you’ve bought a smartphone in the UK, it’ll normally be locked to a specific mobile network provider. Unlocking your smartphone to enable it to be used on other mobile networks has many benefits. For example it’s easier to switch to a better deal on another network whilst still keeping the same phone, or you can buy a SIM card to use abroad in order to avoid expensive roaming charges when on holiday. If you use EE, O2, Three or Vodafone, here’s how you can unlock your mobile phone.


If you’re a pay monthly customer on EE, Orange, or T-Mobile in the UK, it will cost you around £10 to unlock your phone directly with the network. You’ll also have had to been a Pay Monthly customer with EE for at least six months, and be up to date with all of your monthly payments. EE are quite strict when it comes to unlocking their handsets, and they’ll need to ensure that they have a record of you purchasing the handset from them. If you don’t qualify for unlocking as a pay monthly customer, there may be a way around this by purchasing a Pay As You Go SIM card, putting it into your phone and unlocking the handset as a PAYG customer. Alternatively, you may be able to get your phone unlocked through a third party company such as phone unlocking by


If you’re a pay monthly customer on O2, you’ll be able to call customer services and they will unlock your phone for free at any point during your contract term. However, you’ll need to honour the minimum term of your contract, so if you’re planning to unlock your phone in order to move to another network for a cheaper deal, you’ll still need to continue paying your agreed monthly payments to O2. If you are trying to unlock a new model of iPhone, for example the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, O2 do not generally unlock new models of iPhone until six months from their release date.


If you’ve got a phone that’s locked to the Three network, you can request it to be unlocked by filling out a form on their website, or ringing the customer services number. If you’ve bought an iPhone from Three after the 1st January 2014, it should already be unlocked to any network, meaning that you can start using your phone on any network straight away.


If you’ve had the phone for less than 12 months, Vodafone will charge you an unlocking fee of £19.99 in order to unlock it. If you’ve had your phone for 12 months or more, there will not be a charge for the service. You should ring Vodafone customer services in order to request that your phone be unlocked.

Have you unlocked your phone to any network before, and would like to share your experience, good or bad? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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