How to unlock an iPhone? A guide for all networks

Wondering how to network unlock iPhone? Unlocked devices give you more freedom to find the best SIM only deal to suit you and they can save you money long term. Network providers have different criterias and timeframes when unlocking phones, so you're best contacting them and enquiring. 

Read on to learn more about how to check if your iPhone is unlocked, find out what does unlocked iPhone mean and more information about the guidelines each network has to unlock devices!

What does unlocked iPhone mean?

An unlocked iPhone means you can use any network SIM! If you've currently got a locked iPhone and you want to unlock the device, you'll need to contact your current network.

You'll need to request an unlock and it can take a few days to process. If it's accepted, follow these steps to unlock your iPhone:

  • If you have a SIM card from a network that is different to your current provider, remove your old SIM card and then insert the new SIM. 
  • If you don't have another SIM card then all you need to do is backup your iPhone. Make sure any personal information you want to keep is backed up. 
  • You'll then need to erase everything from your iPhone
  • Then, restore your iPhone from the backup you've made

Can an iPhone be unlocked?

Wondering 'can I get iPhone unlocked?' Yes, your iPhone can be unlocked but only once your contract has been fully paid off or you have purchased the iPhone outright. If you haven't fully paid the contract and you're still in the process of paying it off then you don't technically own the iPhone yet. This means it's highly unlikely your current network will let you unlock it, however, you're best checking with the network provider to see what your options are.

Why should I unlock my iPhone?

Unlocking your iPhone gives you more freedom to find a network to suit you and allows you to switch network providers without any hassle!

If you unlock your iPhone, you can use your SIM card on any network. Different networks have strong and weak points so if you're looking for great call quality and data, one network provider may be better than another.

Plus, if you're travelling abroad you can use a SIM card from that country to avoid any roaming charges.

How long does it take to unlock an iPhone?

Firstly, you'll need to make a request to your current network provider to get an iPhone unlocked. Different network providers have different time frames to process and unlock your device. Here's how long you'll be waiting for your iPhone to be unlocked with these popular networks: 

Three: Up to 7 days 

Virgin Mobile: Up to 30 days

EE: An iPhone takes up to 7 days 

O2: Up to 72 hours 

Vodafone: Up to 10 days  

Tesco Mobile: Up to 7 working days but it varies depending on the phone, it can take up to a total of 20 days.

iD Mobile: Up to 3-5 days

How to unlock iPhone to any network?

Unlocking your iPhone will give you the freedom to shop around for the best SIM-only deals and find the right one for you! Follow these simple steps to unlock your iPhone:

  • Just contact your current network provider to request an unlock 
  • If you haven't got your original SIM, you'll need to reset your iPhone before the network can unlock it
  • Each network will have a timeframe of how long it will take to unlock your device
  • Once it's unlocked, turn the power off on your iPhone and replace the SIM with a SIM from a different network 
  • Make a phone call to check your phone is connected to the new network

How to unlock EE iPhone

It's a pretty easy process to carry out an iPhone network unlock! 

EE will only unlock pay monthly phones after 6 months and if you're still in your contract, you'll have to pay a charge of £8.99, but if you've fully paid off your contract then it's free.

Whereas there's no time limit with pay as you go or SIM-only devices and a charge of £8.99 applies, unless you bought the phone directly from EE which means there's no charge. 

All you need to do is ring the number 150 from your device. You'll have to wait up to 7 days for your iPhone to unlock.

How to unlock O2 iPhone

It's really easy to unlock O2 iPhone, but note that from June 2018, all pay monthly phones bought from O2 are unlocked as standard. However, pay as you go phones are still locked to the network. 

O2 customers can unlock their devices at any time for no charge and if you bought a phone from O2 before 2018, you'll be waiting up to 72 hours for it to unlock. 

All you need to do to unlock a locked iPhone with O2 is call 202 from your device or go to the O2 website.

How to unlock Vodafone iPhone?

Wondering can you unlock an iPhone locked to Vodafone? Yes, you can! 

All Vodafone pay monthly and pay as you go devices bought from Vodafone from July 2013 are locked to the network. 

You can unlock your iPhone for free if you have a pay monthly contract or pay as you go, but for pay as you go, you need to have used the number for at least 30 days.

Just ring 191 from your device. You'll have to wait up to 10 days for it to unlock.

How to unlock Three iPhone?

If you're thinking 'how do I unlock an iPhone with Three?', it's super easy! If you bought your device from Three after January 1st 2014, it will be unlocked. This applies to pay monthly phones and pay as you go.

However, if you bought your device before this date then it will be locked and you can unlock it free of charge.

There isn't a time limit, so you can unlock your phone anytime in the contract and you just need to wait up to 7 days for it to unlock.

How to check if my iPhone is unlocked?

Wondering how to find out if your iPhone is unlocked? There's a few different ways to check on your iPhone!

Check iPhone unlock status in settings

Just follow these easy steps:

  • Open the Settings app
  • Go to General and About
  • Scroll to the bottom and go to Network Provider Lock 
  • If it says 'No SIM restrictions' then your iPhone is unlocked.  If it says anything else apart from this then it will probably be locked 

Check iPhone is unlocked using SIM card

Just follow these steps:

  • Turn the power off on your iPhone
  • Open SIM card tray – make sure not to touch the metal on the card
  • Put a SIM from a different network onto the tray and put it into the iPhone
  • Switch iPhone on 
  • Check if you can make any calls 
  • If you get an error message and the call won't go through then your iPhone is locked

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