Is your iPhone locked to a particular network or carrier?
Check out our guide to unlocking your iPhone so that you can use any SIM card.
If you bought your iPhone within the last few decades, it’s very likely to be unlocked and free to use with any SIM. If your iPhone is older than that, it may be locked to a certain provider. But that does not mean you’re stuck with that supplier forever.
You need to be able to get your network to unlock your iPhone for you – often for free. You might even have the ability to unlock your iPhone yourself without needing to get in touch with the original provider.
In this guide, we will show you how you can unlock all iPhone versions, either via an unlock code in the network itself or with a third-party support.
Is iPhone unlocking lawful?
It is totally legal to unlock your iPhone if you have finished paying for your contract or you bought it outright unsubsidized. But if you are still in the process of paying for your contract it means that you don’t fully have the iPhone however, so you it would be best to check with your carrier before unlocking it.
How to unlock your iPhone
Contact your supplier and request an unlock with the contact information and online tools listed below.
- If you don’t have the first SIM, you will have to reset the phone before unlocking it.
- Power down the phone, then replace the old SIM card using a SIM from a different network.
- Check if the iPhone can place a call on the new network.
This is the short version, but let us go through these steps in a little more detail.
Contact your network provider
We have divided the article in the UK’s most popular carriers to talk you through unlocking your iPhone.
Using a third party unlocking service
An alternative to calling your carrier and requesting them to unlock the iPhone would be to use a cell phone unlocking service. There are several retailers in most areas, that will set up an unlock code for a small fee (usually around $25).
Though they are not always reputable, you may even find online services which will unlock your iPhone, but we’d advise against it. Should you choose to use one, please be certain you read all the small print before buying, since they can surprise you with additional bills at the end of the procedure.
We have attempted OnlineUnlocks, which promises to refund you if the unlock is ineffective, so that could be an alternative if you’ve tried all the methods listed above. OnlineUnlocks successfully unlocked our mobile phone with no issues and no hidden charges, so we feel confident in recommending them.
How much should I pay?
Ideally, you should not pay anything to unlock your iPhone, because your carrier must unlock it for you at no cost. However, some carriers are still putting admin fees of around $20.
Third-party companies appear to charge between $10 and $25, and we would not pay more than that. Shop around if anyone quotes you a higher cost than that.
How to tell if the unlock functioned
Once your phone has been unlocked you’ll receive a confirmation from the provider. Follow these steps:
- Power down the telephone: Just hold down the Sleep/Wake button and swipe your finger across as directed.
- Use the SIM card application (or a straightened paper clip) to eject the SIM card holder.
- Remove the old SIM card in the cardholder. Put your new SIM – from another network – to the cardholder.
- Reinsert the SIM card holder in the iPhone.
- Make a phone call, and check if the iPhone can connect with the new network. In that case, it’s unlocked!
If you have requested an unlock from your carrier but haven’t got the first SIM card, you’ll have to reset the phone before it’ll be unlocked. First, make sure you’ve requested an unlock from the carrier. Follow these steps:
Backup your iPhone. Either using Backup (Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup > Back Up Today ) or by linking the iPhone into a PC and Using iTunes to carry out a backup.
Erase your iPhone. Click Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.
Finish the setup assistant and restore from the backup.
The phone should now be unlocked.
When you turn the iPhone back on, finish the setup assistant and restore it from the backup you made. All that is left is to insert the new SIM card.