Cell Phone Unlocking: Your five step idiot’s guide

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Unlocking your cell phone can seem like a confusing and daunting task, with so many different codes and instructions, professionals and services to choose from. Here is a simple 5 step guide to make you a little clearer on the process of mobile phone unlocking and unlock codes.

Step one:  Make sure your phone is not already unlocked

Some people are completely oblivious to the fact that not all mobile phones have a SIM lock on, and some are often bought having already been opened up to all network service providers. Some professionals may still charge you for unlocking your phone without telling you it was already unlocked, so to make sure you don’t get caught out, here is how to find out.

Take your current sim card out of the cell phone handset, and take a sim card from a different network service provider to the one your current sim card is provided by, then insert it into your phone. If it works as normal and no error messages, etc. appear then your phone is in fact already unlocked, and you are free to use any network service provider you wish without needing an unlock code. If, however, you do get some form of error message, then your phone is not already unlocked and requires an unlock code to be used on any other network service provider.

Step two: Collect all the information needed for the mobile unlocking process

To unlock your mobile phone, you need certain information, such as your mobile phone number and the name of the current network service provider and country, the cell phone handset manufacturer’s name and the model number of the handset. The handset’s unique IMEI number, which is a serial number  made up of 15 digits serial and can either be obtained by typing *#06# into your handset  or from a sticker usually placed somewhere on or underneath the phone’s battery

Step Three: Obtain the correct unlock code for your cell phone handset

The next step in the mobile unlocking process is to find the correct unlock code for your handset.  There are two ways to obtain the correct code for your handset, either through your network service provider (although they some may charge) or via various helpful websites and blogs on the internet.

The benefits of obtaining an unlock code from your network service provider is that you know they can be trusted (unlike if you opted to take the services of a cell phone market stall holder) and they will provide you with help and support throughout, plus it is faster and simpler as they do a lot of the leg work for you. The downside is they are likely to charge up to £20 for the privilege.

If you don’t want to pay £20 to your network service provider for the unlocking of your mobile phone, see step four to see other ways of obtaining the unlock code you need.

Step Four: Choosing a reliable profession mobile unlocking service/unlock codes website

If you don’t want to go through your network service provider, or want to find a cheaper or even free way of unlocking your cell phone handset then you can find various websites and blogs offering instructions and unlock codes. Although the benefits are that it could cost you little or nothing at all, there are plenty of things you need to watch out for.

Some old phones cannot be unlocked, and you can find out whether yours can or not by asking your network service provider. If you ask a website or don’t ask at all and pay for the unlocking service then the website may not compensate you if they cannot unlock your phone. If anywhere on the website it states that they “cannot guarantee the code will work” then do not hand over any cash, as you can almost guarantee what you pay for will not be an authentic unlock code. Some high street phone shops will charge for unlocking your phone, but are safer than websites.  Just be sure to ask beforehand if you will be charged if they can’t unlock your phone. Whether using a website or high street phone shop, search for reviews and comments about them before handing over any money, as they could be a scam.

If you want free unlock codes, try mobile unlocking forums, but make sure the codes have been tried and tested first!

Step Five: Unlock your cell phone using the unlock code

Once you have found the correct unlock code for your handset, all that is left to do is use it. However, inputting the unlock code requires a different process for every handset and model. You should have been given instructions by whoever you obtained the unlock code from, or they may have even offered to carry out this part of the process as part of the service. But if you do need simple and easy instructions, head to a mobile unlocking forum or blog, where you should find tried and tested methods of unlocking almost every mobile handset and model.
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