How to unlock your cell / mobile phone
Do you want to set your cell phone free by network unlocking it? Do you want your cell phone to work on any cellular network? Unlocked cell phones can take advantage of freedom in many ways, some of which are mentioned below:
- Benefit from cheaper tariffs from other carriers
- Ability to avail of carrier-specific deals by switching
- Travel abroad and don’t pay exorbitant roaming charges by using a local SIM
- Migrating to a different country but want to keep using your beloved cell phone
- Sell your unlocked phone to get maximum resell value
So what does ‘unlocking’ really mean?
The term “Unlocking” means once you have unlocked your cell phone you can use it with any carrier, anywhere in the world. To find out more on unlocking please click here.
Most cell phones are locked to a particular cellular network such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Rogers, Telus, Vodafone etc. This means when you switch your service provider your cell phone will not work unless you unlock it.
To make an attractive proposition to you and encourage you to take out a contract, service providers lock handsets to their respective cellular networks since they often have to subsidise the handset costs. Naturally, they would want to recover the subsidised cost so prevent you from switching to another phone company until the contract term is over.
There are plenty of advantages of unlocking your cell phone as mentioned above however there are few disadvantages you need to consider:
- If you don’t unlock your phone properly it may invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty
- It will usually cost you to unlock your phone
How do you go about unlocking your phone?
There are three ways to unlock your phone to use on any cellular network:
1. Contact your service provider
Check with your existing service provider and let them know you want to unlock your phone. Depending on the carrier and the outstanding contract length there are different rules on when you can unlock your phone, how much they will charge you and how long the process will take.
If you are out of contract and your account is in good standing some carriers will unlock your phone for free while some networks could charge up to $25 (€20).
You will probably need the following information when you call:
- Your cell phone and account number
- Phone manufacturer and model number (Can be found on the outer case or around the battery of your phone)
- Phone IMEI number (IMEI can be found by typing *#06# into your phone)
Your service provider will then send you an unlocking code. When you have this, you can put your new carrier’s SIM card into your phone, when prompted enter the code. It will then display a confirmation message to let you know it has worked.
Your carrier will not supply you a code for your iPhone as the process to unlock iPhones is slightly different. If you have an iPhone and need network-specific instructions, please click here to find out your options.
2. Try an online/remote phone unlocking service
If your carrier is charging you money to unlock or your phone account is not in good standing, it is worth seeing if you can get it done cheaper elsewhere.
Simply provide the unlock service providers with your IMEI number and the phone model so they can instantly tell you the cost to unlock. Unlocking code is emailed to you as soon as the code is made available.
Below are some of the reputed online/remote unlocking services that will let you know the cost and duration before you pay for the service. Some of the older phones can even be unlocked for free!
3. Unlock your phone in a shop
You can also pay a fee of around $25 (€20) to get your phone unlocked at your local phone shop, but it is worth shopping around to get the best deal.
Some will do this with code, similar to the online services but they will do it for you. Others will use a USB cable to attach it to a computer and some specialist software. You can also buy the equipment to manually unlock your phone yourself online, although it could be expensive.
Is there any value in paying to unlock a cell phone?
If you are keen on unlocking your phone, make sure it is worth the price you pay to unlock it by having the freedom to switch networks.
From our experience, it is worth unlocking your phone based on the advantages we have listed above. At a minimum, you can always sell your phone which will help you get better market value where you can recover your costs.