Unlocking your phone is now free in the UK

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Unlocking your phone is now free in the UK

In the UK, mobile handsets are locked to their respective networks since operators (EE, O2, Tesco, Three, Virgin and Vodafone) usually have to subsidise handset costs to entice customers to buy their mobile plans. This implies the handset will only work when used with that specific provider.

In the event that you what to change to an alternate network provider yet keep your current handset, you will have to get it unlocked first.

You may likewise have to get the handset unlocked if you are travelling abroad (where roaming charges are applicable) and want to use a SIM card from the country of destination when you arrive there.

Is my handset locked at the time of purchase?

If you buy your handset on its own directly from a handset manufacturer (Apple, Samsung, Sony, HTC, Huawei etc) then it is likely that the handsets will come unlocked. However, if you get into a contract with a network provider then depending on the handset and package you choose, your handset might be locked.

The table below has been directly taken from the OfCom website which gives you an indication on what to expect if you purchase a handset directly from your network provider.

Mobile providers’ current handset locking policies:

Provider
Customer type
Does the provider lock handsets?
EE, Orange, T-Mobile

Pre-Pay

Yes

Bill-Pay

O2

Pre-Pay

Yes

Bill-Pay

Usually1

Tesco Mobile

Pre-Pay

Usually[1]

Bill-Pay

Certain handsets[2]

Three

Pre-Pay

No[3]

Bill-Pay

Virgin Mobile

Pre-Pay

Usually[4]

Bill-Pay

No

Vodafone

Pre-Pay

Yes[5]

Bill-Pay

  1. Some smartphones may not be locked.
  2. Some smartphones are locked, and Bill-Pay handsets that are available on Pre-Pay tariffs are locked as well.
  3. Customers on Three network prior to 1 December 2013 will find their handsets locked to the network. All phone sold after that date are unlocked.
  4. Some smartphones are unlocked.
  5. Since July 2013 all handsets are locked

Is my handset locked, how to check?

To check if your handset is locked or not you can simply insert a SIM card from a different network provider. If the phone is network locked it will flash a message saying the phone is “locked” or “SIM not valid”.

You can also ask your mobile phone provider but they might need your phone make/model and IMEI number to confirm if the phone is locked or unlocked.

What is the process to get my handset unlocked for free?

First you need to check if your handset is locked or unlocked as mentioned above. If you find out that your handset is locked you can simply ask your provider to unlock it. Please note that providers will not entertain you if the phone reported as lost or stolen.

Depending on who your provider is you might experience different policies and procedures to get your phone unlocked. A few providers will just unlock your handset after a specific time frame has passed and will charge you, while some will just unlock your phone without attaching any conditions.

Some providers take longer to unlock older handsets, especially if your supplier needs to contact the handset manufacturer to retrieve the unlock code. For the newer handsets like the iPhones, they can be unlocked within three working days.

Your provider is obliged to keep a record of all past subscribers even if the customer has switched to another operator. So if have switched provider and would like to unlock your handsets you can still do so. This is applicable to all providers as long as you are the former account holder.

Below table shows the charges and the minimum time it takes to get your unlock code from current/major network providers. Please note it might take considerable less time for some handset manufactures to retrieve the unlock code. The table also highlights if the unlock request can be made online.

Provider
Customer type
Point at which phone can be unlocked
Charges
Time required to unlock
Unlock code request form available online
EE

Pre-Pay

At anytime

No charge

Up to 10 calendar days

Yes

Bill-Pay

After 6 months in contract

£8.99 if still within minimum contract term. No charge if outside minimum contract term
O2

Pre-Pay

12 months after activation[1]

£15

Up to 10 working days

Yes

Bill-Pay

At anytime[2]

No charge

Tesco Mobile

Pre-Pay

At anytime

£10 if phone activated less than 12 months ago.
No charge if phone activated more than 12 months ago

Up to 7 working days (a small number of devices may take up to 20 calendar days)

No

Bill-Pay

No charge
Three

Pre-Pay

Sold unlocked

No charge

n/a

n/a

Bill-Pay

Virgin Mobile

Pre-Pay

At anytime

£15.32 if phone activated less than 12 months ago. No charge if phone activated more than 12 months ago

Up to 30 calendar days

No

Bill-Pay

Sold unlocked No charge n/a n/a
Vodafone

Pre-Pay

After 30 days of usage

No charge

Up to 10 calendar days

Yes

Bill-Pay

After 3 monthly payments have been made No charge
  1. May vary in some cases: e.g O2.
  2. As above.

So the recently updated unlocking process by all network providers has worked in favour of the UK consumer. There are clearly lots of benefits of unlocking your handsets as mentioned in the one of our earlier posts which includes selling your unlocked handset for a better resale value.

If you are unable to unlock your phone from your provider for whatever reason we at www.Unlockphone.codes can help you to unlock your handset. Simply click on the below button and follow the simple instructions:

Unlock Your Phone

 

Courtesy: OfCom

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Unlocking your phone is now free in the UK
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Unlocking your phone is now free in the UK. Find out the process of unlocking your phone and how you can save money by doing so.
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