If you are looking to open your Apple iPhone up to any network then you have come to the right place as we will guide you through the whole process so that you don’t have to take it to your local phone store and pay for a service that you can do yourself.
This process will basically mean that your handset will become ready to use with any sim card you choose, giving you the control to be able to select your provider to suit your preference.
So, the aim of this article is to show you how to unlock any iPhone from its network for free, using an unlock code and most importantly, how to unlock your iPhone legally without the need to jailbreak it.
We should point out that although this process will work with all Apple iPhones from iPhone 4 through to the latest iPhone 7, doing the same with an Apple iPad is a similar process however with minor differences, so we will cover that for you in a separate article.
Is it legal to unlock an iPhone?
Unlocking your iPhone from a network is completely legal, however there are conditions that safeguard that for you, including only unlocking your iPhone once you own the device without any pending monies still owed or contract term remaining.
We all come into possession of iPhones through different methods, whether that be through buying it from a retailer, entering into a monthly mobile contract or buying it from a third party seller (eBay, Amazon etc) and that sparked the issue that many of us were left seemingly locked into a network that we didn’t choose.
Well the good news is that if you have purchased your iPhone in the past couple of years the likelihood is that your iPhone should already be unlocked and ready to accept any sim card that you choose, but for those of you that have older devices that are looking to move network, you are going to have to make some changes to open that option up to you.
When is unlocking an iPhone not legal?
In the interest of making sure that you understand when it becomes illegal to unlock your iPhone from it’s current network, we wanted to give you a look at when doing so would cross the line of being legal and breaking the law.
You can not legally unlock your iPhone if;
- You are within a contract term with the provider
- Monies are outstanding on a contract that you have just completed
- You do not own the iPhone
If you don’t know whether you can legally unlock your iPhone, we would suggest that you speak to the network that you are with to make sure.
How to unlock an iPhone from EE (including Orange and T-Mobile)
EE are one of the latest networks when it comes to iPhones in the UK and that means that with their scope spanning across the EE network (EE, Orange and T-Mobile), so many of you looking to unlock your iPhone will fall into this category.
The good news is that if you are the original owner of the iPhone from new, EE can unlock the phone for you and you will not have to make use of third party software to do so, however you do have to have had an account with them for at least 6 months and it will come at a cost of £8.99, taking up to 7 days to be done.
If you are not the owner of the iPhone from new and wanted to ask EE to unlock the phone for you, that is a little harder to be able to achieve as you would have to know the name and original number associated with the account.
So if you have bought the phone from a selling site such as eBay or Amazon, that could prove to be a bigger challenge than you would anticipate, so we would suggest that you take a look at the unlocking codes from a site that we mention further down the article to unlock your phone.
Alternatively, if you have the information available and would like EE to action your unlocking you can use their online request form here.
How to unlock an iPhone from Vodafone
If you have an iPhone that is locked to Vodafone then you will be pleased to know that like EE, they offer a service in which they are willing to unlock your iPhone for you however it does again come at a cost and a fairly hefty one if you haven’t been with them long.
For customers that have finished their contract term the price is free as you have been with the company for more than their 12 months requirement, however if you have been with them for a shorter duration than 12 months, then you are looking at a cost of £19.99.
If you have been with Vodafone for over 12 months or are willing to pay the cost to have them unlock the iPhone for you, you would need to fill in the online form here to request for the unlocking to be done and it is said to take 48 hours for the company to get back to you and then a further 10 days for the unlock to take place.
Again, if you don’t want to have to pay to unlock your phone then you do have other options such as the third party software that we will cover a little later in this article but make sure that you meet the requirements that allow you to legally unlock the phone from the network.
How to unlock an iPhone from O2
If you have landed here and have an iPhone that is currently locked to the 02 network, you will be pleased to hear that you can unlock your phone at any time if you are a pay monthly customer but you will still have to pay your monthly costs for the complete duration of your contract term.
Although there is no minimum time in which you have to be with 02 to unlock your phone when you are contracted to the network, if you are a pay as you go (PAYG) customer you will have to be with them for a minimum 12 months if you read their website, however if you speak to one of their customer service reps you could be lucky and they may allow you to do the chance sooner.
If you are still wanting to unlock your phone from 02, you will have to complete the companies online form found here.
Try this: We have reason to believe that if you are looking to unlock your phone to join another network and already have the sim card to hand, you may be able to simply remove your 02 sim card from the phone, add your new network branded sim card into your phone and plug the phone into a computer with iTunes.
This should update the phone and allow the new sim card to work within your phone as you want.
Although not confirmed to date, we got that information in good faith and there are no reports that the process doesn’t work, so you could be in luck.
How to unlock an iPhone from Virgin Mobile
If you have an iPhone that is using Virgin Mobile as a network then you could be in luck as the company have advised us that all of the iPhones that they provide are unlocked as standard, as long as you are using one of the latest models.
If you do have an older generation of iPhone, such as an Apple iPhone 4 then there is even more good news for you, Virgin Mobile have said that as soon as you update the iPhone to be operating on the latest version of the iOS operating system your phone will become unlocked as standard too.
A welcome change from the fact that you have to pay for the privilege or complete an online form somewhere so that they can unlock the phone for you.
How to unlock an iPhone from Tesco Mobile
If you are a Tesco Mobile customer, you can unlock your iPhone for free as long as you have been with them for at least 12 months.
Tesco Mobile offer the service however you do have to give them a call on 0345 301 4455 to make the request via their automated system, where you will be looking to select the ‘Unlock Your Mobile’ option.
How to unlock an iPhone from Giffgaff
If your are looking to unlock your iPhone for use on any network and are currently locked to the Giffgaff network then you will be pleased to know that the company provide you with a helpful guide on how to unlock your phone.
Take a look at the guide here and find the device model that you are using to get the details you need specific to your needs.
How to unlock an iPhone with an unlocking service
Using a service that offers to deal with the unlocking of your iPhone from its network is the most common way that people like yourself have been able to change their network provide, however using a service like this means that you will have to pay for the privilege.
Your local phone shop will more than likely be advertising the fact that they offer this service and prices do vary, with some as low as £10 and others seen as high as £25.
We would suggest that you only use services like these if you feel that you can trust the service provider as there is a chance that depending on the way in which they perform the unlocking for you could come with further fees from your current network and are not always successful.
Should I unlock my iPhone online?
We would strongly suggest that you don’t look to use an online iPhone unlocking service as like with the unlocking services that you could be offered by your local phone shop, there could be further charges that are added to your bill without knowing until it is too late.
With unlocking services that are sold by retailers, you always have the chance to be able to speak to the person that will be doing the changes for you and have someone that you can hold accountable, however the choice to unlock the phone is ultimately yours and you would be liable for any fees should you not meet the legal requirement for unlocking your phone.
We have heard that Doctor Sim offers an online service for unlocking an iPhone to any network, however we provide that link for your own consideration so that you can make your own decision as to whether to use the service yourself or not, we are not affiliated with the site in any way and have not used it ourselves.
How do I know whether the unlocking of my iPhone worked?
Once the unlocking process has been completed, you will receive a message from the network that the device was originally locked to, confirming that the unlocking process has been successful.
If you have received that message, you then need to follow these steps;
- Turn the phone off
- Eject the sim card from the phone
- Remove the old sim card and replace with new sim
- Turn the phone back on
At this stage you should see the new selected network being displayed on the phone and you should be ready to use the phone as required.
iPhone Unlocking Codes Free
When all option above have failed you, don’t panic as there is one final chance for you to be able to open up your phone, NetPal unlock codes.
The site claims to have the codes that you need to unlock your phone from your current network with a number also stating that they are permanent acting, so if you are legally entitled to unlock your phone and you don’t want to pay your current provider, maybe you should take a look here to see if they work for you.
Again these are untested by us and we would strongly suggest that you do a full backup of your iPhone prior to attempting these.