Everything You Need to Know About Unlocked Phones

By iPhone Approved Unlock  •  31 January, 2020

If your smartphone is locked by a mobile network, it means that you won’t be able to use your handset on a different network. It is possible to remove this restriction, something known as ‘mobile unlocking’. But what’s involved in unlocking your phone? Is it worth it?

Why are phones ‘locked’?

We’ve all been there – a new phone has come to the market and you want it. But the handset comes with a hefty price tag.

You start to shop around and find that the affordable way of getting your hands on a shiny new phone is to take out a packaged contract with a network provider like Tesco Mobile or O2.

In some cases, you may not even make a payment upfront but for £X amount each month, you get the phone that you want.

But the network provider has locked the phone. This means you can only use it on their network. They do this because they have effectively offered you a ‘subsidised’ phone. Instead of buying the phone outright, you have bought it on a pay monthly basis. In exchange for this, they want you to stay on their network thus, they’ll lock the phone to them.

On one hand, you may think ‘so what’? If you are happy with your deal, the provider and the service and coverage you are getting, then unlocking your phone won’t make much sense.

But, if you can get a better deal or decide once your contract had ended that you are going to hang on to the handset but swap to another provider, you’ll need to know how to unlock the phone.

Why unlock your phone?

There are many benefits to an unlocked smartphone including;

·         Cheaper tariff options – they say that loyalty isn’t rewarded by brands anymore and whilst some network providers work hard to give their customers great deals, there may be better ones with another provider. The trouble is, you can’t access them because your phone is locked. With an unlocked handset, you can access SIM-only deals as well as ‘pay as you go’ deals that may be a cheaper option for you.

·         Save money whilst travelling the globe – if you are travelling outside Europe, you will normally have to pay international roaming fees. These can prove to be expensive and so the option would be to buy a SIM card in the country you are visiting, bypassing the roaming charges which in turn will save you money. But you can only do this with an unlocked phone!

·         Resale value of the handset – an unlocked phone is easier to sell. If you plan on upgrading your handset and selling your old phone beforehand, you shouldn’t have too much problem getting a really good price for it.  

Is unlocking your phone legal?

Yes, it is. It is your decision which network provider you opt for. It’s also important to note that unlocking your phone doesn’t affect any warranties on the device either, assuming you have unlocked the phone through an official request to your network provider. You can do this yourself or through a specialist phone unlocking company.

Which network providers lock phones?

Not all mobile network providers lock smartphones to their network. You’ll need to check with your provider but popular UK mobile network providers are;


Provide phones unlocked

Lock phones to their network

BT Mobile




iD Mobile

Tesco Mobile

Sky Mobile



Virgin – ‘pay as you go’ handsets are locked to the network but contracts are not


For example, a brand new iPhone 11 Pro retails at £1,049 direct from Apple and so most people who want this phone will turn to a provider for a package deal.

Clearly what the network provider doesn’t want is to offer you a phone which you take and then immediately leave to use it on another provider. If you do ask for the phone to be unlocked, the network provider won’t usually refuse but they may have certain requirements that need to be met.

As well as a small fee, there may also be some additional criteria that you need to meet before your phone will be unlocked such as being six months into your contract, bills up to date and so on.. Different providers have different criteria, so check with your current network provider.

How do you know if your phone is locked?

The previous table should give you a clue but you can also ask your mobile network provider too. Use the Live Chat facility or you are sure to find the answer somewhere in your contract or other documentation. Likewise, we can check if your phone is locked or not on your behalf.

But if you are still unsure, you can check by inserting another SIM card into your phone. This is easy to do;

·         Get a free ‘pay as you go’ SIM card – you can do this online by ordering a SIM card from a provider other than your own. You can also sometimes find these SIM cards for free at supermarket pay points too.

·         Insert into your phone – switch off your phone and then remove the SIM from its packaging. By carefully removing the back cover of your smartphone, remove your current SIM and replace it with the other. Put the cover back on your phone.

·         Restart your phone – turn your phone on and wait. If your phone is locked to the network provider, you’ll receive a ‘SIM not valid’ or ‘Invalid SIM’ message.

Testing your phone with a SIM from a different network provider should give you a definitive answer but be aware that some brands use a coverage provider that could be the same as yours. For example, giffgaff Sim cards can work in O2 locked phones because they make use of O2 coverage.

How to unlock your phone

If you want to realise the potential of cheaper tariffs or want to sell your handset, unlocking your phone is done in four simple steps;

Step 1 – Check if your phone is locked

Following the steps above, contact your provider or the team at iPhone Approved Unlock to find out if your smartphone is locked or not.

If it is locked, move to step 2.

Step 2 – The IMEI smartphone number

To unlock your phone, you will need the 15 digit IMEI number. This is a number unique to every phone. You can find this by typing into your phone’s telephone keypad *#06#. Make a note of this number. When you contact your provider to unlock your phone, they will ask you for it.

Step 3a – Ask your mobile network to unlock your phone

There may be a charge for this depending on your network and tariff. It can cost you up to £15. It can several days before your phone is unlocked or it can take minutes!


Step 3b - Ask a specialist iPhone unlocking company to do it

We all lead busy lives so when time is short and know-how in short supply, asking someone to do it for you makes perfect sense. For a small fee, a specialist unlocking agent can do all this for you, without fuss and hassle. 

Step 4 – Enjoy!

With your phone unlocked you can now enjoy making calls, sending text and access the internet for less!

Unlock your phone to freedom!

Unlocking your phone means you can save money with better deals, use your phone abroad without expensive roaming fees and, even better, when you sell your handset you’ll get more for it. Contact us to find out more. 



  • Unlocking
  • iPhone

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