What does 'unlocking' mean?
With the iPhone no longer exclusive to a single network, you are now able to legitimately unlock your handset.
To unlock your iPhone means being able to switch your tariff to the provider of your choice and hopefully save yourself some money in the process. However, when or even if you are able to unlock your phone varies from network to network.
Fill in the O2 phone unlocking form online
Pay monthly customers: with O2 then you are free to unlock your phone at anytime, but you will still be required to honour the length of your original contract before switching providers.
Pay As You Go customers: there is a £15 charge for unlocking your phone and, if you choose to unlock it less than 12 months after you bought it, you will lose your free Web & Wi-Fi bolt on.
The actual process for unlocking your phone is relatively straight forward. All you have to do is complete the O2 unlock form online and wait for up to 14 days for a confirmation text. Then connect your iPhone to iTunes via a USB port to receive confirmation that your phone has been successfully unlocked.
Call their Technical Support on 0845 300 6600
Pay monthly customers: You will need to pay a £20 fee if you want to unlock before the end of your contract period (free thereafter).
Pay As You Go customers: You can only unlock iPhones that have been activated for more than 12 months; however, this means it will be free to do so.
To unlock your iPhone you will need an unlatching code to be issued by Tesco's customer care team. Note: this is different to your PIN code.
Call 450 (PAYG customers) or 150 (Pay Monthly)
With EE (including former Orange and T-mobile customers) you are able to unlock your iPhone after 6 months, provided you meet the following conditions:
You must be a current Orange or EE customer.
The handset to be unlocked must have been registered to an EE account in your name for a minimum of six months.
The IMEI must not be blacklisted (customer services will check this for you).
Pay monthly Your account balance must be zero; everything needs to be paid up to date
You will be charged £20.42 for unlocking the handset, meaning if you are a Pay As You Go customer you will need at least that amount of credit on your account in order to unlock your iPhone.
You can unlock your phone by calling EE's customer service department and it will take on average between 7 and 10 days for your request to be processed.
Call 08700 77 66 55 (PAYG customers) or 191 (Pay Monthly)
Pay monthly customers: You will need to pay a £19.99 in order to unlock your phone if you have had it for less than 12 months. If you have had it for longer, it is free to unlock.
Pay As You Go customers: There is a fee of £19.99 to unlock, so you will need to ensure you have enough credit so that the payment can be taken.
You will need an to complete a request form in order to get an unlock code.
Call 333 from your handset or 0843 3733 333 from a landline
If you have bought an iPhone from Three recently then it should be unlocked as soon as you activate it or connect it to iTunes.
You can unlock your handset if it runs iOS7 or higher by doing a restore on iTunes. Remember to back up your content before you do this, as all your data will be deleted when you restore.
If you have an older version of iOS, you will need to complete an online form to unlock your phone.
Call 789 from your handset or 0845 6000 789.
Use an online unlocking service
An alternative to using a network unlocking service is to visit a reputable online phone unlocking retailer, these work by issuing a code to unlock you mobile phone, usually for a small fee.
MobileUnlocked.com is one of the leading mobile phone unlock code retailers based in the UK and even provide some unlock codes for certain handsets free of charge!
There are other ways to unlock your iPhone: buy an unlocked import from the so-called 'grey' market to using 'jailbreak' software downloaded from the internet.
Unlocking your iPhone through 'hacking' could be illegal you are running the risk of rendering it unresponsive and it will also affect your warranty.
Buying an expensive imported iPhone is not always cost effective as you can have an officially unlocked phone for half the price in as little as three months after you have purchased it - exercising a bit of patience could save you a substantial amount of money.