What does 'unlocking' mean?

With the iPhone no longer exclusive to a single network, you are now able to legitimately unlock your handset.

You will be to switch your tariff to the provider of your choice and hopefully save yourself some money. However, when or even if you're able to unlock your phone varies between networks.

O2

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: unlocking your phone is free 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.

Tesco

You just need to complete an online unlocking request

  • Pay monthly customers: There is no charge to unlock your phone.

  • Pay As You Go customers: You can only unlock your iPhone for free if it's over 12 months old. The fee is 10 if it's under 12 months old.

EE

Call 150 or unlock online:

any iPhone sold directly by EE, on or after 1 September 2015, will be automatically unlocked after 18 months.

  • 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 8.99 to unlock your device. It's free to unlock if your phone if if it's no longer in a contract, or if you bought the phone directly from EE (pay as you go).

It can take up to 10 days for your request to be processed.

Vodafone

You will need an to complete a request form in order to get an unlock code.

There is no charge to unlock your phone.

Three Mobile

Call 333 from your handset or visit Three's website

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.

Virgin Mobile

Call 789 from your handset or 03456000789.

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.

Other Options

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. You can have an officially unlocked phone for half the price in as little as three months after purchasing it. Patience could save you a substantial amount of money.