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How to unlock your phone
In most cases it is a simple process to unlock your phone. You have several options:
- Contact your network provider to unlock your phone.
They may charge you to do so. Charges and detailed instructions by network provider are available for the United States*, United Kingdom and Australia. They will send you an unlock code for you to enter in your phone, or in some cases, they may do it over-the-air for you.
- Purchase an unlock code for any handset from an online unlocking code specialist.
We recommend freeunlocks.com. Unlocking codes are available within 24 hours (the wait can be up to one month from network providers) and prices start from just $6.99. Find out if freeunlocks.com have a code for your handset
- Visit a local phone store.
Expect to pay US$10 to US$20 to get an unlock code and have your phone unlocked.
- Alternatively buy a phone that is already unlocked.
They are available from online suppliers such as Telestial and Amazon.
* As of January 26th 2013, it is illegal in the United States to unlock your phones via a third party.
Please contact your wireless provider for more information regarding their policies on phone unlocking.
What is a locked phone?
Most network operators sell "locked" phones. "Locked" means that the phone is restricted by the network operator to work only on its’ own or affiliate networks. If your existing phone is locked, you cannot use a SIM card supplied by another network provider without unlocking your phone first.
Why do Network Operators lock phones?
Network operators lock phones to create a barrier for their customers to use their phone with a different provider. When you get a phone contract, you often get the phone free or at low cost as an incentive to sign the contract. The network operator loses money on the phone when they do this, but they expect you to continue to use their network for the contract period (by which time, they would have covered the cost of the phone).
Check if your phone is locked
Your phone may be locked if you purchased it on contract or pay as you go. To check, insert a SIM card from another network into your phone and switch it on. If you are able to view the menu then your phone is unlocked. If the phone does not allow you to view the menu, but displays an error message such as "Phone restricted", "SIM not valid", or "SIM card not accepted, insert correct SIM card", your phone is most likely locked to your network provider. If you are not sure, contact your provider and ask them if your mobile phone is locked or not.
For further information on laws applied by different countries to SIM/Network locking, refer to Wikipedia.