Unlocking Your Phone in the UK Just Got a Little Easier

If you have ever tried to network unlock a phone in the UK, it could be a frustrating experience. Well now it is a little easier.


In late 2014, I wrote about unlocking your iPhone here in the UK for use on other networks. At the time, depending on the network, it could prove impossible to get your iPhone unlocked.

A lot has changed since then, so I take another look at the dark art of phone unlocking. This doesn’t just relate to iPhones; having any handset unlocked in the UK can be a hit and miss affair depending on the provider.


I have never had any issues with O2 in the UK. If you are a pay monthly customer, they will deduct the fee from your bill, if you are a pay-as-you-go customer, then ensure you have £15 credit. If it’s an iPhone, then they will process it and tell you when it is ready. If it is another phone, they will supply you with an unlock code.

You can give them a call or fill in their online form.


As of January 2014, any Three phones sold after this date are unlocked. Any phones sold before should be unlocked for free, by filling in their online form.


EE used to be a stickler for unlocking. If you weren’t the original owner and a customer for months, then you had no hope. It seems they have relaxed this now.

Pay monthly customers need to have had their handset for six months. Pay-as-you-go owners can unlock straight away. If you have a second-hand device, you need to have a registered pay-as-you-go SIM and take the phone to an EE store.

They will charge you an £8.99 unlock fee.


Pay monthly customers on Vodafone are entitled to a free unlock if you have had 12 months, otherwise its £19.99, but you need to have had a contract with them for 3 months. Pay-as-you-go owners have to have been registered for 30 days and it will cost you £19.99

Sub Networks

We have a lot of virtual networks in the UK. These run off larger providers, using their networks and masts. Each provider has its own rules about unlocking.

Virgin, who run off EE, charge £15 but require you to be registered with them. Tesco will unlock any handset straight away for a £10 cost.


As you can see, things have gotten a little easier for unlocking phones in the UK.

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