How to unlock your iPhone from EE, O2, Tesco, Three and Vodafone

September 4th, 2016

You may need to unlock your iPhone before you’re able to use it on other mobile networks. Find out how to unlock an iPhone from UK mobile networks.

iPhone 6If your iPhone was bought in the UK, there’s a good chance it’ll locked to your mobile network operator. To use the iPhone on another mobile network (either in the UK or abroad), you may therefore first need to unlock your iPhone. If you don’t unlock your iPhone before attempting to use it on another network, you’ll receive an error message saying “SIM Not Valid”.

A key benefit of unlocking your iPhone is the ability to access cheaper tariffs in the UK. You can also use your iPhone abroad with a different SIM card when you’re travelling, drastically reducing your mobile roaming rates. Finally, unlocking your iPhone will allow you to pass it on to others and will boost the resale value of your handset on eBay and on other websites.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of unlocking an iPhone. We’ll show you to how to check whether your iPhone needs to be unlocked. We’ll also show you how to find your iPhone’s IMEI number and how to request an unlock from your network (including the costs and the timeframe for unlocking). We’ll also discuss SIM-free iPhones bought from a third-party retailer like the Carphone Warehouse.

Benefits of Unlocking

iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c

There are three key benefits to unlocking your iPhone.

There are three main benefits to unlocking your iPhone:

  1. You’ll be able to access cheaper tariffs here in the UK. Many people switch to a SIM-only deal which typically saves you about £20/month.
  2. You can save money when travelling abroad. Rather than roaming on your normal UK SIM card, you can use a different SIM card in your phone for lower costs when travelling abroad.
  3. Easier second-hand usage & higher resale value. If you no longer have a need for your old iPhone, unlocking it will make it easier for you to use it elsewhere.

Access Cheaper Tariffs In The UK

After completing the minimum term of your contract, you can normally save substantial amounts of money by moving over to a SIM-only deal.

A SIM-only deal will give you a generous allowance of minutes, texts and internet at a monthly price that’s around £20 cheaper than your current iPhone contract. Typically, this means you’re likely to save about £200/year by switching to a SIM-only deal. You’ll need to unlock your iPhone before you’re able to change networks on a SIM-only deal.

SIM card

Unlocking your iPhone & switching to a SIM only deal allows you to benefit from cheaper rates.

Our recommended SIM-only deals for use on an iPhone include:

iD Mobile5005,0002GB£7.50
BT Mobile500Unlimited3GB£8.00
inc. £5 discount
Tesco Mobile5005,0002GB£11.00

* A £5/month discount is available on BT Mobile for customers who live in a BT Broadband household.

When you choose a new SIM-only deal, there’ll normally be a new 12-month commitment. For greater flexibility, you can instead choose a one-month rolling contract instead. For more information, please see our full overview of SIM-only deals available in the UK.

Save Money When Travelling Abroad

Going Abroad

You can also save money when travelling abroad e.g. by taking advantage of the Feel At Home offer.

If you’re travelling abroad and using your normal UK SIM card, you can quickly run up a large bill for international roaming on your normal UK plan. This is especially so when you’re travelling outside of Europe where typical roaming can be up to £1.50/minute for outgoing phone calls, £1/minute for incoming phone calls, 50p per text and £6/MB for internet.

By using a locally-purchased SIM card when you’re abroad in other countries, you can normally save a large amount of money on roaming. A local SIM card will make it substantially cheaper to call, text and browse but you’ll need to unlock your iPhone before you’re able to use the SIM card. This is the case even if you’re using another country’s branch of the same mobile network brand (e.g. if you’re using Orange in France or Vodafone in Spain).

Travelling to Europe, the USA, Australia or one of 42 countries?

If you’re travelling to one of 42 selected countries, the best way to use your smartphone abroad is often to take advantage of Three’s Feel At Home offer.

With Feel At Home, there’s no extra charge for using your smartphone abroad. Better still, you can benefit from the offer regardless of which mobile network you normally use in the UK.

Three Feel At HomeJust order one of Three’s All-in-One Pay As You Go SIM cards and you can benefit from the offer in any unlocked iPhone. A £10 top-up gives you 1GB of data, 100 minutes and 3000 texts (all available to be used when abroad). Meanwhile, a £20 top-up gives you 12GB of data, 300 minutes and 3000 texts (again, all available to be used when abroad).

Network Minutes Texts Internet Monthly
Three 100 3,000 1GB £10.00
Three 300 3,000 12GB £20.00

Countries included in Feel At Home: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy (includes Sardinia and Sicily), Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal (includes Azores and Madeira), Republic of Ireland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (includes Canary Islands and Balearic Islands), Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States of America.

Order Three Pay As You Go SIM Card (with £10 bundle) »

Second-Hand Usage & Resale Value

By unlocking your iPhone, you’ll also gain benefits in terms of easier second-hand usage. There may also be a boost to your handset resale value.

If you’re passing your old iPhone on to friends or family members, unlocking it first will allow them to use the iPhone on their network of choice. They can also benefit from a low-cost SIM-only deal.

If you’re selling your old iPhone (e.g. on eBay or Gumtree), unlocking it first may boost its resale value. An unlocked iPhone will also have a much larger potential audience of buyers, potentially speeding up how quickly you’re able to sell it.


Unlock iPhone

Unlocking your iPhone can open up cheaper tariffs both at home and abroad.

In the UK, it’s perfectly legal to unlock your iPhone and to use it on a different mobile network from which you originally bought it on.

Your iPhone will typically be locked by your mobile network as they may have subsidised the upfront cost of providing the handset (e.g. the full retail price of a new unlocked iPhone is often more than £500 before considering any subsidies). The phone locking mechanism essentially stops you from taking a subsidised iPhone and immediately using it on another network. It also helps to reduce fraud (this is when stolen bank details are used to open a new contract with the iPhone then being taken and being sold abroad for a profit).

For a small fee, all UK mobile networks will happily unlock your iPhone. It should typically cost no more than £15 but there may be certain conditions attached to the unlock (e.g. there might be a minimum amount of time you’ll need to have spent on the network). Unlocking your iPhone will not affect its warranty nor will it change the way your iPhone works.

A Warning About iPhone Unlocking Scams

There are a large number of online scams and unscrupulous websites relating to iPhone unlocking.

The only way you can legitimately unlock an iPhone is to do it officially via your mobile network operator. Third-party websites often claim to be able to offer an iPhone unlocking service. In reality, however, they’ll normally charge you a hefty service fee for filling out unlocking forms on your behalf (the unlocking form is available for free on your mobile network’s website).

iPhone 3G S

Unlocking your iPhone using a jailbreak will only work on older models of the iPhone (e.g. on the iPhone 3GS).

Unlike with other brands of smartphone, it isn’t possible for a third-party to generate “iPhone unlocking codes”. This is because no such code exists for the iPhone. Instead, the iPhone is unlocked through a centralised database. The database is run by Apple and holds the “unlocking” status of every iPhone in existence. Only your mobile network operator is authorised to request a change in this database.

If you do decide to use third-party services, be extremely aware of their online reviews (for instance, search on Google for the name of the company followed by “review” or “scam”). If possible, also have an in-depth read of the Trustpilot reviews and verify that the site doesn’t appear on this list of known iPhone unlocking scams.

On some very old models of the iPhone (an iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4 running iOS 6 or earlier), it’s sometimes possible to temporarily unlock your iPhone through a method known as jailbreaking. On newer devices running iOS 7 and later, it’s no longer possible to unlock via a jailbreak. Even if you’re able to unlock your iPhone through a jailbreak, we strongly recommend against this as it’s only a temporary solution (your iPhone will become locked once again if you update the software on it).

Step-by-Step Guide To Unlocking

There are five simple steps to unlocking an iPhone:

  1. Check whether your iPhone has already been unlocked. Occasionally, your iPhone is already unlocked at the point of purchase (e.g. if you bought a SIM-free iPhone directly from Apple or if you bought your iPhone from giffgaff or Three). It’s always worth double-checking to make sure an unlock is actually required.
  2. Find out your iPhone’s IMEI number. The IMEI number is a 15-digit code which uniquely identifies your iPhone. You’ll need to have your iPhone’s IMEI number before you’re able to request an unlock from your network.
  3. Contact your mobile network and request an unlock. You’ll need to request an unlock through your mobile network operator. The instructions and the cost of doing this depend on your network (see the unlocking instructions for each UK network here).
  4. Wait approximately one week for the unlock to be processed. It takes approximately one week for iPhone unlocking requests to be processed. This is because your mobile network needs to get in touch with Apple before the iPhone can be unlocked.
  5. Enjoy using your new network or SIM card. After approximately one week, you should receive a message saying your iPhone has been unlocked. You can now use the iPhone on any compatible network – both when you’re at home and when you’re travelling abroad.

In the rest of this article, we’ll discuss each of the five steps in order.

Checking Whether Your iPhone Is Already Unlocked

Before you go through the process of unlocking your iPhone, it’s worth spending a bit of time to make sure your iPhone actually needs to be unlocked. The easiest way to check whether your iPhone has already been unlocked is to order a free Pay As You Go SIM card (the SIM card should come from a different network to the one you’re using at the moment). After you insert the SIM card, there are two possible outcomes:

  1. Your iPhone shows the name of the new network in the top-left hand corner. If after inserting your new SIM card, your iPhone shows the name of the new network in the top-left hand corner, your iPhone has successfully accepted that SIM card. If the SIM card you used was from a different mobile network, it suggests your iPhone is already unlocked (there are a couple of exceptions, please see the notes below*). If your iPhone is working on that network, it isn’t necessary to go through the rest of the unlocking process.
    iOS Mobile Network Name
    If you’re seeing the name of your new network operator here, it suggests your iPhone is already unlocked for use on other networks.
  2. You receive an error saying “SIM Not Valid”. If your iPhone is locked to a network, you’ll receive a “SIM Not Valid” error message when inserting a SIM card from another network. You’ll need to complete the rest of the unlocking process before you’re able to use the iPhone on other networks.
    SIM Not Valid: The SIM card that you currently have installed in this iPhone is from a carrier that is not supported under the activation policy that is currently assigned by the activation server. This is not a hardware issue with the iPhone. Please insert another SIM card from a supported carrier or request that this iPhone be unlocked by your carrier.
    If you’re seeing the “SIM Not Valid” error message, you’ll need to go through the rest of the unlocking process.

* Caveats: A giffgaff SIM card may work in your iPhone even if it’s locked to O2. A SIM card from EE will also work in iPhones that are locked to T-Mobile. You should bear this in mind when testing the phone with a SIM card from another network (ideally you should test your iPhone on a mobile network that uses a different coverage provider).

When ordering a free SIM card for the purposes of testing whether your iPhone is unlocked, you might be asked to specify the size of SIM card you require. The following table shows the size of SIM card required by different models of the iPhone:

Handset SIM Card Required
iPhone 7 Nano SIM
iPhone 7 Plus Nano SIM
iPhone SE Nano SIM
iPhone 6s Nano SIM
iPhone 6s Plus Nano SIM
iPhone 6 Nano SIM
iPhone 6 Plus Nano SIM
iPhone 5s Nano SIM
Handset SIM Card Required
iPhone 5c Nano SIM
iPhone 5 Nano SIM
iPhone 4S Micro SIM
iPhone 4 Micro SIM
iPhone 3G S Standard SIM
iPhone 3G Standard SIM
iPhone (original) Standard SIM

For more information about the different sizes of SIM card, please see our in-depth article comparing Standard SIM, Micro SIM and Nano SIM.

Finding Your iPhone IMEI Number

As part of the iPhone unlocking process, your mobile network will ask you to provide the IMEI number of your iPhone. The IMEI is a 15-digit serial number which uniquely identifies your specific iPhone (every iPhone has a different IMEI number). You’ll need to provide the right IMEI so your network is able to unlock the right handset.

IMEI Number on iPhone 5 and newer devices

On the iPhone 5 and newer models of the iPhone, the IMEI number is engraved on the back.

There are five ways of finding the IMEI number on your iPhone:

  1. Get the IMEI from your iPhone ‘Settings’ menu. On your iPhone, go to Settings > General > About. The IMEI number will be listed as one of the menu items. You can tap and hold the IMEI if you’d like to copy the IMEI number to your iPhone’s clipboard.
  2. Get the IMEI from the iPhone Dialler. Go to your iPhone’s dialler keypad (just as if you’re about to make a phone call). Instead of dialling a number, enter *#06# (star hash zero six hash) and your iPhone’s IMEI number should appear on the screen.
  3. Read the IMEI from the back of your handset (iPhone 5 and later devices only). On the iPhone 5 and later devices, the IMEI number is engraved on the back of your handset (see image on the right). You’ll find it printed towards the bottom of the handset.
  4. Read the IMEI from your iPhone’s SIM card tray (iPhone 4S and earlier devices only). On the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3G S, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, your IMEI number is printed on the removable SIM card tray. You’ll need a paperclip to eject the tray (see Apple’s website for more information).
  5. Get the IMEI through iTunes (PC/Mac connection required). Connect your iPhone to a computer and open iTunes. On the Devices > Your iPhone > Summary tab, click on where your phone number is displayed. This will cycle through several pieces of information about your iPhone. The IMEI number will be displayed as one of those pieces of information.

Make a careful note of your phone’s IMEI number (it should be 15 digits long). Make sure you provide the correct IMEI number when unlocking your handset – otherwise you could be unlocking someone else’s device!

Unlocking Instructions By Network

EE, Orange & T-Mobile

EE, Orange and T-MobilePay Monthly. It costs £8.99 to unlock an iPhone if you’re a Pay Monthly customer on EE, Orange or T-Mobile. To qualify for unlocking, your iPhone must have originally been provided by EE, Orange or T-Mobile. You must have also been a Pay Monthly customer for at least six months and you’ll need to be up-to-date with payments on your account.

On Pay Monthly, EE is fairly strict in that they’ll only unlock the iPhone if they have a record of having provided the handset to you (either from when you started your contract or from when you upgraded your plan). Replacement devices can also be unlocked but you’ll need to provide proof of exchange.

If you don’t qualify for unlocking under these conditions (e.g. if you’re not the original owner or if your iPhone is second-hand), you can still unlock the iPhone but you’ll need to do it as a Pay As You Go customer. Simply order a free EE Pay As You Go SIM card and follow the instructions below for Pay As You Go.

On Pay Monthly, the £8.99 fee for unlocking your iPhone is charged to your next monthly bill. You can submit the unlocking request through a form on EE’s website. It can take up to 10 days for your iPhone to be unlocked.

Pay As You Go. Customers on EE Pay As You Go can unlock their iPhone for £8.99. The £8.99 fee is taken from your Pay As You Go airtime balance so make sure you have enough credit before requesting the unlock. It can take up to 10 days for your iPhone to be unlocked.

If you don’t currently have an EE Pay As You Go SIM card, you can order a free one for the purposes of unlocking. There’s a minimum top-up of £10 on your new SIM card (£8.99 will go towards the cost of unlocking your iPhone). When filling out the form on EE’s website, you should use the phone number of your new Pay As You Go SIM card.

As of December 2014, EE has removed the requirement for Pay As You Go customers to have used their iPhone for more than 6 months (the six month requirement now only applies to Pay Monthly customers). They have also removed the original owner requirement for customers unlocking their iPhone on Pay As You Go. Prior to March 2015, EE also charged customers £20.42 to unlock their iPhone.


Giffgaff LogoCustomers who bought their iPhone directly from giffgaff’s website (either with a one-off lump sum payment or with a monthly repayment plan) will not need to unlock their iPhone. This is because giffgaff provides a permanently unlocked version of the iPhone (the iPhone will not lock itself to any network automatically).

If you bought your iPhone from a third-party retailer (e.g. from the Carphone Warehouse), you may find the iPhone gets locked automatically to O2 (O2 is the parent company of giffgaff). If this has happened, you’ll need to unlock the handset from O2 (please follow the instructions below).


Pay Monthly. Your iPhone can be unlocked for free at any time during your contract. However, you’ll still need to honour the minimum term of your contract (you aren’t able to cancel your contract early). It can take up to 72 hours to unlock an iPhone from O2. To begin the unlocking process, fill in the form on O2’s website.

Pay As You Go. Customers on O2 Pay As You Go will need to have used their plan for at least 12 months before they’re able to unlock the iPhone for use on other networks. After you’ve completed your twelve months on O2, it’ll cost £15 to unlock your iPhone. The £15 charge is deducted from your Pay As You Go balance. For this reason, you should make sure you have at least £15 of credit before requesting an unlocking on O2’s website.

Note: If you’re joining giffgaff, it’s possible to use an O2-locked iPhone without having to unlock it first. For customers on O2 Pay Monthly, we’d still recommend unlocking your iPhone (it’s free). For O2 Pay As You Go customers, you can save £15 by foregoing the unlock. To join giffgaff, you can order a free SIM card here.

Tesco Mobile

Tesco MobilePay Monthly. Tesco Mobile can unlock your iPhone free of charge at any time during your contract. To request an unlock, call the Tesco Mobile aftersales support on 0345 300 6660. It can take up to 28 days for your iPhone to be unlocked .

Pay As You Go. There’s a £10 charge to unlock your iPhone from Tesco Pay As You Go if you’ve had the handset for less than 12 months. After the first 12 months, it’s free to unlock your iPhone. To request an unlock, call the Tesco Mobile aftersales support number (0345 300 6660).


ThreePay Monthly & Pay As You Go. As of January 2014, Three has sold all of their iPhones already unlocked for use on any network. If you bought your iPhone from Three after this date, it shouldn’t be necessary to unlock it from Three. If your iPhone was purchased before this date, it could still remain locked to the Three network.

If your iPhone remains locked to the Three network, you can request an unlock for free by filling out this form on Three’s website. There’s no charge for unlocking your iPhone but you’ll need to have an active customer account. If you don’t currently have a SIM card on Three, you can order a Pay As You Go SIM card via their website. It can take up to 7 days for Three to unlock your iPhone.

Virgin Mobile

Virgin MediaPay Monthly & Pay As You Go. On Virgin Media, there’s normally a fee of £15.32 to unlock your iPhone for use on other networks (the unlocking fee applicable to your tariff can be found in the Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go call charge tables). To request an unlock, call Virgin customer services on 789 (calls are free from your Virgin Mobile handset).


Pay Monthly. For Vodafone Pay Monthly customers, it’s free to unlock an iPhone. You’ll need to have been a Vodafone customer for at least three months. The unlocking process should take no more than 10 days. You can make an unlocking request through Vodafone’s online form.

Pay As You Go. It’s free to unlock your iPhone on Vodafone Pay As You Go as long as you’ve been using your Vodafone SIM card for at least 30 days. You can request a free unlock through Vodafone’s online form.

Third-Party Retailers (e.g. Carphone Warehouse)

Carphone Warehouse SIM-Free iPhone Locking

A SIM-free iPhone from the Carphone Warehouse will automatically lock itself to the first network used.

If your iPhone was originally purchased from a third-party retailer like the Carphone Warehouse, it may lock itself automatically to the first network you use. This is the case even when your iPhone is sold as a “SIM-free” handset.

To unlock a SIM-free iPhone, you should contact the mobile network to whom your iPhone has become locked to. For more information, see our full guide on unlocking a SIM-free iPhone.

If you purchased a SIM-free iPhone directly from Apple, it’ll be permanently be unlocked for use on any network. There’s no need to contact your mobile network to unlock it again.

What’s Next?

Apple Store

There’s no such thing as an “iPhone unlocking code”: your iPhone must be unlocked through an update to Apple’s centralised database.

After you’ve informed your mobile network that you want to unlock your iPhone and after you’ve made the necessary payments for the unlock to be processed, your mobile network needs to get in touch with Apple.

Unlike other brands of smartphone, the iPhone isn’t locked through a “network unlocking code”. Instead, the network locking status or “activation status” of every iPhone is managed through a central database run by Apple. Before you’re able to use the iPhone on another mobile network, Apple will need to update the unlocking status of your iPhone in their centralised database. It can take a couple of days for Apple to do this, and you should normally receive an e-mail or text message to confirm once it’s done.

Once you’ve received the e-mail or text message, you’ll need to swap out your existing SIM card for a new SIM card from another network (you can get a free SIM card here).

Changing to a SIM card from another network will force your iPhone to update its unlocking status with Apple’s central database. So that your phone is able to reach Apple’s servers, your iPhone should be connected to wi-fi when you insert the SIM card from another network. Alternatively, if there’s no wi-fi available, you can connect your iPhone to a computer using a USB cable. The computer should have access to the internet and must have iTunes installed. Upon plugging in your iPhone, you’ll receive the following message to show your iPhone has been unlocked:

iPhone Unlocking: Congratulations Message in iTunes

You’ll see this message in iTunes once your iPhone has been unlocked.

More Information

For more information, please see our full guide to mobile phone unlocking. If you’re looking to upgrade to a newer model of the iPhone, please see our full round-up of the best iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus deals.

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About Ken

Ken Lo

My passion is helping people to get the most out of their mobile phone. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005.

Aside from writing about mobile technology, my interests are in software development, digital marketing and physics. Outside of the blog, I work with numerous technology companies helping them to explain their product and helping them to market it to consumers. Please get in touch for more information.

Your Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 770 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  1. Roger Powley said:

    Brilliant to come across your article, Ken.

    Having read through some of the comments about Carphone Warehouse & EE unlocking, I am till a bit unsure before getting an iPhone SE from CWH on 24 month contract using EE. Contract is fine as I can use the phone when I am abroad in the EU for 6 months a year.

    At the end of the 2 years, I want to be able to change providers here & abroad as often as I want. Will the Carphone Warehouse phone get permanently unlocked if I get EE to unlocked it at the end of the 2 year contract?

    Many thanks,


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Roger,
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, your CPW iPhone will be permanently unlocked once EE have unlocked it for you. The automatic locking should only happen when the handset is first used on a network.
      Hope this helps!

  2. Chris May said:

    Hi Ken
    I have an iPhone 5s from Carphone Warehouse Sim only locked to Vodafone. I have been on contract with Vodafone several years from day one on getting both phone and sim only from CPW. I am stuck in between both Vodafone and CPW unable to get phone unlocked. Vodafone refuse and say they are unable to do it as do not have IMEI number in their records and not bought from them. CPW unable to help as only shop and not network. I’m stuck with Vodafone contract unable to move to other network and they know it. They have no interest as will lose contract so have no incentive to help! CPW also not interested as they have already got my money for the phone. Any help suggestions would be gratefully received.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Chris,
      Thanks for your comment and sorry to hear about the problem unlocking your iPhone from Vodafone. In this case, it is most certainly Vodafone’s responsibility to unlock the iPhone for you. Unfortunately, I can’t really give you very much more except from to persevere with Vodafone Customer Services to do this. If you have it, you might find it worthwhile to send the documentation that proves you bought the iPhone from CPW (particularly, if it shows you got a contact from Vodafone at the same time). As a last resort, you can also make a formal complaint in writing to Vodafone. This should help to escalate the issue and will hopefully get it resolved for you.
      Good luck,

  3. Danny Spencer said:

    Hi Ken,
    on a recent visit to UK my daughter gave me her iphone 5s as she had upgraded recently, and I used it while holidaying there. Both phones are locked to O2.
    On returning to Australia I ordered a sim from my carrier, Iinet, which was rejected by the iphone 5s due to the locking.
    Contact with O2 firstly indicated they would unlock the phone as my daughter has been a long term client. After waiting about a month, today my daughter received notice from O2 saying the unlocking cannot happen unless the phone is in the UK. This seems unlikely and technologically adverse. Would this be true.
    I would like to unlock the phone asap without being a nuisance to my daughter.
    What are the options I can consider.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Danny,
      Thanks for your comment. I’m not aware of any technical reason why it’s not possible to unlock your iPhone whilst it’s abroad in another country. Therefore, is it possible to tell the staff that the iPhone is actually located in the UK? After they process this in their system, I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work after you connect the iPhone to iTunes or a wi-fi network.

  4. Josie said:

    Hi Ken,

    I bought a Carphone Warehouse iPhone 7 Plus and, on your recommendation, got a Three sim to have it unlocked, as I’m with Giffgaff. It locked to Three and I’ve been in touch with customer Services at Three and they are unable/unwilling to unlock it for me. It’s turned into a big stressful mess and because the iPhone I bought is getting overheated, I think I might try and take it back to CPW, and just get a refund and buy it from Giffgaff instead. I’m commenting because I’m worried others will take your advice on Three and have the same issues I’m having.

    I need my phone to be unlocked because I go to Spain to visit family, so need to change my sim over when I do to my Movistar one…

    Many thanks and I hope that they decide to remove this feature from phones because it seems ridiculous to me.


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Josie,
      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment on this website, and so sorry for the hassle you’ve experienced on Three. My advice is generally to avoid buying an iPhone from the Carphone Warehouse, and if necessary, returning it to them and buying elsewhere (e.g. from John Lewis, Unshackled, giffgaff, etc). In the past, I’ve had multiple pieces of feedback from other readers (mainly here) that you should be able to unlock a CPW iPhone from Three. If they have indeed changed their policy recently, I’d be glad to update the content on this webpage.

  5. Bob said:

    Really helpful article very informative and has helped me get out of a problem!!

  6. Byun Baek-Hyun said:

    Hi Ken,

    I recently purchased a sim free JET BLACK iPhone 7+ 128GB from Carphone Warehouse. Because it locks to first sim and i need to use my U+ sim in there when returning home i purchased a three sim from amazon and inserted this first.

    When i received the sim it was a mobile broadband sim but i put it in anyway, I filled in the three unlock form but i got a text to say they couldnt unlock.

    Is it because i didn’t wait 24 hours with the sim in the handset?

    Thanks and peace

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Baekhyun,
      Thanks for the comment. Unfortunately, I’m not sure why the unlock didn’t succeed: it’s possible however this might be because it was a mobile broadband SIM card. My recommendation would be to give Three customer services a quick call: they should be able to resolve this problem for you.
      Many thanks,

    2. Josie replied:

      I’ve just posted about the same thing, Three have been unwilling to unlock it, the customer service person I spoke to said it was against their policy… and another I spoke to told me to reset my phone without a sim and it should work with a different sim but that wasn’t the case. I am tempted to go into the Three shop tomorrow and see if they can resolve the issue for me, but as I said in my own comment, my phone is also overheaing so tempted to just take it back…

      I will let you know how I get on in the shop if I do go.

  7. John said:

    You mentioned using an i phone in another country. I have just bought a second hand i-phone 5C and it is being unlocked by EE who first supplied it. I will use it with my Three sim until I go to australia in November. Will I be able to use an aussie sim whilst I am there ? Thanks

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi John,
      Thanks for your comment. I believe the iPhone should work on overseas mobile networks once EE has finished unlocking it.
      Hope this helps,

      1. John replied:

        Hi Ken, thank you. Three have unlocked it now so I will get a payg sim in australia and try it there.
        I am also having major problems copying the contacts from my Huawei android phone to my new i-phone. Have tried to sync through google but as yet no joy. Any tips ?

  8. Wing Li said:

    Hi Ken,

    this issue with Apple iPhone’s being locked to the 1st network sim card seems to have been going on for a while.

    Have you ever established why this happens?

    What makes a iPhone bought from Apple different from one purchased from CPW?

    Why does Apple supply phones in such a way to these 3rd party retailers?

    How does the networks know the difference between a sim free Apple Store purchased iPhone from a CPW purchased iPhone?

    Would be interesting to know

  9. Niccy said:

    Can you help. I have had my IPhone unlocked by EE and are considering getting a sim from Life. I have been told by their customer services that they will lock the phone and that they are unable to unlock it if move to another provider. How can they lock it when I have not purchased the phone off them?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Niccy,
      Thanks for your comment. Certain SIM-free iPhones will lock themselves automatically. However, this shouldn’t happen if you’ve already unlocked your handset (so absolutely fine to now use it on another network).

  10. Gills said:

    Bought an unlocked iPhone in Argos. Initially put a three PAYG SIM card in…no knowing phone would lock to this. Now I want to change to Vodafone.

    So figured out I was locked …filled in the online form….and I get a txt message back saying that I can unlock phone by doing a restore…!

    So how do I do this….?

    If I take the three card out I can do anything on the phone.
    Has anyone any Step by step instructions. When do I restore…do I keep three card in … When do I put new sim in…?
    I now have my new Vodafone sim… But it’s useless as I can’t figure out how to unlock my phone.

    Can anyone help …?

  11. Shah said:

    Hi ken,
    If i buy a second hand phone how do i know if it was factory unlocked or later unlocked by cellular company?
    Thanks in advance

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Shah,
      Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure if there’s a foolproof way of telling this, besides maybe checking the original receipt & finding out where the handset was purchased from.

  12. Steve said:

    Hi Ken,

    I currently have an iPhone 6 on Vodafone. I am moving to Abu Dhabi in 3 weeks and want to know – if I unlock this phone in the UK will I be able to use my UK SIM until I go and then be able to replace that SIM with one from the UAE without any problem when I arrive in Abu Dhabi? Or will it lock back to the original UK SIM once that is put in before I leave?



    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Steve,
      Yes – you can continue using the Vodafone SIM card after unlocking your iPhone. Your handset will also be permanently unlocked for use on any network 🙂

      1. Steve replied:

        Thanks Ken!

        Was hoping for a seamless transition of SIM cards without having to unlock the phone more than once! 🙂


  13. Balaji said:

    Hi.. I bought an Iphone 5s from carphone warehouse and I used a lebara sim card on it. It got locked with the lebara network. But since lebara is a virtual operator they are not able to unlock it and also in other 3rd party website for unlocking I’m not able to find lebara from the list of operators. Now how to unlock my mobile?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Balaji,
      Thanks for your comment. Have you tried using a Vodafone SIM card in your iPhone 5s? It’s possible your iPhone will have locked itself automatically to Vodafone rather than Lebara Mobile (as Vodafone provides the underlying service for Lebara).

      1. Kim replied:

        I keep getting confirmation from Vodafone that my iPhone 5 is unlocked but it still won’t accept another SIM card. It’s driving me potty. Neither Vodafone or Apple will help me further.
        Thanks for any avdice.

        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi Kim,
          Really sorry to hear about this. I assume you’ve already tried using a different SIM card in the handset whilst also being connected to wi-fi? (The latter part is important as it’s required for the unlocking status to update). Failing that, I’d probably recommend bringing your iPhone in to the Apple Store if possible (they’ll be able to check its unlocking status there).

  14. Mike said:

    Hi Ken,

    Thanks for your well pointed comments.
    I am an O2 pay montly customer, and I have just renew a 2-year contract, upgrading a new Iphone SE from CPW.
    They told me that my new phone would be locked to O2 but I can request an unlock as long as honour my contract.
    When I requested online from O2 to unlock my phone they answered the following:
    ”I’m sorry, we have not been able to unlatch your device at this time.
    The reason given is:

    We are not currently unlocking the iPhone SE handsets.”
    Do you know why they are doing that? Any suggestion what to do next?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Mike,
      Unfortunately, O2 has a rather annoying habit where they refuse to unlock newer models of the iPhone (typically this will be for either 6 months or 12 months after the iPhone was first released). Their explanation for this is that stocks are limited, and so this allows them to reserve the stock for O2 customers. Make of that what you will, but it’s probably why you’re receiving the message from O2 (unfortunately, this still applies to you even though you bought your iPhone from the Carphone Warehouse).

  15. Miles said:

    I agree with your concerns regarding people unlocking on ebay. Unfortunately in my case I was stuck in the middle of CPW, 3UK and Apple all referring me to each other and no one taking any responsibility. Ebay was the only solution available.
    Regarding temporary iphone unlocking I have never heard of an iphone relocking itself after a successful unlock and being able to use another network sim.
    The advice of would give, as Ken has mentioned, is AVOID CPW and other highstreet sellers where iphone locks to first network sim and buy the iphone from 3UK, GIFFGAFF or directly from APPLE and at point of sale check and recheck that you are buying an fully unlocked iphone BEFORE you part with your money!

    Kind regards

  16. Miles said:

    I wanted to add a further comment based on my experiences after my earlier post of 11 May regarding iphone activations from CPW –

    Be very very careful if you purchase a SIM FREE Iphone from CPW

    Because the iphone is not tied to a particular network at sale the iphone is not known by any of the networks – therefore it becomes very difficult to unlock.

    In my case last year I purchased an iphone 4S sim free. CPW did not sell me a sim card with the iphone but the sales person did ask me which sim I would be using – to which I answered 3UK. They did not tell me that it would be extremely difficult to unlock the iphone after I inserted the 3 sim on first activation and the iphone locked to 3UK.

    Graham asked if by using the 3 online unlock form will make it easier to unlock – no it will not. When you contact 3 UK and give them the IMEI number they will check their records to see if the phone has been supplied by them. They will see that it has not been supplied by them so they will be unable to unlock it. The only way to unlock the phone is directly by Apple.

    Anyone here who is in the frustrating position of having an iphone locked to 3UK and requires an unlock search ebay uk for “CPW THREE UNLOCKING IPHONE”. The listing will mention third party activations. Cost was £35. It took me 3 months to work this out and the ebay solution was the only way to the unlock the iphone – 3UK, CPW and Apple all referred to me each other which was extremely frustrating.

    I hope this helps

    Kind regards

    1. Graham replied:

      Miles, thanks for the further update – very concerning…
      You’ll see my reply to Ken on the same topic. My concern with the ebay route, is while they often appear successful, I have heard of cases where they are short term solutions and Apple leave you with a re-locked device at a later OS update. Unless I can be certain the 3rd party suppliers are achieving a true IMEI unlock on Apple servers, I remain nervous with that route.

      1. Ken Lo
        Ken replied:

        Thank you both for the feedback! Just to add to that… my worry with some third party suppliers (e.g. like those on eBay) is they sometimes just charge you a service fee for filling in the unlocking form on your behalf. The problem is they don’t really have any clarity on how the unlock is performed so I’d still strong recommend everyone unlock their phone through the official route.

        1. Graham replied:

          Agreed, I prefer the official route.
          The issue I have is the SIM I wish to use is TalkTalk, who use the carrier Vodafone but that may change in future as TalkTalk are in discussion with another carrier.
          Research suggests some people hit is that TalkTalk don’t sell locked phones, so have no system to manage this. Vodafone say they didn’t sell the phone so won’t submit the request to Apple to register the IMEI on their system. Carphone Warehouse have no means to unlock as they just sell phones and are not a carrier.
          I’m going to see if Carphone Warehouse will accept the unused phone back later today – I’ll let you know how it goes. So I’m left with the route of getting another providers SIM and seeing if I can unlock that way. The big question is which provider is the most reliable one for achieving that end.

          1. Graham replied:

            Well the good news is that Carphone Warehouse were fine to take the phone with minimal fuss. Their recommendation was to go to Apple if I wanted a truly unlocked phone, but Apple no longer sell the 5S. So I ordered from giffgaff at 6:00pm and by the following morning at 10am I had a replacement unlocked phone – outstanding!

            However, I strongly believe OfCom need to step in here and make the unlock process as straight forward as getting a PAC, and save a whole lot of people unnecessary hassle.

          2. Miles replied:

            This system is crazy. I was lead to believe that if you use a Vodafone sim on Activation, Vodafone would be able to do/or be prepared to do an unlock, but your post suggests that they will not as they did not sell the phone. This is the same response as I got from 3UK. You were luckly to get a refund.
            Trading Standards, OFCOM etc should be made aware

  17. Graham said:

    Hi Ken,

    great advice here – unfortunately I discovered just after purchasing an an iphone 5s from CPW!
    Could you comment on Miles message from 11th May, as I was about to go down the recommended 3 PAYG SIM route, but am now wary. For sure I will want the phone to work overseas.

    As CPW didn’t mention this, I wonder if they have a case to answer to under the consumer rights act as not fit for purpose. If yes, I’d probably return and now go the GiffGaff route.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Graham,
      The feedback I’ve had from people in the past is that they can unlock a CPW iPhone from Three UK. Saying that, I haven’t actually tried doing this myself, so I can’t give you a definitive answer. Can anyone else here share their feedback on unlocking a CPW iPhone from Three UK?
      As an aside, if there is a way to return your iPhone to CPW and to buy a SIM-free iPhone from Apple, giffgaff or Three then I would probably recommend this as a more straightforward option!

      1. Graham replied:

        Hi Ken,

        thanks for the reply. I will try the CPW return, but I suspect they will resist. Miles further comments are worrying. If true, it would appear a 3UK SIM is not an option. As I’ve yet to insert a SIM from any network, I should be in the best possible position to get the phone unlocked by selecting the most appropriate network operator.

        My worry is if 3UK can resist by using the IMEI to identifier the phone was not purchased through them, what’s to stop the other network providers doing the same. Ideally, anyone who has bought an iphone from CPW recently and successfully unlocking afterwards is my best chance.

  18. Glenda said:

    Hi I have just sold a iPhone 4s but the person who brought it said it is locked to vodaphone ,but I wasn’t on vodaphone I was on talk mobile , so it’s not locked, but I’m thinking when it was new would it go back to oridgenal provider, when I erased all data may be its gone back to factory reset ,can someone help ,.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Glenda,
      Thanks for your comment. A Talkmobile SIM card will normally work in a Vodafone-locked handset (in fact, Talkmobile is actually the low-cost sub-brand of Vodafone). Do you remember where the iPhone was originally purchased – for example was it a SIM-free iPhone from the Carphone Warehouse?

  19. Miles said:

    Hi Ken Im a big fan of the website as its very informative
    May I take this opportunity to highlight the problems of unlocking a iphone from Carphonewarehouse or similar high street sellers where the phone locks to the first sim inserted.
    DO NOT insert a 3 UK sim card into an iphone on first activation as the phone will lock to 3 and cannot be unlocked. All phones bought now from 3UK, iphones or any other brands, are sold UNLOCKED. Therefore when you call 3UK they will immediately know that the phone is not supplied by them and will not help you and you are left with a locked iphone. Apple UK will not help you as they will refer you to the carrier. You are at the mercy of the carphone warehouse who will tell you that they cannot unlock iphones, only apple can.
    I had a 3 month battle in late 2015 with Apple and CPW and got nowhere.
    I eventually found someone on ebay who will unlock “third party activation” iphones who managed to unlock the iphone.
    If you are an O2 user insert an O2 sim first into the iphone, if you use EE insert an EE sim first into the iphone etc etc
    I hope this helps

    1. Graham replied:


      would this be a problem if the online form is used instead of calling 3?

  20. Manu said:

    I purchased a sim free iphone 5 S from Carphone warehouse today. They explained it will lock to the UK sim that is first introduced in it.
    I wish to know if I will be able to unlock it and use sim cards from other countries in Europe and Thailand.
    Thank you in advance!

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Manu,
      Thanks for your comment. For more information about this, I recommend having a read of the in-depth article on SIM-free iPhones.
      Hope this helps,

  21. Steve Montgomery said:

    Hi Ken,

    I’ve just purchased a 2nd hand iphone 5c which has just finished a 2 year contract with Orange. Once I’ve paid the £8.99 fee to have the phone unlocked can I put any PAYG sim in the phone. Tesco seem to have a really good deal at the moment. cheers Steve

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Steve,
      Thanks for your comment. That’s right: once you’ve unlocked the iPhone from Orange, you’ll be able to use a Pay As You Go SIM card from any network!

  22. Gordon said:

    May sons phones ar iPhone 5 & 6 on Tesco mobile. I am going to Australia in the summer. I am intending to unlock them so we can use local SIMs whilst away. Will the phones immediately lock back to tesco if they use them here after they are unlocked, and thus prevent the overseas SIMS from working?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Gordon,
      Thanks for your comment. If you have a SIM-free iPhone, it may lock itself to the first network you use. However, once unlocked, it will be permanently unlocked (so it shouldn’t lock itself again to another network).

  23. Alex said:

    I’ve just ordered an iPhone SE from Argos, because it was the only place I could find it in store for the next few weeks at the best. I’m thinking of changing network to 3 anyway, so if I get a Three PAYG sim card for now and use that in the phone first, will that mean that when I do want to unlock my phone Three will do that? Does it matter that I didn’t buy the phone from 3 originally?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Alex,
      You can indeed, and it shouldn’t be a problem unlocking your handset from Three!

      1. Alex replied:

        Hi Ken,
        Thanks a lot for that! I’m now a lot more confident in my decision, which is wonderful!

  24. Angie said:

    Thinking of buying a sim free unlocked iPhone 6s Plus from John Lewis , as no Apple stores nearby , also John Lewis have 2 year guarantee . May want to try payg from Three ( 321 tariff) but may think about BT sim only . Will the phone get locked to the first one I use ?
    John Lewis are not aware of a locking problem. I asked in store.
    Would I get locked to EE if I go with the BT sim, and would this be a problem to unlock later?
    Would using the 3 SIM card first be the better option. Is it free to unlock from 3
    The phone price at John Lewis is the same as apple shop.
    Thanks for your help.
    Why do Apple make life difficult?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Angie,
      Thanks for your comment. I believe the John Lewis iPhone will lock itself to the first network you use. Unfortunately, this is the fault of Apple rather than the fault of John Lewis – I’d strongly recommend buying from Apple if it’s possible to do this.
      If you do choose to buy the iPhone from John Lewis, it’s probably advisable to use it first with a Three SIM card. That way, you’ll easily be able to unlock the iPhone for free and you’ll then be able to use it on other networks after (e.g. on BT Mobile).
      Hope this helps,

      1. Angie replied:

        Thanks for your reply. No apple shop nearby so decided to use a three sim on the phone from John Lewis. Thanks again for your valuable insight to this apple problem.
        A little advice for others getting a first iPhone: Open the box over a bed or something soft as it is so difficult to open that the phone always falls out when you eventually get the lid off!!

  25. Rita said:

    Thanks for this amazing website. I just want to ask; when you unlock an iphone from a locked network (e.g. vodafone), does it mean that you can use any other network in it without having to unlock it every time you want to switch to another network? Does it mean it’s permanetly unlocked to all networks? or do I have to unlock it for every network(Sim) switch. I really need to know.
    Thank you.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Rita,
      Yes: once unlocked, your iPhone will be permanently unlocked for use on any network. You won’t need to unlock it again, however many times you change the SIM card.
      Hope this helps!

  26. Lorraine said:

    hi Ken, I have two handsets iPhone 4s (payg) and 5s ( 12 month pay monthly now finished). Both locked to Vodafone network.

    Only after I requested the pac codes to transfer the numbers to EE did I realise the phones have been locked. I have followed the process to unlock the phones paying £19.99 for payg. Vodafone have confirmed that both phones are unlocked. However the new sims will not activate. I don’t have access to 3G in my area only GPRS and wifi. I have followed all the limited instructions they have sent, I have wiped and restored switched wifi on and off and tried via iTunes. Nothing. So now I have two iPhone that only work with Vodafone and 2 new sims with my numbers that I can’t use. Vodafone are adamant the phones are unlocked but the screen still remains unable to activate. any advice? btw iTunes is on my desktop computer and cannot be moved to a 3G area.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Lorraine,
      Thanks for your comment. It looks like your iPhone hasn’t been properly unlocked: this might be either because Vodafone hasn’t unlocked it properly or it might be because your iPhone hasn’t picked up the changes. Unfortunately, there’s very little I’m able to suggest besides following all the instructions that have been given to you. It might be worth bring your iPhone to a nearby Apple Store to see if they’re able to check the status of it?

  27. Paul said:

    I have a problem with my iPhone 6S.
    I bought it from Carphone Warehouse and I didn’t know that it will lock itself to the first SIM card you put in so I used my Virgin Mobile SIM card to set up the phone and it has now become locked to Virgin Mobile UK.
    It is on contract from 02 but obviously I can’t use my 02 SIM card.
    I called 02, Virgin and Carphone Warehouse and they said they can’t unlock it.
    Please help me!

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Paul,
      Thanks for your comment. For more information about iPhones sold by the Carphone Warehouse, I recommend having a look at this page and the comments below it. To cut a long story short, unfortunately, it’s now Virgin Media that needs to unlock your iPhone (only they’ll be able to process the unlock for you).

  28. Peter Walker said:

    Beware of making this mistake.

    If you are entering a fresh contract with your provider and want to transfer the number to the new phone be sure to have the current phone unlocked before making the new contract. If you fail to do so the provider will be unable to match your original phone to you. I am suffering this problem and I see no solution other than to go to a “back street” unlocker.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Peter,
      Thanks for your feedback. As you say, I would highly recommend unlocking your phone before cancelling your contract from any mobile network (otherwise, it may not be possible for them to unlock your handset). Which network were you with previously? It may still be possible to unlock your handset if you do it as a Pay As You Go customer.

  29. Nico said:

    I have a 6s purchased from CPW (sim free) and used with giffgaff sim (that means that is locked on O2). How could I unlocked it and use with another sim abroad? I tried to contact O2 but they cannot help me because I’m not their customer. Thank you

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Nico,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I believe your iPhone has now become locked to O2. However, as you aren’t currently a customer of O2, it won’t be possible for you to unlock your handset. One way of possibly doing this is as an O2 Pay As You Go customer. A requirement underlying this is you must have been a customer for at least 12 months. Obviously, this isn’t ideal. One thing that might be worth trying is asking a friend on O2 to submit the unlocking request for you. This might be a faster way of unlocking your iPhone (you can then just reimburse your friend for the cost of the unlocking).
      Hope this helps,

  30. Elizabeth said:

    HI there, ive recently done a online request on O2 website for my o2 phone to be unlocked (iphone 5s) They have let me know that’s its been done. all I had to do now is to insert a non o2 sim and the unlocking will be done. I want to remain using the o2 simcard though, the only reason I unlocked it is to travel abroad with it for a holiday. Ive not been able to insert another sim to complete the unlocking process, is this even necessary if they already unlocked it on their side?


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Elizabeth,
      Thanks for your comment. Once the unlocking process has been completed by O2 & Apple, the ‘activation status’ of your iPhone needs to be updated. There are two ways you’re able to do this:
      1) You can backup & restore your iPhone through iTunes
      2) You can insert a SIM card from another network when connected to wi-fi
      Either action is sufficient to complete the unlock. In theory, you could finish the unlock when you’re abroad with a different SIM card, but the problem is you need to make sure you have wi-fi at that point. To make things easier, it might be worth ordering a free UK SIM card and completing the unlock whilst you have wi-fi at home.
      Hope this helps,

  31. Nicki said:


    I recently bought a second hand iPhone 4 to use with International sim. It was bought on the understanding that it was unlocked. However when putting in a Lebara sim it will not work. So i Presume it is locked. How do I find out what network this is locked to?. The person I bought it off says she used it with O2 and Vodafone and it worked and also she says she tried it on Orange and that worked. I am now puzzled please can you help me. Thank you

  32. Anita said:

    I have recently bought an IPhone 6s from Carphone Warehouse… i wanted to use it in France with my french Orange SIM card.. I never realised how difficult that would be!

    6 weeks later I am still going around in circles – still cannot use my expensive IPhone and totally regretting buying it from CPW!

    Can someone give me advice on how I can activate it (i am currently in the UK) and then unlock it without having to stay with the network for 12 months.

    I am willing to pay – just want to use the phone in France as I originally intended!

    1. Anita replied:

      Forgot to say.. yesterday I purchased a 3 pay as you go SIM card to activate the phone.. it would not accept the SIM and said it was invalid to activate the IPhone and that it was the provider not the phone!!
      Can I only activate the IPhone with certain network providers if I have bought it from CPW?

      1. Ken Lo
        Ken replied:

        Hi Anita,
        Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear about the issues activating your CPW iPhone. In theory, a SIM-free iPhone from CPW should work without any problems on the Three UK network. Hence, unfortunately, I’m not really sure why it isn’t working here (unless it has already locked itself to a different mobile network). One way you’d be able to check is to bring your iPhone into the nearest Apple Store – they should be able to check the “activation policy” which will tell you the network the handset is locked to.
        In general, I normally recommend people buy a SIM-free iPhone directly from Apple (this is permanently unlocked and doesn’t have any of the complications seen on a CPW iPhone). If it’s still possible, you could also investigate whether returning the iPhone to CPW is an option.

        1. Anita replied:

          Hi Ken

          Thanks for the response.. CPW want nothing to do with it and said its in the small print.. Can you recommend a website that will unlock it? I’m willing to pay – just want to use it.. 🙁

  33. Ellie S said:

    Just wanted to say a big thanks for all your very helpful info. I bought a sim free iphone 6s from Tesco Direct and rather than using one from my own service provider (Virgin), I first put in a 3 sim and then went back to Virgin for a new nano sim. Despite them saying I’d probably find the phone was now locked to 3, it wasn’t! I’ve since tested it with an O2 sim as well and all 3 work fine. Thanks again 🙂

  34. Sam said:

    A friend just gave me an iPhone 5s which is locked to o2. She was on a pay monthly tariff. Can I unlock if with a pay and go SIM card or does it have to be her ? If I can unlock it myself, will I be able to do it from France ? (if I have £15 of balance)

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Sam,
      Thanks for your comment. Are you able to ask your friend to process the unlock on your behalf? They only need to enter their details on the O2 unlocking form (it’s totally free for them and the unlock happens remotely so there’s no need for them to actually have the handset). If you aren’t able to do this, you can unlock the handset for £15 but you’ll need to have been an O2 customer for at least 12 months.
      Hope this helps,

  35. Jane said:

    Hi Ken,
    It has been 7 days and I have heard nothing. I have been on my account and found that I did not have enough credit as for some reason I have signed up to a £1 a week deal SIM, I had not realised this. I have now topped up another £5 to ensure that I have enought credit, but I am not sure not whether this is too late? Can you please advise what is the best course of action now?
    I also noted when I went on my account that it could not detect what phone was linked to my PAYG account because I had done it all over wifi and it had not registered the iphone. Will this also be a problem when it comes to unlocking it?!
    Thank you.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Jane,
      Thanks for your comment. You can remove the EE £1/week pack by texting STOP PACK to 150 (this ensures your credit will still be there for other uses e.g. for unlocking your phone). You’ll need to have £8.99 when requesting the unlock from EE.
      With regards to your second question, I don’t believe this will cause any problems. There simply needs to be an account for the unlock to be registered against.
      Hope this helps,

      1. Jane replied:

        I have just looked on my online account and to remove the £1/week pack that I have and they have taken the £8.99, does this mean that it will be unlocked? I do have an email saying that they had recieved my request to unlock it?
        Thank you.

        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi Jane,
          If they’ve taken the £8.99 and you’ve got the e-mail to say they’ll unlock the handset, it should now be in the process of being unlocked. It can take up to 7 days for the unlock to be processed.
          Hope this helps,

        2. Kec replied:

          Hi Jane,

          just curious: was your iphone 6 older than 6 months?

          1. Jane replied:

            Hi Ken,
            Yes I waited until it was over 6 months old as I was going to get the old owner to unlock it for me, then I read on here that I could do it myself with a PAYG sim. It has worked now – thank you so much for you help. I can now cut my monthly bill in half, with more data that is also 4G. Thank you!

  36. Kec said:

    Fantastic website! and a great resource!

    I don’t quite understand this EE unlocking option:

    If person A takes out a new contract on EE and then sells their iphone a few days later, can the new owner (Person B) simply insert an EE PAYG sim card, top-up with £10 and then simply apply for an immediate unlock?

    Does the 6 month requirement then fall away in this example?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Kec,
      Thanks for your comment and a very good question! My interpretation of the rules is that the 6 month requirement does fall away in this example. Whether it actually works in practice is something I’m unsure about (would be interesting to see if anyone else has some feedback about this).

  37. Adam S said:

    I have recently finished my o2 pay monthly contract for my iPhone 5s. I no longer have an o2 account, so I can’t fill out the o2 unlocking form. Could you please tell me how to unlock my iPhone.

  38. Jane said:

    Hi Ken,
    I have just submitted a request via the payg EE page to unlock my iPhone 6, however this is my usual phone, so I have inserted my contract orange sim back into it to be able to use it. I want it unlocked so that I can go on a three sim only. Do I have to put the PAYG sim into the phone, so that EE know it’s on their tarrif or is it enough that I have registered it all now? I have received the email saying it will take 7 days. I’m just concerned that it’s not the sim that’s it that has requested the unlock. Please can you advise?
    Thank you

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Jane,
      Thanks for your comment. No need for the SIM card to actually be in your iPhone: it’s all unlocked remotely through Apple’s servers. Once you’ve got the message from EE to say your iPhone is unlocked, you can insert the Three SIM card whilst connected to wi-fi to complete the unlocking process.
      Hope this helps,

  39. Myway5 said:


    Please help, seeking for the best solution.

    My work colleague recently got new a EE iPhone 5s sent to him, then because of tariff cost decided to go to a different network. at this stage he had received the EE iPhone and was willing to return to EE but they would not cover the postage cost for him to return to EE.

    I have now brought the EE iPhone off of him but have a few concerns about getting it working. It is brand new still in packaging and not open or powered on yet.

    After reading your website, which was extremely helpful BTW. I’m not sure what the best way is to get the phone working on a unlocked basis.

    1) If I put any network sim in, will it automatically lock it to that network?
    2) will the phone be blacklisted? As such making it completely unusable?
    3) from reading through your site, I think that to start with put a PAYG sim from three or O2 then top up and request an unlock from that network through the online form, is this right?
    4) is they any alternative methods that would be better then point 3)?
    5) I want to avoid putting a sim inside and then it locking the phone permanently to that network or be tied into they T&C’s for a lengthy period of time.

    Any help/advice would be much appreciated and sorry for the volume of text, just want to be 100% certain am doing the right thing.

    Many thanks

    1. Myway5 replied:

      Following above comment, I went out and purchased a 3 rolling monthly nano sim and gone to insert into the iPhone 5s, and getting a invalid sim message and cannot activate the phone 🙁 so looks like the iPhone is locked to EE.

      Any advice on how to get the phone unlocked?

    2. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi there,
      Thanks for your comment. In response to your questions:
      1) The automatic locking only happens when you buy a SIM-free iPhone from third-party retailers (e.g. the Carphone Warehouse). If the iPhone was provided directly from EE, it’ll be locked to EE regardless of the first SIM you use.
      2) If your colleague has cancelled their contract and not paid the iPhone off, it’s probably the phone will eventually be blacklisted. If he’s still paying for the contract or if he’s paid the contact off, the iPhone should continue to work as normal. I believe there’s a clause in EE’s contract which says the handset belongs to them for the first 6 months of the contract.
      3-5) Unfortunately, this won’t work for EE-provided iPhones. You’ll need to unlock the iPhone directly from EE: more info here on what you’ll need to do.

  40. big nick said:

    many thanks ken i just found this link on google whilst looking through these sites that claim to be able to open iphones,they charge a lot of money with no guarantee of opening your phone,this was done legaly through ee i was charged £8.99 and i now have an open iphone 5c ,many thanks for some GOOD ADVICE nick

  41. Lily said:

    Hi Ken,

    Thanks for the Guide.

    I just bought a iphone6 from Argos, and it will be locked to the first sim card.
    After reading your guide, it looks like EE pay as you go would be the best sim card for unlock purpose.
    I have called EE customer service yesterday, but they still insist the 6 month minimum term. I have also checked EE website, their term and condition online is dated September 2013.

    Can you please kindly provide a link which says ”As of December 2014, EE has removed the requirement to have used your handset on Pay As You Go for more than 6 months (the six month requirement now only applies to Pay Monthly customers)” ?

    I have been with EE for a few years, I know how bad their customer services. If I can not show them the rule in black and white, they will just pretend it doesn’t exist. I’ve just read a post on EE community that someone went EE shop bought a pay as you go iphone6 at ful retail price but has been insisted for the 6 months’ term.

    Thanks in advance

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Lily,
      Thanks for your comment. The best way to unlock your iPhone is actually to use a Pay As You Go SIM card from Three. Three has no restrictions on you being able to unlock the handset and it’s also totally free of charge (saving you £8.99 compared to EE).
      With regards to the 6 month requirement from EE, it’s been taken off their unlocking form here. You can also find more information on the EE community forums (e.g. here) – they removed the 6 month requirement in response to a complaint from the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority).
      Hope this helps,

      1. Lily replied:

        Hi Ken,

        Thanks very much for your reply. This web page is a very good guide.

        It looks the customer service in local shops were not well trained, both EE and Three. I have been both shops on the high-street, EE shop assistant insisted for 6 months term for pay as you go costumer; The Three shop manager is even worse, he told me if the handset is not purchased from three, they won’t be able to unlock. I then stated the phone will be locked to the first SIM, then the three shop manager said I was the one who put the SIM in the phone, and three hadn’t forced me to do so, therefore, three can’t help me to unlock it, I have to be responsible for the error I made.

        Compare to 6 month and impossible, I’ve chosen EE and was going to give a try with your online form link, and physiologically prepared to be locked to EE for 6 month as worse case.

        But luckily and Finally, my problem has been resolved by calling EE customer service, with lots of luck, this time I have been directed to the correct department and to a brilliant customer service. She helped to resolve my multiple problems.

        Thanks for all the information and help.
        Best regards,

  42. Charles Grant said:

    I, have read through your notes on getting an Iphone unlocked.

    I am taking my phone to Amsterdam, and will be there for a year or so. I am currently using an Iphone 5 on Vodafone in the UK. As far as I can see from your notes, I can ask vodafone UK to get the phone unlocked, and then, when this is done, simply insert a Dutch SIM card, and the phone should work (As long as I follow the instructions about being connected to WIFI at the time).
    Is that correct, or does the process have to be done in the UK?


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Charles,
      Thanks for your comment. That’s right – you’ll need to ask Vodafone UK to unlock your iPhone 5. Once you’ve done that, you should be able to use the iPhone 5 on any compatible network in the world. I don’t think you need to physically be in the UK when the unlock is processed but you will need to have an account on the Vodafone UK network. For this reason, I strongly recommend getting the unlock code before you cancel your contract.
      Hope this helps,

  43. Adrian Wines said:

    Having been given an iPhone 3G by a friend, I now discovered it was locked by EE. Who were not helpful at all. I used a local ‘mobile booth’ who after taking £40 said I would be unlocked in 10 days. I have got a sim card from BT. Each time I access the phone it says the number is ‘not known’. Should I reset all the settings, before it will work, please.

    Thank you


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Adrian,
      Thanks for your comment. You can unlock the iPhone from EE for £8.99 – simply order a free Pay As You Go SIM card from EE and follow the instructions above in this article.
      Unfortunately, I don’t know how the local phone shop is currently planning to unlock your iPhone? Probably best to check with them directly to see what they want you to do for the unlock to be processed.

  44. Andrew said:

    Hi ken, thanks for your thorough guide. I purchased an iPhone 4 (o2 mobile network) from a lady on gumtree who said that she was through with the contract and she has upgraded to iPhone 5. We both filled out the form on o2 website and all information requested and after 72 hours o2 sent her a text message saying the phone cant be unlocked. what shall I do to get it unlocked?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Andrew,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, the only way of unlocking an iPhone is by making a request to O2. Did they provide you guys with any information or reasoning as to why the unlock can’t be processed?
      Many thanks,

  45. David said:

    Hi Ken i am about to buy an iphone6 from someone who got it on pay monthly contract from either EE or O2. He claims he has got it unlocked from third party. Its a good bargain but my only concern is that if he defaults on his payments, Can network blacklist/block it while i will be using it abroad. Thanks.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi David,
      Thanks for your comment – you ask a really good question. I think there are two separate parts to your question:
      1. About whether a phone could be blacklisted for non-payment of a contract. I’m not actually 100% sure with regards to this question. A handset will certainly be blocked if it’s reported lost or stolen. In theory, it could also be blacklisted for any other reason (e.g. non-payment of a contract). I believe some networks in the US do do this, though not totally sure about networks in the UK.
      2. About IMEI blacklisting and whether this applies outside the UK. Blacklisted devices are added to a Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR). In theory, mobile networks from all around the world will contribute and use a CEIR. So it’s totally possible a phone that’s blacklisted in the UK will also be blacklisted in other countries around the world.

  46. Sarah said:

    Hello Ken! Just a really quick question, I got my iPhone 5 in June 2013 with three, and obviously it wasn’t unlocked at the time, before I updated my phone and used a different sim (lycamobile) it wouldn’t recognise it and would say no sim, however after I updated it, it did recognise it, does this mean my phone is unlocked? Thanks:)

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Sarah,
      Thanks for your comment. Indeed, if your iPhone 5 is now accepting a SIM card from Lycamobile then it’s definitely now unlocked for use on any network!

  47. Grace said:


    Thanks for the advice, I just wanted to check a few things. I had an iPhone 4s on EE, then my contract ended so I moved to O2 and got an iPhone 5s. I would now like to give my Mother my old 4s, but I currently have no sim in the 4s because 02 moved my number over. So do you think the best way to unlock this phone is to buy an EE sim and then unlock? I don’t really want to stay with EE as I wanted to buy my mother a giffgaff pay as you go sim.


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Grace,
      Thanks for your comment. The best thing to do is to order a Pay As You Go SIM card from EE (free). Once you’ve done that, you can top up the SIM card by £10 and you can use it to unlock the iPhone for £8.99. You can then order her a SIM card from giffgaff which should then work in the unlocked iPhone 4s.
      Hope this helps,

  48. Sue Hester said:

    Hi Ken ,so glad I found your site.A year ago I bought an iPhone on eBay and it’s been sitting in the drawer as I have been unable to unlock it from Orange.
    I tried loads of places in town and they all said it couldn’t be done legally only by jail breaking it.
    Thankfully today I read your tips on getting a pay as you go sim for it then going online to getting it unlocked.
    Well I’ve done the deed and am awaiting the text to tell me it is in hand.So far so good.Watch this space.

  49. Fernando said:

    Hi, this is the best article I found on the subject. I was given the iPhone 4s I used at my previous place of work, when I left them after 6 years of service last September (2014). By that time this phone was used for more than a year the company got all office phone contracts from O2. When I left I moved to GiffGaff sim without any problem. However the problems started when I inserted my new micro sim from 3. It gives me the “SIM not valid” error. As I no longer an O2 customer and have no contacts with the previous office what is the best way to get this iPhone unlocked.


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Fernando,
      Thanks for your comment. As you mention in your comment, an O2-locked iPhone will work fine on giffgaff but won’t work on other networks such as Three. This is why you’re seeing a “SIM Not Valid” message on your iPhone.
      Do you know if the iPhone was obtained on a business contract? If so, O2’s website says you should be able to unlock the iPhone yourself without any difficulties. If you aren’t able to do this, your only option would probably be to do this as a Pay As You Go customer. Unfortunately, this requires you to have been a Pay As You Go customer for more than 12 months so is not the easiest process for unlocking your iPhone.

  50. Atif said:

    Great Post, provides all the required information in one place! However,
    I have recently bought an iphone 6 from a third party seller on EE. I will be travelling abroad very soon and I cant wait for 6 months before requesting to unlock. So:
    1) Can I buy a pay as you go sim as suggested by you just for the purpose of unlocking?
    2) Will it affect my existing contract I have with EE.

    Thanks. 🙂

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Atif,
      Thanks for your comment.
      1) I believe it should be possible to do this via the Pay As You Go route (you’ll need to order a new SIM card from EE).
      2) It shouldn’t affect your existing contract with EE.
      Hope this helps,

  51. Monica Ojog said:

    Hi, my brother bought an iPhone 6 from a strange person, after using it for a while , the phone locked. What happened?? What should he do to use it as a phone and not just as a tablet??

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Monica,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, without an error message or further information, it’s difficult for me to say what has happened to the phone. It’s possible the phone has been blacklisted by the network. If you’d like to check this, you could try You could also try calling your network and asking them to check directly.

  52. Alan Clarke said:

    Hi I have a second hand iPhone 4s that was with the Orange network. I bought it for my daughter to use in Australia so I need to unlock it.
    I’ve got a PAYG sim to follow your advice and am ready to top it up to cover the cost of unlocking.
    However I went to their site to check if this would work and it seems they will not. Is your advice out of date ?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Alan,
      Thanks for your comment. The advice posted above should still be correct: I’ve had feedback recently from people who were able to unlock their iPhone with a free SIM card from EE.

  53. won said:

    Hello, I may need some help.

    I bought a second hand Iphone 5C from the retail shop and I was not aware of anything until the problems kicked in. Following day, I made a monthly contract deal with EE 15.99 quid a month and they said the sim will work within few hours.
    But it never worked as it showed “no signal”, however the setting shows that EE sim is integrated while network is “not available”. Its been 2 weeks of “no signal” and I’m starting to concern that this Iphone might be blacklisted to EE.
    I went back to EE shops few times but they said there might be a problem with the phone and nothing is wrong with the sim.
    I paid for this phone and I’m very frustrated as I feel like I’m scammed.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Won,
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear about your problems on the iPhone 5c. There are two things currently worth doing:
      1) Place the EE SIM card into another unlocked smartphone (you can borrow one from friends or family). This will allow you to verify whether the SIM card is working correctly. If the SIM card isn’t working properly, you should take it back to EE for a refund.
      2) Make sure your iPhone 5c is set to choose a network automatically. You can do this by going to Settings > Carrier and making sure the ‘Automatic’ toggle is switched on. If your phone is set to choose a network automatically but is still unable to find the EE network then your best bet would probably be taking the phone to an Apple retail store.

  54. Mubeen said:

    Hi. I have a iPhone 6 bought from cpw in uk and it is locked to three because the first sim I put in was a three sim. How do I get this phone unlocked now?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Mubeen,
      As per the instructions listed earlier in this article, you’ll now need to unlock the iPhone from Three. The good news is it’s super easy to do this: simply fill in the form here on Three’s website. It can take up to 7 days for Three to unlock your iPhone.

      1. Mubeen shouaib replied:

        Hi there thanks for your reply. I have tried this method but I received a txt from three saying it’s already unlocked. However when I put another sim in it says sim not valid? What would you advise next?

        I have also been advised by three that if I restore my phone it will become unlocked? Is this true at all

        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi Mubeen,
          Thanks for your comment. If the activation status of your iPhone has been updated in Apple’s centralised database, then restoring it will complete the unlock of the handset (restoring your phone forces a check against Apple’s activation database).
          Another way you’re able to do this is to insert a different SIM card when connected to wi-fi. This should also force a check against the activation database and should do the job in completing the unlock.
          Hope this helps,

  55. steve said:

    Great blog!!!
    Hi my mother in las has upgraded to iphone 6.
    She has given me her 5 but it is locked to EE (TMobile) and i have an iphone 4 unlocked and og giff gaff.
    She has contacted EE and they said to take it into an apple shop, but they have said contact EE so i am going round in circles. I don”t mind paying, just want the phone unlocked haha

    Please can you help,

    many Thanks,


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Steve,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, it’s only possible to unlock your iPhone by going directly to the mobile operator it was bought from (you can’t unlock an iPhone via the Apple Store). You can follow the instructions here: it’s £8.99 to unlock the iPhone (you can order a free Pay As You Go SIM card from EE for the purposes of unlocking your phone). The actual unlocking request is submitted online via EE’s website so no need to worry about being sent around in circles 🙂
      Hope this helps,

  56. Sheryl said:

    Dear Ken
    I was given an IPhone 5s locked to Vodafone UK, in a Vodafone shop, sales staff insisted no point getting the pay as u go freebie SIM card and trying to unlock after 30 days , as only the original owner can unlock the phone. Also Vodafone online form requires the name, email address, of the person trying to unlock the phone, if I put in mine vs the original owner, does that mean it will be blacklisted n not unlock? Thanks

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Sheryl,
      Thanks for your comment. I think the sales staff are correct: it’s the original owner who will need to request the unlock from Vodafone. If the original owner got the iPhone on a Pay Monthly contract, it’s free to unlock the handset if more than 12 months have passed since they first got the handset. If it’s a Pay Monthly phone with less than 12 months or if it’s phone obtained through Pay As You Go, there’s a £19.99 charge.

  57. Michelle said:

    I have an iPhone 5 that was with three mobile on contract, we filled the online form and contacted them requesting the phone to be unlocked, they confirmed it has been unlocked and Apple have also confirmed it is unlocked. I contacted our new supplier Virgin to make sure the sim had been activated and it has, but we are still getting “no sim” when we put the sim in. The new sim works in another iPhone but that is on Virgin, but no other sim will work only the old three sim which says no service because the contract has ended.

    Hope you can help.


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi M,
      Thanks for your comment. With regards to the “No SIM” error message, I don’t think this is due to the iPhone being locked. If the SIM card was recognised but then wasn’t accepted by the phone, it would show a “SIM Not Valid” message like in the screenshot here.
      It’s curious the Virgin SIM card is working in another iPhone but not in this one (it looks as if your iPhone 5 is failing to recognise the SIM card). Have you tried ordering a free Pay As You Go nano-SIM from another network and trying it inside your iPhone 5? Doing this should allow you to determine whether the problem is with the SIM card or with the iPhone itself.

  58. Kay said:

    Hi Ken
    Thanks for your very thorough guide. Can you please help with a few questions I have?
    I recently got the iPhone 6 as an upgrade of my O2 contract with the carphone warehouse. Will this come unlocked or will it lock itself to the first sim put in it as you mentioned?
    I travel next month and will like to use the phone on an international network while I’m away. Will this be possible? If so, what’s the best way to go about this?

    Many thanks!

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Kay,
      I believe the iPhone will lock itself to the first network used, in common with other iPhones sold by the Carphone Warehouse. With regards to unlocking an iPhone 6 from O2: unfortunately, this still isn’t possible. A note on the O2 website currently says: “We won’t be unlocking iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus for a while. We’re prioritising our stock of these devices for customers who want to use them on the O2 network. The exception to this will be O2 Refresh customers who’ve completely paid off their Device Plan in full – we will therefore allow iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to be unlocked.”
      For this reason, I’d probably recommend using the iPhone first on Three. The iPhone will lock itself to Three’s network but you’re able to unlock it easily & free of charge. It should then be possible to use the iPhone on another network when you’re travelling abroad next month.
      Hope this helps,

      1. Kay replied:

        Thanks Ken. Does it have to be pay monthly sim card from 3? I purchased a pay as you go sim card from 3 and it worked on the iphone OK. I then requested for it to be unlocked by 3 but I received message saying it was already unlocked. I went ahead to try my international sim card but received the ‘sim not valid’ message. Is there something else I should be doing?

        PS: I haven’t tried my O2 sim in the new phone just incase it does lock itself to O2.

        Thanks again!

        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi Kay,
          Any SIM card from Three should do the job fine (including those on Pay As You Go). It’s worth double-checking with them to make the sure the handset is fully unlocked. You can also bring your iPhone to an Apple Store and ask them to check the activation policy (this will tell you whether the handset has been unlocked from the network).

  59. graham said:

    Hi Ken
    I have just sold my old iPhone 5 locked to o2 if I.fill out form to have it unlocked will I loose my phone number which is now associated to my new phone or is it just a case of then needing it so they know what phone it is
    regards Graham

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Graham,
      You won’t lose your phone number after unlocking the iPhone: your phone number is simply being requested so that O2 is able to identify who is making the request. If you’re an O2 Pay As You Go customer, the phone number will also be used to charge you £15 for unlocking.
      Hope this helps,

  60. Ian said:

    Hi Ken, I filled in form to EE to get my iPhone 5 unlocked which was on 17/04/15 but how much longer would I have to wait on unlock code.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Ian,
      Thanks for your comment. Have you received any confirmation messages from EE or has the £8.99 fee been taken from your account? The best way to check on the status of your unlock is probably to contact EE Customer Services on 150. According to EE’s website, it should only take up to 7 days for your iPhone to be unlocked (so it’s worth contacting them if you haven’t heard anything more).

      1. Ian replied:

        Hi, Ken. I did get confirmation email on day of submitting form which was 17/04/15 then on 24/04/15 EE took admin fee of £8.99

        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi Ian,
          It sounds like the unlock is now being processed given the money has been taken from your account. I’d look out for communications from EE (also try inserting a different SIM card in case the iPhone is now unlocked). If you’re still having problems after a few days, you can contact EE to check on the status of the unlock.
          Good luck!

  61. Tom said:

    Hi Ken,

    I would like some clarification for unlocking in my situation. I have been given an iPhone 3GS that was locked to Orange but has not been used for several years. I would like to take out a Pay As You Go contract with EE and then have my phone unlocked. Since I would be on a SIM only deal,would I still be eligible for the unlocking procedure, even though I am not the original owner?

    Also, should an iPhone locked to Orange, work with an EE SIM card?

    Thank you

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Tom,
      Thanks for your comment. Until recently, I’d have told you the answer was definitely no (previously, Orange would only unlock the handset for the original owner and only when you were still on the original contract). As of earlier this year, they liberalised the rules (you no longer need to have the original contract/plan to unlock the handset as a Pay As You Go customer). My interpretation of the rules on EE’s website is you should now be able to unlock it as described (you’ll need to order a SIM card from EE as Orange no longer provides any SIM cards on their network). It’s not actually necessary to have the SIM card in your handset: you simply need to activate the SIM and you’ll need to top up the account by £8.99 or more. Saying that, I haven’t actually tried doing this myself so I can’t guarantee it’ll work in this situation.
      With regards to your second question, some Orange handsets will support an EE SIM card (the handset will need to be fairly new). For the iPhone 3GS, I suspect it wouldn’t work with an EE SIM card. That shouldn’t matter too much for unlocking (the SIM card doesn’t actually need to be inside your iPhone).
      Hope this helps,

      1. Tom replied:

        Hi Ken,

        Thanks for your reply. I have had two conversations with EE customer services and in both cases I was told categorically that EE will unlock a phone only for the original owner who obtained the locked phone on a contract with EE. The link you provided to the form for requesting an unlock from EE produces the following statement when either selecting Pay as you go or SIM only. “The IMEI of the device to be unlocked must be registered on their account and not blacklisted.” My interpretation of that is that the request can only be made by the original owner, or how else could the IMEI number be registered on the account?

        Is there any other official source that you could cite regarding the relaxation of the original owner requirement?


        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi Tom,
          EE has confirmed on Twitter that you’re able to unlock a second-hand device as a Pay As You Go customer (you still won’t be able to if you’re a Pay Monthly customer on EE).
          Hope this helps,

          1. Keith replied:

            Thanks for the advice and your time, much appreciated.

            I had requested EE unlock this device which was on my account, EE took less than a week to do this. The phone has now gone to a friend who is an O2 subscriber. I assume that the phone will remain unlocked during the their period of ownership and subsequently to any additional owners in the future. ie that the phone doesnt become locked on O2.

          2. Ken Lo
            Ken replied:

            Hi Keith,
            Glad to know the phone has now been unlocked! It will now be permanently unlocked for use on any network and shouldn’t lock itself automatically to O2.

  62. Kelsy-Lee said:

    Hi Ken, I have a 5S which my ex bought from eBay and was locked to EE.

    When asked, I told them how I got it and they said that I’d need to be on their network for 6 months and they will unlock it. So I waited the 6 months and ended up paying the money 3 times and not getting anywhere. Any time I called, they offered a refund and never gave it me. Then I kept being told that it was in fact unlocked, but it wasn’t. They never actually refused to unlock it.

    Only 4 months later was my phone actually unlocked! Ridiculous. I’ve not spoken to anyone who’s had a good time with them. They’ve got one rule on their website and another for those who they are dealing with over their customer services.

    Over all, it was unlocked but it took a very long time. I’ve no idea what EE have done but my phone won’t work with anything but 3 now! My friend has gone through the same hassle as I have!

  63. robert said:

    –Help…just bought a iphone 5 on ebay ..the phone is on orange uk but didnt know that ,i though that i can unlock it here in spain with imei,but it cost to much about 130 euro any way to unlock it

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Robert,
      Thanks for your comment. You’ll need to follow the instructions here if you’d like to unlock an iPhone from Orange. The easiest thing to do is to ask the original owner to unlock the handset for you: it’ll cost them £8.99 (you can, of course, offer to pay them this money). If you aren’t able to contact the original owner, you can go through the route of unlocking the handset as an EE Pay As You Go customer – once again, the cost is £8.99. You’ll need to live in the UK to get an EE SIM card – if you aren’t able, it might be worth asking a friend in the UK to do this for you.

  64. Keith said:


    I have an EE unlocked iPhone 5, a result of a family upgrade. All done through the usual EE channels. I am passing this phone to a friend who wishes to upgrade from an older model iPhone. My question is, when they use this phone on the O2 network by placing their sim in it and following Apple registration process. Will this phone still remain unlocked or will it automatically be locked to the O2 network on any future software upgrades or otherwise? After paying to get it unlocked, it would be ludicrous to have to pay for it again in future.



    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Keith,
      Thanks for your e-mail. An iPhone that’s been provided through official EE channels and that has since been unlocked from EE should permanently be unlocked for use on any network (it won’t lock itself automatically to O2). The automatic network-locking mechanism only applies when the iPhone is bought from certain third-party retailers (e.g. the Carphone Warehouse). If you’d like to double-check this, you can take your unlocked iPhone into a nearby Apple Store. Ask them to check the locking status of the phone (CPW iPhones will have a “UK Carphone Flex Activation” policy which causes them to lock to the first network used).
      Hope this helps,

  65. Linda said:

    Hi Ken,

    just wondering if you could help. I have just requested that o2 unlock my iphone, however it’ll probably be a week or more before I receive my new sim from my new network, EE. Can I still use my iphone as normal after it’s been unlocked with the o2 sim and then insert to ee sim later?


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Linda,
      Yep – you can still continue using the iPhone on O2 whilst you wait for the EE SIM card to arrive in the post. After O2 unlocks your iPhone, you’ll be able to use it on any compatible network (O2 included).
      Hope this helps,

  66. asli said:

    hi i just bougth a unlock i phone 6 plus and put my tesco nano sim card but it does not work i take it to tesco phone shop they swap my nano sim the other sim they said wait 24 hours so it can work but when i switched my phone still no signal.tesco said if this does not work problem with your phone and they can not help me because i did not buy handset from them.

    so please can someone tell me what i need to do?thanks

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Asli,
      Thanks for your comment. There are two things to try in this situation:
      1) Have you tried using the iPhone 6 Plus with a different SIM card inside? You can either borrow a nano-SIM from your friend or you can order a free one from the links on this page.
      2) Have you tried using the nano-SIM from Tesco in a different mobile phone?
      By trying these two things, you can find out whether it’s a problem with the SIM card or a problem with the iPhone. If you’re still struggling to resolve the problem, try bringing your iPhone to a nearby Apple Store.

  67. Jonathan said:

    Hi Ken,

    I have recently been given an iphone 3gs but it is locked to Vodafone. I want to use it for pay as you go with a giff gaff sim but need to unlock it. Is there any way I can do this without having to pay for it? I have been told that Jailbreaking is one way but I am worried if this is safe as I don’t want to download any dodgy software onto my machine to do this.

    I know that jailbreaking invalidagtes the warranty – however I believe the warranty on this model expired a long time ago and secondly I was told that it will mean I don’t receive updates – how crucial is it that I recieve updates anyway?

    I know this is probably a few questions in one go but I need some help please.

    Many Thanks for taking the time to read my comment and any suggestions would be very much appreciated.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Jonathan,
      Thanks for your comment. In the old days, you could unlock an iPhone by jailbreaking the software (essentially, it removes the security restrictions placed on your handset and goes on to remove the network-based locking). I believe this only works with very old versions of the iOS operating system (it’s probably no longer possible to do this unless you’re still running a very old version of the operating system). As you mention, having a jailbroken iPhone also means you’ll need to be careful installing new updates (bear in mind, some of these updates are vitally important for protecting the security of your handset).
      I always strongly recommend you unlock the iPhone through official channels – that means contacting Vodafone and unlocking the handset through their official online form. There’s a charge of £19.99 but it’s well worthwhile in terms of the hassle you save yourself.

  68. Zoe said:

    Hi My Husband has bought me an IPHONE 6 from a friend at work. He did not know he would have to check what network it is locked to! He bought this last month and put it away for my bday! The guy he bought it from no longer works with him and he is unable to get in contact with him so I am unable to request this to be unlocked from the provider. What do I do now?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Zoe,
      Thanks for your comment. You’ll need to find out which network the iPhone is locked to. There are two ways you’re able to do this. The first option is popping in to your local Apple store: they’re able to check the locking status of your phone directly on the system. The second option, if you aren’t able to visit an Apple store easily, is to try a bunch of SIM cards from different mobile operators (because of the reasons mentioned on this page, you only need to order SIM cards from four different networks: EE, O2, Three and Vodafone). Trial and error should tell you which network the handset is locked to.
      N.B. If using the second method, I strongly recommend trying a Three SIM card first. This is because SIM-free iPhones from the Carphone Warehouse will automatically lock themselves to the first network you use. It’s much easier to unlock a handset from Three than from the other networks.
      Hope this helps,

  69. Ken said:

    Hi Ken, not sure if you can help. I phone 4s, 2 year contract with T mobile, 6 months into the contract the phone developed a fault, still under warranty I visited my local Apple store (Leicester) and the phone was exchanged FOC, great. The contract finished about 1 year ago. I have now moved abroad to live, dug out my old phone to use with a local sim card, you guessed it, phone locked. Just by luck I happened to be near my local Apple I Spot (resellers) shop, they checked for me and low and behold my phone was actually locked onto the Orange network not T Mobile.

    My 3 questions are (hoping you can help)

    1) Can’t get the phone unlocked by Orange, never had a contract with them.

    2) Can’t get the phone unlocked by T Mobile, don’t have an active account with them, also the IMEI number is different to T Mobiles records due to the phone exchange with Apple.

    3) Maybe the most important question. As my contract with T Mobile has finished and the subsidised price of the phone has been repaid to T Mobile over the course of the 2 year contract, I guess the phone belongs to me, why do I have to pay to have it unlocked if it’s my property.

    Hoping you can help.


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Ken,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, it now won’t be possible to unlock your iPhone from T-Mobile/Orange. The reason for this is simply an EE policy: they’ll only unlock the handset for the original owner and only when you’re still on the network (for replacement devices, you’ll also need to show proof of the exchange). With regards to your third question, I agree – this totally makes sense! I’m a strong supporter of forcing the UK networks to unlock a handset once the contract is paid off. Unfortunately, however, there’s nothing in the law that requires them to do this (as you were sold an iPhone for the Orange/T-Mobile network rather than an iPhone for any network in the world, there’s nothing to require the network to unlock it). Several other countries have experimented with compulsory unlocking – fingers crossed we’ll get something in the UK that’s similar in the future.
      Very sorry I wasn’t able to help out any more.

      1. Ken replied:

        Hi Ken, Thanks for the response, (great name by the way) I have been in touch with EE and guess what, they checked my account and low and behold after the contract finished I had requested an unlock and paid the 20.42 fee but they never actioned it. With moving abroad and everything that goes with that I had completely forgotten about it. As I am the original owner they emailed me to say they would action the unlock again, FOC? did they think I would pay twice? I just hope they unlock the exchanged phone and don’t try to unlock the original. As you have said in previous posts and I totally agree with you, EE appear to make it that difficult and with the millions of phones moving from person to person/children/friends etc…… what % of people simply give up and think oh well may as well stay with EE. I’m sure you know but just some things to consider, O2 monthly contract phones are unlocked for free at the end of the contract, 3network most contract phones are actually unlocked to begin with.

        Keep up the fight Ken and I wish you all the best, just a final thought to scare these huge companies, a super cheap company for international calls I use here abroad, Lebara, everybody with a mobile gets a Lebara sim, Lebara to Lebara calls, FREE. My other beef is updating some time ago to IOS 7 something, wifi greyed out but hey I’ll save that for another day. Apples response, not our responsibility, IOS upgrades are done at the owners risk, can I intrest you in buying an iphone 5 or 6 sir?????? Amazing.

  70. Libby said:

    Hi – I am looking at buying a second hand iphone 5S – it is currently locked to O2 and the owner is no longer with O2. If I was to use a PAYG sim would I be able to unlock the phone via the official O2 unlocking form? Or would it be unsucessful as it was a contract phone?
    Thank you

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Libby,
      Thanks for your comment. You can unlock an iPhone from O2 even if you aren’t the original owner of the phone. Simply order a free Pay As You Go SIM card from O2 and be sure to top it up at least £15 (I recommend choosing the ‘Big Talker’ SIM card… on the Big Bundles tariff, part of your top-up will be turned automatically into a Big Bundle). Once you have a SIM card from O2, you can follow the unlocking instructions here.
      Hope this helps!

  71. Alex said:

    Hi, I recently brought a new iphone 5c off a friend, still in box. She says it is supposedly linked to EE but i am still unsure of whether i can use a tesco sim card in it. If it is locked to EE how am i going to unlock it, as I am a second hand customer who has not had this phone on an EE contract.
    Please help me out

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Alex,
      Unfortunately, an iPhone 5c locked to EE can only be unlocked by the original owner of the phone. Your friend should still be able to apply for an unlock (it’ll cost her £20.42 but you can always offer to pay her this back). She’ll need to make the unlocking request through this form on EE’s website using her own details rather than yours.
      Hope this helps,

  72. David Hindle said:

    I have an Iphone 4 that was on contract with Orange. I am not with them now so how can i unlock it?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi David,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, Orange/EE are incredibly strict on their unlocking criteria: typically, you can only unlock the handset if you still have an active contract on their network. It’s always worth contacting them anyway to ask but unfortunately there’s very little I can otherwise suggest.
      Sorry I couldn’t be of any more help,

  73. Suzanne said:

    I have an iPhone 5 which has been unlocked by O2 after my contract finished. I am wanting to give the phone to a friend, if they put a new SIM card in from a different provider will the phone lock to the new provider? Will any provider work in the unlocked phone. Thanks

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Suzanne,
      Thanks for your comment. It’s my understanding that once an iPhone has been unlocked from your network, it should permanently be unlocked for use on any network.
      Hope this helps,

  74. Lauren said:

    I purchased my phone from a second hand shop and they unlocked it there and said to me that I have to wait 5-7 days before it would be unlocked. Problem I have is will apple send me an email to say its unlocked, or do they need verification to say that I want it unlocked? or do I have to check my iTunes account to see if its unlocked? Because I’ve forgotten what he said to me. I have an iPhone 5 on Vodafone. done it on the 26/01/2015

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Lauren,
      It’s probably best to check with the shop on how the unlocking will proceed for your phone. That said, you can check if the handset is unlocked by inserting a SIM card from another network whilst connected to wi-fi. You can also connect your handset to iTunes (check to see if it gives you a message about the handset being unlocked).

  75. Alan Kite said:

    Hi Ken,
    Been having a bit of a nightmare trying to get my iPhone 5 unlocked from T-Mobile. Bit of a long saga but maybe of interest to other T-Mobile users and I have a couple of queries at the end which I would appreciate your help with.
    Phone locked to T-Mobile was bought on EBay shortly after the iPhone 5 was first available. Used it on PAYG with data booster until August 2014 when I switched to EE on a SIM only contract to get 4G. Back in early January 2014 I asked TM to unlock my phone (I was going to New Zealand for 4 weeks in February and wanted to have the option of using a local SIM). TM said it would cost £20 and would be done in about 4 weeks. Despite a couple of phone calls to TM to check it was still not done in late March when I returned home. After more phone calls, each one telling me it would be done in 48 hours, still no success even though the £20 had been deducted from my account. After speaking to the manager of the EE shop in Trafford Centre he said the problem was probably because the IMEI number on my TM record was full of zeros as TM had not bothered to complete the registration form. Next phone call to TM managed, with difficulty, to get the IMEI number entered. Still no luck with unlocking in June 2014 but further call to TM indicated finally that, as I was second user, they needed proof of purchase of the phone which I sent to an EE email address. Still no word in August, when I switched to EE, which worked fine.
    Went to the Apple Store in Trafford Centre to see if they could help. They said it was a Network issue but when they checked my phone background they said the phone details were registered as unlocked by Apple (there seemed to be a string of about 8 numbers against my phone which weren’t the IMEI numbers) and that if I restored the phone it would upgrade the software to OS 8.1.1 and my phone would be unlocked! Looks like TM just never got round to telling me.
    My questions are:
    1. do I really need to reset and restore the phone to activate the unlocking process, as many sources suggest that just putting a “non-supported SIM will be sufficient?
    2. If it does work, will it be unlocked for all time to all networks, as Carphone Warehouse staff have told me that even if unlocked it will lock again to the first SIM used? As I will be using a free PAYG SIM to check it is unlocked I certainly don’t want it locked up to anything other than my EE contract SIM.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Alan,
      I’m very sorry to hear about your problems getting an iPhone unlocked from T-Mobile. The whole process has taken an extraordinary amount of time but I hope we’re now on the road to getting the problem resolved.
      1. In some cases, you will need to backup & restore the iPhone to get the handset unlocked. There’s detailed information about how to do this on Apple’s website (essentially, restoring your iPhone will update its activation status to that in Apple’s database). Inserting a non-supported SIM card with wi-fi enabled normally allows you to do the same thing without the hassle of actually backing up and restoring.
      2. I believe it’s the case that only iPhones purchased from a third-party retailer (e.g. CPW) lock themselves to a network on first-time usage. If you want to be double-sure, use a Pay As You Go SIM card from Three when testing the unlock (it’s free to unlock an iPhone from Three and it’s a more straightforward process compared to other networks).
      Hope this helps,

  76. Jon said:

    Hi Ken,
    I have just come to the end of my contract with orange with an iPhone 4. I switched to ee (part of the same group) and bought an iphone5s and have stayed on a pay monthly contract. No problems there and I carried my old number across. I wanted to give my old iPhone 4 to my daughter and ordered a tesco SIM card with 30day notice contract but I can’t get it to work in my daughters phone. I realise I have to unlock my phone but it doesn’t seem fair to be charged 20 quid when technically I am staying with them on a new contract and starting another contract for my daughters phone with tesco. Do you think I should just pay the money or fight my corner?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Jon,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, the policy of Orange & EE is you need to pay £20.42 to unlock your iPhone regardless of whether you’re staying as a customer. You could try negotiating a lower fee for unlocking but as far as I’m aware, they won’t normally offer this even to customers who renew an existing contract.

  77. Eleoma said:


    I have a little issue with my new Iphone 5s, my sister received as a gift the Iphone 5s and bought the new Iphone 6 so she gave me the Iphone 5s that she has never used.
    The thing is that she has tried once to see if it worked with her sim-card (EE), I’ve activated the Iphone 5s with my sim-card (3) and the Iphone is locked to EE I don’t know for which reason.

    Apple Support confirmed me that the phone is locked to Orange now but as she didn’t buy it with her carrier she can’t unlock it, so I don’t know what to do now…the phone is still on warranty with Apple until the end of the year.

    Could you please tell me what to do to unlock it ?

    Thank you for your help

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Eleoma,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, some UK iPhones will automatically lock themselves to the first network you use on the phone. This is probably the reason why the handset is now locked to the Orange/EE network. You can read this article for more information but unfortunately, it’s now going to be difficult to unlock the handset for use on other networks.

      1. Eleoma replied:

        Hi Ken,

        Thanks a lot for your quick response.
        What if I ask to unlock it online on one of the unlocking site or by following a Youtube tutorial, is it safe to unlock it this way ?
        Because I saw a lot of tutorial on that but I’m scared to do something to the phone…


        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi Eleoma,
          The only way to unlock an iPhone is by making a request through your mobile network operator. The locking status of your iPhone is recorded through a central database run by Apple and only the mobile network operator (in this case, Orange) has the authority to ask Apple to change this. Hence, I’d be very wary of following tutorials or using a third-party services to unlock your iPhone (please be warned there are lots of unscrupulous websites advertising an iPhone unlocking service).
          I’m sorry as this probably won’t help to solve your unlocking problem but I thought it’d be worth letting you know.

  78. Ray said:

    Hi Ken, Happy New Year!

    On a recent Xmas visit home I purchased a new sim free Iphone5S at Argos in Dublin, for use by my daughter here in Qatar. On inserting the Vodafone sim here, it was locked. I called Apple support who basically told me that the phone was locked to Carfone UK ( I assume as Argos are a UK company and ship the phones to Ireland. However, I was surprised that it was already locked to them as I only opened the phone here for the first time in Qatar. In any case, I checked on the Carfone site and they say ” SIM free iPhones can only be used with a UK-network SIM card, and will not accept foreign SIM cards.”…..I was wondering if there is anything above board that I can do apart from fight with Argos for misrepresenting their product and try for a refund. Thanks Ray

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Ray,
      Thank you: happy new year to you as well and sending you my best wishes for 2015!
      With regards to your question, it’s very strange that your SIM-free iPhone purchased in Dublin is locked to Carphone Warehouse in the UK. I presume they told you it had a “UK Carphone Flex” activation policy? You can read more about these handsets here but in short: they only work on UK mobile networks and they automatically lock themselves to the first network used. Hence, my understanding, is the SIM-free iPhone also wouldn’t work on an Irish mobile network (e.g. see the comment from another reader here). In this case, you would certainly have a strong case for getting a refund.
      Unfortunately, I’m no expert on Irish consumer law but I’d guess you could return the handset based on Argos not letting you know the handset was locked to networks in the UK. You can also read their refund policy: they seem to have a 30-day money back guarantee.
      Wishing you the best in resolving this issue with Argos,

      1. Ray replied:

        Thanks for the quick reply Ken. The underwhelming experience I just had with Argos support didn’t bode well. The person doesn’t think that Argos should be stating that the phone is locked to a UK carrier, for sale in Ireland, but SIM free lol. Looks like I might have to go to consumer protection. I still don’t get how it was locked to Carfone however…..ahhh next time I will just buy here to save the hassle!
        Thanks Again

  79. Steve said:

    Hi Ken.

    I’ve got what I think is a good one for you. It’s a bit long so please bear with me!

    I have an iPhone 4s which I got from Carphone Warehouse in December 2012 on a 2 year Vodafone contract. All seemed to be fine for the duration of my 2 year contract.

    In December 2014 my contract expired and I asked at a Vodafone store for them to switch me to a sim only tarriff and also unlock my phone, which they said they would do for free. A few days later I got an email from NUC Resolutions saying that that they couldn’t unlock my phone because my phone (presumably the IMEI) wasn’t for a “valid Vodafone UK device”. The IMEI that was quoted in the email was the same as the one in the settings on my phone though.

    Yesterday I went back to the same Vodafone store and asked them to try it again. They seemed to have an escalated method for unlocking it and within a minute or so said again that they couldn’t unlock it. They suggested that the phone might already be unlocked and that I could check by inserting a sim from another network. So I went nextdoor to an EE store and asked them as a favour to pop in an EE sim and check if it worked. The EE sim worked.

    During the process of checking the EE sim they connected my phone to their store’s wifi and I had to enter my Apple ID and password. I’m pretty certain the phone was never out of my sight, and I’m even more certain that they didn’t connect it to a computer. (A later call to the Geek Squad asked me about these things and they seemed to think they could be relevant).

    When they put my Vodafone sim back in it no longer worked – further investigation has shown that my phone is now locked to the EE network.

    EE say they can’t unlock it because I don’t have an account with them (I suggested they could give me a free sim and account and then they could unlock my phone, but they said this won’t work because the phone was originally registered to Vodafone), and suggested I contact Apple who EE say can easily unlock my phone. Vodafone can’t unlock it because the lock is to EE. The Geek Squad guy said that my phone had been unbricked yesterday and that therefore the EE guys had done something they shouldn’t have but ultimately blamed Apple. Carphone Warehouse say that any iPhone that you have unlocked will then relock to the network of the next sim you put in (I find this a bit odd) and that therefore the Vodafone guy should never have told me to try a different network sim in order to check if my phone was unlocked. And Apple say they only maintain a database of what the networks tell them with regard to unlocking and that there is absolutely no way for them to unlock an iPhone from their end. Apple have however sent me a screen shot which shows that the original activation policy was “UK Carphone Flex Activation” and that the current and next activation policies are “UK TMobile Orange”.

    Basically everyone is stumped by this. My feeling is that the phone was never properly locked to Vodafone and so when the EE sim was put in it treated it as the first sim it had seen and locked it to EE. This shouldn’t be possible but clearly something has happened that shouldn’t have been possible. Or alternatively that the EE guy did some sort or activation, but I wouldn’t have thought it was this easy to get a phone locked to their network (I’m sure it wasn’t done maliciously) unless the phone had never been activated correctly in the first place.

    Do you have any thoughts about who is really responsible here and how I can get it resolved?

    Thanks in advance.


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Steve,
      Thanks for your comment. It sounds like an incredibly complicated issue. As far as I’m aware, the “UK Carphone Flex Activation” policy (further discussed on this page) should only apply to the first network you use (it shouldn’t lock itself again on a subsequent use of the handset). So in theory, your handset should have locked to Vodafone UK and shouldn’t have locked itself to Orange/T-Mobile/EE.
      Leaving aside the issue of how it got locked to the EE network (which I’m totally stumped by!), the ball is now firmly in EE’s court. If you want to use the iPhone on other networks, you’ll need EE to request the unlock from Apple. You mention in your comment this has been unsuccessful to date. My recommendation is to escalate the issue by making a formal complaint to EE here. There’s actually no reason why EE aren’t able to unlock the iPhone for you: their refusal to do so is only because of strict internal policies and rules on unlocking (i.e. needing to be the customer who bought the handset originally, still having the original contract, being a customer for more than 6 months). If you’d gone and used a Three SIM card instead, Three would have happily processed the unlocking request for you (they don’t have the same policies as EE).
      Hope this helps to point you in the right direction and wishing you all the best in getting the issue resolved.

      1. steve replied:

        Hi Ken,

        Thanks for your advice. Thought I’d update you on my phone situation. Firstly, good news: my phone is now working again (presumably locked back to Vodafone rather than EE).

        Secondly, how I resolved the problem: to be honest not 100% sure but I think it was a guy at the Genius Bar in the Apple store. I say not sure because I spoke to Vodafone and EE time and time again and they were awful. EE just kept saying I could get a PAYG, wait 6 months and pay £20. Vodafone just kept saying they’d sort it in 5 days, and then 5 days later it still didn’t work.

        Today I went to the Genius Bar and my phone now works. Despite having spoken to Apple for an hour in week 1 and them assuring me they couldn’t unlock phones it seems they can. Basically the Genius reckoned that my phone was never activated correctly by Carphone and that my phone had spent 2 years waiting for a first sim to be put in while quite happily letting me use the Vodafone sim that hadn’t properly been acknowledged by the phone (exactly what I suspected even though I didn’t tell the Genius that this was my suspicion). Apparently this happens if the sim is inserted before it is put through the till (not quite sure how that works but that’s what he said).

        Anyway, sometimes this happens when an Apple store sells a phone and the Apple store has a special form they can fill in that can get it unlocked. The Genius wasn’t certain it would work since they hadn’t sold me the phone originally, but I guess it did. Which is why I’m a bit annoyed that Apple told me 4 weeks ago that there was no way they could unlock my phone but actually they have.

        Along the way I’ve had a few people tell me that a newly unlocked iPhone (specific to iPhone) will lock again to the next SIM card you insert. I find this odd but I’ve been told it by people who I haven’t explained my predicament to and who initially said that relocking couldn’t happen and who then checked with their boss who said it could.

        Thanks again for your help.


        p.s. now going to Giff Gaff!

        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi Steve,
          Thanks so much for updating me on your progress. It’s really good to know that you were finally able to unlock the iPhone! The conversation you had with the guys at Apple was also really insightful – I’ve learnt a lot about how iPhones are locked (and that the staff at Apple have a secret form to make unlocking requests!). Thanks again for taking the time to write back – I know other readers of the website will find it really useful!
          Thanks again,

  80. David said:

    Hello Ken,

    I have o iphone 4 that is locked to t-mobile UK.
    This is Pay As You Go phone at the moment.

    When you go to EE unlock page where you can unlock your phone

    you can see that when you select Pay Monthly option they say that you phone has to be
    actively used with your pay monthly SIM for a minimum of six months.

    but they don’t say that when you select Pay As You Go or SIM Only

    So my question is do I need to be with them for 6months if I have Pay As You Go
    before I can unlock it?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi David,
      Thanks for your comment. I’ve taken a look into this issue a bit further – it turns out for Pay As You Go and for SIM only customers, they removed the 6 month requirement a couple of weeks ago. Thanks for bringing this to my attention!

  81. sukh said:

    Hi Ken,

    I have a Iphone 5c which was with o2 (first network used)

    I have done the unlocking and have had the congratulations message on iTunes.
    However i am still unable to use a Sim from another network.

    Do you have any idea what may have gone wrong.
    Could it be that O2 missed something in there process.

    I am trying to use sims for EE in the phone and have tried several without any luck.



    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Sukh,
      Thanks for your comment. Do you get an error message when putting the EE SIM card inside your handset (e.g. saying the SIM card is “not supported” or something along the lines)? If so, the handset is still locked to O2 (check with Apple Care why it won’t accept SIM cards from another network). If there isn’t an error message and the phone simply isn’t connecting to the EE network, it might be the case you handset is set to manually connect to the O2 network only. From the home screen, go to Settings > Carrier and make sure the “Automatic” slider is set to “On”. This should hopefully solve the problem you’re having!

  82. Dean said:

    Just bought an iPhone 5 locked to Orange on Ebay, was delivered 23/12/14, I asked the seller to request an unlock from EE/Orange at a cost of £20.42 which he kindly did for me via the EE online unlock form at approximately 9.00pm on 23/12/14 and by 3.00pm today (24/12/14) it was unlocked. Fantastic service from EE!

    1. ag replied:

      Did you get an email/text to say it was unlocked??

      1. Dean replied:

        Yes the seller received a text with a link explaining how to complete the unlock procedure.

  83. Kate said:

    Hi Ken
    My friend was given an iPhone 4s from her boss which Apple tell us is locked to O2 UK Tesco. We live in Australia & when I requested information on the Tesco Facebook page through messenger, the representative told me that the phone is unable to unlocked unless it is in the UK due to the process requiring the active use of another UK network sim! Could you please advise if this is the so and if not then how we are able to unlock it?
    I really appreciate your help as this was a birthday present for her daughter 3 weeks ago and it still is not able to turn on!
    Thankyou, Kate 🙂

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Kate,
      Thanks for your comment. I don’t think it makes any difference whether you’re in the UK or abroad in another country (when you attach the handset to iTunes, there shouldn’t be any country-based distinction). They are right however in saying you’ll need a Tesco Mobile UK SIM card in order to request the unlock. This is obviously going to be difficult to do when you’re living abroad in a different country! You’ll probably need to ask a friend to set up a Tesco SIM card with at least £20 of credit. You could then use the details of that SIM to progress the unlocking of your iPhone for other networks.
      Hope this helps,

  84. Shauna said:


    I upgraded to an iPhone from a Samsung about 2 months ago with EE but have been a customer with Orange/EE for the past 10 or so years. My question is, I am going to India for a month and will want to use an Indian sim (which they only use Vodafone there), will EE issue the unlock if I have been a customer for longer than 6 months but not had the actual phone for 6 months?


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Shauna,
      I’ve taken a look at the EE website – this is what they say about the six month requirement:

      Your device must have been purchased when joining your contract or upgrading and actively used with your pay monthly SIM for a minimum of six months.

      Hence, on a strict reading, they wouldn’t allow you to unlock the iPhone at this time. Given that, I still think it’s probably worth a go (you could also call EE Customer Services on 150 to see whether it’s possible).

  85. Sam said:

    Hi Ken
    Just a quick question, I live in Spain my daughter gave me her iphone5 which is locked to orange UK tried to insert sim but doesn’t accept it. Can she get it unlocked in UK without physically having the phone and does the phone need to have a valid sim inserted to unlock the phone.

    Sent from my iPad

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Sam,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, Orange UK and Orange Spain are treated as separate networks for the purposes of locking (this is why you aren’t able to use an Orange UK iPhone on the Orange Spain network). If you have the iPhone’s IMEI number, you can make an unlocking request as normal without physically having the phone in your possession. Once the unlocking request has been processed, she’ll simply need to plug the iPhone into a laptop or PC with iTunes set up. She should then receive a message about the iPhone being unlocked. After seeing the message, it should then become possible to use the Orange Spain SIM card inside of the handset.
      Hope this helps,

      1. Sam replied:

        Hi Ken
        I have the phone in Spain would I be able to connect the phone to my iTunes account and see the same message or does it have to be her itunes account.

        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi Sam,
          Unfortunately, I’m not sure if it’ll work with any account or if you specifically need access to hers (the latter is probably better but if you don’t have access then you could always try your own).
          Best of luck,

  86. Vincent Carroll said:

    I bought an iPhone 5 from a friend at work and it is locked to orange. She dint unlock it before she sold it although I thought she had. She has now cancelled her contract. I purchased a sim only deal but cannot use it as it is a different network. What is the best course of action?

    Would really value your comment on this


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Vincent,
      Thanks for your comment. I do apologise for being the bearer of bad news though unfortunately it looks as if it will no longer be possible to unlock the iPhone 5. This is due to Orange’s misguided policy to only unlock the iPhone for the original owner who must still have a contract at the network. The only solution I’m able to think of is to get a SIM only tariff from Orange. This might not be ideal but it’s likely the only way to now use the iPhone.

  87. andee said:

    Hi, had an iphone4 on contract with vodafone, that finished a couple of years ago. I then put in a Vodafone payg SIM for my son to use, but now I need the phone unlocked to get him a 3 SIM only contract. I read that Vodafone charge £19.99 for this, but what option do I use, the pay monthly that was what it was originally, or top up and select the payg option? Any advice would be gratefully received. Thank you.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Andee,
      Thanks for your comment. My suggestion would be to first fill in the form on Vodafone’s website with your previous account details. This should hopefully suffice for unlocking your iPhone. If it’s not accepted then you can always use the Pay As You Go account (though this will come with a £19.99 charge).
      Hope this helps,

      1. Andee replied:

        Thank you, for the prompt reply

  88. vanessa said:

    I have just purchased an iphone that was on O2 but was advertised as unlocked. Well it won’t accept my Vodafone sim. I checked with the person I purchased it from and she contacted O2 with the IMEI no, and they have said it is unlocked, so they can’t do anything. As my current number is on a different sized sim, it is very difficult to keep activating and swapping the SIMS over. I have ordered a new payg vodafone sim to see if I can work out when it is unlocked. But in the meantime is there anything I can do to get it working.

  89. ichayan said:

    Great article, thanks for that. I would appreciate if some one can help.

    I have recently purchased an iPhone from ebay brand new sealed. The owner said it is on EE network.

    I have heard iPhone which is not bought directly from apple will lock to the first sim card inserted.

    AM I right in thinking if I put an o2 sim card in the phone; it will get locked to the o2 network and can I then get it unlocked from o2 who has got the simplest unlocking procedure of all?

    Thanks in advance

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi ichayan,
      The automatic locking behaviour only happens for SIM-free iPhones purchased from a third-party retailer – see this post for more information. Unfortunately, as your iPhone was bought from EE, it’ll be locked to the EE network and will not work with an O2 SIM card inside it. In order to unlock the phone, you’ll need to follow the instruction found here. Unfortunately, the policy of EE is to only unlock handsets for the original owner (hence it might be necessary to get back in touch with the person who sold you the phone).

  90. Nicola said:

    Hi all, I have come to the end of my contract with Orange and called them to reduce my tariff. I have been an orange customer for years. I was told they could reduce my bill by £30 a month – great I think. But we will transfer you over to EE and you can have 4G, etc. lovely I say.
    I’m told I will be sent a new sim and to put it in the phone overnight as it can take a while to transfer the number. I do exactly as I’m told – I put the sim in, wake up and there’s no service. I contact EE who say it can take 24 hours, I wait that long and still no service.
    I call again and the phone is telling me it does not support the SIM card. They then informed me it’s locked to Orange and I need to ask for it to be unlocked. This will take 7 days so I do as I’m told again. I thought I will put the orange sim back in so at least I have my phone, but oh no that’s been switched off. So here I am without a phone for the next week and there was me thinking I was being treated right as a loyal customer. Am I wrong in thinking EE and Orange are one of the same so come on guys get it together.
    Any ideas on how I can get this unlock quicker.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Nicola,
      Sorry to hear about the issues upgrading from Orange to EE. An EE SIM card won’t work in an Orange-locked iPhone (you’ll need to unlock it before upgrading). This is why you had the problems using your new SIM card. With regards to unlocking, unfortunately there isn’t a way to speed up the process (EE will first need to process your request & will then need to send it to Apple). Unfortunately, there’s no way of bypassing the process or making it any faster.
      It does sound as if the entire situation could have easily been avoided. When EE Customer Services suggested they move you over from Orange to EE, they should have let you know about the requirement to unlock your phone first. Also, they would ideally have actioned this automatically rather than making you call up again in order to unlock the handset. I think you have fairly strong grounds to make a complaint to EE and would strongly encourage you to do this.

  91. Jessica said:

    Hello there.
    I am so glad I came across with this website.

    I too am on the same boat as other people here.
    Ended the orange contract after two years without realising my phone is still locked to orange. I was sure I unlocked it last year but obviously it was another phone…

    Anyway I am the original owner of the phone and I sent them a request to unlock my phone on the transfer date (presume that is the last day of my contract). They promised they would send me the code by email but nothing heard from them since then…

    What do you think is the best step to take now?
    Do you know how long it normally takes? The confirmation email says it is within three working days but obviously that’s not the case.
    I am so stressed with this situation…

  92. Waleed said:

    Hi ken,
    I recently purchased an iPhone 5 from eBay which is locked to orange uk. I called orange to get the phone unlocked but they say I must have used the phone for atleast six months. I told them that the person I bought it from was using it on orange for more than a year and I am a new owner now but the phone is not new. They are asking for the number that it was used on. Now the problem is when you buy something from eBay, the seller is not obliged to give you their phone number or contact orange on your behalf to get the phone unlocked. And also orange customer service agent old me that the phone is actually unlocked, and I need to call apple, which I did but apple said its locked. I called orange again and they said its not unlocked. Now the dilemma is orange is just messing around and the person I bought the phone from, I am still waiting for their response, if they can contact orange. My query is how do I get my head around this issue
    Best regards

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Waleed,
      Thanks for your comment. I’m really sorry to be the bearer of bad news though Orange policy is they’ll only unlock the iPhone if you’re the original owner. Hence, based on the information you’ve given in your comment, I suspect it won’t be possible to unlock your iPhone to use on other networks. You probably have only two remaining options at this stage: either switching to Orange yourself or selling that iPhone and buying another one that’s unlocked for all networks. There are lots of comments lower down in this page where people have tried unlocking an iPhone from Orange without being the original owner (I’m not aware of any situations where this has been done successfully).
      Sorry again to be the bearer of bad news,

      1. Waleed replied:

        Hi ken
        Thanks for your prompt response. What a nightmare orange is and their customer service is appalling. I would never think of joining orange but will try selling now.

  93. Kelly said:

    Hi Ken,

    Wonder if you can help with this problem. I was with Orange. My contract finished and I got my iPhone 4s unlocked. Had no problems setting up and restoring the phone to work on the Virgin SIM I bought. I have just changed to a Three SIM (so I can tether without being penalised) and keep getting the “unsupported SIM” message. Could Virgin have locked my phone despite it being an Orange phone originally? I have done a factory reset and full restore twice now and still the same issue. Please help, I don’t want a new phone or contract.


    1. Chris replied:

      Usually uk iPhones lock to the sim network you have chosen. You will therefore have to contact your provider to unlock again

      1. Kelly replied:

        Thanks for ypur reply. It’s been resolved. Orange hadn’t unlocked the phone like I requested. The Virgin sim worked as they utilise the EE network so was deemed a supported sim. All sorted now though. Thanks

  94. Jacqui said:

    Does anyone on this forum know how I resolve my issue. Feel like I have no support from Orange whatsoever.

    This is an email I sent to Orange today.

    IPHONE 4 Contract


    I have left Orange Contract over 2 weeks ago. I received a code for transferring my Orange telephone number over to Giff Gaff pay as you go. The account then finished around 11th September 2014. When I put my sim card in and transferred to Giff Gaff the phone comes up NO SERVICE.

    I found out that I needed an UNLOCKING code from Orange in order to unlock the phone to use with a new provider.

    On the 11th September I contacted Orange and asked for an unlocking code. I was told a charge of £20.00 would be put onto my account. I agreed to this. I was told that I would receive information regards the unlocking of the phone.

    On 11th September 2014 I received an email stating for IPHONES/IPADS it takes 3 working days, some devices take longer as they may have to contact the manufacturer. Further instructions to follow.

    After not receiving the information after 3 days I waited another couple of days but still no information sent to me. I then contacted Orange again and I was told they would send an rapid message to Apple regards the code. Again I received no information.

    On 23rd September 2014 I contacted Orange again. I was told that my phone had ALREADY BEEN UNLOCKED on 16th September 2014 and I was asked for a mobile no. for texts to be sent through of how to unlock the phone. I had to give a friends telephone number as I had no service on my phone due to the contract ending. I received instructions on how to unlock the phone via ITUNES. I was told due to my inconvenience the fee of £20.00 would be refunded on my next billing. I asked for a supervisor to contact me and left several work contact no’s. I never got a call.

    On 24th September 2014 I went to APPLE store in Manchester City Centre Arndale. They were extremely helpful. They connected my phone up to their system and tried to unlock the phone. They told me that the phone was not unlocked by Orange. They shown me the diagnosis on the computer.

    On 24th September 2014 I went to Orange inside in the Arndale Centre (now EE) straight away. The staff put me on the phone to Orange. I was transferred to 3 different people and had to explain the situation each time. I was again told that a rapid message would be sent regards unlocking my phone. I was on the phone 40 minutes. I asked for a new phone to be sent to me as I have now been off my phone for over two weeks. I was told that this would be sent to another department via message as for what I have asked for. I also asked for a phone call back and gave my work no. due to having no phone to contact on. No reply.

    On 25th September 2014 I still received no response via my email regards to unlocking my phone.

    I contacted Orange again. Each time I have contacted I have been put thought to customer services in India. I asked to speak with a supervisor, I was put through and as I discussed the matter with “Raul” he said that my telephone number was still with them and not GIFF GAFF and it had not changed over. I said it had changed over and it was recognised with GIFF GAFF. I was then told that there is a problem with Orange TECHNICAL for about 1 month and its not just me who has a problem with the unlocking code process. I was furious at this as this was the first I had heard. I said I had waited 2 weeks and this was the first I had heard about it. I was then told it will be another 7 to 10 days from today that it will be sorted. I stated that in 7 or 10 days what if it is still not sorted out!!!! I could not be given any answer. I was put on hold and then CUT OFF. I rang back right away and another person answered. I told them I wanted to make a complaint and I was CUT OFF again. The third time I got through and spoke to a male name ADAM SINGH, he said he was a Supervisor. I again explained my situation. I was told again thousands of others in same situation. I explained it was not acceptable as I paid for a service only Orange can do. I was then told “I haven’t paid as it is refunded”. This made me more angry due to the fact that it is only Orange who can provide the service. I was again told that the information would be sent to TECHNICAL. I therefore could not get any time of when the matter is to be resolved. When I said that I wanted details of Head Office in England for Orange I was told that I could not be provided with any details. I asked then what do I do, I was told I will get a call, I can only give my work no. and I work shifts not 24hrs a day. I also stated each time I have gave my work no. no-one has contacted me back. I was completely unhappy with the explaination given.

    I asked for a new phone to be sent to me as I have paid for a phone which was on contact with Orange which is part of the monthly fee for the handset. I was told I could not have a new phone, did I want to take out a new contact!!!!!!!!!

    I have no phone. I have had the telephone number for over 10 years with Orange and have been a loyal customer. I have a phone that is unworthy to use.

    I have contacted TRADING STANDARDS. I have explained my situation. I have been informed I have Rights under the Supply of Goods & Services Act. “Any Service Supplied not completed within a reasonable time”. I do not believe 2 weeks is a reasonable time. To be told the issue has been on going for a month. To be told it will be at least 7 – 10 days and thousands of people in the same situation. To be then not given a guarantee the matter will be resolved.

    I want a service only Orange can provide. Orange cannot provide that service. I want the following action: A REPLACEMENT UNLOCKED IPHONE in order that I can contact people. I do not have the funds to just go out and buy a new phone. I do not want to go on another contract with Orange.

    I have been informed that other people with IPHONES not with Orange have had no trouble unlocking their IPHONE.

    I have asked Orange for my call to be recorded which I was told it was. They could see that I had rang on numerous occasions and that I had been cut off as stated above. I asked for a copy of my call to be sent electronically. I was told I could not but had to phone back another time and listen to the call.

    Please can you respond as soon as possible.

    1. Jessica replied:

      I feel for you. Could you update on what has been happening since you left this comment?

    2. Sophie replied:

      I have had EXACT same problems with Orange as you describe in detail above. It almost reliving my nightmare, reading yours. I have also had severe connection problems and been unable to use phone on/off during my 4yrs + with Company. Whatever the problem, it’s never Orange fault, they beat around the bush – solving NO problems. Have had anxiety attacks, after being on the phone for hours, been told lies after lies and then they disconnect call…

  95. Levi Fletcher said:

    Hi Ken,

    I have and iPhone 5s and have recently tried to unlock it from the Three network as it is locked (I assume this because any other SIM I insert always gives the invalid SIM message) and wondered if you could help me…

    I followed the instructions here sent to me in a text yesterday after I had completed the unlock request form the previous day.

    However, I still get the “invalid SIM message” that fails to activate and it never prompts me to “update my network settings” even though I performed a full restore and have the latest version of iTunes and iOS. Am I right in assuming that my phone has not been added to Apple’s centralized list of unlocked phones yet? I ask this because if I have been sent the instructions I would have thought my phone was registered with apple and ready to be unlocked the text did not say anything about waiting…

    Please let me know your opinion on this.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Levi,
      Thanks for your comment. It sounds as if your handset is still yet to be added to Apple’s central list of unlocked iPhone handsets. It can often take up to 7 days for your device to be added (hence I’d wait until October 1st). If you’re still having problems after the 1st October, it’s probably worth checking with Three customer services to ensure your request has been processed correctly.
      Hope this helps!

      1. Levi Fletcher replied:

        Hey Ken,

        Thanks for the reply! My phone is now unlocked! I received a text from Three on Friday saying “we’ve now processed your unlock request. To finish, just insert a working non-Three SIM and connect your device to iTunes. Thanks”

        It seems it was an issue on their end as I had followed all the previous instructions they gave me. I can confirm I inserted and EE SIM and it worked fine. I didn’t have to pay a fee and the Three support person I spoke to was extremely helpful so a good experience and resolution. Hope this helps somebody else!


  96. Steve said:

    Ken my friend has just sold me his iPhone 4,I turned it on and it just says no sim,I’m waiting for a micro sim now when that comes will it be accepted?thankyou for your reply.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Steve,
      Thanks for your comment. The only definitive way to check whether your iPhone is unlocked is to insert a micro-SIM from a different mobile network. If you’re shown an error about the SIM card being unsupported, it means the iPhone is still network-locked. If the SIM card works properly and you’re able to make a call, this means the iPhone is unlocked. Unfortunately, I can’t think of any faster way to check whether the iPhone is unlocked (besides possibly borrowing a SIM card from your friend).

  97. Saurabh said:

    hey ken
    i was thinking to purchase a iphone 5s locked to network three UK. But i leaves in India so can you explain me whether unlocking cancels the contract and can i use my iphone with any other sim in India.
    also, do i need to provide my address during buy and continue to pay contract money


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Saurabh,
      Thanks for your comment. Any handset purchased from Three is already unlocked for use on any network. In regard to your other question, you will still need to pay for the 24-month contract even if you leave the UK and go to another country. You’ll definitely need to provide an address & you’ll undergo a credit check when taking the contract out. Think of a mobile contract as you would any loan: the cost of the handset is subsidised upfront and you pay it back gradually over the next 24 months. For more information, see our article on early termination fees.
      Hope this helps,

  98. hsjs said:

    i got my iphone 4s unlocked today but it isnt accepting my sim card anyone know what to do? iv tried connecting it to itunes but it doesnt seem to be doing anything?

  99. Ross said:

    Hi Ken,
    I am looking to buy an iPhone 6 “contract free” from a US Apple store to then use in the UK, due to it being so much cheaper there. After some research I found it will work with all networks and frequencies/bandwidths in the UK, the only thing i am still unsure about it Apple sells the iPhone 6 as “contract free” (and labelled as T-Mobile) not saying it’s fully unlocked so i wanted to ask whether it would be as easy as buying the iPhone in the US, bringing it back to the UK, buying a SIM-only contract in the UK, inserting the SIM and it’ll work?


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Ross,
      Thanks for your comment. I’d advise against buying a “T-Mobile USA contract-free iPhone” – it turns out they’re actually locked to T-Mobile (at least they were for the iPhone 5s). It can be substantially harder to unlock an iPhone from US mobile networks (particularly if you’re in the UK).
      With regards to the difference in price, it becomes much smaller when taxes are added. The basic price for the “T-Mobile USA contract-free iPhone” is $649. With sales tax added (e.g. 7% in New York), the price you pay is closer to $695 (£427). You then need to add UK import duties or VAT which makes the total cost around £520. This is only £19 cheaper than a genuinely-unlocked iPhone bought from the UK which will work on all the networks and will be less of a hassle to gain after-sales support!
      Hope this helps,

      1. Altaaf replied:

        Hi thanks for all that great info. Wondered can we unlock our iPhone 6/6plus now from Vodafone paying £20 approx would it be made available asap? Cheers good blog

        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi Altaaf,
          Thanks for your comment! I’m not aware of any reason why Vodafone wouldn’t immediately unlock your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. That said, if it’s an important requirement, I would recommend you double check this with Vodafone customer services (call 191 from a Vodafone handset or 03333 040 191 from any other handset).
          Hope this helps,

  100. Richard said:

    Thanks again
    I just here so many stories of people not getting mobile data when they change over sims
    With an unlocked iPhone5 with the latest software I hope thats not the case with me.
    I will let you know how it goes

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Richard,
      If mobile data no longer works after changing SIM card, the chances are your APN settings have been incorrectly configured. Providing you have an iPhone running iOS 7.1.1 or later, the APN settings will be changed automatically when you put a giffgaff SIM card inside (hence, for you, no further action is required). On older versions of iOS, you’ll need to follow the instructions on this page. If you’re changing to a network that doesn’t sell the iPhone, you’d also need to update the APN settings manually.
      If you do hear of anyone experiencing the problem described, do remind them to double-check the APN settings on their phone! 9 times out of 10 this should solve the problem with data 🙂
      Hope this helps!

      1. Richard replied:

        Thanks so much
        I will update you when I change over, I’m sure all your readers will like to know how it goes. Or not!

  101. Richard said:

    Hi Ken
    I got in touch with 3 mobile here in the UK
    to unlock my soon to be out of contract iPhone 5
    They sent me a link, I followed the instructions and used iTunes
    However, I never got the congratulations message to say my phone has been unlocked.
    3 have promised me my phone is unlocked, but I have no way of knowing unit I buy my 02 sim only deal in 2 weeks.
    Any ideas

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Richard,
      Thanks for your comment. The easiest way to check if your iPhone has been unlocked is to insert a Nano SIM from a different mobile network. Rather than waiting until you buy the O2 contract (and taking the risk of paying for a contract you can’t actually use), another option would be to first order a free Pay As You Go SIM card. Simply place the new SIM card in your iPhone and see whether the SIM card works properly. It’s not necessary to top-up the SIM card to check whether it works.
      Hope this helps,

      1. Richard replied:

        Thank’s so much!
        I did what you said and got a free O2 sim and my iPhone is indeed unlocked!
        Forgive for asking but what next?
        I’m going to get a 12 month O2 sim only deal, when that arrives is there a step by step guide on how to set up my phone?
        I back up wit iCloud and iTunes.
        Do I just follow the instructions off m phone? when I inserted the test sim it came up with the message that the phone was linked to an iTunes account which is correct as it’s mine!
        I’m not a phone expert as you may tell, so any help and advice would be much welcome
        Yours In Advance

        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi Richard,
          Thanks for the comment and glad to know the iPhone has been unlocked! There’s no need to set up your phone again: all of the apps will continue working as before and all of your data will still be on the phone. The only thing you’ll need to do is to transfer your phone number from Three to O2. I’ve prepared a step-by-step guide for this process (might be worth bookmarking for next month!)
          Hope this helps,

          1. Richard replied:

            Thanks so much
            So just to confirm, remove my 3 sim, insert my giffgaff sim and away I go?
            No need to change any setting for wifi or find my phone?
            Great site
            Keep up the good work

          2. Ken Lo
            Ken replied:

            Hi Richard,
            No worries – thanks for the kind words! And yep, assuming you’re using the same iPhone, everything will stay exactly the same even after you change the SIM card inside. The only two things you really need to do are to unlock the handset and to transfer your number over 🙂

  102. Debbie said:

    Can I unlock my iPhone 4 before I upgrade so I can still use it for a little while? I’m at the end of my contract with Orange and want a new phone, but want to pass on this phone to my daughter and get a sim only contract for her. I understand it takes a few days to unlock so Ill still be able to use my phone while its happening right?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Debbie,
      You should definitely unlock the iPhone before changing contract (otherwise, Orange may refuse to unlock it!). There’s no problem at all continuing to use the iPhone whilst it’s being unlocked – it doesn’t affect the phone or the contract you’re on.
      Hope this helps!

  103. Olly said:

    Hi, great tips for unlocking, thanks. But any ideas how to unlock an iPhone 5c on Sprint in UK? Sprint in US says they can’t do it due to it having no number assigned to it any more (bought it on Ebay from misleading buyer) even though they tried to trace the imei to no avail. Apple says the imei shows it’s 100 days within warranty. Have been quoted 120 pounds to ‘unlock’ but I’m worried about what they may do to the phone.

  104. PatsyAnne said:

    I have an old iphone4 passed on by my son. It was an O2 phone which O2 unlocked and it happily works with my EE/Orange SIM and with my home & other WiFis. But it won’t link to the EE/Orange mobile data network. Is there a way to link it, or maybe I should just change to O2? I don’t want to have to buy a new phone. Advice appreciated.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi PatsyAnne,
      Thanks for your comment. If it’s a case of your iPhone working on the Orange network but only for calling & texting and not for browsing the internet, it’s likely you’ll need to update the Access Point Network (APN) settings. You can follow the instructions given on Apple’s website.
      Hope this helps!

  105. Carol said:

    If I get my O2 iPhone 5 unlocked, can I take it overseas and put a Vodafone sim in it, then switch back to my O2 sim when I return to the UK? I travel frequently and need to be able to switch SIM cards. I heard you cannot do this with the iPhone 5. Thanks

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Carol,
      Once the iPhone has been unlocked from O2, it’s no problem at all using a SIM from another network (e.g. when travelling abroad). You can then switch the SIM card back to the one from O2 after you arrive back in the UK. Automatic locking should only happen on the first time with SIM-free iPhones (e.g. bought from the Carphone Warehouse).
      Hope this helps,

      1. Carol replied:

        Thanks for your reply. For future interest, can you get a Sim-free iPhone from Carphone warehouse unlocked once it is locked onto the first network upon receiving a new sim? Or does it always automatically lock on each change?

        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi Carol,
          As far as I’m aware, the automatic locking will only happen on first-time use of CPW iPhones. On subsequent uses, it shouldn’t lock itself again. If at all possible, I’d recommend buying your iPhone directly from Apple (it avoids the hassle of automatic locking).
          Hope this helps,

  106. nayem said:

    hi, i have bought an iphone 5 from carphone warehouse and it it locked to t-mobile. now i want to unlock it, so how can i unlock it and how much would it cost me…..

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Nayem,
      Thanks for your comment. For more information on this, please see my article on SIM-free iPhones getting locked to a network. The easiest way to unlock your iPhone would be to ask one of your friends using T-Mobile: they should be able to submit the request for you. If not, you can sign up as a new T-Mobile customer using this link. After a period of 3 months, you’ll be able to unlock the iPhone for £15.32.
      Hope this helps,

  107. Fi said:

    Hi Ken, I did a stupid thing by putting an EE sim into an O2 iphone so it is now locked to EE and I cannot use the iphone for my new O2 contract. I bought the phone via and EE won’t budge to unlock it saying their hands are tied and there is nothing they can do unless ask them to. I have asked them to talk to EE but after speaking to 3 very rude Customer Service people they won’t budge or help saying more or less it’s tough! I then searched and found officaliphoneunlocking but after paying £25 to check if it can be unlocked they want a further £109.99 which I can’t affoard. My only option, it seems, is to sell the phone and buy another that’s for O2. Or can you suggest how I can get to help me as I cannot deal with such a rude company. In fairness to EE the girl who I spoke to there was trying her best to help, speaking to O2 and Apple but neither could help. Thanks!

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Fi,
      Thanks for your comment. I’m really sorry to hear about the problems you’ve experienced: it is a rather common problem and many people have encountered the same thing (see our guide: When a SIM-free iPhone isn’t unlocked). It’s particularly a problem with you buy an iPhone from a third-party retailer such as the Carphone Warehouse (of which is now a part of).
      Unfortunately, there’s very little I can suggest to do as there’s no legal requirement for EE to unlock your handset. Their current policy (and in my opinion, a rather misguided policy) is only to unlock iPhones for the original owner and if they bought the iPhone on EE’s network. This means it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to get EE to unlock your iPhone.
      It could be worth checking with (for instance, they might allow you to replace or return your handset). If not, then the suggested solution of selling your EE-locked iPhone and buying one on O2 could certainly work (though it’s not ideal as this will come with some cost).
      Good luck and very sorry I couldn’t help more,

  108. Mary Anne Evans said:

    Unfortunately I had cancelled my contract with T-Mobile without realising the phone was locked. Surely when you contact the provider to cancel the contract they should inform you that you will be unable to get the phone unlocked once it is cancelled.

    I had a very unpleasant and unhelpful conversation with the provider after I had been told I would need to get an pay-as-you-go sim to unlock the phone. Once I had got that I was then told I needed to use that sim for three months! I asked to speak to a supervisor and was told there’s no point, they’ll only say the same, and would I like to top up now?

    Exasperated, I asked to be put through to the complaints department, at which point I was told there was no complaints line, I would have to go online. I put in an online complaint which said I should receive a reply within 72 hours, that was nearly a month ago!

    Customer service? What customer service? Never, ever, ever, again will I use EE or T-Mobile, they are a disgrace.

  109. Ana said:

    Hi ken! I have iphone 3 gs. Contract ended with O2. They unlock it. But it displays no service everytime i will connect to itunes it always says no sim, i tried many non o2 sim. But nothing works. My phone has no remaining balance.,my number ended with the contract i did not ask to convert to pay as you go.

  110. Craig said:

    I have an Apple 5 on the o2 uk network on a monthly contract and I wish to use a o2 pay as you go sim card in the phone. I was told by a friend that this may not be possible because the phone could be locked onto the o2 monthly sim card. Is this true?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Craig,
      Thanks for your comment. It’s not true – your iPhone is locked to the network rather than being locked to a specific SIM card. So you can definitely use an O2 Pay & Go SIM card within your iPhone from an O2 Pay Monthly contract.
      Hope this helps!

      1. Craig replied:

        Cheers Ken.

  111. umar said:

    requested to unlock my iphone 4s at the end of my cotract with orange. i got charged £20.42 and were told it would be done within 20 days maximum. After 20 days i contacted ee(orange) and was told its already open and i was told i need to syn my phone with itunes which i had no clue about. I said can you send me instruction via email ee told me to go to ant ee store and they would sort it out for me. I went to ee store but they said they cannot assist me with that and i should contact ee.
    I spoke to ee who told me my phone was still unlocked and would be opened in 20 working days which means i have to wait a few days. Not happy at all without having my iphone working and ee have lost a customer permanently. Glad i have left orange.

  112. Cr said:

    Hello Ken
    I am currently traveling to India from the UK
    I am using an iPhone 4
    I had an unlocked phone (original from Tmobile) that I was using on Tesco but when I inverted an Indian sim in it there was no service so I tried to reactivate it & am now stuck as it not activate due to the fact that it may be locked.
    Tesco say that it is unusual & may not be locked
    Apple help say it seems it is locked on O2
    I paid £1 to and it shows next tether policy as Tmobile/orange
    It’s become locked on T mobile. I had updated my software to ios7 but was using Tesco card in it.
    Now am stuck with an unactivated phone in India, not sure wich provider it is locked on.
    My conclusion is to avoid iPhones

  113. Andy said:

    Hi Ken. I read your tips with interest. I am currently switching from one UK provider to another and I have requested authorisation from Apple to unlock my iPhone 4. I wasn’t aware that the process required me to connect to iTunes. I may have a problem, as much as my computer is currently out of action and I can’t use it to access my iTunes account until it is repaired. I don’t own another device with iTunes on it. Is there another way?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Andy,
      Thanks for your comment. To unlock your iPhone after making a request, my understanding is you need to insert your new SIM card into the phone. It may also be necessary to connect your phone to iTunes (if required, you can presumably visit the Apple Store in person as an alternative to doing this).
      Hope this helps,

      1. Andy replied:

        Hi Ken. It dawned on me that I still had my old laptop stored away, so I booted it up (and had to suffer endless updates) and unlocked my iPhone through iTunes that way. So I didn’t have to go to the Apple Store in the end. Thanks. Andy

  114. Dean said:

    Hi ken, I have bought an iphone 5 locked to EE, is it possible at all to use a EE pay as you go SIM card in it ? I think it may off been blocked ? I’ve tried getting my money back but it’s never happened

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Dean,
      In general, yes – an EE Pay As You Go SIM card will work on an EE iPhone 5 without any problems. The only exception would be if your iPhone was blocked for some reason (e.g. if it was stolen or lost in the past, or if it’s been blacklisted from the network). If this is the case, you’ll need to contact EE to get the handset unblocked.
      Hope this helps,

  115. din said:


    I got an iPhone 5 from o2 in uk some time back under the pay & go scheme, now i’ve passed this phone to my friend from Singapore. Now how do i unlock the sim for the phone to be used in singapore.
    I have forgotten the phone number and no longer have the o2 sim. Could you please help to unlock it ?I can provide you the IMEI if you want.


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Din,
      If you aren’t able to complete O2’s online form, the best thing to do would be to contact O2’s customer services. Dial 4445 from your O2 Pay & Go mobile or 0844 809 0222 from a UK landline. It might be possible for them to retrieve the details of your Pay & Go account. The second option would be to grab yourself a new SIM card from O2. Once the SIM card is active, you can use the new number to request the unlocking of your iPhone.
      Hope this helps,

  116. Debbie Austin said:

    Hi Ken. My partner bought an unlocked iphone 3 gs on ebay, a year later he upgraded to an Iphone 4 and i inherited the 3gs. He was on talk mobile and i am on orange, i put my sim in and no problems.

    Now 18 months on i have upgraded to an iphone 4 and have given my stepson the 3gs, but when he went to put a sim in from o2 has been told the phone has been locked.

    Why has it locked on this latest transfer but not before?

    Many thanks


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Debbie,

      Thanks for your comment. There’s two reasons why the iPhone might have become locked to a network. The first reason is that some iPhones automatically lock themselves to the first network you use (this is true of SIM-free handsets originally bought from a non-Apple retailer). If your iPhone has become locked this way, please see my article here.

      The other reason why an iPhone may have become locked is if it was originally unlocked in an unauthorised manner. Upgrading the software can cause the iPhone to become locked once again.

      Hope this helps,


  117. Gerry Bond said:

    I have been requesting an unlock (3GS) from Orange since 18th March. Online and follow-up calls. Each time it is promised to be done within a few days and nothing happens. Just written to the CEO as I believe they have no intention of letting me go.

  118. luk said:

    hi,can not write in English but I can try my problem is ,I bought iphone 5s 32bg from vodafone to first sim card lock unwittingly i put ee card pay you go and lost this card and don,t remember this phone number.I call vodafon to unlock this phone there said i have to call ee ,when i call ee there need accont number this ee card and phone number this ee card.I need help and no one want help me.What can i do to unlocking my phone

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Luk,
      Thanks for your comment. It’s no problem as you can simply order another EE SIM card. Once you have this, you can use the new number to contact EE. For more information on what to do when your iPhone becomes locked to a different mobile network, please see my earlier blog post.
      Hope this helps!

      1. luk replied:

        Yes But i have to be with ee six month and phone must be also bought from ee, then i can unlock my iphone.

  119. Guy said:

    Hi there

    I have an old iphone 4 which was on an orange contract about two years ago before i switched to three. I want to unlock so i can use my three sim in it whilst i get my phone repaired.

    Orange UK say they cant help me because i don’t have contract with them anymore.

    Any ideas on what i can do to get it unlocked?



  120. kim h said:

    Hi need help my sister gave me her 4s iPhone as her contract was up Vodafone unlocked it so I can use I put my virgin mobile SIM in but it says no service what do I do my sister’s info still in the iTunes so I can’t even get that cancelled

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Kim,

      Thanks for your comment! It sounds to me as if there isn’t a problem with your iPhone being locked – if it was then you’d see a different message. Instead, it’s likely to be a matter of your iPhone 4s not picking up the Virgin network. I’d recommend looking at this Apple KB – it goes through some common things to investigate. In particular, follow the section for users outside the US (Settings > Carrier > Automatic part).

      Hope this helps,


  121. Christine said:

    Hi Ken! Great to have found your blog. Hope you can advise on this situation – need your expertise.

    My brother in law has given me his old iphone 4 which he no longer uses after upgrading to the iphone 5. I took it into my local Vodafone store to swap the sim card (my present sim being the normal size rather than micro) however they advised that I should take the iphone 4 to the original providers O2 and ask them to unlock the phone first before they can do anything.
    As I am not the original owner of the phone, will O2 unlock it for me, or would my brother in law need to handle it?

    Many thks for your time.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Christine,

      As far as I’m aware, there’s no need to be the original owner in order to unlock an O2 iPhone. You can simply follow the instructions above. If you don’t currently have an account on O2, you can order a free SIM card here. Top up by £15 or more – it costs £15 for a Pay As You Go customer to unlock an iPhone.

      If possible, however, I’d still suggest asking your brother-in-law to fill in the online form. As a Pay Monthly customer, he’ll be able to request the unlock free of charge. Furthermore, he won’t need physical access to the phone – you simply connect your iPhone to iTunes after the request has been processed.

      Hope this helps!


      1. Steve replied:

        Ken, I have the same predicament as Christine.

        The pay monthly form asks for password details and my sister only has a logon password and it specifically suggests this is not the password to use, it should be the one used to talk to customer services.

        My option is to buy a PAYG sim but I am being advised that this needs to be active on the O2 network for 12months before O2 will then process an unlock. Can you confirm this is correct ?

        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi Steve,

          Thanks for your comment! As far as I’m aware, there’s no need to have your iPhone for 12 months before you’re able to unlock it. You should be able to order a free O2 SIM card and then unlock your handset straight away. If you unlock an O2 PAYG iPhone in the first 12 months, it used to be the case that you’d lose the free Web bolt-on. However, this isn’t applicable for your current situation (your account doesn’t have the bolt on) so there’s no need to worry.

          Hope this helps!


  122. Olivia said:


    I recently moved to Paris and I had a third iphone for free which came unlocked, but it is completely and utterly dead to the point where it needs to be binned, its unsaveable. (I have triple checked). So I need to buy a new one, I was going to buy a refurb from CEX in England and have it posted here but I am concerned about it being unlocked. I have been a tmobile customer for about 2yrs maybe more, contract until a month ago then became pay as you go, but will be switching to Lebra pay as you go as its better for international use. I am only here for another 5months so i need flexibility.


  123. Tiggy said:

    Need some advice ….
    Am about to upgrade my iPhone 3GS to an iPhone 4GS with EE as my 24 month contract is nearly up.
    I want to give my old phone to my son living in New Zealand .. he is with vodaphone. What do I do … presume my old phone needs to be unlocked, if so should this be done in the UK or in NZ??
    Any advice would be marvellous!! Thanks.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Tiggy,
      Thanks for the comment! You’ll need to unlock your iPhone 3GS here in the UK – it’ll need to be done through your UK network operator. As a slight aside, even if you’re on Vodafone UK the iPhone 3GS won’t work on Vodafone New Zealand (they’re considered totally separate networks for the purpose of handset locking).
      Hope this helps!

  124. Misa Velimirovic said:

    A few months ago I bought through eBay IPHONE 4 which seems completely preserved, however, it’s locked to Orange UK.
    The phone I received a certificate – a report that was not stolen, lost, and that is not under contract.
    I wrote a polite, asking them, Orange UK, as the phone is not under contract and is no longer active on their network to reset it, I also wrote that the phone is no longer in their offer considering that the older generation
    There is no answer and I do not see a way to unlock it regularly and that it is acceptable
    After reading your text (because I’m not an active owner in Orange) come to the conclusion that the phone can be purchased to throw in the trash, horrible, unless you somehow we do not help
    IMEI: [removed]
    S / N: [removed]

    Thank you for your understanding,
    Best regards
    Misa Velimirovic Novi Sad SERBIA

  125. Brian said:

    I did not realise that I needed to unlock my iphone before transferring to a new model in November 2013, I then passed the old one on to my wife, she inserted her T mobile sim but it would not work. I have had many fruitless telephone calls to Orange, twice been promised that it would be unlocked within 20 days but it is still locked. Of course it now does not have a phone number attached to it as I transferred it to my new phone. I again went into the EE shop today and their solution was that I should get someone to jail break it! Not a satisfactory solution I feel. I have written to the complaints department but have had not reply and have just sent an email to the EMT proofs department together with the relevant receipts. I now have a useless iphone and a very unhappy wife!

    1. James replied:

      Hi Brian,

      The many complaints I’ve heard about Orange/EE made me want to leave them as soon as possible. But whatever you do, do not jailbreak the phone: as soon as the phone gets an update it will most likely stop working. I was lucky in that my unlock procedure arrived about 20 days after I asked for it, but at the time (December 2013) they did say that Apple were dealing with a huge backlog of unlock requests, so it was taking longer than usual. Perhaps this is happening for you too? You will definitely need the T mobile sim to unlock the phone (via iTunes) in the first place, so hopefully this will happen eventually.

      But again, commiserations. It seems like there are a lot of very disgruntled people on this site!

  126. Alin said:

    Hi there again Ken I wanna ask you a question. I just swapped my phone Xperia Z for a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 N900 an international version.

    The phone is unlocked no doesn’t have 4G but that’s ok as I have 3G with my network giffgaff plus 4G is still new but expensive.

    The problems I’m having is that I need to install a Configuration settings from giffgaff but when I click to Full Install it’s asking me to Input a PIN. I’ve no idea what the pin is. The phone as I said is unlocked and doesn’t ask for passport or anything like that as I’ve installed apps and all fine.

    I’m upset that it doesn’t support samsung watchon that lovely remote control feature.

    I’ve email the guy but my emails are no longer sending comes with postmaster failed message so I don’t know what to do. How do I find out what this pin is as no point trying to get the phone unlocked if it ain’t unlocked.

    Please email me when you reply

    1. Alin replied:

      Hi Ken I’ve got one more other problem

      General – About phone – SELinux status

      It says Enforcing what does that mean.

      My IMEI is fine if you need to check let me know

      So this is the main problems I’m having the signal issue weak and sometimes says no signal and drops off and this pin thing I’ve no idea what it is.

      I’ve also messaged Samsung too so waiting for a reply.

      1. Ken Lo
        Ken replied:

        Hi Alin,
        Thanks for your comment. I’m afraid I don’t know about the PIN – do you know which type of PIN is being required by your handset? Is it a PIN for the handset or SIM card? Or perhaps you got caught by the Note 3’s region lock? If your SM-N900 was imported from outside the EU, it’s quite possible you’ll need to deactivate the region lock.
        With regards to the “Enforcing” status of SELinux, you don’t need to worry about this as it’s quite normal. It’s all to do with the Samsung KNOX feature which creates a secure area within your phone for business users who require BYOD (bring your own device) capabilities.

        1. Alin replied:

          Hi Ken do you have an email that I can reply to you with a picture.

          The guy I done the swap with he used Vodafone sim and said it’s unlocked. I’ve inserted my giffgaff and it’s fine also my Romanian orange SIM card and still working. The pin isn’t for the handset or SIM card. It’s a pin that I guess this guy has set up and I can’t get hold of him guess he deleted his email and how will I explain the issue with the signal problems I’m having the signal sometimes goes off and it’s also very weak and drops. So really not happy about it and also wanna mention as it’s the SM-N900 international version doesn’t even have any samsung apps. I’ve downloaded the samsung hub but just crashes so don’t work but nothing like Samsung apps watchon etc. So here’s the example Ken I’ve texted settings to 2020 and giffgaff sent me the internet and mms settings and need to install that and it’s then when I click install when asking me please insert pin. So this is what I wanna sort out. Thank you for the reply and looking forward to hear from you.

          1. Ken Lo
            Ken replied:

            Hi Alin,

            Thanks for the clarification: you’re actually being asked the PIN for the giffgaff settings file. It’s either 5555 or 6666 (give them both a try). If there’s still a problem adding the settings, you can follow the guide on this giffgaff page.

            Hope this helps – feel free to contact me via the address on this page if you’d still like to send over a screenshot!


  127. Su said:

    I asked Orange (EE) to unlock my iphone 4s on 12/11/13 and am still waiting….It’s 59 days now, rather more than the 20 days they say it will take. I’ve rung them every day for a week hoping to wear them down but keep being told they have outsourced the unlocking to an external company and all they can do is e-mail them and chase. They refuse to tell me who the external company is for me to call them myself and insist that Orange isn’t to blame despite charging me £20 in my November bill. I am so fed up with this.

  128. Emma said:


    I’m hoping someone can help me!

    I purchased an iPhone 4S from a friend in the UK (I live in Jersey) last month.
    He told me that Orange informed him that the phone would be unlocked in 7 days (it actually took just under a month!!).
    However, today I received an email from Orange to say that the phone has been unlocked and it included procedures to follow.

    The problem I have is that when I plugged the phone into my computer, I got a message saying that the phone is set up to my friends apple account and it won’t give me an option to restore so that I can sync it to mine.


    Obviously, he can’t give me his apple password (I wouldn’t expect him to) how can I get this resolved so that the new phone gets synced to my computer?

    I can’t post the phone back to him due to cost and VAT issues, are there any other ways around this?

    Apple won’t help unless I purchase a payment plan for £25!!!


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Emma,
      Thanks for getting in touch! Unfortunately, the unlocking procedure does require you to connect your iPhone to a computer – the computer will need to have iTunes and must be logged in to your friend’s account.
      In your situation, are you seeing an error message such as “Incorrect Apple ID cannot be used to unlock this iPhone”? If so, your friend probably activated the Activation Lock feature. This is an anti-theft measure and there’s no way around it except from logging in to your friend’s Apple ID. One possibility is to ask your friend to change his Apple passport to something temporary. You can log in to unlock your phone and then he can change his password back to something more secure. This will avoid cost & VAT issues but does require a large amount of trust. There are also some data security implications so you’ll need to consider this before sharing a login (normally not recommended).

  129. James said:

    Hi all,

    I thought I’d share my own “experiences” with moving over from Orange to O2, with an iPhone 4S. It wasn’t as streamlined or as bad as some people have said in the comments, so I thought I’d share some tips to help other people thinking about doing the same. Just to add one last thing, I went with a sim-only deal with O2.

    1. Request an unlock from Orange BEFORE you request your PAC number. Ideally, do it a month or two before your contract expires so that any delay will not affect you. Even if your phone is locked to orange (which it will be) and you request a PAC number, orange will not tell you that the phone is locked. So request your unlock first!

    2. Don’t get a sim card from your new network provider until about a week before your contract expires. It will take 2-3 business days to post (at least it did with O2) and YOU WILL BE BILLED AS SOON AS YOU REQUEST A SIM. Apologies for the capitalisation but I ended up paying for 2 phone contracts at the same time!

    3. The unlock email you receive from Orange (as provided in Leigh Coleman’s post from 23 Nov 2013) isn’t quite as detailed as it should be. Here’s what I recommend you do:
    A. Sync your phone using your old (i.e. Orange) sim card first
    B. Check that iTunes is up to date; use the update tool in the iTunes menu for this. The unlock will only work with the most up-to-date version and give you a warning that you can’t proceed otherwise
    C. Then, BACK UP YOUR PHONE!!! Otherwise you will lose all of your data and apps
    D. Carry out the procedure as explained in the email. The ‘restore’ option that they talk about should display ‘Restore iPhone’. There were two different ‘restore’ buttons when I tried this – USE THE TOP ONE (the Orange instructions are a bit misleading for this bit). Don’t worry about it asking if you want to restore your iPhone to factory settings, you will get everything back at the end.
    E. When you get the prompt saying your iPhone was successfully unlocked, select ‘Restore your iPhone using a backup’ (or words to that effect) and select the most recent backup from the drop-down menu (which should be that day). Depending on how many apps you have, this may take about 10-15 minutes. So be prepared to spend about 30-45 minutes tops for the whole unlock procedure 🙁
    F. Ta-da! You’re all done

    4. HOWEVER. All was not ok at this point for me. I still had the dreaded ‘No Service’ message in the top-left hand corner of my phone. Now, this next bit of advice could save you hours (or days, in my case) of frustration. If you get the ‘No Service’ message, CHECK THAT YOUR NEW SIM IS ACTIVATED. Mine wasn’t, and I tried going through the whole process 4 times to see if it helped. Also, don’t bother with the O2 ‘gurus’ on livechat. They mean well, I’m sure, but I spoke to 4 different people and got given 4 different pieces of information as to why it wasn’t working. Therefore, GO IN A (O2) SHOP and they will check your O2 sim for you. In the end, my new O2 sim hadn’t been activated in the first place. The shop supplied me with a new one straight away, which worked as soon as it was put in the phone. If you do have to go in a shop, bring your driving license and O2 phone number with you. You will get your O2 number when you sign up for an online account.

    I know this is a long comment but I hope it helps someone else out there going through the same process!

    Good luck,


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi James,

      Thanks so much for sharing your experiences of unlocking an iPhone from Orange! You provide some really good advice – readers should definitely make sure they unlock their iPhone in advance of changing mobile provider. There are many cases where people have been tripped up by this (e.g. see the comments below). As Orange will only unlock the iPhone for people still on their network, it’s essential to do things the right way round.


  130. Alin said:

    Hi there I’m thinking of getting an iPhone 5S but it’s gonna be locked on Vodafone, O2 or EE (t-Mobile and orange). I’m gonna be buying the item from eBay that’s why as I can’t find any cheap iPhone 5S that’s unlocked. So how much will it cost me to unlock the iPhone from those networks. Please get in touch and let me know thank you. Me being on giffgaff yes it’s cool as I can use it on O2 locked iPhone. But the problem is that I visit family every year in Romania so that’s my main reason for wanting an unlocked iPhone 5S.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Alin,

      Thanks for getting in touch! The easiest thing to do would be to buy an iPhone 5S locked to Three UK. It’s free to unlock an iPhone from Three and you don’t need to be the original owner. Vodafone is another possibility, though there’s a £20 charge for unlocking your handset.

      At present, you can’t unlock the iPhone 5S from O2. This is likely to be true until at least April 2014 (according to O2 it’s so that 5s stock goes to genuine O2 customers). If you aren’t planning to visit Romania in the next couple of months, this could be an option as you’d still be able to use your iPhone on giffgaff UK until the iPhone is unlocked.

      I would strongly recommend against buying an iPhone 5S locked to EE/Orange/T-Mobile. These tend to be much more difficult to unlock and it’s often impossible if you aren’t the original owner of the phone.

      Hope this helps!


  131. Chris l said:

    Will my old iPhone 3GS take a payg SIM card now my contract has ended .
    I don’t mind using the same network as long as there is no contracts.
    I was with orange cheers

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for getting in touch! Yep, your iPhone 3GS will accept a Pay As You Go SIM Card. You’ll need to order a standard-sized SIM card: the links on this page will allow you to get a free SIM from most of the UK’s major mobile networks.

      If you’re staying on the same network, there’s no need to unlock your iPhone. If you’re switching network, you’ll need to unlock your phone first.

      Hope this helps!


  132. saskboy said:

    Have a French iphone 4 on Orange, and updated to iOS 7.0.4 to take advantage of the latest jailbreak (since the old version wasn’t installing apps and the file system wasn’t accessible to easily copy photos anymore).
    Well, it’s now SIM locked, and since there are no other SIMs within a 12 hour plane flight, it looks like this phone is basically bricked.

    Reading this comments, it’s apparent that contacting support for assistance to unlock would take $40 and 3 weeks at a minimum. Apple DRM is such a waste.

  133. scott said:

    My friend let me buy her Orange I phone 4s,she requsted it to be unlocked in October 2013,it is now December and everytime she calls up to Chase she is the situation, told an email has allegedly been sent out to her and is successful.I am still waiting,it is absolutely ridiculous the lack of communication ocurring with Orange and Apple.are Orange delaying and being dishonest? I’m angry…who takes responsibility?

  134. Rameez edakkavil said:

    Hai my name is rameez edakkavil I’m still orange customer I unlock my iPhone 4S I think six months ago I unlock my phone then unfortunately I lost my phone then I got new phone from orange because I have insurance with orange. But they give again locked phone that’s wrong they should give unlock phone because I’m already unlock the phone iPaid £19.99
    I called to orange customer service they can do anything you need wait again six months
    So can do something for me

  135. kart said:

    My iPhone 5 was locked to orange and i requested for an unlock on the 15/11/13 and i received the email with the unlocking instructions today which is the 4/12/13 so about 19 days. I thought it was going to take months but fair enough orange you unlocked it within 20 days!! 🙂

  136. Lorelle Dooley said:

    I am extremely upset with Orange, as i was their costumer for more than 6 years and requested to unlock my iPhone 4 before changing provider.

    They said they will send an email, which never happened, but they took the payment from my account!
    I called and asked again they apologised and said they will send me that email…never happened.
    I called again, they said they will refund the money…NEVER happened!!
    I am tired of calling and begging like I did something shady and they don’t want to do anything just because i am not their costumer anymore!
    This is absolutely unacceptable and left with a phone which i am unable to use and got ripped off .
    This nightmare is going on for almost a YEAR now!

  137. Leigh Coleman said:

    Hi, I contacted Orange about unlocking my iPhone 4s on 3/11/2013 and was told that it would cost £20.42 to unlock and would take up to 20 days. I would receive an email with instructions on how to unlock the phone. The email arrived on 20/11/2013 and I followed the instructions, and my phone was unlocked. I brought a O2 pay as you go micro sim card for 99p, I did not put any credit on the sim card I just put it in the iPhone and followed the instructions. Very Good service. I attach the email that I received.

    Dear Mr


    Please find the process for unlocking your Apple handset:-


    Before attempting the procedure, please take a moment to read the following information.Please make sure that your iphone is up to date the latest software version. This can be checked by connecting your device to iTunes via a PC/Mac/Laptop.

    Please be aware that if you have used an unauthorised unlock on your Apple device then Orange cannot be held responsible for any errors that may occur, as this procedure will not only be unsuccessful, it may damage the device. If you have modified the software please update with the latest Apple approved version.

    Apple devices differ from all other manufacturers in that there is no code required to enter into your device to unlock it. However Orange have requested on your behalf to Apple that your device be prepared for unlock and the procedure below advises how you can complete this process. Only handset’s that have been requested to be unlocked via Orange or other networks can be unlocked this way and the below instruction will not work on other Apple devices.

    Apple Unlock Procedure

    1)Insert a non-Orange 3G SIM card. This must be a network provider who also supplies the iphone/ipad.
    2)Switch ON the handset.
    3)Connect to iTunes using USB cable
    4)Use the “restore” option within iTunes (located at the bottom of iTunes not the top)
    5)The handset may then display: USB cable and iTunes icon.
    6)Disconnect from USB then re-connect
    7)Synchronise device with iTunes
    8)Once synchronised a message will appear on iTunes stating “Congratulations, your iPhone has been unlocked” If using IOS5 this message will not show
    9)Follow on screen set up instructions to enable new carrier settings

    Your handset should now be successfully unlocked

    Should this not show, please keep other network 3G sim in the iphone and restore the iphone via iTunes making sure all data is backed up first.
    You can also get some self help tips, please put the following into Google and search;

    EM Team

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Leigh,

      Thanks for sharing the great news about your Orange iPhone unlock! For anyone who wants to follow these instructions, you can grab a free O2 micro-SIM by following this link. Alternatively, you could borrow a SIM card from somebody else or you could use the SIM card on your new PAYG/Pay Monthly tariff.


  138. Angrybadger said:

    I’m so annoyed with Orange.

    I ended my contract with them and whilst in my notice period i sent a request to unlock my iphone as i was relocating abroad. At the same time i also tranferred my contract number to a T-Mobile PAYG.

    Whilst i was at the airport i ran out of credit & could not add any more credit or call TMobile customer service so my sister set up and registered the new TMobile account in her name with her payment details so she could add some credit for me.

    Now Orange are saying they cannot unlock my phone due to the account names not being the same. I’m abroad and cannot afford to be calling and talking to Orange as call charges will be expensive.

    Any suggestions and should i just get it unlocked unofficially somewhere?

  139. Veronica said:

    I’ve been trying to unlock my phone for more than a month now!!! Orange is just awful, they now said that it can be unlocked through iTunes… I’m still trying! I’m not giving up either!

  140. Mark Richards said:

    Yet another angry Orange customer, after completing two years contract i decided to change carrier due to poor reception. Now starts the fun!!!
    After 4 phone calls, 2 letters, 8 e-mails and paying £20.42 to have my phone unlocked, I have now been trying to get my phone unlocked since 10th July 2013!!!!

    I have as of today written to CISAS with a complaint about Orange, i am determined that they will not beat me!!!!!

  141. Maeve K said:

    Hi there, I got iphone 3 unlocked from Vodafone but now when I put in a Three(3) sim all I get is “No Service”, any advice !!

  142. Saudamini said:

    Another angry orange customer. No joy unlocking. Orange has taken out my money too hence helpless.
    I pledge never to take any orange contracts for me and my family in the future.

  143. Savas said:

    I am an orange pay monthly customer over 2 years, some time ago my contract was over and I have not got another phone and carried on sim only contract, I bought an iphone 5 from a second hand shop which was also locked to orange, so about 3 months later I filled out a unlocking request form on orange website and i received mail saying that they will do it within 20 days and cost me £21. on the 11th day received email saying that iphone got unlocked.

  144. bex said:

    I can’y belive that this all people have the same problem i have with rubish Orange network here in UK. please every one boycot on Orange company its rubish anddisrespectfull for UK costmers. i have contract with orange net work since 2011 with iphone 4s and still unlocked im so frustrating and nightmare too. can we in touch with BBC Or costmer watch dog please people ?

  145. Bleens said:

    Read about Orange iphone unlocking dis-service on this forum, and now I have experienced it. Numerous phone calls , each time a different excuse, on why it is not unlocked.Final call, person refuse to give his name, says there is a huge backlog of iphones to unlock, blaming Apple for this , as Apple are so busy with Iphone 5s /5c, launch,
    He suggested that EE ( T-mobile / Orange ) in future would not be providing Iphone unlocking, and that I should pay £50 to a high street shop to do it.
    OFCOM should look into this,

  146. Patricia said:

    I am in the same position as most of your readers below and want Orange to unlock an I phone so I can use it with Talk Mobile.after waiting over 3 weeks I feel its impossible to get this done.
    Can anyone tell me that they have been successful in getting an unlock from Orange.

  147. Ian said:

    Hi Ken,good article and well written. I have had no end of trouble recently with Orange/EE with their service despite 10 years loyal custom. Basically,I eventually said “enough’s enough” back in June and bought out the remainder of my contract and took out a new contract with O2 which so far,touch wood,has been fine. I had a new iphone 5 from O2 and my question is about getting my iphone 4s unlocked from Orange so that my girlfriend can have it. I am the original owner of the phone and I have all the paperwork,boxes etc that came with it but I am now no longer an Orange customer so will Orange still unlock my 4s for me if I ring them? Thanks,Ian.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Ian,

      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, the feedback on this thread is that Orange will only unlock your iPhone whilst you’re a current customer. As you’ve now left Orange, they might refuse to unlock your iPhone. It’s possible that things have improved now that Orange is part of EE. For this reason, I’d give them a call and explain your situation. They might be able to unlock your iPhone for you.


      1. Ian replied:

        Hi Ken,thanks very much for your quick reply. I’m going to try and call Orange like you suggest and see what they will do. I will post on here again when and if I get any results in case it is of any use to anyone else who reads this page and has similar issues. I wish now I’d looked at your site whilst in my 30 day notice period but at the time I was just so angry with Orange that I didn’t want to speak to them more than was necessary for fear of losing my temper!

        I appreciate this may not be a field that you would know about but I was wondering,as I paid up the remainder of my Orange contract which includes the cost of the iphone itself in order to leave,I now own the iphone outright. Do you not think that they should be obliged to unlock the phone for me as it belongs to me? After all it now belongs to me and Orange should not be able to dictate what network the phone is used on. If you have any knowledge of this I’d really appreciate it if you could share it as I would like to have a bit of ‘ammunition’ if I get the kind of response that other people on this thread have experienced.

        Many thanks,Ian.

        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi Ian,

          Sure: morally I think Orange should unlock the phone for you. You’ve paid the full cost of it and you should be entitled to use it as you wish. The flip side is that legally, there isn’t a requirement for Orange to unlock your phone. It just happens that most of the major networks will do this. Also, as Orange are unlikely to have advertised the phone as working on any mobile network, there’s probably no legal basis in advertising standards or trade descriptions. I’m sorry this doesn’t give you any extra ammunition but fingers crossed that Orange Customer Services can handle the request for you. One thing that might be worth investigating: did Orange change your Pay Monthly account into a Pay As You Go account? If so, you may still be registered as a customer on their system and this might make the unlocking request easier.

          Good luck,


          1. Mark Richards replied:

            hi Ken, I think you are wrong here!!

            Surely now that Orange has taken a sum of money to unlock the phone they are legally obliged to provide said service????

          2. Ken Lo
            Ken replied:

            Hi Mark,

            I agree: now that Orange have taken your money they should either unlock your phone or they should refund your money if they’re unable to do it. I was simply referring to the fact that there is no legal requirement for operators to unlock a handset. That said, if they’ve taken money to provide a service, they would should fulfil their obligations.


  148. Leeds United Fan said:

    I have been waiting over a month for my iPhone 4S to unlock after requesting this from Vodafone. I’m almost certain Vodafone are lying and tell you anything to thob you off rather than dealing with an ex customers request.

  149. Lucy said:

    I have an iphone with Orange that i am trying to change to Tesco.

    I have been told that legally they should unlock it for free as i am out of contract. Is this true?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Lucy,

      Unfortunately there is no legal requirement for Orange to unlock your iPhone. However, they should do this for you if you get in touch with their Customer Services. Your Orange account will still need to be open when you make this request.


  150. Inga said:

    Right now reading all these comments I am 100% sure that I will not get anywhere with Orange ! I am going to go with another company. Orange just feeds you with rubbish and nothing happens.

  151. Inga said:

    I have IPhone 4 and it was with Orange. Ended the contract in order to move to giffgaff. The only thing that needs to be done is to unlock the phone. Orange is doing this for 5 weeks now ! The last time they have promised that I will get an email from them was last night. Still waiting. Will call them at 9:00 and will see what song they’ll sing tonday. If no help, will ask £20.00 back and move somewhere else for help.

  152. sridhar said:

    Thanks for this useful page you created. I have now requested orange to unlock my iphone 4 lets see if I get the unlocking instruction in 20 days as promised. Last week I switched to Virgin after staying with Orange for 6 years, my contract with orange is not over as I am yet to get my final bill so thought better get the phone unlocked prior to that.

  153. Seher said:

    I have been trying to get my mum’s iphone 4 unlocked from Orange to use on 3. They said it was after 6 months that the phone could be unlocked and that it would take 21 days. It has now been 23 days and still have not received the unlocking email although they said that they had sent it on the 21st day. My mum called up on day 22 and day 23 and both times they have said give it 24 hours. I think they are bluffing. They dont have a clue as each person is saying something different and after reading all the above reviews I am worried that I will have to wait a few more weeks until this is resolved. Orange, are frustration. Awful customer service and I would certainly not recommend them.

  154. Mandy said:


    My dad is on a business contract and has just had an upgrade on orange. He has given me his previous iphone 4 and I want to use it on giffgaff. He called orange via their business contact and recieved very helpful and positive service saying it will be up to 30 days but likely to be much less. I have until 22 June on my old contract anyway so was happy with this however we rang up on Wednesday 5th to check progress and they said it should be unlocked on the 6th… I have tried and friend connecting it to iTunes and it keeps saying iphone locked to carrier, does anyone know how I should deal with this? As they checked on the system and it said that apple should have unlocked it now? I’m beginning to worry as have already told my provider to cancel my contract as of 22 June.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Mandy,

      I’d check with Orange to make sure they’ve definitely sent the unlocking request to Apple – perhaps you could ask them what date they sent the request on to Apple. Once Orange have made the request, it could take a couple of days for Apple to process it.


  155. amanda said:

    hi ken I bought a iphone of someone thay told me it waz on 3 network I have now found out it is on orange,but iam contracted to 3,what can idoto get it unlocked as you have to be the original customer,please help thanks 🙂

    1. Rache replied:

      Hi Amanda,

      have you had any luck getting your phone unlocked, I am in exactly the same situation that you have described. Any info would be appreciated, thanks.

  156. Paul Ashdown said:

    Hi,i took out an orange contract on an iphone 4 from carphone warehouse but after around 8 months accidentley put it through the washing machine,the phone was unfixable and without insurance decided to take another contract for the same phone which this time was with vodafone. My wife took the vodafone sim for her phone and i put the same orange sim from the first iphone into the new iphone 4 handset.My contract with orange expires on the 24th of june and so decided i would run out the remander of the vodafone contract back to the phone which it came from(the second iphone),however it will not work in the phone saying no service in the top left hand corner.I phoned orange thinking it was locked to them but they said it has nothing to do with them its carphone warehouse,so i went to carphone warehouse and they said it was vodaphone,so i rang vodaphone and they said carephone warehouse so i rang……you get the picture!!!
    Please can you help i have no idea who has locked my phone and am getting really angry mainly as i have honoured my contract paying over £700 for a phone i can not use….

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Paul,

      iPhones that were purchased from Carphone Warehouse behave a little weirdly. They’ll normally lock themselves to the first network that’s used on the device. If you had immediately used your Orange SIM on the new iPhone 4 (without using the Vodafone SIM first), the iPhone 4 will be locked to Orange. It’s possible that Orange will have no record of it on their system, but they’re the people who’ll need to process your unlocking request.

      See: How do I unlock an iPhone from third-party retailers?


  157. Alan said:

    Hello, I moved from O2 to Giffgaff just over a year ago and didn’t have my iPhone 4 unlocked. I have now have left Giffgaff and wish to use another provider but my phone is locked to the O2 network. Will O2 still unlock the phone for me? Thanks Alan

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Alan,

      I believe this should still be possible but you’ll need to check with O2. The best way of doing this is filling in their handset unlocking form. It’s possible you’ll need an active account at O2 before unlocking your device. One way of doing this would be to order a free SIM card from O2 and topping it up by at least £15.


  158. Kamilla said:

    Having read dozens of comments by disgruntled Orange customers trying to get phones unlocked, my daughter, who is giving me her iPhone after an upgrade, used the experiences of commentators here and elsewhere to devise a plan for contacting Orange which seems to have been successful. We noted that the only person to get really good service was the man who threatened to contact Ofcom. She contacted customer services and immediately asked the person who answered for his name and employee identification number. She said she was sorry to do this, but she’s seen that there is a lot of dissatisfaction on the internet with Orange phone unlocking and she wanted to keep track of the calls. She said that she hoped that she would be able to post a good review of the process. After a half-hearted attempt to persuade her that I should also sign up with Orange (which is, I think, why they delay unlocking when phones are being passed within families in the hope that the family member will get impatient to be using the phone and just go with Orange), she was passed on to another call centre to take the information for the unlock request. She made sure that he read back to her the IMEI number and the e-mail (because we read online that inputting errors are often given as excuses given for unlocks not going through). She was given a £5 discount off the usual price for the unlock. We have been told it will take 20 days (this is because they have to get the code from Apple, and I’ve read they are backlogged, including for police requests to unlock confiscated phones). I will post again when the unlock comes through. Watch this space!

    1. Melissa replied:

      hey Kamilla, I’m looking to do the same thing. I want to use my other halfs’ iPhone 4 which is stuck on the Orange contract he’s had for years but he’s gotten an upgrade, on my new Giffgaff SIM. it’s almost 2 months since you last posted about this (as far as I can see on this site 🙂 ), so how did all that go? Did she manage to get her phone unlocked? Cheers!

  159. mike b said:

    Hi, i’ve just bought an iphone on orange. The phone was being used with a pay and go simcard. Im on a monthly orange contract simcard so will i need to unlock the phone or should it work ok?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Mike B,

      Your iPhone is locked to the Orange network rather than to a specific account. You can use it on an Orange Pay Monthly contract without any problems. The only thing that’s worth being aware of is Orange’s policy of unlocking iPhones for the original account holder only. As your contract isn’t linked to your PAYG account, I’m not sure whether they’ll allow you to unlock the iPhone in the future once the PAYG account has been closed down. If it’s possible that you might use the iPhone on another network in the future, you may find it easier to unlock your iPhone now.

  160. Lucuz said:

    Bought an Iphone off a friend who was on orange. The friend has now left the country. Is there anyway i can UNLOCK this phone! get a orange PAYG sim for a few months??

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Lucuz,

      Unfortunately the feedback from other readers is that Orange only provide unlocks to the original owner of the iPhone. Unfortunately this means it might be difficult to unlock your phone. Take a look at some of the comments below for advice from other readers.


  161. Anne said:

    I have received an Iphone 4 from a family member. Which I have unlocked however as a Virgin customer I cannot seem to get a service. It says ‘restricted network’ choose a differnt network.

    Does this mean Virgin sicards will never work or am I doing something wrong

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Anne,

      It sounds to me as if your family member used the phone on another network. Your iPhone is probably configured to connect to that network specifically, rather than choosing the appropriate network (Virgin in this case). You can resolve this problem by going to Settings > Carrier. You may have to wait several minutes as your iPhone looks for compatible networks. Once it’s done this, select the “Automatic” option.

      Hope this helps,


  162. Ian said:

    I bought an iPhone 4 from ebay last october, fully knowing it was locked to TMobile now EE. I purchased a TMobile (EE) Sim only deal for £27 per month and have now decided to to unlock it so I can go to O2. I cannot get EE to unlock this phone no matter what I do unless I can get the guy I bought it from to unlock it. If I can contact him and he is still alive I might be able to do this, however if not I can see myself being locked into this mob for the forseeable. Any advice greatly received

  163. malik said:

    ive found a way around it with orange payg – call customer service & say your going abroad for a few months next month and want your phone unlocked to use over there and when u come back your gonna go back to orange. they put my through to an english person named jim & it was all gravy from there. pay £20 they take it & u wait up to 20 working days

  164. AnnoyedbyTmobile said:

    I have an Iphone4 which was on contract with T-mobile for 2 years; I left T-Mobile in Dec 2012. I need the phone unlocked and contacted T-mobile who at first said it was no problem to unlock and there would be no charge. Clearly this was wrong and I receive a text a few days later from T-Mobile saying they couldn't action as there had been no payments made. I called them again and t-Mobile re-issued a request to Apple to unlock and advise it would cost me £20.50 and would take 15/20 days to receive the unlocking code. 20 days later I had not received a code, but received a bill for £20.44. I called them again and incredibly they advised they do not unlock phones if the contracted has ended.

    Can anyone shed any hope on how I can securely unlock me phone?

  165. Bentley Robinson said:

    Hi, I'm on O2 Pay monthly, contacted a guru to get my iPhone 4 unlocked. However the phone was exchanged by Apple because it was faulty. O2 said they couldn't unlock the phone. Will Apple unlock the phone or will I be going round in circles?

  166. Rani said:

    OMG help. I have waited 3 months to get my phone unlocked. In my first call 3 months ago I was told to register my number with the phone and after 3 months I can get unlocked. Rang back today after 3 and a half months and told I’m not allowed cos its not original number I bought phone with. I did tell them I bought the phone off ebay the first time I called. I’m fuming… can they be allowed to mess you about like this. I have proof of purchase and everything. Worst nightmare ever. Any help and advise welcome…is there no way to get it unlocked.

  167. Martin said:

    I also have been having issues in reject of unlocking my iPhone with, you guessed it, Orange! I requested this on he 5th Feb, and am still awaiting this to happen. I have been billed and paid the £20 for this service. I have rung Orange at least 10 times, and now that my number has now been ported to another provider, means that each call to them is costing me he cost of a mobile call from my landline. I wouldn't mind, but each call averages 20 mins.
    I think I have been told on most occasions that the unlock will take place between 24 and 48 hours.
    I've now had enough of being fobbed off by Orange. I just want the phone unlocked! I guess it's a call to Ofcom as they have taken payment and not provided the service. Thank Orange, I was a loyal csyomer for at least 8 years,

    1. Emma replied:

      I am having exactly the same problem with orange. Requested it to be unlocked on 6th March – 20 days ago now. They've happily taken the unlocking fee but nothing has been done! Have also rung them up numerous times about this. I think you're right about resorting to Ofcom.

      Good luck with it all!

  168. Rachel said:

    I have had an iPhone 4 off my friend, she had the phone on contract with orange, however I am in o2.
    Her contract is obviously up nw and had a new phone which is why I have had her iPhone.
    I want 2 use my o2 sim in it, would orange still unlock the phone and us there anyway I can speak to orange and get it unlocked?

    Thanks x

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Rachel,

      Thanks for your message! It should be possible for your friend to call Orange Customer Services and to have the iPhone 4 unlocked.

      Hope this helps!


  169. Kevin said:

    I’m traveling to Vegas in May and wondered if it was worth unlocking my iPhone 4? I’ve read somewhere that it might not be possible to use a local-SIM in the US due to our phones being on a different band or something, thus rendering the phone unusable in the US, is this true?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Kevin,

      The iPhone 4 works on 3G HSDPA networks at 850MHz, 900MHz, 1900MHz and 2100MHz. It should work fine on AT&T in the US as they use 850MHz and 1900MHz. Also, you might be able to get some basic 2G coverage on T-Mobile USA. SIM cards from Sprint and Verizon won't work as they use CDMA technology. Enjoy your trip to the US!

      Hope this helps!


  170. Mateen said:

    heyy i tried the same procedure to unlock my iphone 4 locked on 3 network but they refused and said we want original purchaser of the phone..what do i do help please

  171. haider said:

    I am in the same situation as you were. Did you manage to get it unlocked?

  172. Ray said:

    I’m with O2. Just followed the above instructions speaking to an O2 guru over echat and they did it for me straight away, without charge or any questions

  173. TheSimpZone said:

    My Mum had an iPhone 3GS which recently ran out of contract, so she got an upgrade and gave the old 3GS to me. I decided to change from my old network – Orange to a network with better deals – Three. I ported my number across thinking that Orange would automatically unlock phones out of contract; they don't. I then called Orange for them to unlock it, but they wanted the IMEI number which I was about to get and they decided that they would call back. Two weeks later, they hadn't. Both me and my Mum went through about 20 phone calls, half ending in ORANGE HANGING UP the other half in them saying that it was being processed and would be done in a few days. another 3 weeks later they still haven't done it, my Mum is currently on the phone to ANOTHER Orange customer service representative. Out of the 30 odd different reps we have both spoken to, EACH ONE HAS GIVEN US A DIFFERENT PILE OF BULLS**T. I will never use Orange again in my life.

  174. Sam said:

    Is there any chance?

    I bought an Iphone 4 from ebay almost 20 months ago locked to Orange to operate on my number with T Mobile. Now my wife need this phone but she is on 3 Network and I can't unlock it as I am not the original owner. I tried to contact the ebay seller with no answer.

    I would appreciate any help.

  175. katrinalaw32 said:

    place tell me i have a iPhone 4 and it was factory locked by three,how i can unlocked it with any software or other way place tell me???

  176. Steve said:

    My Sisters iPhone contracted has ended with Orange and we have been told to wait 30 days as Apple's unlock code generator crashed last year and there is a huge backlog. As a professional computer programmer I don't buy this one bit. Has anyone heard this story from Orange? Any advice on getting a genuine unlock code ASAP would be appreciated. I'm tempted to file a complaint with Ofcom.


  177. Martjt said:

    I'm in the process of trying to unlock my phone from Orange. They couldn't be much more unhelpful if they tried. They took the money the day after I made the request, I phoned after 14 days to find out what was happening, they told me it would take 20 days from first call. Nothing had happened after 23 days so I phoned again, they promised to email me within 24 hours, nothing happened. 48 hours later I phoned an asked to speak to a supervisor, there were non available, but they promised on would phone the next day which they did. The supervisor kept trying to persuade me that the email must have gone to he spam folder of my email. I told that the email address I was using. I have now threatened them with legal action if the phone is not unlocked by the end of the month

  178. Tmobile said:

    I’ve had this problem with 2 iPhones, on both occasions money was taken and on both occasions, when they confirmed unlock, nothing happened. Called apple and they have confirmed that no request has been logged. Tmobile are absolute ****

  179. Donna said:

    Hi have received email to say I can unlock iPhone 4 but have no sim in there as I upgraded to iPhone 5 and sim changed over to that phone and is smaller
    How can I unlock phone without buying a sim which I understand would have to be active for three months before I can unlock

  180. JIN said:


    Avoid you will be better of using network unlock officialiphoneunlock is a scam they took my money and when i asked for it back they didnt refund me luckily i used my visa card the bank will get it back for me PEOPLE Dont try to save a fiver or a tenner here and there go to offical network proiveder and they will unlock it for you 🙂 plus you can blag your way round the network for example if you only had the iphone 5 for a month you can say you have had for 3 months as long as you got a old sim you can get it unlocked there and then :} REMEMBER PEOPLE AVOID officialiphoneunlock.CO.UK they are a pure scam

  181. Michael said:

    Am really impressed and I appreciate the information. I will go through the right process to unlock my iphone. Thank you.

  182. Skatz said:

    Hi, my wife and I have both recently upgraded to IPhone 4S on Orange on 24 month contract having been with them for phone, mobile and broadband for about 7 years. However, we’ve now decided we’re moving abroad in the summer. I’ve read some of the disturbing comments about Orange and am a bit worried. I understand I need to unlock both phones after 3 months of the contract and pay £20 per phone. What then happens to our existing 24 month contracts? Are we locked into them or what can we do to avoid having to pay two huge contract cancellation bills?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Skatz,

      Unfortunately you're locked into the 24 month commitment on your contract and ending early involves paying off your contract 🙁 Sorry to share this news – though you can unlock your phone without ending the contract.


  183. sandra said:

    i have a iphone 4 it is on three when i phoned them they told me it was on orange first before three ………….so does that mean its open to any network as i want to go with virgan

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Sandra,

      If you've used your iPhone 4 on both Three and Orange before then it's likely it'll already be unlocked! Best way to test it is to grab a free Pay As You Go SIM card from Virgin: if it works then you could consider signing up for the new contract.

      Hope this helps,


  184. Caren balfour said:

    Just called T mobile to get my phone unlocked. They are talking about it taking 6 – 8 weeks!! How ridiculous is that???

  185. Dave said:

    unlocked with orange no problem £20

  186. kiran kumar said:

    Can anyone suggest me to unlock IPhone 3gs locked to 3nework. i am from to contact 3 network to unlock.

  187. ally said:

    Experience of Three mobile

    i have just spent over an hour on the phone from the UK to Three mobile trying to cancel my mobile contract, get the code to keep my number and unlock the phone to move company, it was THE most frustrating conversation ever and i have never got so angry and frustrated.

    I know they probably have to try and keep customers but they REALLY need to recognize when the customer has made their mind up and just do it!! How many times can you say over and over "please just give me the code and unlock my phone, i am not interested in your offers or staying with you"?

    I have now got the pac code and have filled in the form to unlock my phone, apparently i will get a call from them within 48 hours, I will have to wait and see if this is successful but I do not have confidence….

    My advice, avoid Three mobile unless you plan to stay with them for life as they are a nightmare to leave! good luck to those who do not heed warning and go down this route!

    I now have a glass of wine to help calm down and have changed jumper for vest top, the heat and redness never experienced before is finally now reducing….

  188. Johnboy said:

    T-mobile seem deliberately reluctant to be clear and honest; obviously if you are unlocking your phone, then its because you wish to leave or spend less with them!

    I am in the process of unlocking my iphone 4 and its is not easy. Although more expensive it may be easier to use an online unlock service (there are a few reputable ones). The cost is about £50 so if you discount the £20 Tmobile charge anyway, its not actually that much more and is hassle free. There clearly needs to be better egulation but of course, the mobile phone companies have better access to Government so whilst its something we love to see, it'll never happen. Legalised robbery really.

  189. Alan said:

    What can I do when I’ve been trying to get Orange to unlock my phone for three months?
    It’s a really crazy situation

  190. SPL said:

    I have purchased an iphone 3Gs from some bloke via the Gumtree, which as it turns out is locked to the orange network.


    You can NOT pay someone to do this, and this carrier themselves WILL NOT DO IT FOR YOU.

    I can not trace the original owner as he has now left the country as well.

    Apple WILL NOT unlock this handset for you. They claim to have sold the hardware to orange, ORANGE are the only organisation who are able to remove the lock.

    I guarantee that there is nothing that you, if you have purchased an orange handset from the original pay as you go or contract arrangement owner, can do to unlock this handset yourself. THEY have to do it through orange, and if orange agrees to this, it will cost over £20 to do so.

  191. Jane Taplin said:

    Hi Ken – very good of you to reply to me again, much appreciated. After T-mobile not responding to the original owner of the phone for an absolute age, he managed to get hold of another person at T-mobile who said that the unlock doesn't always work with all sim cards, which sounds like absolute tosh to me! Fair enough if its an unusual phone company in a unusual country, but Bouygues in France is pretty damned normal! I asked the new contact at T-mobile whether she had contacted Apple to check the status of the IMEI but of course, she hasn't got back to me yet….

    I think you're right that has gone wrong somewhere between T-mobile and Apple. I made another attempt at unlocking via i-Tunes last night, still no joy. I'm hoping to be able to see someone at the Apple store on Saturday. In the meantime I'm going to continue pestering T-mobile!

    Thank you so much for your help
    Best wishes

  192. Ken Lo
    Ken said:

    Hi Jane,

    I believe this message occurs because T-Mobile never processed your unlocking request: if they had this message shouldn't appear any more. It's possible that something got lost in the ether between T-Mobile and Apple?


  193. nim said:

    went in to vodafone fareham on friday with the orignail recipt had unlock code by wensday no fee that what i call customer service

  194. Jane Taplin said:

    Thanks Ken. The message I ultimately get on itunes is this:

    The SIM card inserted in this iPhone does not appear to be supported.

    Only compatible SIM cards from a supported Carrier may be used to activate iPhone. Please insert the SIM card that came with your iPhone or visit a supported Carrier's store to receive a replacement SIM card.

    I did get a new sim from Bouygues (which IS a supported carrier in France) but this didn't help matters, still the same message after connecting the phone and doing the restore.

    Very frustrating!!

  195. Jane Taplin said:

    I bought an iphone 4 from my friend in the UK – it was apparently unlocked beforehand (T-Mobile UK say that they have checked it and it is unlocked domestically and internationally) but it will NOT work with my Bouygues (France) sim card. I ordered a new sim to make sure that wasn't the problem, but it still won't work. T-Mobile now say that when an iPhone is unlocked that there is no guarantee that any sim will work. We've only got one friend using a phone with a micro sim, it didn't work with his sim either, and he's on Free (France) which I think uses the SFR network, not that it should matter.

    Does this sound right folks? I'm not sure whether they're spinning us a line to shut us up and get rid! Thanks

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Jane,

      Did you connect your iPhone to iTunes? Your phone won't be unlocked until you see the Congratulations message, so this should verify whether T-Mobile's request made it through to Apple to unlock your device.

      Many thanks,


  196. Zoe Brown said:

    My Dad's friend has got an iPhone 4S and he's selling it to me, but it's locked onto Three. My Dad says that if I buy it and unlock the phone to Orange, the app store on it won't work. Why is this?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Zoe,

      The app store will continue to work even after unlocking. There are no changes to how it will function.


  197. pall said:

    I was gifted a IPhone 4s from my friend, which is locked to france orange network.
    please tell me the procedure to unlock it.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Pall,

      Unfortunately Orange France is a separate network from Orange UK so the instructions listed on this page will not work. Sorry!


  198. jo smith said:

    Ive found this article very useful but i have one further question…i had an iphone on 3 but have recently moved carriers & on to an androud phone…how can i unlock my iphone now so it will work on any network?? Im no longer a 3 customer..any help/advice would be gratefully received, thank you.

  199. Valerie Franklin said:

    Paid Tmobile UK to unlock my iphone 4 on 21 Oct 2012 its now 4 Dec after several phone calls from USA, and phone cards used I am still waiting!!!
    No phone for six weeks and they still take my money!,
    Valerie Franklin

  200. manisha said:

    i have a iphone has been locked when i tried to update d software…my phone has been locked by at& do i get it unlocked?

  201. Ken Lo
    Ken said:

    Hi Prashant,

    As far as I'm aware you should be able to unlock a T-Mobile iPhone once you've held it for 30 days. Did they ask you to wait for 3 months from your contract start date?


  202. prashant said:

    hii i hv my t mobile connection and i am travelling other country so i request to t mobiles for getting mine pphone unlock they told me that i hv wait for 3 months as i hv pay monthly connection i request them so much but no good response as i will spoil my trip with out my i phone 5

  203. zs1 said:

    Three are ridiculous, taken 2 weeks now for the unlock code and the form you have to fill out is so stupid and doesnt say it has to be precise to the info on the account.

  204. Tom said:

    I thought I'd post here to see if it would help anyone. I had an iPhone 4 that came out of contract with Orange in October. I rang them to get it unlocked and they told me it would take 30 days (this started on October 15th.) and I knew nothing about unlocking so I patiently waited the 30 days. After this, I called them up and asked to speak to a supervisor. He apologised and told me that my previous request had never even been actioned! He then put in a new request and said it would take 7-10 days to unlock my phone.

    …so I wait. Again, for some reason I'm too patient, perhaps I don't like confrontation – but I call on Tuesday 27th Nov (15 days after my last request) as I still hadn't received an unlock code. I complained again and told them that I think they're deliberately stalling in order to keep my bill rolling over and I am taking my case to the CISAS This guy then apologised again and said he'd sent a special request to have it unlocked within 72 hours.

    It's taken the full 72 hours but I have got my unlock code at last. I'm now going to try it out.

    Will be posting back here if it doesn't work…

  205. Anula Goonawardana said:

    Very useful information. Once I get my I Phone unlocked will give you a feed back.

  206. Jazz said:

    Every time I phone up T-Mobile I get different instructions. It would be amusing if I didn't want to cry. My aunt upgraded her iPhone 4 to a 5 and seeing as it takes a different sim (micro micro or something), T-Mobile sent her a new sim for it. Now I'm trying to sell her old one, which contains an inactive sim (but it still allows me to activate the phone after a full reset so I'm holding onto it).

    I want to get her old iPhone 4 unlocked so I can sell it, so I went to the T-mobile store in town and they told me that I have to ring Apple apparently, whom will charge £25. I phone Apple, they say they've never heard of this and I have to go back to T-Mobile and get them to do it… ah bureaucracy we meet again!

    Phone up T-Mobile and technically this iPhone 4 doesn't have a phone number any more (just an inactive sim), but the only way to get through to a real person in T-Mobile is by -you guessed it- entering a phone number you want to talk about first. So I entered the old number (which now belongs to the iPhone 5's micro micro sim), and they won't even talk to me unless I'm the owner of the number.

    My aunt lives in London, so next time I go see her I'll phone T-mobile again with her near me and see what story they spout next time I speak to them. Should be amusing. I'll keep you updated.

  207. ed up said:

    Same story as many here. I have come to end of my 2 year contract with orange. Terminated it and asked for iphone 3g to be unlocked. This was at the end of Sept 12 and you can probably guess the rest. Still no unlock and at least 5 phone calls ( wrote down names and what was agreed by orange staff) and I have sent 2 letters to the customers service address. No response from them.
    Just really disappointed ….. They are so wealthy they don't need our £20 – I trying to get all my friends to boycott them! telling them about my unfortunate experience + their prices are not competitive = better off at 02! anywhere ele really.
    Twitter campaign anyone?

  208. PAFoster said:

    Okay guys, bare with me on this one…

    I bought an iPhone 4 on a 24 month contract with Orange.

    I've never had any problems with the Orange service, but now I'm 'out of contract' I've discovered their deals aren't so hot and it was far cheaper for me to move to Three, as indeed this post recommends.

    I went to a Three shop and the guy there made everything easy. I called Orange to cancel my contract and requested a code to transfer my number.

    24 hrs later and my Orange service ceased so I installed my Three SIM card.

    No service. I callThree. They checked everything, then explained that Orange hadn't unlocked my phone.

    Call me stupid, (I have a Mensa qualifying IQ of 156 so I'd like to think I was rather intelligent) but I assumed that if I was ending my contact with orange, having come 'out of contract' and the phone was now legally mine, then asking for and being supplied with a PAC code to transfer my (15 year old ) number, meant that the phone would then work on the 3 network.

    But no, it appears I have to ask Orange to unlock it for me. And judging by the rest of the comments on this post, I can see that is not going to be a pleasant experience.

    The commenters here have mentioned about unlocking their phones while with Orange – sadly I'm not with Orange any longer, so whenever I call a customer service number, it asks me to key in my orange number – and since I don't have an orange number anymore, the system doesn't recognise the number and says 'sorry, we can't help you' and hangs up.

    So I now have an iPhone 4 that I legally own, on a pay monthly sim only tariff with Three having transfered my 15 year old number to them – but I can't make or receive calls or texts any more because the damn thing is locked to Orange.

    After 15 minutes of continuously re-dialing, I finally got through to an Orange phone shop. The guy said it was my fault, and that I should have asked orange for an unlock code. How the eff was I supposed to know? He contacted customer service for me, but they have yet to call me back on my home phone.

    When I have regained some sort of normality I'm going to email ofcom.

    If a mobile phone service provide wishes to lock a phone to their network for the duration of a minimum contract, then that's fine, and if the customer want's to unlock the phone before the end of the minimum contract, that's okay too, provinding the accept the supplier would not be unreasonable in charging a nominal processing fee.



    It's MY iPhone. I paid for it over 24 months. Now I can't effing use it. FU Orange!!

    Thanks for reading. I'll just go and explode now…

    1. Asif replied:

      I know exactly what you mean. I had a similar experiece with Vodafone and its crazy. It's like the phone is mine. I bought it, paid for it and lived with it and so it's mine. I hate it when they say that you have to go to the person you bought the phone off, it's like how am I supposed to do that when I don't even know the guy off ebay. Unlocking a phone should be a simple procedure and companies are getting away with asking customers who buy second hand iphones to get it unlocked by the original person. Ofcom needs to see this website lol.

  209. Tommo said:


    Lost my iPhone so bought my mates old one off him. Only trouble is he is orange. How long am I realistically looking at before the phone is unlocked?He has rung them twice already and has been told it could take up to 2 months!!!

  210. tara said:

    I have a monthly payment plan with vodaphone and use the iphone 4. however, I just got the new iphone 5, but it turns out it is locked to the network 3. How can i unlock it legally?

  211. Bertie said:

    Just had my old 3GS unlocked by Vodafone for free. I’d been on PAYG for at least 18 months on that phone then changed to an iPhone 4. They originally said they wanted £19.99 but I said to them (exact words)…”I thought that unlocking was free beings that phone’s been on the network for over 12 months”. They agreed and did it for free.

    Hope this helps…

  212. Sponge said:

    I’m thinking of buying a iPhone 4 off eBay but it’s on 3 & I have a Tmobile contract. Seems easier enough to get unlocked but would I be able to ring & do it or would the person who’s phone was originally have to do it?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Sponge,

      The feedback from other people in this thread is that it is easier for the original owner to unlock the iPhone.


  213. David said:

    Hi, when my O2 contract ended, I renewed it and got an iPhone 4S from Carphone Warehouse. As the Carphone Warehouse iPhones are not locked till you put a sim in, my plan was to give it to my daughter for her birthday who still has 3 months left on her Orange contract. All went well and it worked well on Orange. The problem came when the Orange contract ended and I rang them up to unlock the iPhone so I could port over to O2.
    Orange said they can’t unlock as the phone was not bought from them.
    O2 said they can’t unlock until they see an O2 sim in it for at least 24 hours. A slight problem as its locked to Orange!
    Apple said I must go back and insist O2 put an unlock request to them via email as it is registered as an O2 phone.
    O2 still refused
    Carphone Warehouse said try someone on eBay.
    Paid an eBay O2 unlocker £40 to unlock it and he said it is locked to Orange. Once I explained my story he said that the Carphone Warehouse have an iPhone database and he can use that to request an unlock to Apple. I paid him a further £20 and two weeks later it was unlocked.

  214. Shakes said:


    I have had to buy an iphone 3gs from a mate after i lost my old one, this one is locked to Vodaphone, how would i go about getting this unlocked so that i can use it with my replacement 3 (three) contract sim card??

  215. Tracy said:

    I am trying to get a TMobile Iphone 4 unlocked, Put in request on 11/10/12 and was told 28 days and charged £15.32. I have contacted them on numerous occasions to check the progress and have been told a different story on all conversations. The 28 days was up on 8/11/12 oh but then I was told 28 working days which is 19/11/12. Today 14/11/12 I have spoken to Apple who say my phone is still Locked. Why does it take so long ???

  216. adam chamberlain said:

    please help ive aplied to have my iphone 4 unlocked with orange and paid the £20 fee they have sent me an email explaining that i should plug my phone into itunes to unlock it ive tried this a number of times and nothing happens it just syncs ????? grrrrrrr please help!!!!

  217. Kiera said:

    I was previously with orange for a 24 month contract and have paid the duration of that contract plus a few months. I have now got a pay monthly sim only deal with three but my new sim is just saying no service when i put it in my iphone4. Would i still have to pay orange to have the phone unlocked even though i have paid off my phone and contract and leaving the company?

    1. PAFoster replied:

      Just wondering how you've got on.

      I did exactly the same thing a couple of days ago – now I can't use my iphone because orange transfered my number to three, but I didn't ask for it to be unlocked – didn't know I had to!

      So my iPhone is locked to orange, but I can't get through to orange customer services because I no longer have an orange phone number!

      It's a nightmare!

  218. Janice Collins said:

    Hi, just wanted to say that I got my iPhone unlocked from 3 without any problems at all. I called them on Monday, a code was sent to me on Tuesday (even though they said it would take three working days), followed the instructions and 'hey presto' it worked It cost £15.32 and I have had no problems at all with the phone which I used in Turkey and Spain. Would recommend them :)D

  219. Sue said:

    I've just phoned 3 network to get the iPhone 3gs unlocked.
    At first it sounded promising until I gave them the details.
    I bought the phone, 2nd hand but still new and unused from someone else in June 2012.
    I'm unable to unlock this as the original owner had registered the phone. So he is the only person
    who can get it unlocked!!!!
    So now I'll just have to buy another phone. I'm so annoyed!!

  220. Daniel said:

    Good day, pls u need to unlock an iphone 4 which is locked to the 3 network

  221. Ali said:

    I have unlocked o2 successfully 3 times. Its best to use their online chat service than calling them. They ask for your IMEI, current call time balance, what plan you are on and the last number you called. It doesn't matter how long you have had your phone or sim for. I did mine with a brand new o2 sim just make sure you have £15 topped up. The 3rd time I unlocked another iphone usign the same sim, this one had a few issues and each time I called O2 they said it would be done soon there is a system error. 2 weeks passed and I spoke to someone else and he asked for the UCID of the iphone and got it unlocked within the hour! They also did not charge me £15 for the hassle. Great customer service. ORANGE on the other hand I bought iphone second hand off eBay and rang orange to unlock it. They said that the person who i bought the phone off will have to request the phone to be unlocked!! What a joke. How am i supposed to contact the other person to get an iphone unlocked. Orange seems to be the worst of the industry for unlocking iPhones or any phone for that matter.

  222. Kranthi said:

    I purchased an iphone4 with lock to 3netwrok, unfortunately its from ebay…. i paid through paypal… now i went to 3 customer support…surprised to know they don't accept paypal receipt as proof of purchase… and denied to unlock… worst bit is they took 1 month to decide they dont want to do it… would be much better if they were native speakers of english

  223. Martin said:

    I requested an unlock code from Orange for an iPhone 4. I was charged a fee but the phone was still locked more than 30 days later. I called customer services and was repeatedly told to wait up to 30 days for the unlock to happen and to receive my email confirming this. After 30 days I called again and was told the process should have taken no more than 4 days and that the email meant nothing as all I had to do was connect my phone (when unlocked) to iTunes with another network SIM for the unlock to be authorised. I explained that I had done this regularly over the last 30 days and that iTunes was still reporting that the other metwork’s SIM was not compatible. . Another unlocking request has been put through and I’ve been told it should take around 4 days more. Orange also tell me they’re going to refund the unlock fee. So, maybe some good customer service will come of this very poor experience of Orange’s unlocking procedures!

  224. gary said:

    i bought my i phone of a mate and we are waiting for the code to come does anyone know if i will be able to then unlock it in my itunes account or if he has to open it in his itunes account

  225. gokhan said:

    i have an iphone 4. i get this iphone from a friend and he bought it from uk and don't remember his o2 tesco- m phone number. we r trying to get it unlocked desperately. i don't have an valid sim card from uk. all i got is just phones imei number. any change that i can get it unlocked ? please help me with this, thank you

  226. Tyler said:

    So i've been in the US 4 months now. I requested Orange to unlock my phone in July. Still waiting. I've been ringing them everyday for the past week demanding they fix it because quite frankly ive had enough.

    I get a nonsense story of every person I speak to who assures me "this will work".. Absolute bullshit. They must have a picture of me on all of their coffee mugs because thats what i feel like they are treating me like.


  227. col said:

    I got T-Mobile to unlock my I phone 4s 2 days after I got it no problem at all Cost £15.32

  228. @undefined said:

    I have just bought an iPhone5 to replace my iPhone4. Asked T-Mobile for the unlock code. Received a text message saying that no can do due to account being open less than 3 months. Immediately rang T-Mobile. Explained situation. Rachel from T-Mobile brought up my account. Confirmed that I had been with T-Mobile since 1999. She emailed dept. dealing with unlocking. So far – nothing! Oh Rachel phoned to say she was waiting for dept. to contact her. What chance do I have, if her own company leaves her hanging?
    Re-Orange – bought my iPad2 via them, over the phone. Clearly told the boy selling it that I did NOT want insurance. Due to it being a direct debit charge, I did not check statements for a fair few months. When I checked, low and behold, the little shit had put yes on my account & I was being charged an extra £15.00 a month. After contacting Orange (via one of their stores) and going through hell, they offered me half the money back because I hadn't contacted them sooner. Their own staff, in the shop, said that Orange were acknowledging liability by offering half. I said not good enough, that I would go to police to report theft. Got my money back straight away. Have to say though, used up my whole lunch break to do this in.

  229. Tim shea said:

    I requested an unlock two months ago from orange I'd left 25 quid I my account
    rang them several times since
    They just say it'll be yours in 20 days or once they said 72 hours
    I'm stuck in perpetual limbo

  230. Globetrotter said:

    Never ever purchase a Phone from Orange. My family of 4 are all with Orange, I have been with them since 1998. My son gave me his Iphone (which has always been pay as you go and which he bought) and it works with my Orange Sim. Now I want to use a different Sim when overseas, and Orange will not unlock unless I take out a 3-month deal and then pay a 20 pound fee, which adds a further 20 days. It has taken Orange 4 weeks to tell me this after promising to unlock. Call centre in India appalling, UK customer service non-existent; promises of supervisors calling back remain unfulfilled. When pointing out our loyalty to Orange since 1998 it made no difference. Spoke to 9 call-centre employees yesterday and 2 supervisors; 5 hours later no resolution aside from sign-up for 3 months etc etc – I already am with Orange but because the (hand me down) Iphone 3gs is paired with my son's number I must do the 3-month route even though we own the iphone.

    Truly appalling when one considers that we own the iphone, and always have done. When I suggested that if Orange could not provide a better solution I would take the whole family to another carrier it made no difference. We are about to move all our accounts to another carrier. Never ever use Orange; they make it all massively difficult to do anything other than stay with them. None of this was made clear when we bought the iphone at an Orange store – we bought it outright and yet now realize it is locked to Orange.

  231. ukfraser said:

    Hi I am thinking of buying a second hand iPhone 4s which was bought from Apple as unlocked. but do iPhones lock to the provider the first time it is used so you have to then unlock them or if unlocked from Apple, is it truely unlocked for all systems and remains so? Many thanks.

  232. mbada said:

    Hi had an iphone 3gs from my sister,but locked to Orange.she pay £20 for unlocking since the first week of September and they said it Wil take two weeks to send the unlock code,but don’t hear from them still.Am using the phone with Orange pay as you go Sim,but if i want to download anything it Wil ask me for my user ID.Is it ok to put my own user ID while my sister is unlocking it in her own name because she is having contract wit Orange.

  233. Pedro said:

    I have an iPhone locked from 3. Now I live in Brazil and tried to unlock officially, but they said I must pay 130 euros. From here it is very hard, cause they don't accept any credit card out of Ireland.
    Can any one help with this?

  234. saff said:

    hi bought my iphone from ebay its on 3g network id like to unlock it the original owner not responding to my email, ebay and paypal said its been over 45days since u bought it ….i dont know what to do to unlock it…any body can help … could u email me with a solution

  235. Ryan said:

    My friend was dew an upgrade but liked the phone he has already so decided to get a iPhone 5 on his upgrade and sell it to me. The problem being its locked to vodafone and I have a contract out with o2, is it possible to get it unlocked by vodafone or do I have to do it the jailbreak way.

  236. a6f46 said:

    good luck… its been 2 months and numerous calls for me. Damn orange.

  237. Heather said:

    I have had an iphone 4 with Three for a year now. I called to unlock it today and unfortunately you do have to pay £15.32 despite having it for over 12 months.

  238. Amy Tweedie said:

    My phone showed up with the message " Only compatible SIM cards from a supported Carrier may be used to activate iPhone. Please insert the SIM card that came with you IPhone or visit a supported Carrier's store to receive a replacement SIM card ", what should I do??

  239. Alex said:

    Hello. I need help. I bought an iPhone 4s with t-mobile lock. I am italian and I want insert an italian SIM. How can i Contact t-mobile. Someone can help me? What information I must comunicate? Please help me

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Alex,

      You can contact T-Mobile from abroad on the phone number +44 7953 966 150. However, it is probable that you'll need to be the original owner of the iPhone in order to unlock it (see other comments in this thread). T-Mobile's full contact details can be found here.

      Hope this helps,


  240. Pedro said:

    I Have an iPone 4, i was struggling to connect it to the Network, it was showing Invalid SIM, later it worked for 28 days and started to expirience Network problem, there after it just giving SIM failure then I am wondering if this is due to the fact that the phone might not be unlocked. How can i go about unlocking it. Is there any solution ?

    Thanking u in advance

  241. Bryan said:

    Orange Nightmare!

    My wife died and I presented her death certificate to Orange a few months later. I explained that I would want to use the phone for my daughter later in the year. te store said no problem just bring it in to store.

    I tried today at the local orange store. Customer service call center told me I needed to install a new sim. keep it for 3 months and then pay 20odd pounds! I told him in no uncertain terms that is NOT the case. I had to fight to speak to his supervisor who said I could get it unlocked anywhere.

    Off I went. I ws told 50/60 pounds and it could take a week.

    Back to the orange store. spoke with the manger whio put me on to a UK customer rep. I was told they could not deal with the account as its not held by me. I pointed out I am next of kin. they have DC whcih I brought in personally.

    I was told the quickest solution is go to Apple.

    Luckily I did not go but called first. Apple had heard this story before and made it clear they could not help. Only the carrier can do this.

    Daughters birthday in 4 days! Why do orange make this so hard. I will NEVER do business with them again.

    unlocking a phone in the age of online realtime databases does not need to be this hard. a few hours at the worst is all that is needed to get this done and the cost should be directly related to the cost of the phone + admin fee or for out of contract term just admin fee.

  242. Ken Lo
    Ken said:

    Hi Jordan,

    As far as I'm aware, it will cost the same to unlock your Orange iPhone regardless of when you do it.

    Hope this helps,


  243. @jordanmc321 said:

    I have pre ordered my iPhone 5 and I have sold my iPhone 4 to a friend, he want's to use it on Orange but it is locked to Three. I noticed it was said that you can unlock it for £15 within the first 12 months but can you after 24 months and is it cheaper?



  244. Carl said:

    I have just bought a second hand iPhone 4 which is locked to orange but I would like to unlock it. I know the person well who I bought it off. How do I go about unlocking my new phone?

  245. Nat said:

    Currently going through an unlock with three. I'm afraid to say that apple won't unlock it and you need the person you bought it off to authorize the purchase so the phone then goes into your name and then you can unlock it which takes 2 working days. Three should have a contact number for them though – whether it's a mobile or landline as it's the only way to do it. The only thing I can suggest is taking the phone in with your proof of purchase into a three store to see what they say.

  246. Sukh said:

    Confirmed if your on a contract with three (2@3) uk you can unlock your phone for the free of approx £16.
    Also if your upgrading to iPhone 5! Three told me today they will unlock it straight away the moment I get my new iPhone. Again for the same fee. But to think your phone will be unlocked and you don’t need to buy it outright but just pay it of on contract!!

  247. annette said:

    hi my dad has a iphone 3g and it is now on pay as you go but he wonts to go on to tescos so how can i unlock it from orange to tescos

  248. Dave said:

    3 are terrible to unlock an iPhone, I bought one from someone at work for my daughter who is on 3, they refused to unlock the phone as I was not the original owner, I am now waiting for 3 to contact the seller to give them the instructions to unlock the phone.

    Don't buy one locked to 3 from ebay unless the seller unlocks it or you plan to use it on 3!!

  249. Abed said:

    I had a very bad experience and still unable to get anywhere with unlocking an iphone 4.

    More than 15 calls and many messages communicated with THREE help desk in China and India, I got no where, but learnt few Chinese and Indian words.

    I bought a second hand iphone 4 from a third party. The iphone isocked on Three. I contacted Three requesting an unlock, but said that they need a proof of purchase and that is the company policy (nothing about policy in wrinting, they make it up to keep you with them)

    Anyway, I went to the shop where I bought the iphone and obtained a receipt. I sent the receipt to Three and had to wait fir 48 hours to get a reply that the proof purchase is a hand written receipt and unable to accept it and they need a digital form such as Microsoft Word. Well, I went to the shop again and obtained a word document and emailed to Three. Waited 48 hours only to learn from Three customer service that they cannot open the document because it done in word 2010.
    Well, another copy of proof of purchase was sent to them a week ago, only to learn that it was not accepted because the proof of purchase does not have apple logo. The saga continue….. Now they want me to call from the shop where I bought the iphone.

    My advice is to stay away from THREE network even if it is Free

    thanks for allowing me to share this insight on your forum

  250. Sjparky said:

    Just requested that my iPhone 4 be unlocked from Orange. I seem to have been lucky and got a ca who seemed to know what he was talking about. He said orange have just ( in last 24 hours) brought in new system for unlocking. He filled in a request form which orange send to apple, they then inform orange that the unlock is ready, orange then email me with instructions to log onto iTunes which then unlocks the phone. He says it could take upto 30 days, but since apple are usually on the ball could be less than 7. The ca made a point of making a seperate note on my account of my request for unlocking.
    It will cost me £20 though.
    Now comes the waiting …..I'll post again on how it all went if and when I get that email.

  251. madisonchristinne said:

    Hi, I came across this article and I'd like to ask something: I have an iPhone 4, bought it a year ago on a 2-year pay monthly contract from Orange Romania. I'm moving to the UK in September and I need to unlock my iPhone in order to use it. Orange Romania asks for 100 euros to unlock my iPhone and I find it preposterous , that's why I was shocked that Orange UK asks for only £20. Do you think there is any possibility for Orange UK to unlock my Orange Romania iPhone?

  252. Rich said:

    Shocking customer service. Orange are pathetic. Rang to unlock iPhone after contract expired. Kept on the phone for over 30 minutes, to be told we would be rung back to complete the request and that it would take 30 days to unlock! They never did. Fuming. Never use orange.

  253. Fee said:

    Would have been helpful if you could have copied and pasted from the other related websites exactly what we need to do.. I'm in Australia now trying to unlock an O2 iPhone and am having problems with it.. I can't access any of the O2 website from Australia.. So I'm still stuck 🙁

  254. Jan said:

    I attempted to change an O2 'sim only' to a T-mobile 'sim only' because T-mobile offered a better deal. The iphone was initially bought with no specific network provider.

    I have been unable to get my iphone unlocked by O2. O2 insist they have unlocked it, Apple say they haven't. Any suggestions?

  255. Jonners said:

    I am outraged that I have to pay and wait 28 days for my OWN phone to be unlocked.

    I paid over £400 ( at an Orange shop) so its never been subsidised by Orange and it never occurred to me that I would have to unlock it and Orange certainly never bothered to tellme or advise when I terminated my Sim only contract and got a PAC Code to move to TMobile.

    I now have a Tmobile Sim card and no phone. Nightmare as I use it for work and personal calls so I am stuck. Orange just keep saying 28 days like robots. If its agreed that you can unlock a phone and you have authority to unlock it it should be done straight away.

    OFCOM need to get involved , no idea why different companies take different lengths of time to unlock.

  256. Rachael said:

    Just rang orange told them I was going travelling and needed phone unlocking? Added the £20 onto my next bill and they done it without any problems. Said it cn take upto 30 days :))

  257. Dran said:

    Orange used to be the best Uk Network for customer services until the turn of the century,I used to be with Orange In the 90s and they were brilliant.They are now so Crap,They dont know if they're coming or going.

  258. Michael THorpe said:

    Orange – No problem…

    Called this morning – £20, could take a week


    1. sam replied:

      can u do orange for me aswell
      i will pay u but i am in australia and don't knw how to get it unlocked. and problem is i am the second owner of this phone.
      any help u can do

  259. Gavin said:

    I am still waiting for my iPhone 3GS to be unlocked after my initial request in February. I have no faith in customer services & have been fobbed off every time. The last time I called I was told my previous calls had not even been logged. Appalling service, I will never use Orange again. They treat ex-customers with contempt.

  260. ARUSHI said:

    Does O2 still provide factory unlocking services for iphone4 which are on contract basis ??? PLS PLS PLS HELP!!!

  261. Narein said:

    I have bought iphone4s from carphone warehouse with the contract of T-mobile. I have inserted vodafone sim while activating my iphone. Now my phone detecting only vodafone sim, not even detecting the T-mobile sim in which I bought my phone for contract.

    Now I need to unlock my phone. Can anyone help me out to find in which network my phone was locked and how to unlock it.

  262. Allan said:

    I just called orange to unlock my iPhone 4S which I've had for 7 months. They said it cost £20 and will take 20-30 days before I get an email with a code and instructions of how to unlock it. Lets see what happens in 30 days…

  263. RIK said:

    I had no problem getting my phone unlocked from orange uk the only problem was I paid £40 to the local mobile shop to request orange to unlock it didn’t know I could have contacted orange directly and saved £20

  264. Jane Russell said:

    Have just rung orange about getting my iphone 4 unlocked – i'm 5 months in to a 24 month contract.
    The lady could not have been more helpful – i know surprising with Orange!
    It will take up to 30days when I will get an email to connect to itunes. Cost is £20.47 much cheaper than the original £50 I was quoted!!
    Happy lady!!!

  265. Erica said:

    I put in a request to t-mobile to unlock my iPhone 4s on 21/06/12 and was told it could take up to 28 days. What they should have said was 28 "working" days. After talking with the support people on twitter last week I was told they were expecting it to come through this week. This morning I had an email from them with the unlock instructions. I plugged my phone into iTunes and was told I would get the "congrats your phone is now unlocked" message but that didn't come up. Maybe because I have my iTunes set to manually manage music/files instead of auto syncing?

    Anyway, I put in a different SIM and everything looks good, it seems to be unlocked. I also checked the status using my IMEI at which tells you the details of your SIM. I had been checking over the past week or so (as I am very impatient lol) and after I went through the iTunes process, the website is now showing the SIM is indeed unlocked.

    Pretty straightforward procedure from t-mobile. They charged me £15.32 including VAT. I'm travelling to the US in about 10 days and have a prepaid SIM to use over there (my main reason for unlocking in the first place) so we'll see if it works when I get there 🙂

  266. Maahi said:

    My sincere advice to all. Avoid using Orange as it gives you pain in bills. They change for the delivery of messages, what the hell. When it comes to iPhone unlock. They are worst. I don’t know why want you keep with them. It’s a consumer right issue to chose the providers.

  267. Shiv azad said:

    Orange is very bad when it comes to unlocking iPhone. You need to push them and call them again and again. They started the process to unlock only after I said them to sue them. Email on, to process it fast and make a complaint.
    Following is the email the orange sent me.

    Mr shiv

    As requested, in our conversation today, I am writing to confirm the points that were discussed.

    I confirm that your account was checked and the IMEI was shown as not paired/registered on the Orange account. However, you state that the phone was registered by yourself. After further intense investigation, I have now found the IMEI number on the account. I have requested an unlocking code to be issued. There is a charge of £20.42 for unlocking the phone and this will be debited to the account once the unlocking code is issued. I have requested the code to be sent to your email address. It can take up to 28 days for the code to be issued. Please accept my sincere apologies for the wrong information that you were given and any inconvenience this may have caused.

    I trust this is a satisfactory resolution to your request.

    Yours sincerely
    CEO orange.

  268. Carol said:

    I have a 3GS which I had on contract. The contract finished, I found a better deal elsewhere but have rang numerous times to get this 3GS unlocked without success. Every time I ring them I am told different stories, now I have been told to buy another sim for the phone, register it and 3 months down the line they will unlock it. Why do I have to spend more money with a company I don’t want to do business with?? Why should I wait 3 months? They have records of me having the phone. The young lady this time told me to take it to a high street shop and get it unlocked, told me there are many places who do it and it will be cheaper be them?? Their own customer services told me to go elsewhere!!!
    We have 5 mobile phone in my household we will never use Orange again

  269. Nick said:

    I bought my phone from Carphone Warehouse on an orange contract. I have reached the end of my 24 month term and asked orange to unlock it. They said they cannot do this as i bought the phone via a 3rd party. I was told i had to get Carphone Warehouse to unlock it, for which I was told I couldn't do it there. So now I am stuck in the middle with a phone I have paid for but with orange still effectively owning the service i can use. I think i need to complain, is this legal?

    1. Chris replied:

      Hi Nick,

      Orange have the responsibility for unlocking your phone not Carphone Warehouse.

      Was it a UK agent you spoke to? I phoned, chose the option for phone faults and then said I wanted my phone unlocking. For me it was as simple as that. I did speak to a UK agent. It seems some of the confusion is with their non UK call centres.

  270. Ugo said:

    I have Nokia C3 that was sent to me from Abroad and i want to use Nigeria network in it but it is writing network restricted and that i should unlock it but i dont know how to unlock it pls help me,at the pack of the phone i saw Orange

  271. Chris said:

    Here’s my positive Orange UK unlock experience.

    I phoned Orange on Sunday to request my iPhone 3GS (from Carphone warehouse) to be unlocked, I dialled customer services and chose the option for phone faults.

    The person I spoke to in a UK call centre, told me there would be a charge for the service (I knew that) and it would take up to 30 days for the unlock to go through the system. He did however say it would normally be less than that and maybe around 7 days.

    After reading some of the problems others have had I called Orange again yesterday to find out if my request was being processed and was told it had been noted on their system.

    Late this afternoon I got an email from Orange and after connecting my iPhone to iTunes it had indeed been unlocked.

    I’m so relieved it all went through OK and feel the frustration of others who are having issues.

    Maybe I was just lucky; finally I can leave Orange after 16 years of being a contract customer. I won’t be going back!

  272. Michael said:

    I have the same problem that all of the Orange user face here. I spent a good 4-5 hours on the phone with them and even visited the store.
    They will give all sort of excuses.
    First, told me that it can be done.
    Told me carphone warehouse can do it too, cheaper and faster without the 20 days wait.
    Some CS told me it's 30 days wait.
    Some CS told me 14 days.
    Some says that because it is purchased from Carphone warehouse, they cannot do it.
    Some CS told me Apple definitely can do it. I called Apple and no such thing.

    I am FED UP with ORANGE UK!! Seriously, if I had the money, I'll sue them for sure.

    I swear I will never go to Orange ever, and hope that they go bankrupt.

  273. Michelle said:

    Help! a couple of months ago I purchased a iphone 3GS phone locked to orange from ebay thinking it would work with a t-mobile sim seens as they are now part of the same company now. However, i thought wrong, I rang and spoke to Orange to arrange for the phone to be unlocked but because i was not the original owner of the phone, they were unable to help. They said the original owner would need to ring in and pay the unlocking fee for this to happen!! is there any other way i can get the phone unlocked as i have since got a new iphone 4s but would like to pass this 3g one onto my brother who is with 3. Any help would be much appreciated!

  274. Vlad said:

    I’ve just phoned them up again demanding why it hasn’t been deducted yet…
    “I’m sorry, we can’t actually unlock your phone because you didn’t buy it from us. We need the original owner of the phone to give permission to unlock it. There’s absolutely nothing we can do about it.”

    Now I’ve got £24 of credit sitting there doing sod all. I’m absolutely raging.
    Now what am I going to do?…

  275. Vlad said:

    I’ve had my iPhone 4, which I bought privately, for a good 5-6 months now and the amount it costs to run Orange is extreme. It’s £5 for 250mb of data for a month, but it actually lasts a few days. I’ve been paying up to about £30 another to run this as I don’t have broadband for wifi…

    Anyways, 3 weeks ago, me and my dad phone them up asking if we could get it unlocked and they said to go through to the nearest Orange shop and they’ll do it there and then. So we did. The nearest shop was 20 mile away (40 mile there and back), and when we got there they said that they shouldn’t have said that because the shop can’t unlock phones. Not sure whether this is Customer Service or the Shops fault…
    When we got back, we phoned up again. This time we got a different guy, and after a good few hours overall – we finally got somewhere. He took down the IMEI number and sent apple an email asking for Unlock Codes to be sent out by post to my house. All he asked was for me to top up by £20 asap – all he asked was for me to topup by £20 asap and it would take up to 2-3 days for it to be deducted and then the codes will be sent off.
    I was happy, believing him, thinking I’d be on GiffGaff in less than a week enjoying unlimited Internet…… It has now just passed 3 week. I’m absolutely raging, and if I could swear on here, then this post would be very explicit.

    I’m about to phone them up now and demand what the hell is going on – I came across this website by accident looking for the Customer Support Number, I’ll definitely check back though.

    Don’t ever go with Orange… Please…

  276. Matt said:

    Orange unlocked my iPhone 4 which was still bound to a contract free of charge. You just need to be firm ;o)

  277. Jia said:


    if I bought a iphone 4S from phone web shop, such as, but the phone was locked to 3 network, can I ask three company to unlock the mobile phone?

    Many thanks,


  278. Laura said:

    I successfully unlocked my Tmobile phone for a small charge which was added to my bill! It takes 10-28 working days to be unlocked and is confirmed by email! Plug your phone into iTunes and walla all done! Brilliant service and much safer than jail breaking!

  279. Messenger said:

    With 3 network. On a contract, you need to have owned your phone for at least one month and paid your first bill. Just call 333. It costs £15.32 which you will pay by card while on the phone with the operator. In one or two working days you will receive a message that says "your unlocking request has been processed. Please connect your device to iTunes to confirm the unlock". That's it. Easy.

  280. Steven said:

    I have just bought an iphone 4s on 3 uk from ebay. I am trying to get it unlocked. I have been in contact with 3 uk and they have told me i need to get in touch with the person i bought the phone from and tell them to contact 3 uk explaining that they have sold the phone. Once i do this they will unlock the phone for a price of £15.32. The problem is, i have been in touch the the person i bought the phone from and its not registered in is name and he does not know the name of the person he bought it from. So until the registered person contacts 3 uk the phone will remain locked. I found a site, officialiphoneunlock who tell me they can unlock it for £100 but im not sure if they are genuine. Has anyone got any ideas.

  281. Mike said:

    Orange 'Customer Service' is appalling, inefficient and either incompetent or plain dishonest. They are terribly polite and promise you the earth but deliver zilch. I bought an iPhone in February 2012 from a private seller and contacted them to get an unlock code. They paired the IMEI and sim number and told me to wait 3 months which I dutifully did (although I did dispute why as I only had a PAYG sim from them , not a contract and I was the legal owner of the phone and not bound to them in any way).

    I phoned in May when the 3 months was up and applied for an unlock code. They checked the IMEI and sim, lodged the request and told me I would need to wait another month for the code (WHY!!). I topped up the required £20, waited for the code and received – nothing.

    Since that month was up I have been on the phone to 450 almost daily – with each call I have to go through the same routine again and each time I am initially told I have to wait 3 months as I have 'just bought the phone' or 'the IMEI and number don't match'. Each time I force them to check their own records and each time they apologise and say they will 'escalate' my case and I will have the code 'within 24 hours but probably sooner' – each time i appears I have been fed more bilge.

    The latest scam was this evening where I insisted that I received the code immediately; the 'Supervisor' who eventually dealt with my complaint said she would contact 'the unlocking team' straight away and call me back 'within 30 minutes' with the code. I waited and when she didn't return the call in that time phoned 450 again – only to find that they had shut 10 minutes before (no time limits for this service are provided on the Orange website). Worse that this I find I have been charged 50p for each call this evening and not the 25p Orange quote!!!!

    I doubt they will ever unlock it – but one thing is for sure, I would rather drop the phone down the toilet than ever spend another penny on the deliberately useless 'service' offered by these clowns.

  282. Mahendra said:

    hi i mahendra from india, i have iphone4 factory locked with O2 UK, I am unable to use it after up grading ios, since baseband has changed to 12.0.1 i am unable to access local network in india, can any one help regarding this issue or please give me the customer service Numbers of O2 Uk

  283. Becki said:

    Hi all,

    I’ve just had major hassle with my 3GS first of all finding out if it was locked or unlocked!

    I purchased the phone from car phone warehouse and was told it was unlocked when purchased 2 years later I upgraded and sold the phone no problems. Then the customer told me it was locked and their Vodafone sim didn’t work. Rang 150 and they told me the handset was locked and that they couldn’t unlock it so I’d have to go to my local orange store. Went in and they told me in store that they never have and never will unlock phones in store and to contact 150 again and demand they unlock it. In the mean time I called into car phone warehouse and they told me that the guy who sold me the phone had lied as it was on their system as a locked handset but refused to pay the cost of having it unlocked as the guy didn’t work there any more! (great customer service for ya!) then phoned orange back

    Unlock via IMEI code £20.49 (had £15 discount as good will so £5.49 for me)

    But takes 20 days for them to email the code to me

    Luckily my customer is quite happy to wait the 20 days!

    If you buy an iPhone and you’re told it’s unlocked demand proof before purchasing and be careful of the unlocked handset that automatically locks to the network of the Sim you first put in car phone warehouse are currently doing this!!

  284. Goia said:

    i have orange contract last 5 years. i lost my iphone (contract iphone) and bought second hand one but stilll on orange. when asked orange to ulock it they say no becouse i did not buy it directly from them! spoke with apple and was adivsed to speak to orange cos they have to unlock it cos im paying for it 24 months,however after talking to orange 10 times im feed up, they are just lazy and stiupid people and network.!some people told me that they wont unlock it, some that they got massage from apple that my phone is unlocked and some that i will recive instruction by post, yeah lots of stories!at the end i unlocked from some high street shop for 30£ and never want to see orange again !

  285. Charlotte said:

    Just tried to unlock my iphone 3gs with orange. Told me i would have to wait 30 working days for the unlock code to come through. Leaving the country in 21 days said this to the person on the phone couldnt do anything to help. Does it really take 30 working days or is this something they say to cover themselves.

  286. Sarah said:

    I would advice everyone reading this to stay WELL AWAY from t-mobile & Orange they ARE by far the worst service providers in the UK!!!!


  287. Chrissy Stevens said:

    I paid my money to 02 but still it won’t accept my orange sim they now say they won’t refund my money as there is a fault with my iPhoney orange sim is working I

  288. Lee said:

    Rook ur advice on unlocking from 3, you where spot on with ur info with price was told it will take 48 hours to process then a tx sent to me confirming unlock then all I have to do is sync phone and hey presto. Hope this helps.

  289. Wendy stockham said:

    I am also having a nightmare with unlocking a code for my 32gs which I gave to my daughter . I upgraded to a 4s and they decided to unlock that one!!! Now been waiting 6 weeks for code! When you go into an orange shop they and you a phone to say ring the same people you can call from 150?.. So what's the point of the shop if they cannot help! When I first call orange I speak to an English lady but then she puts me through to someone who does not have a clue. I have had so many lies from orange it's unbelievable!!! If I do not get a code this week and certainly after reading all these complaints I may just go public! Never ever would I use orange again!

  290. shamsudin said:

    i have a iphone from three of london
    i want to unlock it
    if u can so mail about that and about its rate.

  291. Rob said:


    I have recently bought an iPhone 4S from a friend of mine in the UK but I am based in Australia. The handset is locked to Orange, and he sold it to me after only 3 weeks of owning it, do I need to wait the next 2 months before he can get it unlocked for me to used with other networks? Is there a quicker way?

  292. @comedyrogueshow said:

    Orange are a disgrace. Plain and simple. Requested an unlock over a month ago, called after two weeks and was told yep, everything is going through ok. Phoned again after the month and was told that they had no record of an unlock request on my account! Am going through it again and they're knocking £5 off of the £20. Well that makes up for the extra £38 they'll be taking off me in the meantime, doesn't it? Having been an Orange customer for 7 years, very much doubt I'll be going back again.

  293. lindssy said:

    Having been quoted over £100 to unlock my iphone from the 3 network at local shops (supposedly this was a genuine unlock and not a jailbreak) , I searched the internet and found this site. I followed the instructions and called 3; paid the £15.32 and was told Iwould get a text in max 72 hours telling me all i needed to do was link up to itune s to complete the unlock process. 48 hrs later got the text and hooked up to itunes, did 'restore'to set it back to factory settings. Unplugged it – put new network SIM in phone and reconnected to itunes then restored all my contacts and data back onto phone. Phone now unlocked, and I'm chuffed to bits!!!

  294. katie said:


    I have bought the 3gs from someone private and asked three to unlock it, they said they needed the original persons permission, i can no longer get hold of him and i cant use the phone how can i get round this? i need to use the phone on orange but its locked to three

  295. Justine said:

    Okay so here’s my predicament:
    I just bought this iPhone 4 which is locked to 3 UK. Upon reading the comments above, I understand how the unlocking works. Dial 333 blah blah blah, I even have the IMEI for this phone. The problem is: I’m nowhere near the UK cause I’m in Asia (Philippines, to be exact). How do I get 3 to unlock this phone? 🙁

  296. Adrian said:

    At Three – 3
    If you brought an iPhone at Three (3) in UK, you can unlocked it after one month.
    Call 333 on your mobile phone ask to speck with someone at customer service (it applies like that call 333 and then 1 – because you want to talk about your phone you are in contract – than 4, tham 4 again and wait for the operator), than tell she/him you want to unlock your iPhone, You have to be prepared to give them the IMEI number (you easily can connect it at iTunes and you can be see the IMEI) than you have to pay 15£.
    In between 2 to 6 days you will receive an sms saying that you have to connect to iTunes to confirm the unlocking.
    It works for me. After 5 months contract and I am able to use with any sim card.

  297. John said:

    I have a new iphone that i think is registered to vodaphone, i bought it pivately, i want to use it on tesco mobile, how will I go about getting it unlocked, if i contact vodaphone will they unlock it for fee ?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi John,

      You'll need to ask the original owner of the phone to contact Vodafone and to ask them to unlock it.

      Hope this helps,


  298. dennis said:

    5 weeks and same story as others on here that ill call you back ect ect just spoke to superviser and told them i want my money back been told i can have my money back and they will have it unlocked in 48 hrs
    we will see

  299. SPB said:

    Thank you!

  300. SPB said:

    I'm a little confused. I have got my sister's old iPhone after she upgraded and I need to unlock it, do we contact orange (who she is with) or O2 (who I am with)? Thanks

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi SPB,

      You need to contact the network that the iPhone was originally purchased from, and the original owner will need to talk to them in order for them to process the unlock. This means your sister will need to contact Orange and ask them to unlock the iPhone.

      Hope this helps,


  301. Andy said:

    It is something like SAM unlock which has been recently released by unknown Chinese hacker

  302. Mark Tewkesbury said:

    Unlocked my 3 network 3GS without any issues, £15.32 taken as up front payment by the rubbish call centre which was frankly the best and easiest experience I’ve had with them!

  303. Django said:

    Orange supplied me with a PAC code after a month of trying by many means to make leaving challenging/difficult and then tried to tell me that they had delays and couldn't get my unlocking code till a further month had passed and if I didn't want to pay for this month then that was my look-out etc etc I felt like I was play blind-man's-buff with a dip of pickpockets to be honest and it was only when I started to ramp my real anger and irritation that they finally agreed to do the apparently extraordinarily challenging thing of releasing me from my contract at the end point, having been given additionally OVER a month's notice that this would be the case, and release the handset to be used on another network . . .
    CRIKEY!! Retentions Team eh? I'm ill inclined to swim with those chomping piranha again and to think I just wanted to use the handset with a cheap monthly sim only deal till the new iphone 5 came out then I was thinking of taking out another Orange contract until they tried juicing me like a cheap . . . well, like a cheap orange . . .
    Anyways, their email in today seems to suggest that anyone can unlock a 3G from Orange without needing a code – appended below:
    Please find the process for unlocking your Apple handset:-

    ****Please note there is no code required to unlock your iphone/ipad****
    1) Insert a non-Orange 3G SIM card. This must be a network provider who also supplies the iphone/ipad.
    2) Switch ON the handset.
    3) Connect to iTunes using USB cable
    4) Use the “restore” option within iTunes (located at the bottom of iTunes not the top)
    5) The handset may then display: USB cable and iTunes icon.
    6) Disconnect from USB then re-connect
    7) Synchronise device with iTunes
    8) Once synchronised a message will appear on iTunes stating “Congratulations, your iPhone has been unlocked” If using IOS5 this message will not show
    9) Follow on screen set up instructions to enable new carrier settings
    Your handset should now be successfully unlocked.

    In fact, if I pop the giffgaff sim into the handset without doing anything, keeping the handset switched on, it offers me the option to just download the new network settings – so after all this kerfuffle (and presumably Orange have charged me for this inaccurate and misleading email instructiuon tab??) I could have just done it by cutting to the chase it seems. Anyways, the drama isn't over yet – my number is supposed to migrate on the 23rd whereupon everything has to tick through nicely or I will be electronically excommunicated with my work number defunct . . . I will certainly post more if it goes wrong for any reason . . .

    this set of Orange customer service horror stories rings clangingly true alongside my experience – they want to keep you, if permanentlly isn't possible they'll try for just short of permanently, i.e. another 12-24 months, if that looks unlikely they'll angle for one of their expensive monthly deals, then, if they sense that's not possible either because you've informed yourself of the lie of the land in the marketplace and know they are overpriced, they go for their last tactic, which is to see how much flesh they can rip off your flank while you desperately try and get out of the hostile maze of their retentions/disconnections process. It is a disgrace. I would like to see the head of Ofcom publicly flogged and then salted for allowing this to even settle out as acceptable behaviour in the sector.

    1. Anon replied:

      "Anyways, their email in today seems to suggest that anyone can unlock a 3G from Orange without needing a code – appended below"

      You do not need any unlock 'code' to unlock the iPhone, as it is all done remotely and something appears to be pushed to your phone to make it unlocked in the software. Hence the reason why they ask you to plug it into itunes and no need for a code.

      It's Orange's policy to make this as difficult as possible and to charge for the privilege! 😉

  304. faffy said:

    It was good reading your advice. I live in Nigeria. A friend bought me an iphone 3G (used) from London that is locked to a network i do not know. The question is how do i know the network so i can pay to unlock because i do not want to jail break. Thanks

  305. MrJ said:

    Ive just spoken to T-Mobile and they said they can unlock iPhones for 15£ but it would up to 28days because they have to send it off to apple to be done. i will try it within the next few weeks.

  306. becky said:

    I agree with #dave. I have been trying for 4 months and everyone i have spoken to have said they will do it and its still not happened.

    I am abroad and it is costing me a fortune trying to deal with orange, they used to be so good at customer service but i think they have outsourced and intead of speaking to a friendly Geordie who can sort my problem straight away I get a muppet who cant say my name properly and who cant do anything without a supercvisor who then cant help either!


  307. Pat - Ireland said:

    Just contacted 3 with regard to unlocking an iPhone 3GS after getting a gift of an iPhone 4. 380euro to unlock the phone. I would have to buy out the remaining 8 months of my 24 month contract and still honor the remaining 8 months of the contract….. My entire experience with 3 mobile has been nightmarish…. no signal in my own home and I have been informed by them that there is no problem.

  308. Dave said:

    I'm 2 days into a 24 month "The One Plan" contract with Three. I just had my request to unlock my iPhone 4S placed on their system for a cost of £15.32. They said it would take up to 48 "working hours" to complete the request, at which point I'd receive a text alerting me.

  309. @LukeAGardiner said:

    I just got my iPhone 4S unlocked by Three. It cost £15.32 and they said it would take 48-72 hours. I am currently on a 24month contract (the one plan) at £35/month. Just call 333.

    I had previously unlocked my iPhone 3GS under an O2 contract free of charge and without issue.

  310. Hannah said:

    I got iphone 4s with o2 and sent the request unlock form online! 3 days later, i received text to said that my iphone was unlock. And it was for free!!! I love o2 !!!!

  311. Yasmin said:

    I have recently bought an iphone 4s but it is locked to tmobile does anyone know how to unlock it? as i do not have the original tmobile sim card just the phone.

    thanks 🙂

  312. Ken Lo
    Ken said:

    Hi Adam,

    Thanks for your comment. I'm really sorry to hear about your situation and I hope that Orange can resolve to cancel your iPhone 4S after you've held it for several months. The legislation as it current stands is that there is no legal obligation to unlock the phone I'm afraid.


  313. Toby said:

    Got my new iphone 4s this morning from 3 and started the unlock process this afternoon. Really easy, charged £15.32 to my next bill.

  314. Lindsay Smith said:

    Just been speaking to orange and they said they only unlock the phone that was originally registered to you on your original contract…so if i've broken my phone or whatever and have to buy a second hand one, even if that phone has been with them for 3 months as their website says (it doesn't mention anything about the phone having to be linked to the customers account) they won't unlock it…they are absolute arses. i've been with them for years and years and my contract finishes in 1 month and i will NEVER be going with them again…even though i was considering getting my sim only contract with them i won't now. Why are they so scared of me going elsewhere if they are so great.

  315. dave said:

    Orange will lie to yo and say they will unlick your phone, it will never happen. You will be frustrated by endless phone calls to them and promises they will phone you back , uncok it next day , etc. Honestly if they say 30 days then it won't happen, we hve been told that 3 times.

  316. S.M. said:

    £20 – upto 30 days to unlock for ORANGE. No problems.

  317. Mark said:

    26 hr later I got a text from 3 saying unlock complete, and to connect iPhone 4s to iTunes!
    I did this and nothing happened, what I didn’t do was put a different network sim in, when I did this I got a message come up saying Reuters activation!
    I connected it to iTunes and within 5 seconds it was activated and full bars showing on orange and 3G
    Tried a couple of other aim cards nd they all worked, so definatley unlocked all networks
    Was very easy to do through 3 network

  318. Mark said:

    Had my new iPhone 4s just under 2 weeks, phoned up 3 network this morning and asked for the phone to be unlocked as I want to use it in the E.U and don’t want to use my 3 micro sim due to roaming charges abroad and will use a local micro sim, they said no problem and I would be billed £15.31 on my next bill due to apple taking a chunk of it for unlocking.
    Was told within 48hrs phone would be done and I will get a text explaining what to do which is basically just hook it up to iTunes with a different micro network sim and should get a congratulations your phone is now unlocked message
    Will let you know when it is complete

  319. Vixson said:

    Hi my boyfriend has just had an upgrade to the iPhone 4s on He did have an iPhone 3GS which he bought 2nd hand. He’s gave me the 3GS to save me buying a new one from apple. My Samsung galaxy s is broken so I jumped at the chance when he offerd me his old phone. I’m on O2 so I needed to get the phone unlocked. After speaking to customer services two people told him to connect the iPhone to iTunes then it would be unlocked, we tried thus but ur did not work we then phoned again and spoke to someone else. They took his e,mail address and name and said they would need to contact apple for a code, then they said they would e,mail him within 7 to 10 working days. It’s now been 3 weeks as if tomorrow I am still useing the broken galaxy which us nearly on its last legs. Does anyone know how long it takes? I am giving it until next week to be unlocked if not then I will have to go and buy a new iPhone which will cost me 429£. We have rang and they said its in process but this was a week ago.

  320. zee said:

    i've bought a second hand phone from a friend, was told that it was going to be unlocked in 30 days, its now been 2 months and after numerous phone calls they keep bouncing to different departments, who tells me different stories each time and try to blame me for it not being unlocked. given this experience id stay away from them, and recommend everyone to stay away from them.

  321. iphonefangirl said:

    i just phoned 3 yesterday to have it unlocked. only spoke to 1 operator was asked for the imei and after 30 hours i received the text ‘it has been processed’. only had the iphone 4s for 3 months im travelling to asia in 6 weeks. gotta love 3.

  322. naomi said:

    Really need some help! I have bought a phone on three but have not been able to unlock it…….. i called them as I had the old owners sim card in it but they say the phone isn't registered in my name…….. I bought the phone from Cash Converters and supply them with the relevant proof… Do you think it will help to go in store……. The sim card was left in the phone and I have now registered me as the phone numbers owner (its pay as you go) adding all my details for security purposes. Will the phone now be registered to me or have i bought an expensive brick!!

  323. @OnRadioAaron said:

    Have you tried any other sims, so that it is unlocked no matter what or does the lock simply move to t-mobile?

  324. Mark said:

    Just a quick note to those who are buying second hand iPhones buy them on vodafone if you can once the phone is 12 months old they will do it for free so all 3G and 3GS will be done. Takes about 5 days. £20 if not 12 months old.

  325. Ken Lo
    Ken said:

    Hi Ian,

    If it's been unlocked through the official method, you should just have to put in a O2 SIM card and then plug your iPhone into iTunes. This should cause it to unlock the phone again.


  326. Ian Booth said:

    My daughter was given an old G3 iphone by her godmother (she's now an iphone 4 user) and we had it unlocked cheaply so we could use O2 sim card. Daughter forgot pass code and locked it up so had to reload software from itunes. Problem – gone back to orange. how do i get it unlocked for o2 again, ideally for free?

  327. Artur said:

    iPone 4s on Vodafone Pay Montly unlocked for free in 4 days!

  328. No idea said:

    Hi, Hoping someone can advise me whether I'm doing the right thing or not. My wife's contract (which is in my name) is up for renewal. So I decide to order a 4s from 3, but I am thinging of using the phone for myself on a pay month sim with vodafone. Being a bit nieve I automatically thought it would be easy to unlock the phone and put my vodafone simm in and away I go. Should I cancel and just get a iphone 4s which is already unlocked or can this be done baring in mind I haven't even started on my contract yet? Thanks In advance for any advice/responses..

  329. Vijendra said:

    Hi i have an iPhone with Orange Israel "smart and happy student 2010" plan, now only 3 month left out of 18 month contract. Just now i called to company, asking to unlock phone for other company, to use in other country they said it will be unlocked in next 24 hr just i have to synchronize my phone with itunes, that to be free of cost. enjoy!!!!!!

  330. Lewis said:

    I just read this post, really helpful information, i was on 3 for my iphone 4 (which my dad gave me beause he was upgrading to an iphone 4s) and i previously had a blackberry curve 8520 on the network orange, and i wanted to keep my number because i had lots of friends and family's numbers, i had been to 2-3 different phone unlocking shops and the prices to unlock my iphone where shocking (£85-£90), and i read the part on the 3 section on this post about just simply phoning customer services and requesting an unlock. so i did, it was very simple, just call 333, select "your number" and then select "talk about leaving" and your forwarded on to the customer services line, ofcourse they try pursuade you to stay on 3 but if you insist on leaving (like i did) i suppose they had no choice in which to do so, now i am happily unlock on my iphone 4 on orange. i wouldnt advise going out to a shop and getting your phone unlocked before you try call your customer services first and request an unlock, im glad i never paid the £85-£90

  331. Matt said:

    Hi David,

    Yes, this sounds like Orange. Unfortunately, the French customer services team seem to make it up as they go along. I have even been told by Orange customer services to jail break my iphone in order to unlock the software, which of course gives you the access you require, but it shouldn't be advised by Orange because it invalidates your warranty and makes your iphone's software unstable, and moreover, they have the ability to do it remotely and properly.

    The problem all mobile phone companies have is that there are very few employees told how the software is locked and unlocked and therefore the average customer services team member cannot advise you properly. This is because the topic is highly sensitive as it is a practice that is being concealed until customers realise they cannot use their phones with other networks, at which point they are usually asked to pay more money and wait long periods for the phones to be unlocked.

    Keep on trying with Orange, if you have no luck, log a complaint with Ofcom regarding your matter. Although Orange seem to have useless customer service, they do actually have a good system in place when a complaint is made to Ofcom, which I will not divulge but you will find out yourself.



  332. Matt said:

    Hi Amo,

    You need to find out exactly who has locked your iphone4. Vodaphone should tell you if they have locked the software, but beware they may want you to pass security questions on the original sim card used in the phone; if you can't do this you have to escalate the matter either with Vodaphone or Ofcom. Not knowing information about the original sim card is not a good enough reason for a mobile company to prevent the use of a proprietors £500 iphone4, so other information you hold should be adequate, such as your current use with the phone which they will hold on record, the IMEI, serial number etc.

    If you do not have proof of purchase, you could organise to meet a manager at a Vodaphone store where you could take the phone and photo ID (passport / drivers licence) and ask them to approve your identification and take records (so they are covered if anything goes wrong, i.e. you are not the real owner). You could also go to a Commissioner of Oaths (usually a solicitor) and pay for them to draw up a statutory declaration which will give all details of you and the phone saying you are the owner (note the penalty for being untruthful when doing this can be severe, also this could be pricey). Aswell, there is the possibility of recording your IMEI with the police and this can be used as proof that, at least, you are serious about your ownership of the phone.

    If you are still struggling after you have tried everything, call Ofcom and make a complaint. Ofcom cannot help you directly but they can advise you what steps to take next and provide you with a case reference number against the mobile company.

    I hope this helps.



  333. Shaun said:

    I am on a 3 contract Iphone 4 deal and need the pone unloocked as im off to New York and need the phone active and cheap across there. Rang them Wednesday lunch and cost me £15.60ish on my bill to have it unlocked. Said id need to put the new none 3 sim in the phone or back it up after a text message states phone unloceked within 48 hours, which came this morning (Friday). Am now just backing up phone and restting it and then resore and all should be done ready for my new sim in New York.

    Very easy and helpful staff at 3 too.

  334. Sue said:

    Help please!!
    So I have got an email from Orange to say the phone is unlocked and I have the new SIM card, I now need to use the restore option within itunes, is this itunes on my pc or on the iphone? Sorry I am not a bit techie

    1. @OnRadioAaron replied:

      On your itunes, you click the iphone. then click the summary tab scroll down and its the buttom under search for updates .. hope this helps 🙂

  335. Lucy Williams said:

    Hi guys, I desperately need some help! I bought my husband an iPhone 3GS after I broke his iPhone 4. The iPhone 3GS I have purchased is locked to orange and I need to get it unlocked so I can put his 3sim card in it…..he needs it working ASAP can someone please help x

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Lucy,

      We have some unlocking instructions for Orange above, though if it doesn't work you could try the unofficial and unsanctioned method of unlocking (sorry I can't advise on this though!).


  336. gordon said:

    i have an iphone 4 on three and it cost £15.32 to get it unlocked ive had the phone on contract for 14 months it took two days for it to be unlocked on iso 5.01 was jailbrocken before the unlock and is sill jailbroken now.

  337. Deniz said:

    Hello together,

    I bought an used iPhone 4 from a guy.

    Iam from Germany and the iPhone is SimLocked

    by orange UK. How can i unlock it?

    Any idea?

    Thanks a Lot

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Deniz,

      Unfortunately you'll have to get it locked by Orange UK, which is tricky if you're in Germany. An unsupported method would be to jailbreak your phone – I can't advise on how to do it (you could brick your phone if done incorrectly)… also please check local laws & regulations to ensure jailbreaking is allowed.


  338. Karim254 said:

    Had a new iPhone 4 unlocked successfully with O2. That part was easy, Using it with another sim gives me network problems…. Searches for the network for ages and finally 'no Service' keeps propping up for other carriers here in Kenya. Worked once or twice, but briefly before 'searching' for network again. Really frustrating. I'm I the only 1? Help!

  339. Raj said:

    I've been having such problems getting my Iphone4 unkocked from Orange. The first time I tried I was told the request was made, but in fact it wasnt. I've since sent two emails to them about this, they've just ignored me, SO – my next email will be to – CEO of Everything Everywhere, parent company of Orange. If he gets a lot of angry emails, perhaps he'll do something about this problem

  340. Tim said:

    thank you sir, you just saved me a packet!!

  341. Dave said:

    Hi, I have recently been given an iphone 4 which was contracted to orange. How do I get it unlocked from orange without a sim card being in the phone?

  342. Kerry said:

    Ive just joined Orange and I’m on
    A 24 month contract with a 4S

    By right in reading Orange won’t or will
    Unlock a iPhone?

    I got my deal with Phones4u

    Although I’m not bothered at the moment
    With unlocking but once contracts up I may wish to go back to my previous network Vodafone

    So I’m hoping unlocking is 100%

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Kerry,

      Orange should unlock their iPhones – see the heading under Orange for details of how to do it 🙂


  343. craig c said:

    I have had the email from Orange but even after following their instructions it does not recognise that there is a sim included, its annoying the hell out of me!

  344. Sergio said:

    I spoke to orange on 30 December 2010. I had to call 10-12 times as they keeps saying the Iphone 4 has not been purchased on line or in an orange shop but in an other stop and they were not able to unlock! At last, I spoke to some1 that some how charged £20 and sent the unlocking. I did call again just to double check if the unlocking form was sent. They told me to wait 7-14 days. Lets hope but from what I read above I feel like to leave orange and go to O2 !

  345. Gabor said:

    i have an Iphone 3gs from o2.
    i file the form on the o2 website to unlock it.
    5 days later i got a text message that i have to connect my phone to the itunes whit the other sim.
    sync and done.
    and it was free.
    I like o2.

  346. Nick R said:

    For info, decided to try unlocking my iPhone from Three yesterday. I rang them, they told me they could do it immediately (despite me being less than 18 months into a 24 month contract) and it would cost £15.30 which they would add to my next bill. I said fine, I was put on hold for less than a minute, then told the process was complete. All I needed to do, they said, was to put a non-Three SIM into the phone and connect it to iTunes. I didn't have a non-Three micro SIM so went out and bought a T-Mobile one today, connected to iTunes and got a 'congratulations your iPhone is unlocked' message. Great service! Can't wait to use the internet cheaply abroad this summer!!

    Does anyone know which network in Spain would be good to get a pre-pay micro SIM on, by any chance? 🙂

  347. Chigga said:

    Hi, did your iphone 4s on t-mobile seriously only take one day to unlock, have been waiting for mine for over 10days. How does it work, they give you a unlocking code or something?!

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Chigga,

      Your iPhone 4S will be unlocked through iTunes once you've requested T-Mobile unlock it.

      Hope this helps!


  348. paul said:

    I have purchased a second hand IPHONE 3GS which is locked to O2. I wish to get this unlocked but was unaware that if you do this then it cannot be updated from the 4.0 software for the rest of its life? I i require to get it unlocked properly its £70. I only wish to place a tesco SIM into the iphone. O2 sim only contracts are alot higher than all the other competetors and thats the reason im simply not getting an O2 SIM.

    Any ideas?



    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Paul,

      If you unlock it from O2 officially, you should be able to get all of the iOS updates. For jailbreaking, you cannot always update to the latest version of iOS as it will cancel the jailbreak (and jailbreak is only available for some versions of iOS). However, you may be able to use a Tesco SIM in an O2-locked phone without locking it first… definitely worth a go as it works for many people.


  349. Chula said:

    I did try calling Tmobile and I was told that tmobile only unlocks their phones no iPhone but I’m glad I gave it a try thank you Happy Holidays!

  350. Wayne said:

    Asked for 3GS to be unlocked on 15th got an email on 22nd saying to do the iTunes thing. Got a congratulations it’s unlocked but still won’t work. Phoned today and orange says it now takes 7 to 14 days for security checks. Is this right????

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Wayne,

      If you've had a "Congratulations" message the unlock should have occured so it's really strange that it hasn't yet been unlocked. I presume you've tried with a SIM card from a different UK network and it still doesn't work? (double check the SIM is definitely active). If you've had the "Congratulations" message but still have problems using a different network, I think this is probably an issue to take up with Apple.


    2. wayne replied:

      thanks for the reply Ken.
      yeah had the the congratulations when did with itunes but just says no service, just been up to a local unlock shop and he says sounds like its been blocked??? tried both o2 and a vodaphone sim in it and still no joy.
      guy in shop says should work too if you have had a congratulations.

      1. Ken Lo
        Ken replied:

        I'm afraid I'm at a loss to provide an explanation, very sorry Wayne. Your best bet would be to talk to Apple or your mobile network – maybe there was an issue with the unlock process which they may be able to diagnose. Do let me know how you get on and if you manage to resolve your issues.

        Sorry not to have the answers!


  351. Patrick said:

    I’m wondering if you can help I do have IPhone 4 and is Locked to AT&T Us

    1. john replied:

      AT&T do not unlock there phones at all.any phone on a usa network provider do not unlock there phones ever.

  352. e33 said:

    unlocked my iphone 3gs which was with o2 and now want to use with a three monthly contract but it will not connect to the three network. does anyone have any experience of this or advice to get working with three mobile, any help would be greatly appreciated. e33

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hey e33,

      Does it accept your SIM card and allow phone calls & texts, but just not work with the internet? If so, see this guide on configuring the APN settings for your phone.


  353. junaid said:

    hey there, i purchased an iPhone 4S sim free from carphone warehouse but somehow it has become locked to the 1st sim card that i inserted…which is O2…anyone has any idea what i should do now ?? i want to switch my network

    1. sozeib replied:

      junaid: if you purchased the iphone sim free from carphone warehouse, then you should take it back and demand an explanation, and for the phone to be unlocked free of charge… by the way i have had two Tmobile iphone handsets so far… first one took a week or so for them to unlock and the second one which is a 4s that i bought a day ago was unlocked within a day… all i did was call customer service and asked… they said they will charge 15 pounds on the next bill..

  354. Matt said:

    Legally, Orange (they seem to have most complaints) and other networks must unlock your phone if you are the owner of the phone, that is, you are not under contract. No mobile phone company has any right to prevent use of your phone as soon as you are the owner of the property. The only possible way this could be done is by the companies making any prevention of your phone an explicit term of your contract and making you very aware of it with a big red hand, which of course is not the case. O2 are a great company and have it all sorted in the UK; they know the law (they dont prevent use of phones out of contract) and they know their customers (their call centres are UK based with British employees). If you have trouble with Orange, call their customer services complaints team and they’ll waive the fee. If they don’t, your next call is to Ofcom.
    Good luck guys

    1. David replied:

      Tried going into the Orange store – they say they can't unlock their phones, apple store will be able to help. Apple store say they can't unlock orange phones – ring Orange customer services. Rang Orange customer services, they say it will take 14 days and cost £20, but Orange stores can do it for £5 within 5 days! Of course I queried this and their operator said he would confirm with his supervisor. After holding for 15 mins the phone cut off!

    2. Amo replied:

      Hi Matt,

      I am a VODAFONE pay as you go customer, my gf has brought me a iPhone4 however I want to unlock it to o2 as I want a contract with them. I requested the phone to be unlocked over 3 weeks ago & still has not been done. what can I do ? I do not have proof of purchase as its a present.

      Any help will do,



    3. Martin replied:

      Been trying since October 2011 to unlock my deceased brothers phone from Orange, three trips to the local Orange store and numerous phone calls, the first time I had to produce my brothers death certificate and top up his pay as you go phone so there was £20 on it to pay for the unlocking code which would take 45 days. Just called the Orange helpline tonight and spoke to a couple of people in India and was told that the IMEI number on the phone did not match their records ?? asked why this wasn't told to me in October last year and was told I would have to wait another 30 dayswith this new IMEI number, got so frustrated that I hung up before I became abusive, I am at the end of my tether with this.

    4. charlie replied:

      hi matt i got an iphone 4 on contract with orange, then sold it for the iphone 4s which i paid for myself from carphone warehouse… orange want to charge me to unlock it, even though i cancelled my contract with them and paid off the money to cancel it…. can they do this? thanks

    5. guest replied:

      Hmm – I disagree about the British employees bit. I have had disagreements twice with O2 as they disconnect your payg number if you dont use your phone for 6 months ( i keep one as a spare in case Orange fails as it did once). All my email communications with O2 on this to get reconnected were obviously from an offshore team. Not good!

    6. Liamkw replied:

      How did you get their customer complaints team phone number. The advice which I have been given by their customer service advisor is that I need to get the person who I purchased the phone from (it is out of contract) to call them and have the cost of unlocking added to their upgraded contract. You couldn't make it up!

    7. Adam replied:

      Calling Ofcom doesn't help. I know, I tried it today.
      I bought a brand new iPhone 4S, which was an unused and unwanted upgrade.
      After 2 calls to Orange where they quoted the rulebook (you have to have used the phone on the orange network for 90 days, then apply for an unlock, which takes around 14 days) I asked for escalation, twice. And both times I did not get the promised callback.
      I called Ofcom. They gave me a case number. They informed me that there is nothing in the regulations that obliges a carrier to unlock a phone, period. Ofcom DID give me a special number that Orange do not advertise. You have to have an Ofcom case number before they will listen to you. I made the case that I legally own the phone, and that I have no contract with Orange. After "careful consideration" they called back to tell me they wouldn't bend the rules for me.
      Quite simply, I will make sure I never deal with this network again. I'd advise the same to anyone.

    8. Keef replied:

      My contract finished with Orange in April (thank God – they were rubbish!) and i have sim card for 3 to out into MY 3GS. I bought it from Carphone warehouse and when I asked them if it was locked they said "No". So I suspected that for 2 years i had owned an unlocked phone. So when I tried to put the 3 sim card in in April 2012, I discovered it was locked to Orange. On 20th April 2012, I requested the unlock which they said would take "up to 30 days". Today, 11 days in, it is still locked to Orange and I have spent Lord alone knows how long on the phone to both Orange and Apple trying to solve the fact that I have a locked phone and a contract SIM that i can't use in it. (To add insult to injury, Orange have cut of my service and are still charging me because, when I ended my contract after the final date, I didn't give them 30 days notice!)
      Anyhow, Orange are blaming Apple, saying that Apple need to send them an "unlock code", something which Apple denies exists.
      I hate to back up Apple but their position makes more sense ie Orange locked it so Orange should unlock it.
      But everyone I speak to at Orange trots out the same line that Apple must unlock it.
      Who is correct? And what is the maximum time that the network has, legally, to unlock it?

    9. Mark Steele replied:

      Hi Matt,
      My 24 month contract with Orange officially ends today but as I only asked for a PAC code on 15th May, I have to wait until 13th June, but only if I activate my PAC code with another operator within this time. I contacted Orange today to ask them to unlock my phone so I can use it with another provider but was told by customer service adviser that Orange wouldn't do it as the phone is not registered to me (I bought it on ebay as un unwanted upgrade locked to Orange). What else can I do?

    10. Dave replied:

      Unrelated to Orange but still important, I am a 3 Pay Monthly Customer and I can confirm that 3 do offer an official unlock at a one off charge of £15.32. After you have made payment, there is a 72 hour wait whilst the unlock request is processed, and once it is done, they will send you a text telling you to connect to iTunes to confirm the unlock. I do not know if there are different conditions for PAYG, but I would've thought it was still possible. An official unlock is well worth the wait and money in my opinion as there are so many unreliable methods of unlocking out there.

    11. William Adams replied:

      Yeh sure! o2 are a great company that's why I removed 3 mobile accounts from them this month after being a customer since they were formed. To get an unblocking code from them is one of failed promises, missed deadlines a couple of hours waiting for customer service (what in my experience must be the worlds worse) and still my iPhone is locked. They cover 99% of the UK for calls and data (according to their website) forget it no 3G no 2g, how about no g and very weak signal. Great British employees I admit, courteous but less than half of what is needed to operate a viable customer service experience.

    12. John replied:

      I just called Orange on 150 to unlock my I Phone 4 after upgrading to the I Phone 5 and was told that I would have to contact Apple to unlock it, Orange couldn't help.

    13. Bas Vlug replied:

      Matt, could you give me some advice? I'm Dutch and bought my iPhone5 on eBay from a British guy (top reseller on eBay, high ratings). I just received the phone, it's brand new but locked on Orange, what he could tell me. It's not on a contract, there has been no phone number, he got it as a present and therefor no invoice or whatsoever. What can I do to get this phone working? Waiting for 3 months or more is no option and I don't have any proof of purchase. The guy on eBay says he cannot help me….So I paid more than 600 Euros for a phone which isn't working…Thanks for any reply!

    14. Sue Cooper replied:

      I've got an iPhone 5 locked to T Mobile that I purchased on eBay 4 months ago. My 2yr contract ended this month and I rung them to ask them to unlock it. At first they tell me via Twitter the phone isn't registered to my account so to unlock it they have to register it and I have to wait 6 months. Then on the phone I'm told its not registered to me so it can't be unlocked for me. Asked again on Twitter and told no we won't unlock it but if you put a PAYG sim in it for 6mths + we will!!! This is so frustrating I feel like I'm going round in circles and they keep moving the goal posts! I'm basically being held hostage.

  355. webdev said:

    I have unlocked my iphone from three by calling 333 and talking to the operator. I paid 15 quid something which was added to my next monthly bill. It was unlocked immediately

  356. Brett said:

    I thought i'd blog my experience with Three in the uk, I called them when i was due to go on holiday asking them if my phone would work with a DU simcard in for when i'm in the emirates, the person on the other end of the phone said it wouldn't be a problem. Obviously when i got there it was a problem, i emailed them asking them to unlock it and i never got a response. Spent the whole time i was there without a phone. i've since asked them to unlock it via email and again no response. If you want a reply from three you have to call them. I must say, hats off to o2 for making the process so easy, infact its a matter of filling in an online form and them doing the rest of the work

  357. Abdul said:

    If you buy an unlocked iPhone straight from apple retail store it remains unlocked no matter which sim you put in it.

  358. @life_nerd said:

    I just tried to unlock my old 3GS that I bought through Orange. I bought my phone aprt way through an Orange contract, so I had to buy a PAYG sim at the time. Orange refused to unlock my 3GS as I didn't know the PAYG number (even though I registered it at the time). therefore I've had to bring it to a local shop that advertises that it unlocks phones. They "hope" they can do it. Who knows… Not feeling overly positive.

  359. Andy J said:

    I bought an iphone 4s from apple, it was unlocked and i opted to use a 3 payg sim with it. Will the 3 payg sim lock it to the network or will the phone remain unlocked since the phone hasn't been subsidised by 3. If it is locked how do i unlock it should i wish to change networks

  360. Hussain said:

    Hello #Ryan, I bought my Iphone from Dubai and it was unlocked somehow when they sold it. but it did came with an o2 sim. without knowing it might be an unlocked phone i upgraded the software and ended up with a brick. now i am using it with a Gevey Sim (It is legal here in Maldives as 112 is not an emergency number). After reading this article i filled up the form, but i didnt have any numbers to put as recently called so i put 112 there. I got a reply within 24 hrs saying they can unlock the phone but i need to send them the ICCID number of the sim as it might be disconnected due to inactivity and they will try to connect it but if they fail they would send me a new sim to a UK address and i have to reload it with 15 pounds which they will deduct before unlocking. just hoping this is going to work.

  361. Colin said:

    I have an iPhone 3GS which has been unlocked by Vodafone but now I'm abroad I can't get local sim to work all web research says to perform a software reset by connecting to iTunes but who has there computer with them abroad! Is there any way to make iPhone see local network without connecting to iTunes?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Colin,

      Unfortunately you'll need to sync your iPhone to your iTunes account – so you'll need a a computer with iTunes and the iPhone USB cable.


  362. Ryan said:

    Hi. Just bought iPhone 4 on eBay but locked to O2. Is it possible to use my friends O2 contract sim and put it in my phone then contact 02 to unlock for free (maybe best for my friend to ring them) . Would this work?

  363. @iEgoWarrior said:

    4 weeks and 4 phone calls to Orange no money taken yet! Getting pissed off with this unlock process…

  364. Thomtom said:

    My Orange contract ends soon. Just called them and put through a request, been told that it takes 2-4 weeks. Cost £20, hope it all goes well.

    As someone above has mentioned I plan to move across to GiffGaff.

  365. Harun Rashid said:

    I have a iPhone 4 on o2 which I bought 2 weeks ago. I had 2 iPhone 3G which I managed to unlock myself by jailbreaking but I never knew that O2 do official unlocks. I have read a lot about the unlock and I am now convinced that I rather pay £15 to o2 and have a factory unlock iPhone. This will save me having to re-jailbreak ever time there is a new iOS update.

    I have completed the request form yesterday. Hope I get the text soon

  366. Anita Johnson said:

    I've an iPhone 3GS coming shortly out of contract with Orange. I eventually cancelled with one months notice (46 mins on phone). Told that if I wanted to port my number I'd have 30 days to do so or contract would revert to Orange and notice would again be needed. (So if I ported my number I'd be back at beginning again!!). Asked about unlocking and was told it would cost £20 and take a month (Is everything a month at Orange?) I was then transferred to the unlocking department, hung on for 11 mins, and was told that since Apple had carried out a warranty repair by a "swap out" I'd need to contact them to unlock. I called in on my Apple store and was told quite clearly that they relock to the original network when swapping out. Invariably. They checked and confirmed the phone was correctly locked to Orange. Apple suggested that the Orange shop might helpfully deal with it as Orange had mislead me, Called at Orange shop and was told I'd need to go to Apple. When challenged then told to contact Orange customer services directly as they couldn't. (another Orange employee gave me contact details of a local jailbreak firm – said it'd be quicker!). Sent email of complaint to Orange and received a garbled and cut off Voicemail. I think I've been told to contact Customer Services! If anyone knows how to pin these people down perhaps they'll advise me.

  367. me. said:

    i got the same issue… orange sucks!

  368. Dan Barnett said:

    price for three unlock is correct around 17 sterling. only thing is you have to be a customer. purchased second hand iphone 4 and they will not unlock for me as i am not with them. PLEEASE REPLY AS TO HOW TO UNLOCK MY PHONE???? will apple do it for a fee if i send it to them?????????????

    1. Andy replied:

      Did you find out how to get it unlocked with 3 as I'm stuck too. Bought iPhone off eBay did checkmend test which said it wasn't barred but it now won't work. 3 customer services say original owner must give okay but couldn't contact them. eBay seller turned into an a*se about it but even though payment went out of my PayPal account he didn't mark it paid. eBay system won't let you open a case if it isn't marked paid, PayPal said wasn't their nowhere until it's timed out now both saying tough!! Only way now seems to be try again with 3

  369. Scoprio11 said:

    Hi, would like to know if I can pass on my iphone (once it's unlocked) to my sister in Germany for her to use permantly over there? Thanks!

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Scoprio11,

      Yep, you can do! Germany uses the same GSM mobile technology here as in the UK so an unlocked iPhone purchased in the UK will work in Germany too!


  370. MAD said:


    I bought my iphone in August 2011 , this is a used iphone 3gs. I got the Orange SIM card. The first time I was in contact with Orange was August 22, 2011, where they told me if I should have to unlocked my iPhone 3G I should pay over £ 20 to my simcard , I did. This should take 7-20 days, nothing happend. I contacted them again. Were then told that I had to wait 3 months before They Can unlocked the phone. Today 11/22/2011 I was in contact with them again, got another message that the phone was first registered on me the 10/11/2011, and that I now have to wait until February 2012. I only ask, what kind of service is this. I can only say, NEVER NEVER use Orange as a mobile provider.Please put this on Facbook, twitter +++, every one should know what kind of service they give.

    1. Emma replied:

      I agree, Orange customer service is shocking!!! I would never go back to them. The have the audacity to stop me from using a phone that I own and paid for over an 18 month contract (which actually went on for 21 months). In addition to the practice of Orange obstructing the unlocking process being extremely autocratic, I can't believe it's legal. I appreciate that they lock the phone as it's subsidised, but what's their excuse once the contract has come to the end?? Ironic really, I want to leave them because of the poor Orange customer service, but I can't leave the because of their poor customer service. Orange customer service is appalling.

  371. Shu said:

    I had a similar issue. I had an iPhone 4 from Apple (unlocked), it became faulty and so got it replaced by Apple but they replaced it with a phone locked to O2. I called O2 and they unlocked it.

  372. Jason Treeby said:

    I wanted an iPhone 3GS when they first came out but was under contract and was told that through orange it would cost me over £800, but was advised that I could get one as PAYT from orange for cheaper, and then just change tariff to an iphone tarriff as this would be cheaper. I have since moved to GiffGaff – £10 per month, 250 Free minutes, unlimted texts and unlimted data – great for an iphone . I contacted Orange and they said – will take 2 weeks, they will email me when done will cost £20. 1 month on i didnt hear, and they advised that the phone wasnt purchased with the wifes number. I advised that I knew that – and told the story above. I have 2 friends that work for Orange and they both said its madness and the stories they near internally are not great. I keep being promised it will be done… however I am still paying a high monthly cost for my wifes monthly account as they cannot match GiffGaff.

  373. Ameen said:

    I bout a iPhone from my friend. It was on 3network. My friend have bout it from a high street shop. Soon after I got the phone there was some thing wrong in the phone and I took it to apple store. They replace a new one. It also locked to 3. And I was trying nearly 3months to unlock it with 3 but they telling they have no any details about this phone. And they can’t unlock it at all. I send a letter from apple store that telling this is a 3 network phone . But still it is lock to 3 . Is there any solution for this ????

  374. Damian said:

    Hi Ken,

    I have a question, about 6 weeks ago I paid the 20 pounds to Orange to have my phone unlocked, they said it would take 30 days for the process to be complete, I still haven't received an email from Orange with details to complete the process, I have plugged the iPhone into iTunes and no mention about the phone being unlocked comes. What should I do next?

    Very frustrated

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Damian,

      The best thing to do would be to contact Orange and to enquire as to the status of your unlocking. I'm sorry I can't be any more helpful!


  375. charley said:

    I went into orange today to get in unlocked and they told me that only apple stores can unlock phones and no other shops can! and i have no apple store near me? so confussed as everyone on here is saying you can why did orange lie to me?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Charley,

      Orange Customer Services will handle your unlock request – however they simply ask Apple to unlock your iPhone for you through iTunes. The best thing to do is to call them up rather than going into a store!

      Hope this helps,


  376. Jake said:

    What Orange are doing, charging for iPhone unlock codes is daylight robbery! I’m out of contract in three weeks, phoned customer service and was told I have to pay them £20.42 to unlock my phone. This is a disgrace, the phone is rightfully mine after the contract period has expired so why should I pay them for the privilege to continue to use my phone. I’m really disgusted that this kind of fleecing is allowed by Ofcom, and that Orange are obviously a corporation putting shareholder profit before anything else, including customer retention.

  377. Jan said:

    i just bought used iPhone 4 from guy who just came from the uk. iPhone is locked to Orange and he was using gevey… shouldn't do that, i knew I'm gonna have some troubles… but still… i ended up with updated iPod touch since the gevey stopped working after the firmware update…. so now I'm looking to unlock the phone officially …
    a) as I read this… i have no chance to go thru the orange obstructions…
    b) is there somebody to help me out?… for example rebel micro sim web site… they offer official unlock…

    … or I'm screwed with nice and shiny brick :c)

  378. Ray said:

    Some promising Orange news.
    My mum upgraded to a 4s, and gave me her 3GS on Orange(I’m on O2). Two days after she asked for the unlock code I got the email telling me to plug into iTunes.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Great to hear that the unlocking process on Orange worked so smoothly for you!


  379. Michael Ferris said:

    Hi I was given a i phone 4 by a friend of mine who upgraded to a 4os and im now travelling and tried a voda phone sim but its comes up invalid sim i spoke to people out here and they said it was locked to o2 but when i spoke to her and asked her to ring o2 they said it had been replaced by apple so it shouldnt be locked. any ideas what the problem could be. thanks mike

  380. Dan said:

    i am on vodafone, my old phone has broken and i have been given an old iphone 3 but its locked to o2 do i need to give vodafone my imei number and they will unlock this for me? thanks

  381. lonewolf said:

    Why the hell are you people dealing with Orange !

    Here is an example:
    A new iPhone 4S over a 36 month contract will cost you about £2,500 for the phone!
    Never mind the fact that is still locked and tethering will cost extra !

    I bought from APPLE with O2 sim PAY & GO . Unlocked in 24 hours and picked up "All you can eat " data and call plan on 3. On a ONE MONTH rolling contract. So I have absolutely no tie in to any carrier and the phone was just bought for a basic price. Not a rip off carrier contract price.

    The moral of the story is mobile phone companies will try to screw you over unless you can play them against each other.

  382. Naz said:

    Requested orange to unlock my iphone 3gs on orange on 4th nov they said they will pass the request on so im just waiting, did ring back to make sure request was made and it had been. They say they will email me once its confirmed and deduct £20 from my credit

  383. Richard said:

    Hi Ken, Can you help me. I have just bought on ebay a second hand Apple iphone 3gs, which the owner had on an 18month contract with 02, (now expired). I am with a sim only contract with tmobile. How do I unlock the iphone? Kind regards, Richard.

    1. Tony replied:

      Get a free Pay and Go sim from O2, then top it up with £20. Make a few calls and a couple of texts then go into O2's web site and elect to chat online to one of their advisors. Tell them you would like to unlock your iPhone and they'll ask you a few questions such as when you last topped up and the IMEI number etc.
      They will debit your account by £15 and your phone should be unlocked within 14 days. This is exactly what happened to me, so hope it helps.

  384. @TheLynnLegend said:

    my girlfriend has had the same problem and we are still waiting for orange to fullfil this, and her contract n number run out in a few days and we need to send her pac code off!

  385. @zemogle said:

    Orange have totally screwed me over the unlocking. I was initially told it would take 7 days to unlock my phone, so I ported my number and thought by the time that went through the phone would be unlocked. 10 days later, I called Orange who said it would take between 15 -30 days to complete the unlock.

    Orange claim they are waiting for approval from Apple. Apple say they play no part in the process. Who is right?

    I'm paying for a contract with O2 on a phone I can't use. Just waiting.

    One thing is definite. I'll never trust Orange again.

    1. JMC replied:

      I'm in a similar situation – been done over by both Orange and subsequently O2 (who have at least given me a loan phone to use until I can use the O2 Sim in my currently locked iPhone).

      Talking to Apple, there is absolutely no 'approval' process by them. They simple change their iTunes reference for your phone from "Orange" to "unlocked" when asked to by Orange. Clearly there's some paperwork that's done to authorise this on both sides – but that's what Apple support told me. And TBH I believe them, rather than Orange – who I will not use again.

  386. Richard said:

    Really helpful. Am looking to give my old iPhone to my wife and this has helped me through the process. Just called Orange having recently upgraded and they will send through confirmation of when I can attach my 'old' phone to iTunes to finish the unlocking. Been advised up to 30 days and a fee of £20. Thanks for the help

  387. steve said:

    Just got off the phone from Orange, who said that I would still receive a code via email (up to a month to unlock, used to be 2 weeks but they're very busy) The code isn't necessarily something you use, just follow the instructions in iTunes. I'll keep you posted.

  388. steve said:

    You don't get a code from any of the phone companies to unlock an iPhone. They take you IMEI number and give it to apple (or a central server) and within a few days (on O2 it was 2 days) you connect you iphone to iTunes and it tells you that it's unlocked.
    If a customer service rep at Orange or any other company tells you to wait for a code to be sent to you, tell them they are wrong!

  389. Betty said:

    Just upgraded Iphone with Orange and wanted to give phone to my daughter. Called to ask Orange to unlock Sim and they told me that the phone was too old now for them to do so would have to go to a high street shop. I called one of the shops who told me it was no problem but would cost £55!!! I called Orange back and asked them to explain again why they could not unlock the phone, this time I was told that it was never an Orange iphone!!! I was told that as I signed up for 24 month contract on line the phone was not anything to do with Orange!! I asked the operator why this was the case when he could see all the bills for the past 24 months and also see when and where the phone was sent to…….he hung up!!!!!! I called back and got a very helpful girl who put in request to unlock with no problems…I was feeling quite smug until I have read all the other posts and now dont believe I will get the code within the promised 7 days!!!

  390. Martin said:

    After several phone calls and finally told to visit an Orange shop and produce my brothers death certificate to get his Iphone4 unlocked from Orange so I can use it with another provider, it cost £20 and will take 45 days, yes 45 days, abysmal service from Orange and would never recommend them to anybody.

  391. Lorna said:

    Im being giving an i phone from a family member and i hav a contract sim on t-mobile, will this work?!

  392. amr said:

    I've been requesting orange to unlock my iPhone 4 since the beginning of August. The first time I called they said it would take 14 working days to receive the unlocking code via email. Obviously, that did not happen. I think I've called 3 times, so far without any luck. And now I've sent them a formal complaint to which they responded they will do it as soon as possible.

  393. Blackhankster said:

    Had an iPhone 3GS on Orange for more than one year on PAYG. Decided to switch network due to POOR Orange customer services (Had been with orange for more then 8 yrs) Requested unlock & was told it will cost £20 & will take 2 weeks. Then got another call after 10mins to say it will actually take 1month as the advisor was a trainee. Waited one month, no unlocking code. Called customer services on 5 separate occasions since then , same reply that the request is being processed & will take 48 hours. Many 48 hrs have passed, still no unlocking code. Am now making a formal complaint ( I know it's useless to make a complaint — but still)
    Beware! Orange customer services has deteriorated alot. Really POOR customer service.

  394. tris said:

    I just sweet talked Orange into waiving the £20 unlocking fee. I recently upgraded from a 3gs on Orange to a 4s on orange so kept moaning about the unlocking charge until they gave in.

    1. Lass replied:

      Ooooo what did you say to them? I've also just upgraded from 3gs to 4s….want to unlock 3gs to give to my Dad (on Vodafone)….waiving the fee would be great!

  395. bolocks said:

    I waited 3 months to have my phone unlocked officially and legally by Orange, Yep, I waited from July 2011 until October 2011, they emailed an unlock code… I tried it and It DID NOT WORK, so much for waiting for 3 months what a waste of time…. I am now the owner of a phone who transferred from one company to another & I do not have an operable phone. Result is I am paying my new suppler for a service I am unable to use…. Yes my legal and legitimate phone is still locked. Going to send Orange some more emails who know I may at some point in the next 10 years get a working code.

  396. Chip said:

    Just rung orange on 150. Got through after 2 minutes to an American based I Philippines. Very helpful and clear. Im on iPhone 3GS. He said charges were £20 and it takes 30days. Date today is 7 oct 2011. Watch this space.

  397. Will said:

    Just a question: I have Iphone 3G on O2 network, with an O2 monthly contract. After I have unlocked my Iphone, Can I use the same SIM (or mobile number) to unlock another O2 locked Iphone, because it is free of charge? Can you unlock multiple O2 Iphones using the same O2 SIM card? Thanks.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Will,

      No – you'll need to unlock each iPhone individually and pay a fee for each one. The phone itself is locked rather than the SIM card.

      Hope this answers your question!


  398. bob said:

    I must say the girl i spoke to from orange a few days ago was very very helpful as i bought the iphone 3gs off a guy on gumtree she had to get me to give her his no as the phone was still in his name so i asked her to call back in half an hour so i could call the guy and explain the situation to him.she did call back and was on phone to both of us at same time as i obviously had to pay the£20.42 (42p made me laugh a bit)after this was all sorted she said it could take 30 days to receive the unlock code which i would receive through e-mail.Howerer i would never ever consider using orange as a service provider as the signal is total terribe and as nice as this girl was i spoke to two others first,one had no idea what i was talking about then after being on hold for five minutes(supposidly asking supervisor about it)just cut me off and the other could hardly speak english at all!just hope i never ever have to call this joke of a company again!!!just a waiting game now.

  399. Lin said:

    I have been trying to get an unlock code since 05 August. I have phoned them 4 times and been told different things each time. I was told it would take 14 days, then it would take 14 working days, then no-one had processed request ,then another 14 working days
    I was also told I would get a code in an email, and then that I didn`t need a code I should just put non orange sim in and connect to itunes – guess what it didn`t work
    I still haven`t had the code

    1. JMC replied:

      Exactly the same here Lin – just so you know, I spoke to Apple Support and they said there is NO WAY that just connecting to iTunes could ever work (their words) – to unlock a phone.

      Awesome Orange, eh?

  400. Aged Granny said:

    I use my phone rarely and still have an EQ Virgin tariff from 9 years ago which direct debits for any calls I do make and is great for me but my ageing phone needs replacing. If I buy a sim free unlocked phone and put in my Orange sim card from my ancient Nokia 3330 will it work at the same tariff on the new phone?

    1. Sue replied:

      Yes my husband was on the same tariff and he bought sim free unlocked phones and the sim continued to work. We even asked orange for a replacement sim when it got water damaged and they gladly sent it to him on the same tariff

  401. Dave said:

    I phoned last evening and was told they were looking into it and would phone me back (very sure) needless to say, they did`nt. I just phoned now (5.30pm) , a woman supervisor informed me that because I only made the unlocking request last evening that I would have to wait at least 14 days, on telling her that I made the request on the 12th sept, my words fell on deaf ears, she practically ignored what I had just told her, I am not going to give up, but am very angry. Some one mentioned the "California Hotel" that just about sums it up. What a crappy Company is orange.

    1. pamela georgiou replied:

      Why do all of the people on here complaining about ORANGE not send your emails to WATCHDOG and get Anne Robinson to sort it out then Orange will lose customers?

  402. Dave said:

    Three weeks on and I am getting one hell of a run-a-round by Orange asian call center, they still hav`nt taken the £20 off my credit, phone still locked and no email. the lies I`ve been told is quite unbelievable, twice I`ve been told that the supervisor will phone me back, more lies, no phone call. The best one of all, a twerp calling himself Vic, told me that owing to the massive backlog of people wanting their phones unlocked, Apple have enforced a 30 day wait, total B.S. I belong to the Apple forum, and when I put this up, the guys burst out laughing. still waiting.