How to unlock iPhone

We explain how to unlock any iPhone. How to unlock iPhone 6S, unlock iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and more. Here’s how to use any SIM in your iPhone.

Unlock your iPhone: Is your phone locked?

If you purchased your iPhone new in 2016 the chances are it is already unlocked. Huzzah! But check by first inserting a SIM from a network different to the one you use.

If it doesn’t work: you need to unlock your iPhone. (Error messages to look out for include ‘Invalid SIM’, ‘SIM Card Not Accepted’, or ‘Insert Correct SIM Card’. (See also: How to transfer contacts from iPhone to iPhone | Transfer backup from old iPhone to new iPhone.)

Unlock your iPhone: What kind of SIM?

So, your iPhone is locked to one network, and you need to unlock it. The first issue with which you need to wrestle is what size of SIM you need.

If you have an iPhone 4S or older you will need a MicroSIM. The iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus and iPhone SE use a nanoSIM. Before you go for the unlock make sure you source the right size.

Unlock your iPhone: Is it legal to unlock iPhone?

Yes! Well, yes mostly. It is legal to unlock your iPhone if you bought it outright, or you have finished paying the contract with which you bought it from a network.

Do bear in mind that if you are still in contract you haven’t technically bought your phone – it still belongs to the network. If in doubt, contact the network.

Unlock your iPhone: Use a third-party unlocking service

Ideally you should use the network to which your phone is locked to unlock it. This is the simplest and cheapest way to do it. Below we have listed out how to unlock phones from all the major UK networks.

If for some reason you don’t want to do that, you could use a third-party unlocking service. There are myriad of these online. Our only real advice is to read all of the small print. There are often hidden charges. And once your phone is under the control of a third-party, you may have no choice but to pay the (legal) surprising fee they are charging you. Better to go through the network. We’ve listed them alphabetically.

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How to unlock iPhone

How to unlock iPhone on 3

Three says that iPhones purchased from it after 1 January 2014 will be unlocked as soon as connected to iTunes or activated over WiFi.

To unlock an iPhone running iOS 7 or above that wasn’t purchased from Three in that time you need to back it up, put in the new SIM, connect it to iTunes and do a safe restore.

If in doubt fill out Three’s online form.

How to unlock iPhone from EE, Orange and T-Mobile

Bought an iPhone from EE? The company says you need to have had your account for at least six months and be fully paid up. So far so nice, but EE says it’ll take up to 20 days to unlock your iPhone. Oh, and it will charge you £8.99 for the privilege. Oh, and if you aren’t an iPhone EE customer but have an iPhone locked to EE, your only option is to chance it with a third-party service. Sorry.

The process itself is simple if you are still an EE customer: just fill out this online form.

How to unlock iPhone on O2

Like EE, O2 simply requires you to fill out an online form. O2 Pay Monthly customers can unlock their iPhones at any time, but they remain on the hook for the full cost of the contract. So probably don’t do that.

O2 says it will now unlock all iPhones for free, however. So that bit won’t cost you.

If you’re not an O2 customer, simply put a non-O2 SIM card into your iPhone, plug it into your computer and open iTunes.

How to unlock iPhone from Tesco Mobile

Good news for Tesco Mobile customers: you can unlock your Tesco iPhone by calling 0345 301 4455, and choosing the “unlock your mobile” option. You’ll get a code with which to unlock your handset.

The bad news is that Tesco says it will only provide you with this code if you have been a subscriber for at least 12 months. Bummer.

How to unlock iPhone from Virgin Mobile

Recent iPhones purchased from Virgin Mobile should be unlocked. Some older iPhones may be technically locked, but Virgin advises to update the software to a recent iOS and it should automatically unlock. If for any reason you can’t do that a full restore should solve the problem. Still having problems, contact Virgin Mobile.

How to unlock iPhone on Vodafone

Like EE Vodafone says it requires you to either be the iPhone subscriber, or to know all of the details of the person who purchased it. With those details, it is simply a case of filling in this online form.

Unlocking through Vodafone is free if you are a contract subscriber and you’ve had your plan with the company for more than 12 months. Otherwise it’s £19.99.

Voda says it will get you sorted within 48 hours, but caveats this by saying it could take up to 10 days.

Read next: Delete junk files on iPhone | Empty iPhone cache | Delete temporary files on iPhone: 5 ways to speed up your iPhone

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David Court
David is a professional journalist. He's been reviewing lifestyle and technology products since 2007. His CV boasts a series of high-profile websites that he's previously edited and managed. These sites include,,, and is his new project.



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