If you’re looking to unlock iPhone to use another network you’re in the best place. This extensive guide will show you how to get your handset permanently unlocked and using the network of your choice. We will cover all the major UK networks such as EE, Vodafone, O2, Three, BT Mobile, Virgin Mobile and Tesco Mobile.

This also includes the iPhone 4, 4S, 5, 5C, 5S, 6, 6P, 6S, 6SP, 7, 7P, 8, 8P, X, XR, XS Max, 11 Pro and Max. Additionally we have provided a range of alternative methods for unlocking your iPhone should you not be in a position to go to the network.

There are thousands of older iPhone users in the UK. Many of these smartphones have switched hands on website like eBay or have been purchased from friends or work colleagues. Sadly, when purchased second-hand the mobile phone may still be locked to a single network. If that’s the case for you then this extended unlocking guide will help get you sorted.

Network won’t unlock your handset? We will. Just choose below.

 
Unlock Virgin iPhone
Unlock Vodafone iPhone
Unlock Tesco iPhone
Unlock Lycamobile iPhone
Unlock ID Mobile iPhone
Unlock BT iPhone
Unlock O2 iPhone
Unlock Asda Mobile iPhone
Unlock Orange iPhone
Unlock TalkTalk iPhone
Unlock T-Mobile iPhone
Unlock Lebara iPhone
Unlock Sainsbury's iPhone
Unlock EE iPhone
Unlock Three iPhone
 

How to unlock iPhone from any UK network.

Your first port of call for unlocking your iPhone should be the mobile network. Whilst it’s not always straight forward, the network you are locked to will usually be the cheapest method to unlock your iPhone. That said, for most of the mobile networks you will need to a registered customer and have an active account. If you aren’t a customer because you bought the phone second-hand, choose your network below and we’ll take care of the rest.

If you think the network you are currently locked to will unlock your iPhone we have put together complete guides for the 7 most popular in the UK. Starting with the most popular and working our way down, you will find prices, waiting times and useful links to help you on your way.

EE logo

EE.

Being the most popular unfortunately doesn’t always make you the best. At least that’s the case with EE. If you have an iPhone 7, 7 plus that is locked to EE you’ll at least be pleased to learn it will cost you no more than £8.99 to unlock the handset. That said, you will need to be an EE customer for at least 6 months before they will unlock your iPhone.

You can start by logging into your EE account and navigating to: Menu > Manage devices > Device tools > Unlock your phone. Once underway EE say it will take no longer than 10 days for the unlock procedure to complete, at which point they will text or email you.

EE says—We cannot unlock a device that is locked to any other network. Please contact that network directly.

Of course, like all UK networks they won’t unlock an iPhone that is not locked to EE. As a result, even if you wanted to join EE you’ll need to find another way to unlock your phone.

SIM unlocking your EE iPhone:

Vodafone logo

Vodafone.

When unlocking your iPhone from Vodafone you will need to meet certain criteria. Vodafone require that you are an active customer and have been connected to their network for at least 30 days. If you do not meet those requirements they will not unlock you under any circumstances. Good news is that if all goes well it will take up to 10 days and won’t cost a penny. That’s right! Vodafone will unlock iPhone free for all customers.

Most notably, the below statement from Vodafone is misleading. If you’ve bought an iPhone locked to the Vodafone network then of course at some point it would have been on their network. Consequently, Vodafone could and should be much clearer about why they won’t unlock you.

Vodafone says—Your device needs to have been on our network for us to unlock it for you.

Sadly, there is nothing on the Vodafone unlock request form that allows you to make a request if you are not a current customer. If you fail to qualify you can unlock a Vodafone iPhone with us within around 3 days.

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Unlocking your iPhone from Vodafone:

O2 logo

O2.

Although they will unlock your iPhone for free, O2 do stipulate that you must have an active account with them. What this means in practice is you have to be an O2 customer. On the website they don’t say how long you have to be a customer, however we assume it is for at least 30 days, but probably longer. Unlocking your iPhone with O2 requires you to login to your MyO2 account and go from there.

Screenshot: Unlocking an O2 mobile to use on a different network

Screenshot: Unlocking an O2 mobile to use on a different network.

Unfortunately, if you’re not a customer, even if your iPhone is locked to O2, they will unlock you. You will need to find an O2 iPhone unlock service either online or at your local phone repair store.

Unlocking your iPhone from O2:

Three logo

Three (Hutchinson).

You’ll be excited to learn that most handsets locked to Hutchinson Three are unlocked automatically. This means your iPhone could already be unlocked and able to use a different SIM card. We advise you try putting in a SIM card from a different network just to make sure the phone isn’t already unlocked.

Three saysIf you have an iPhone, try connecting it to a computer and opening iTunes. Usually you can unlock it straight away.

If it’s not unlocked you can request Three to unlock your iPhone using their online form. You will however need to be an existing customer. Given the age of some iPhones and the fact you may have bought it from a third party there’s probably little chance of that being true.

Unlocking your Three iPhone:

  • Handset: iPhone 4, 4S, 5, 5C, 5S, 6, 6P, 6S, 6SP, 7, 7P, 8, 8P, X, XR, XS Max, 11 Pro, Max
  • Cost: £0.00
  • Waiting time: 3-10 days
  • Requirements: You must be a Three customer to make an unlock request
  • Useful link: https://www.three.co.uk/Support/Device_Unlock

BT Mobile logo

BT Mobile.

Whilst BT Mobile will unlock your iPhone, they won’t unlock it within the first 6 months of you taking out the contract. This is in line with EE, of which BT Mobile is a virtual mobile operator. As a result, the waiting times and fees they charge are also the same as EE.

Screenshot: How do I unlock my BT mobile phone or tablet.

Screenshot: How do I unlock my BT mobile phone or tablet.

Sadly, there’s no real good news with BT. If you want to unlock BT Mobile iPhone you must be a customer of the network. Consequently, anyone who has bought the phone from a third party like a friend or off the internet will need to find an unlocking company.

Factory unlocking your BT Mobile iPhone:

Virgin Mobile logo

Virgin Mobile.

Why on earth Virgin Mobile (aka Virgin Media) are so completely out of synch with the rest of the networks when it comes to unlocking we’ll never know. Easily the most expensive out of all the mobile networks, Virgin charge a whopping £15.32 to unlock your iPhone. Not only that, it actually gets worse. Additionally, they also want you to wait up to a month for the unlock procedure to complete.

No wonder, anyone with an iPhone locked to Virgin Media mobile tends to bypass the company altogether and opt for an online service. Unlocking a Virgin Mobile iPhone online usually only takes a few days and can even be cheaper that the network price.

Unlocking your Virgin Mobile iPhone:

Tesco Mobile logo

Tesco Mobile.

You may be surprised to learn that Tesco Mobile is an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) that piggybacks off the O2 network. As a result, any iPhone that is locked to Tesco can be unlocked using an O2 unlocking service. When you unlock iPhone from Tesco Mobile you’ll need to have an active account and the handset will need to be on their network for a minimum of 12 months.

Tesco Mobile says—We can’t unlock phones that are locked to any other networks, phones that have just been launched – you may have to wait up to 12 months and phones that weren’t supplied by Tesco Mobile.

In conclusion, it may be possible for you to get your iPhone unlocked by Tesco even if you are not currently a Tesco Mobile customer. Use the link below to give it a shot.

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Unlocking your iPhone from Tesco Mobile:

Two additional methods to SIM unlock your iPhone.

Many iPhone owners will have bought the handset from a third party. As a result they will be unable to go to the UK networks to request an unlock. If you’re one of these we have detailed two more options to get you SIM unlocked and using your new network.

Method 1 – Getting your iPhone unlocked online.

By far the most popular way to unlock your iPhone, online unlocking stores are everywhere. Not only that, the industry has cleaned itself up and most of the old scam sites have died away. Getting your iPhone unlocked online means greater convenience and competitive pricing, all from the comfort of your living room.

If you’re still not sure follow these tips for choosing an online unlocking service:

  1. Make sure they have transparent pricing and that you are not paying for a ‘pre-unlock’.
  2. Be sure to checkout their online reviews and that the review site is reputable.
  3. Ensure they have a working telephone number or email address clearly available.
  4. If they use a payment processor such as PayPal you can claim your money back.
Mobile phone unlocking shop sign.

Mobile phone unlocking shop sign.

Method 2 – Visiting a mobile repair shop.

One of the oldest and most popular ways to unlock iPhone is by going to your local phone repair shop. Most of these stores will get you unlocked via a direct to PC cable or they will know a reputable online unlocking company they use often. There are benefits to going local in that you definitely know they are legitimate and if you run into problems they can sort it out on the spot.

It’s worth noting though that phone repair shops are notoriously expansive when compared to an online service. That said, it shouldn’t be more than a few extra pounds.

Frequently asked questions.

In the final section we have attempted to answer all faqs relating to the iPhone unlocking procedure. There’s not a huge amount to consider and almost nothing can go wrong.

Q) What is iPhone factory unlocking?

A) If you own an iPhone that can only use a single mobile network and want to switch to another network you will need to unlock the handset. iPhone factory unlocking is the process of ‘whitelisting’ your IMEI number in the Apple database. This is known as a ‘server side’ unlock.

Once your phones IMEI number has been whitelisted you will be free to use any SIM card from any network anywhere in the world. The procedure is permanent and you’ll have to connect to iTunes to finish.

Q) How do I find my iPhone IMEI number?

A) For most iPhone users finding your IMEI number is a simple matter of dialling *#06# and the number will appear. Your IMEI number (International Mobile Equipment Identity) is usually 15 numerical digits however it can sometimes be 14 digits. You can learn more here.

Q) Can I use an unlock code in my iPhone?

A) Unfortunately all iPhones can only be unlocked via the Apple database. This is call server side unlocking or whitelisting. As a result you will be unable to use an unlock code as there is no facility designed into the iPhone iOS to accept one.

Q) How long will it take to unlock my iPhone?

A) This is dependant on which network your handset is currently locked to. Some examples would be 3 days for O2, 5 days for EE and 3 days for Vodafone. These examples are based on using an online unlocking company and not the networks.

Q) How do I finalise my iPhone unlock with iTunes?

A) You’ll need to connect the handset to your computer via a cable and open iTunes. Once open you’ll then need to register the handset to the new SIM card.

Q) Is it possible to unlock my iPhone for free?

A) Unfortunately, unless your mobile network will do it for free there is no other method available. There are cheap iPhone unlocking websites online but you will still have to pay.

Q) Will my iPhone stay permanently unlocked?

A) Absolutely yes! When an iPhone is unlocked it is permanently whitelisted in the Apple database. There’s never been an instance where this has been revoked.