How to unlock your phone on EE, Vodafone, O2 or Virgin Mobile

Unlocking your phone is perfectly legal, thanks to an Ofcom review that stated locking handsets restricted consumer choice. While locking handsets also remains legal (locked phones tend to come at a subsidised lower price, so it makes sense for the providers to make a bit of their money back), all the major providers include methods of unlocking their phones directly through them. Here’s how to unlock your phone on all the main players’ networks.

How to unlock your phone on EE, Vodafone, O2 or Virgin Mobile

How to unlock your phone on EE

EE – and this covers both T Mobile and Orange – will allow you to unlock your smartphone for a one off fee of £8.99 including VAT. If you’re on a contractl though, there are a couple of requirements though. Firstly, you must have bought your handset when signing up for your contract or upgrading, and you will have had to have actively used your SIM for six months before they can pull the switch.

Assuming you meet the requirements, you can unlock your phone with EE by following this link.

How to unlock your phone on Vodafone

Vodafone impose both a time requirement and a one-off cost to unlock phones locked to the network. If you’re on pay-as-you-go, you’ll need to wait 30 days and then pay £19.99. If you’re on contract, you’ll have to wait at least three months for the same privilege at the same cost, though if you wait over a year, it’s free.

Just fill in the form here, and you’ll be good to go within 10 days.

How to unlock your phone on O2

O2 flips the rulebook on its head by allowing contract customers to unlock their handsets at any time for no charge, which raises the question of why they lock their handsets in the first place.

Pay as you go customers don’t get the same freedom – they need to wait at least 12 months, and then pay £15 for unlocking.

Whichever camp you fall into, you just need to fill in the form in MyO2.

How to unlock your phone on Three

Five stars for Three! Assuming you bought your Three mobile phone after December 2013, then you’re already unlocked and good to go with a SIM of your choosing. If you’re still rocking an older Three handset, you can get it unlocked free of charge by filling out this form on the Three website.

How to unlock your phone on Virgin Mobile

Like Three, Virgin Mobile don’t sell locked contract phones anymore, and they claim the majority of their pay-as-you-go phones are similarly unfettered. Still, should you find yourself with a locked Virgin Mobile handset, then you can unlock it at any point for the bizarrely arbitrary sum of £15.32. You’ll have to talk to a human to have it happen though, as there’s no form on the site.

How to unlock your phone on Tesco Mobile

Tesco Mobile will let you unlock their handsets are any point – that’s for both contract customers and those on pay-as-you-go deals. In either case, it will cost you £20 if you’ve had the handset for less than 12 months, but free if it’s older than that. It can take a while, mind: up to 28 days, according to Tesco. No online form for Tesco, so drop them an email to kick off the process.

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Image: mroach, used under Creative Commons

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