When you take out a monthly phone contract you’re paying for your phone over a certain period. Most monthly phone contracts are either 18 or 24 months in length. Network providers lock your phone to their network during your contract.
They do this because until you’ve finished your contract. You do not officially own the phone, as it still belongs to your network provider. The whole contract needs to end before the phone belongs to you.
To stop you using your phone on a different network during your contract. Your network provider will block your phone, so you can only use it on their network.
Not all mobile network operators do this, so some phones are unlocked immediately. If this is the case you can use your phone on a different network once your original contract has ended without requesting a code.
WHY YOU WOULD WANT TO UNLOCK YOUR PHONE
The main reason for unlocking your phone is if you wish to carry on using your phone after the contract. If you’re staying with the same network provider then you don’t need to worry about getting it unlocked.
However, if you’re intending on using your phone with a different network. You will need to get it unlocked. Until you get your phone unlocked you would be unable to use it with a sim from a different network provider.
Once your contract has ended you can save money by continuing to use your current phone. You can then choose a sim only plan, which is much cheaper than a pay monthly contract. To use a sim only plan with any provider you’d need to get your phone unlocked first.
Another reason for getting your phone unlocked is if you decide to sell your phone once the original contract has ended. You will potentially get more money by selling your phone second hand if the phone is unlocked.
This is especially true if you sell your phone on an auction site like eBay. You’ll attract fewer buyers if your phone is locked to a particular network. When someone is looking to buy a second-hand phone they would prefer to buy a phone that has been unlocked. If the phone is unlocked they can then use it on any mobile network rather than being tied to the network you got the phone from.
YOU’LL NEED AN UNLOCK CODE TO USE YOUR PHONE ON A DIFFERENT NETWORK
To unlock your phone when your contract ends you’ll need an unlock Code. You get this from your network provider you took out the phone with. So if you bought a monthly phone plan with Vodafone for example. Before you can use your phone elsewhere, you would need to ask Vodafone for an unlock code.
Unlocking a phone to use on a different network is not the same as unblocking your phone. You need to unblock your phone if you enter your pin incorrectly too many times. This results in the phone being unusable. You unblock your phone by requesting a PUK code. However, it will not mean you can then use the phone on a different network. Do not get an unlock code confused with a PUK code. They are two different things entirely.
A network can refuse to give you an unlock code if you’re still inside your contract. Once your contract has ended they must give you the unlock code. This is because the phone then belongs to you.
Getting your unlock code is usually a simple process. You may need to contact your current provider by phone. However, a lot of providers now allow you to get this code by requesting it from their website.