Very few people are happy when they discover that their brand new iPhone has been locked to one mobile network. Of course, the natural response is to try and figure out a way to unlock the device so that it can be used with any carrier’s SIM card, but doing so is not always straightforward, and a number of different methods exist.
If you’re unsure whether your iPhone is locked, you can check by inserting an active SIM card from another network. If you turn the phone on and you get a message telling you that the inserted SIM card is not supported, then you have a locked smartphone, and you might want to start by learning about the three main ways to unlock an iPhone:
1. Through the Carrier
Oftentimes the most sure-fire and legitimate way to unlock an iPhone is to contact your carrier and enquire about their unlocking options.
Most of the major carriers in the UK offer unlocking for a fee, which usually costs at least £20 and can take anywhere from a couple days to a week or more. According to Apple’s official list of carriers in Europe, unlocking options are offered by the following carriers in the UK:
We should note there have been reports that unlocking an iPhone through the EE network can be somewhat difficult, while to the contrary, Vodafone has produced a video on the subject to make it easier for their customers.
2. With a Third-Party Unlocking Service
If it is not possible to unlock your iPhone through your carrier, or you’d prefer not to use the carrier’s unlocking service, you still have the option of paying for a premium unlocking service. These services use special software tools to input an unlock code, which frees the device from the carrier it is locked to.
One of the most popular groups in the UK is the team at unlockingsmart.co.uk – iPhone unlocking professionals that specialise in unlocking barred and blocked iPhones on all the major networks in the UK and Europe. If you’ve already contacted your carrier and were told that your device cannot be unlocked, or if you need a faster service that is almost guaranteed to work across most kinds of iPhones including older models, then a premium unlocking service may be your best option.
3. Manually Unlocking the Phone Yourself
Finally, the third way to unlock an iPhone is by accessing the device’s internal programming menu to manually remove the SIM restrictions yourself. In the earlier days of the iPhone this was actually a feasible method that could be used by technically inclined individuals to unlock older models after following the directions in a simple guide.
However, nowadays unlocking a newer model iPhone manually is much more complicated, and in some cases can prove to be all but impossible for the average iPhone user. Not only is this process difficult and far beyond the scope of this guide, it also comes with the risk of accidentally bricking your iPhone, which would essentially render it unusable.
The Best Options First
Now that you’re familiar with the main methods of unlocking an iPhone, you’ve probably come to the conclusion that contacting your carrier or a premium unlocking service would be the wisest course of action. As far as which one is easier, hiring an unlocking service seems to be a more user-friendly process than going through the carrier.