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Unlock mobile phone through your network provider.

Last updated 27-APR-11

On the face of it, this is the most "legit" option. Who better to unlock your phone than the people who got it locked in the first place?

Some mobile phone companies are better than others in this respect. Their terms also depend on whether you're a pre-pay or post-pay customer and how long you have been with them. For example, many Vodafone contract phones don't come locked at point of sale. Vodafone and O2 have been setting the trend of allowing customers to submit unlocking requests online. Click on the following links to submit an unlocking request form with Vodafone or O2.

Check the table below for a more detailed breakdown of T&Cs by operator.

- Vodafone are best in class for PAYG phones, and they unlock phones for free after 12 months.
- O2 are best in class for pay monthly phones, as they allow you to unlock free of charge at any timeIf they don't store them internally, mobile phone companies must source their unlock codes from manufacturers, who lock phones for them and store these codes in databases to which only a small number of people have access. This is the reason why it sometimes takes a long time to receive an unlock code after it has been requested. Certain phone manufacturers (Motorola being one of them) only receive code requests during certain hours and on certain days.

The code they usually provide you with (usually through text or in writing) has many names: DCK (Depersonalisation Control Key), Network Subsidy Code and Unlocking Code. In certain cases though, you might have to send the device to them for them to unlock it or replace it if it can't be unlocked. Make sure you save all your precious information before you do!

Some customers have reported not being able to unlock phones with their operators if they didn't buy the phone themselves (for example, if they bought the phones on ebay). If this is the case, you might need to get in touch with the previous owner to get authorisation, or look into one of the other methods.