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What is unlocking and why is my mobile phone locked?

Last updated 06-APR-11

Unlocking is name given to the practice of changing the settings on your mobile phone so that you can use any SIM card with it. Mobile phone networks around the world often lock the handsets they sell in order to keep you as a customer once your contract with them expires, or once you decide you can find a better deal somewhere else. Locked phones mean customers have less choice. In the UK, companies often lock mobiles because they tend to come subsidised at point of sale. This means that mobile operators absorb part of the cost of the mobile, so they expect you to stay with them until they make back this cost (and beyond, as many of you have discovered!).