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How to Unlock iPhone Free from UK EE, O2, Three or Vodafone?

There are many reasons people want to unlock their iPhone, the most common ones are switching to a cheaper carrier or making sure the iPhone works normally after going abroad.

In this free guide, I am going to tell you how to factory unlock your iPhone for free from UK network carrier providers: EE, O2, Three, or Vodafone.

No need for technical skills or specialized knowledge. Just a simple process to permanently unlock your iPhone for any carrier in the world for free.

Keep on reading to find out how.

Part 1. About Our Research On iPhone Unlock

Trying to use a different SIM card but found an error message saying “SIM Not Supported” after inserting it into your iPhone?

I know your pain. If you don’t unlock it, you’ll never be able to use your iPhone on another carrier network.

So we made a research on UK network iPhone unlocking, if you don’t want to read the entire article, here are our conclusions:


  • Apple won’t offer help for iPhone network unlock
  • Only two ways can permanently unlock an iPhone: sending an unlock request to your carrier or using a trusted iPhone unlock service
  • The only free way is to contact your carrier
  • Your carrier may refuse to unlock your iPhone if you don’t meet all their requirements
  • Third-party iPhone unlock services can unlock your device without requirements, but you need to use a reliable one.
  • You can’t unlock a blacklisted iPhone, but you can bypass the lock temporarily by using an unlock chip.

To help you understand it better:

Unlock MethodsRequirementsPriceDelivery Time
By CarrierMeet all their requirements (see details of each carrier below)
IMEI number
Phone number
FreeUp to 14 business days
By Unlock ServiceIMEI number onlyStart from £19.99Within 24 hours

2Things to Prepare before Unlocking Your iPhone

#1. Find Your IMEI Number

You can easily find IMEI number on a carrier-locked iPhone by dialing *#06#.

dial code to find imei iphone

#2. Check the Blacklist Status

You need to check the blacklist status of your iPhone before using either of the two methods.


It’s impossible for both the carrier and 3rd-party service to unlock a blacklisted iPhone. Only when the status is Clean, can your iPhone be permanently unlocked.

To check the blacklist status, an IMEI checker is necessary. Just make sure you choose an accurate one because most of them just generate an inaccurate IMEI report from an outdated database. This will waste your money and time.

The one we used in our research is the WipeLock IMEI Checker. It will check your IMEI manually to ensure the results are 100% accurate.

imei check report iphone 12

After preparing the IMEI number and checking the blacklist status, follow the guide below to factory unlock your iPhone for free so you can use it on any network without restrictions.

Part 2. How to Unlock O2 iPhone without SIM for Free?

o2 logo

Get an iPhone that is locked to the O2 UK network? Don’t worry, our O2 iPhone unlock instructions will help you out!

According to O2’s official website, if your iPhone purchased directly from O2 after August 1, 2018, it’s unlocked.

If not, you have four options to permanently unlock your O2 iPhone for free without a SIM card:

1Unlock in your O2 account

This is the simplest way for O2 iPhone unlock, to do this:

Step 1. Log in to My O2 with your username and password.

Step 2. On the top of your O2 account page, click on More.

Step 3. Select Unlock your device.

2Start a Live Chat

You could also start a live chat and ask the support team to unlock your O2 iPhone to any carrier. Just provide the info they required, they will have your O2 iPhone unlocked permanently.

3Make a Phone Call

The next option is to make a phone call.

  • For Pay Monthly iPhone: call them on 202
  • For Pay As You Go iPhone: call them on 4445

4Using Online Form

The last option will be using O2’s online form to send an unlock request. After they receiving your submissions, they will unlock your iPhone with IMEI number permanently.

The Truth You Should Know

Here are some things we found important after testing the above three unlock options:

  • For Pay Monthly customers, it’s free to unlock at any time.
  • For Pay & Go customers, your iPhone should be purchased at least 12 months. And it will charge £15 from your balance for unlock.
  • You MUST make sure your iPhone is bought directly from O2, or they won’t unlock it for you
  • They won’t unlock your O2 iPhone if you have unpaid balance or your iPhone is blocked or blacklisted (reported as stolen or lost)
  • You MUST be in the UK so that they can unlock your iPhone
  • O2 won’t unlock a second-hand iPhone, you’ll have to use an iPhone unlock service to do that.
  • How long does it take to unlock an O2 iPhone? O2 claim that the unlock process will be finished within 72 hours, but the actual delivery time is up to 14 business days

None of the above methods work for you? You’ll have to use an O2 iPhone factory unlock service. We’ll talk about it below.

Part 3. How to Unlock Vodafone iPhone without SIM for Free?

vodafone logo

A locked Vodafone iPhone will stop you from using other carriers and as a result, prevent you from reaping the benefits of the market’s best plans.

The good news is that All Vodafone iPhone are unlocked since August 1 2013. Just insert another sim card into your iPhone and it will work immediately! If you’re not sure, just check if your iPhone is unlocked via this guide.

So, how much does Vodafone charge to unlock iPhone? None!

However, if your iPhone is sold before that time, you need to unlock your Vodafone iPhone by yourself:

  • For iPhone running iOS 7 or above, it’s already unlocked
  • For iPhone running iOS 6 or below, you need to update the iOS to the latest to unlock it.
  • If your iPhone is too old to update to iOS 7 or above, you’ll need to restore your iPhone with iTunes to unlock it. Make sure you back it up first before restore!

In some situations, your iPhone may not be unlocked. You’ll need to contact Vodafone directly from here.

Truth About Vodafone iPhone Unlock

  • Vodafone will automatically unlock your iPhone only when you purchased the phone directly from them
  • There is no Vodafone iPhone unlock code, the unlock code is only available for Android phones.
  • Vodafone can’t unlock your iPhone if it’s blacklisted or it has unpaid balance
  • The above methods can not only work for Vodafone UK, but also Australia, Germany, Spain, Ireland and more.

Part 4. How to Unlock EE iPhone for Any Carrier for Free?

ee logo

Can EE unlock my iPhone? Yes, they will unlock your iPhone when you meet all their conditions.

Typically all networks (including EE) impose limits on the iPhone unlocking process – time after purchase to unlock, cost and delivery time.

Depending on the type of plan you have signed up for, here is how to unlock an EE iPhone.

1For Pay Monthly Plan

Before unlocking your pay monthly plan iPhone, you need to make sure you meet all the following conditions:

  • Your iPhone has been purchased for at least 18 months
  • Your iPhone is not blacklisted (reported as stolen or lost)
  • You must have paid your bill up to date
  • You are the EE account holder for the locked iPhone

Once confirmed, follow these steps for your EE iPhone unlock:

Step 1. Log in to your EE account from here.

Step 2. Click on Unlock your phone and then follow the instructions it shows to proceed.

Step 3. Once EE have your iPhone unlocked, they will inform you via an email with further instructions in it.

2For Pay As You Go Plan

If your iPhone is in a Pay As You Go plan, you can unlock it anytime you want without limits.

The steps are straightforward, navigate to the EE device unlock page, answer a couple of simple questions and offer the IMEI number, EE will do the rest for you!

3For Corporate Devices

Sadly, it’s impossible for you to unlock a corporate device by yourself. You’ll need to contact the account manager to learn further instructions.

The Truth About EE iPhone Unlock

  • EE can also unlock an iPhone which is NOT purchased directly from them
  • Your iPhone may already be unlocked, you can text UNLOCK to 150 to check the unlock status
  • EE will reject your unlock request if your iPhone has unpaid balance, blacklisted, or financed.
  • How long for EE to unlock iPhone? The delivery time should be 72 hours, though it may take up to 10 days in some cases.
  • There is no EE iPhone unlock code (unlock code is specially designed for Android phone unlock)

So how much does it cost to unlock an iPhone on EE? Keep in mind that the unlock may not be free:

Pay MonthlyFree or £8.99 (if in contract)
Pay As You GoFree (when purchased directly from EE) or £8.99
Second-hand iPhone locked to EE, bought from Amazon, etc.£8.99

Part 5. How to Unlock Three iPhone for Any Carrier for Free?

three logo

Unlocking your iPhone from Three UK is easier than you might think. The following guide will help you with this.

Before we start, you’ll be happy to know that your iPhone might already be unlocked. According to Three official website, iPhones purchased directly from them after 1 January 2014, are already unlocked.

This means you need to do anything at all, just put your new SIM card into your iPhone and enjoy it.

If you’re using an old iPhone which is still locked, then read on to find out how you can unlock it.

Steps to Unlock Three iPhone

Step 1. Visit Three device unlock page.

Step 2. Choose the model of your iPhone from the drop-down boxes. This will check if your iPhone is locked. If it’s locked, click on the Unlocking form picture.

three unlock options

Step 3. Fill in the form, and click on the Submit button.

Once you’ve completed the above steps, Three UK will start to unlock your iPhone and inform you once it’s unlocked.

The Truth About Three iPhone Unlock

  • It’s free for you to ask Three to unlock your iPhone
  • After receiving your unlock request, Three will unlock your iPhone within 72 hours
  • Three UK won’t unlock your iPhone if it’s blacklisted

Part 6. What To Do If Your Carrier Refuse to Unlock Your iPhone?

As discussed above, your carrier might reject your unlock request if your iPhone not eligible to unlock. What to do next if that happened to you?

Don’t worry, there are still two options for you.

1Using an iPhone Unlock Service

Using an unlock service will be your best choice if your carrier refuses to unlock your iPhone and your iPhone is not blacklisted.

Fast, simple, and no conditions required are the most important features of this type of service. You just simply offer the IMEI number, they will have your iPhone unlocked.

To be honest, it’s a headache when testing these services since most of them don’t work as advertised. We spent a lot of money and time on them and finally found one trustworthy iPhone unlock service: DirectUnlocks.

DirectUnlocks performs excellent for the carriers all over the world.

It is a UK-based business, and is very efficient and managed to perform iPhone unlocks quicker than anyone else. On average it took 11 hours, which is very quick.

It supports all models of iPhone and can unlock all the carriers from the UK, including O2, Vodafone, EE, Three, Orange, Cloud9, Tesco Mobile, T-Mobile, etc.

Steps to Unlock iPhone from the UK Carriers

I’m going to show you how to use DirectUnlocks

to unlock your iPhone.

Step 1. Visit DirectUnlocks iPhone unlock service page.

Step 2. Select your carrier from the drop-down menu.

order o2 iphone unlock

Step 3. Enter the IMEI/Serial number of your iPhone, it will automatically detect the model of your iPhone.

As mentioned before, you can easily find it by dialing *#06# on your iPhone.

Step 4. Enter your email address for Tracking and finally click on the Unlock for any Sim Card button.

Step 5. On the next page, check the order details and proceed to check out.

o2 iphone unlock order confirm

Step 6. Finally, your iPhone will be unlocked within 24 hours. According to our experience with this service, it will take around 11 hours which is really fast.

uk o2 unlock complete

The Truth About iPhone Unlock Service

  • IMEIdotor can even unlock an iPhone which has unpaid bills
  • It can’t unlock a blacklisted iPhone

2Using an iPhone Unlock Chip

DirectUnlocks can unlock your iPhone when your iPhone is not eligible to unlock by carrier. But it can’t unlock a blacklisted device. What if your iPhone is blacklisted after checking with an IMEI checker?

Don’t worry, it’s not that bad. Although there is no way to permanently unlock a blacklisted iPhone, it’s still possible for you to switch your blacklisted iPhone to another carrier.

The solution called UB SIM, a chip that is specially designed to bypass carrier lock for any carriers. No matter whether your iPhone is blacklisted or not, it just works smoothly.

How to Bypass Carrier Lock on Blacklisted iPhone?

Here is how to bypass carrier unlock on a blacklisted iPhone:

Step 1. Start by connecting your iPhone to a WiFi network.

Step 2. Then updating your iPhone to the latest version. You can do this by going to Settings app > General > About > Software Update.

iphone x softawre update

Step 3. Remove the SIM tray from your iPhone and insert the new SIM card you want to use together with the UB SIM chip.

insert ub sim iphone 12

Step 4. Wait for 10-30 seconds for your iPhone to detect the chip and SIM card, then a menu will show on your screen. Tap the ICCID Mode.

iphone iccid mode

Step 5. Enter the latest ICCID code: 89014104279605344035

Step 6. You’ll see the Setup Complete message on your iPhone screen, tap Accept.

Step 7. Wait for a while, there will be a message says Software Update Complete. Click on the Continue button.

ub sim setup complete

Now, you can use your blacklisted iPhone with a new SIM card! The whole process won’t take you long and your data won’t be affected.

Truth About The Chip

  • It’s not a permanent solution, if you factory reset your iPhone, it will be locked again.
  • You need to make sure the chip works with the new iOS version before updating. You can check the compatible iOS here.

Part 7. How to Activate Your iPhone After Unlocking?

Have your iPhone unlocked is not the last step. You’ll have to activate it so that you can use it as normal.

There are two ways for you to activate an unlocked iPhone:

1Activate with a SIM Card

This way only works when you have a SIM card from a carrier provider that is different to your current carrier provider.

Step 1. Fetch out your old SIM card.

Step 2. Insert your new SIM card.

Then your iPhone will be activated.

2Activate with iTunes

To activate your iPhone with iTunes, you’ll have to erase it. So make sure you back up your iPhone first.

bckup restore iphone itunes

Step 1. Connect your iPhone to computer and open iTunes.

Step 2. Select your iPhone icon and click on Back Up Now.

Step 3. After your iPhone has been backed up, click on Restore.

Step 4. Finally, restore your iPhone from a backup after erasing.

Part 8. FAQs About iPhone Carrier Unlock

Why are iPhones locked?

A locked iPhone is usually cheaper than an unlocked one. Your carriers subsidize the cost of an iPhone when they tie you into a contract. Having your iPhone locked to the carrier decreases the chances of you leaving them.

Is it legal to unlock an iPhone?

It’s 100% legal to unlock your iPhone in the UK and US when it’s out of contract. However, if it’s still in contract, it’s wise for you to confirm with your carrier provider before unlocking.

Why you should unlock your iPhone?

Here are the two situations you may want to unlock your iPhone.

  • Unlock it to use in other countries
  • Unlock it to use another SIM card

What does it mean when you buy an unlocked iPhone?

This means your iPhone can work on any compatible carrier network. While a locked iPhone can only work on a specific phone carrier.

Can an unlocked iPhone be used on any carrier?

It all depends. Although an unlocked iPhone is not locked to a specific carrier, there are may still some hardware restrictions that prevent it from working for any carrier.

The most common hardware restriction is the missing wireless bands required by carrier. So you need to contact the new carrier to learn if your iPhone is compatible with their network.

Can you put any SIM card into an unlocked iPhone?

I’m afraid not. Only compatible SIM cards from a supported carrier provider can be used to activate your iPhone. If you’re not sure, just contact your carrier provider.

The Bottom Line

The above methods are all verified in our research. Unlock your iPhone by sending an unlock request to your carrier first. If it’s not eligible to unlock, just use an unlock service or unlock chip.

If you find it helpful, please share it. Or if there are any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. I’ll try my best to resolve it for you.

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Eric is an Apple Certified Independent Technician after gaining AppleCare service certifications for both iOS and Mac. He is passionate about helping people to make the most of their iOS devices.

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