How to Check if Your Phone is Unlocked: A Complete Guide

Understanding whether your phone is locked or unlocked to a specific mobile network is important for several reasons. With an unlocked phone, you have more freedom and flexibility to switch between SIM cards and carriers, use local SIMs while traveling internationally, and even resell your device. This guide will cover multiple methods to check your phone’s unlocked status along with additional context around device locking policies.

Why It Matters If Your Phone is Unlocked

When you purchase a new phone from a carrier or retailer, it may be locked exclusively to that carrier’s network initially. This locking policy enables carriers to recover any subsidized cost of the device through required service contracts.

However, there are many benefits to using an unlocked phone:

  • Switch between carriers more freely based on cost or coverage areas
  • Use local SIM cards while traveling internationally for cheaper rates
  • Resell the device more easily later on

So checking your phone’s unlock eligibility and status is key. Here are some quick ways to do so before diving into more details:

How to Quickly Check If Your Phone is Unlocked

Swap SIM cards from different networks If another carrier’s SIM card works, your phone is unlocked
Check phone settings app Look for options like “SIM lock status” on Android or “Carrier Lock” on iPhone


Now let’s explore the specific step-by-step processes to check if both Android and iPhones are unlocked.

How to Check if an Android Phone is Unlocked

To verify the unlocked status of an Android device:

  1. Open your Settings app
  2. Navigate to About phone or Software information
  3. Look for an option named “SIM lock status” or “Network lock”
  4. If this shows “Locked”, your device is currently locked
  5. But if it shows “No SIM restrictions” or “Unlocked”, your phone is unlocked

The process can vary slightly across Android manufacturers like Samsung or Google Pixel but the steps are similar.

📝 Pro Tip: Still unsure from the Settings? Simply insert a different carrier’s SIM card and observe if it connects to the carrier’s network successfully. If so, your Android phone is unlocked.

How to Check if an iPhone is Unlocked

Determining the unlocked status on an iPhone is done through these steps:

  1. Go to the Settings app
  2. Scroll down and tap General then About
  3. Look for Carrier Lock or No SIM Restrictions options
  4. If it states “Carrier Locked” your iPhone is still locked
  5. But “No SIM Restrictions” confirms your iPhone is fully unlocked

Here is an example of what the unlock status information looks like within iPhone Settings:

You can alternatively test your iPhone’s unlock status by inserting a non-primary carrier’s SIM card. If it successfully activates service, your device is unlocked.

What to Do If Your Phone is Locked

If after checking, you find your phone is still locked, you have a few options:

  • Contact your carrier to request an unlock after meeting any requirements
  • Use a paid unlocking service (with varying legitimacy)
  • Perform a carrier unlock DIY solution if available for your model

It’s important to note that unlocked and locked phones have some fundamental differences:

Locked Phones Unlocked Phones
Only allow one carrier’s SIM Allow multiple carrier SIMs
Often contractually tied to carrier No contractual obligations
Limited flexibility Full control over carrier choice

So pursuing an unlock generally provides more freedom and benefits.

Why Networks Lock Phones

Carriers subsidize the upfront cost of phones to appeal to you as a new subscriber, which allows them to:

  • Lock you into their contract term to ensure ROI
  • Retain you as a long-time subscriber
  • Charge you an early termination fee if cancelling early

Therefore, they will typically unlock devices after the contract term is fulfilled or pre-determined conditions are met. Each network has their own nuanced unlocking policy.

Benefits of Using an Unlocked Phone

Once successfully unlocked, you can enjoy several options with your phone:

Switch between mobile networks freely
Use local SIMs while traveling internationally
Resell the device more easily later on


This provides more flexibility if you find a carrier with better prices or need to adjust your cellular plan.

Compatibility of Unlocked Phones

For residents specifically in the UK, your unlocked phone should work seamlessly when switching between the major providers like:

  • EE
  • O2
  • Vodafone
  • Three
  • Virgin Mobile
  • BT Mobile

As they all use standard GSM networks. Just swap the nano SIM card to quickly test compatibility.

However for traveling, you may need a quad-band unlocked phone to ensure connectivity across all global 2G/3G/4G LTE bands. Or purchase local SIM cards abroad.

Top SIM Only Deals

If you choose to embrace the flexibility of using an unlocked phone, consider a SIM-only plan without a contract. This allows changing carriers as needed. Here are some top options currently:

Plan Monthly Price Features
Giffgaff £10 10GB data, unlimited texts and minutes
Smarty £10 30GB 5G data, unlimited calls and texts
iD Mobile £8 500 minutes, unlimited texts

Review MoneySavingExpert for the full comparison of best SIM-only deals.

Key Takeaways

Hopefully this guide provided a comprehensive overview of:

✅ Multiple methods to check if your Android or iPhone is unlocked
✅ Background on why carriers lock phones initially
✅ Benefits and capabilities you gain with an unlocked device
✅ Selecting flexible SIM-only plans for unlocked phones

Knowing your phone’s unlock status grants important freedoms. Follow the steps outlined here or contact your provider if you need help unlocking your smartphone.


Kevin is a seasoned tech enthusiast with a passion for diving deep into the intricacies of the tech world. With a background in computer science, he guides readers through the latest trends, software developments, and everything tech-related.

You might also like

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More