Saturday, July 23, 2011

How to unlock your O2 iPhone

So what’s a poor iPhone user to do once their initial 18 or 24 months with O2 are up? For once the answer is very simple indeed: rather than waste time and effort trying to hack your phone with hardware or software, which can all-too-easily end by “bricking” the device, just ask O2 to unlock it for you!

That’s right, O2 will be happy to remove the lock from any iPhone it originally supplied. O2 even provides an unlocking web page to help you do this (although it isn’t publicised particularly well).

What you might find surprising is that this unlocking service is free, and O2 will even unlock iPhones that are still under contract, although it goes without saying that you’ll have to honour what remains of that contract. They’ll also unlock PAYG phones, although there’s a £15 charge for that.

I used this facility to unlock an iPhone 3G that Apple’s PR team gave me some time ago – I simply shoved an O2 SIM into it, loaded it up with £20 credit and then filled in the unlock form. Within a few days a message popped up on my phone saying that it was unlocked.

Actually, it wasn’t really unlocked – if you shove another network’s SIM in it you’ll get the dreaded “invalid SIM” message. What you need to do is, with this other SIM in the iPhone, connect to your PC or Mac and fire up iTunes. It will reboot itself and then it will recognise the SIM.

If that SIM comes from one of Apple’s official mobile network partners (O2, Vodafone and Orange in the UK), you should even find the APN correctly configured for network access. It’s a shame that more
iPhone owners don’t realise that O2 offers this service, but perhaps this column will go some way towards remedying that.

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