Thursday, 26 April 2012

unlocking an iPhone 4 on the Three network

thought i'd share my experience of getting my iphone 4 unlocked....
i got my iphone at a discounted price as part of a 2-year contract. if you have bought your iphone from somewhere else (e.g. ebay) only to find you need it unlocked to work on your network you may encounter issues. some people have reported that the original owner of the phone needs to get it unlocked with the original carrier to which it is locked...something worth bearing in mind if buying second hand.

first, make a note of your IMEI as you will need to give this to customer services. to do this either go into Settings > General > About and scroll down. Or you can get the dialpad up and key in *#06#.

ring customer services on 333, listen to the options and keep choosing the option for 'everything else' and eventually you'll be put through to someone.

ask for your phone to be unlocked to work on any network. they will tell you how much it costs (for me it was £15.32) and that they need to take immediate payment with debit/credit card. they'll ask for your IMEI so they can check it matches the IMEI they have for your handset. then they'll take your payment and tell you to wait for 48 hours. you're done and can now concentrate on trying to end the call without them trying to sell you something :P

wait for a couple of days...you'll get a text message saying "From Three: Your iPhone/iPad network unlock request has been processed. Please connect your device to iTunes to confirm the unlock. Thanks."

at this point i connected the phone to itunes and nothing much happened other than it synced as it normally does... i tried this a few times and got bored with nothing happening.

in the devices list at the left of the itunes window, right click on your iphone's entry and do a backup. once complete, disconnect the iphone, go into Settings > General > Reset. choose "Erase All Content and Settings". enter your passcode if needed and confirm. the phone will go through its factory reset.
when it starts back up go through the first couple of screens to select the language and location services settings (i'm in iOS 5.1 btw), then when it asks to connect to a wifi network, just choose the "Connect to iTunes" button, confirm and then plug it in to your computer again.

itunes will come up asking you to set up the phone, click the "Register Later" button and then you should be able to restore it from the back up. during the process you'll get a screen saying "congratulations your iphone has been unlocked" or something like that.

once it had finished restoring, i switched it off, changed the sim to a vodafone payg and sure enough it logged onto the network. (if you need a free sim for testing purposes you can order one from the vodafone website and it will arrive in a day or two. don't bother trying to get a free sim in any of the high street shops, all the networks force you to top it up there and then, which is pointless if you're not going to actually use it)

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