In the early years of the iPhone in Europe, devices were frequently imported from France, Italy, and the UK, for any number of reasons.
Some of these came factory-unlocked (really a misnomer, as the lock appears to be applied only during activation) but others, and also AppleCare warranty replacement units still have their original Simlock/Netlock, e.g. on O2 UK. Their FAQ isn’t really very helpful, so here is what you have to do to get an official unlock, or “unlatch”, as O2 calls it. It will cost you 20 GBP plus a trip to the UK.
- Get a 20 GBP Pay & Go Prepaid SIM
- Register an account on o2.co.uk, confirm it by receiving an SMS with an activation code
- Use the SIM in the iPhone you wish to unlock while in the UK to make a chargeable call for over 60 seconds. This “latches” or “registers” the iPhone to the network, whatever that really means. Your balance needs to be less than 20GBP after you make that call. Calling free numbers, using some of your 3000 free minutes, or calling while abroad does not suffice.
- Wait 24 hours, while in the UK, with the phone turned on
- Talk to an O2 agent in the live chat module. Tell them that you don’t have all the information for the unlock form, and ask them to confirm it manually. They will want to know your phone number, email address, current balance, your benefits (Top up X to receive Y), the IMEI of your phone, where you bought the device and how you activated it. Some of these details will be in your account info on the web.
- Wait up to 72 hours
- As soon as the unlock is active, 15 GBP will be taken off your balance. You’ll receive an email and SMS telling you to complete the unlock by inserting a SIM from another carrier. When you do and you don’t see an error, you succeeded.
That wasn’t too hard now, was it?