Improve the FixYa experience for everyone by voting. I want
you to let me know if the solution(s) suggested were of any
value. Constructive criticism is welcomed.
I'm Ben and -- hopefully -- I can provide some meaningful
Unfortunately, you have not stated whether your SIM card or;
the actual phone is blocked (also commonly known as a locked
phone) . Additionally, you haven't provided the name of your carrier. I'll try to cover all the bases.
If you enter a wrong PIN code too many times, usually three,
your SIM will lock itself. This protects you from someone using
your personal information or making calls if your cell phone is
lost or stolen. You may see "PIN blocked" or Enter PUK code" on
your cell phone display. The PUK code stands for PIN Unblocking
Key. In the U.S., the PUK code is rarely provided when you get
If you do not have your PUK code, contact the Customer Care
customer again. Give them your phone number and once they
are sure it is really you, they will give you the PUK code.
You will then be asked to set a new PIN code. Once you have
your PUK be sure to keep it in a safe place.
Note that if you enter a wrong PUK 10 times in a row, the SIM
will be permanently blocked, and you'll need to purchase a new
If you purchased your handset directly from your network on
either Pay As You Go or Pay Monthly, there is a reasonably good
chance it'll be locked. There are some tell-tale signs of a locked
The phone packaging/box has your operator's logo on
The phone itself is branded with the operator's logo
You see your operator's logo every time you turn on your
There are items relating to your operator in the main menu
(e.g. Vodafone 360, Orange World)... although sometimes you'll
see the branding even on a phone which isn't locked
The best way to definitively test if your phone is locked is to
grab yourself a free Pay As You Go SIM card from a network
apart from your own. If your phone is unlocked the phone
should start up as normal, display the name of your new
network and allow you to make calls. If your phone is locked, it'll
will display an error message or ask you to enter a "subsidy
If you purchased your phone as "SIM-free", "handset only" or
"unlocked" then you should find that your phone is unlocked.
Why are phones locked?
In the USA, service providers often offer free phones that can
only be used own their networks. They lock out other service
providers should you decide to give away the free phone for use
by anotheron a different network.
In the UK, the networks operators often subsidize their phones.
They do this in an attempt to attract customers to their network
- consumers, particularly Pay As You Go customers, tend to be
fairly network agnostic: they choose a phone that they want
and then they find the network which offers the phone for the
least amount of money. In order to attract these customers,
networks subsidize the phones and often sell them as a "loss
leader" hoping to make back the money through selling airtime.
So that you can't simply buy a subsidized phone from Network
A (which loses money on the phone) and then instantly use it on
Network B (which makes the profit from the airtime), the phone
would be sold to you "locked" to Network A so you could only
use it on that network.
Am I allowed to unlock my phone? Is it legal?
Yes, it is totally legal to unlock your phone so that you can use it
on a different network. This is different from unblocking
(modifying a phone so it works after the networks have blocked
it because it has been lost or stolen) which is illegal.
How do I unlock my phone?
The "official" way of unlocking your phone is to call up your
network and to ask for a "subsidy PIN". This is a code which
you'll need to enter on your phone to unlock it. Your network
should be able to give you a quote to how much it'll cost to
unlock your phone and provide instructions on how you use
your phone. The cost of obtaining a subsidy PIN is typically
around $10-$15 but it could be a lot more for newer phones.
If you've got an iPhone, the process of unlocking differs. See our
detailed guide to unlocking your iPhone.
There are some "unofficial" ways to unlock your phone - for
example by jailbreaking or rooting. These will almost certainly
invalidate your warranty, can damage your phone if carried out
incorrectly and may require you to unlock the phone again each
time a software update is released. Personally, I would
recommend paying the fee to unlock your phone properly.
Is my network legally obliged to unlock my phone for me?
No. They are under no legal obligation to unlock your phone.
However, most networks should unlock your phone for a small
fee (around $10-$25). The exact amount will depend on which
phone you have and occasionally how long you've had it.
Unlock To Talk will unlock your phone for a modest fee. CLICK