If you’d like to use a Samsung Galaxy smartphone on a different mobile network, you might first need to unlock it. If you bought your Samsung Galaxy smartphone here in the UK, either on a Pay Monthly contract or on a Pay As You Go tariff, the phone will probably be locked to the mobile network from which you bought the handset.
In this article, we’ll take you through the process of unlocking a Galaxy smartphone one step at a time. Unlocking your phone & switching to a SIM only deal will allow you to benefit from cheaper deals in the UK.
Once you’ve completed the minimum term of your contract (normally 24 months), you can save substantial amounts of money by moving over to a SIM only contract.
Countries included in Feel At Home: Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Macau, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States of America. Unlocking your smartphone will also have benefits in terms of second-hand usage and increased resale value. If you’re passing an old Galaxy smartphone to friends or family members, unlocking it first will allow them to use the Samsung Galaxy handset on their network of choice. For some older Samsung Galaxy devices, there are unofficial methods through which you’re able to unlock the handset. The easiest and most reliable way to check whether your Samsung Galaxy smartphone is locked to a network is to order a free Pay As You Go SIM card from a different mobile network that you aren’t currently using. When ordering a free SIM card for the purposes of testing whether your smartphone is unlocked, you’ll probably be asked which size of SIM card is required for your phone.
If your smartphone isn’t listed in the table above, you can see a full list of smartphones and the required SIM card sizes on this page. If you’ve already double-checked to make sure unlocking is required, the next step is to find out the unique IMEI number on your Samsung Galaxy smartphone. An IMEI number is 15-digits long and will always be unique to your specific handset only (no two smartphones will ever have the same IMEI number). To qualify for an unlock through the Pay Monthly route, EE must have a record on their systems about having provided the handset to you. On Pay Monthly, the ?8.99 fee for unlocking your Galaxy smartphone is charged to your next monthly bill. If you don’t currently have an EE Pay As You Go SIM card, you can order a free one for the purposes of unlocking.
As of December 2014, EE has removed the requirement to have used your Pay As You Go handset for more than 6 months (the six month requirement now only applies to Pay Monthly customers). If you don’t currently have an active SIM card on the Three network, you can order a free one for the purposes of unlocking. If you have a Galaxy S4 provided in the UK (excluding those provided on EE), there’s a method to unlock your handset for free. If you have a rooted Galaxy S, Galaxy S2, Galaxy S3 (excluding the 4G version), Galaxy Note or Galaxy Note 2, it’s possible to unlock your phone through the GalaxSIM app. For users of an older Galaxy S2, the Galaxy S2 Unlock Code Finder will try to find an unlock code for your phone. Before writing about mobile technology, my background was in space & atmospheric physics.
Also, thanks for providing the link to the necessary form on O2 website (saved me hunting it down !).
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Unlocking your smartphone is often necessary if you want to use it on a different mobile network (e.g. Better still, the offer is available regardless of which network you normally use in the UK.
The IMEI is a 15-digit code which uniquely identifies your Samsung Galaxy smartphone (no two handsets will share the same IMEI). It can take anywhere between a couple of hours and up to 10 days for your smartphone to be unlocked.
If the name of the new network appears on your lock screen, your smartphone successfully accepted the SIM card you inserted. A combi-SIM (provided by giffgaff, EE and O2) will work in all Galaxy smartphone requiring a Standard SIM or Micro SIM. Another way of finding the IMEI number is to open your phone’s dialler (just as if you were going to make a call). Pay Monthly customers on O2 can unlock their handset totally free of charge at any time during their contract.
If you’re an O2 Pay As You Go customer, you’ll need to wait until at least 12 months after your original purchase for O2 to unlock your handset.
For customers on Tesco Pay Monthly, it’s free to unlock your Samsung Galaxy smartphone for use on other networks. There’s a ?10 charge to unlock your Samsung Galaxy handset if you’ve had the phone for less than 12 months. On newer versions of their software, the handset will check for unauthorised unlocking every time it’s restarted or when the software is updated.
If you’re looking to upgrade to a new Galaxy smartphone, please see our round-up of the best Samsung Galaxy deals. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005 with the aim of demystifying mobile technology for the rest of us. Unfortunately, I’ve not had any first-hand experience with region-locking on Samsung devices. You can also save money when travelling abroad by using a local SIM card rather than roaming on a UK contract. You can keep the same number when moving mobile networks but you’ll need to unlock your handset before you do this.
For a complete overview of all the available options, you can see our full listing of SIM-only contracts in the UK. You’ll need to unlock your Samsung Galaxy smartphone before using a different SIM card for travelling abroad. When data roaming on a normal UK SIM card, you can easily run up a ?60 bill with only one day of typical data usage. You’ll also increase the potential audience of buyers (otherwise, your phone can only be used by customers on one network). Unlocking your phone will not affect the warranty status or the way in which your handset works.
It’s worth double-checking before you go through the rest of the process of unlocking your phone. Once you’ve entered the unlocking code in your phone, the handset will work on any compatible network in the world (enjoy cheaper rates at home and cheaper rates when away). If the SIM card you used was from a different network to the one you were using originally, it would indicate that your Samsung Galaxy smartphone is already unlocked (there are a couple of exceptions, please see the notes below*). It won’t accept SIM cards from a different network unless you first complete the network unlocking process (see below). You should bear this in mind when testing the phone with a SIM card from another network (ideally you should test the handset with a network that uses a different coverage provider). The fee is deducted from your Pay As You Go airtime balance so you should ensure you have enough credit before requesting the unlock.

When filling out the form on EE’s website, use the phone number on your new Pay As You Go SIM card.
Simply fill out your details in the online unlocking form (you’ll need to provide account information, some security details and your handset IMEI number). After you’ve had the handset for more than 12 months, the unlocking fee will not be charged.
If you’d like to expedite the process and to get a SIM card more quickly, Pay As You Go SIM cards are available for ?1 from your local Three store. Phones unlocked through an unofficial method may therefore become locked again in the future.
Therefore, it shouldn’t normally be necessary to go through the process of unlocking it. You can also unlock your Samsung Galaxy smartphone to boost its resale value on eBay and other websites. Finally, we’ll discuss some free methods of unlocking your Galaxy handset (not recommended for the majority of users). Hence, when travelling outside the EU, it’s often a good idea to buy a SIM card locally in your country of travel. A ?10 top-up will give you 500MB, 100 minutes and 3000 texts (all available to be used when abroad).
For this reason, whenever possible, we would always recommend unlocking your handset officially via your network operator. If your handset is already unlocked, it won’t be necessary to go through the rest of the unlocking process. The contract must also be currently active (you should get the unlock processed before moving to another network). You can order a free Pay As You Go SIM card and follow the instructions below for an EE Pay As You Go customer. After requesting an unlock from EE, you should receive the networking unlocking code within a maximum of 10 days. The ?15 charge is deducted from your Pay As You Go airtime balance so make sure you have enough credit before filling out the form on O2’s website. You can request an unlock by calling the Tesco Mobile aftersales support number (0345 300 6660). To request an unlock, call Virgin customer services on 789 (calls are free from your Virgin Mobile handset). Call Virgin customer services on 789 to request your unlock (calls are free from your Virgin Mobile handset).
For this reason, you should top-up by ?20 or more prior to requesting an unlock from Vodafone. For this reason, we strongly recommend you pay the small fee to unlock your handset properly.
With regards to software upgrades, I’d have thought this should probably be fine (otherwise, people from Europe could inadvertently break their phone when updating their software abroad). You’ll need to unlock your handset before you go in order to use a different SIM card abroad. You’ll probably need to scroll a bit to see it (see the screenshot for an example of how it looks). You will only need the first 15 digits of the number displayed (ignore the slash and any numbers that follow it). Request a unlock through the Vodafone website: it can take up to 10 days before you receive the unlocking code. Take a careful note of the IMEI number: you’ll need it later on when unlocking your handset.

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