How to know if your phone is unlocked

Unlock freedom.
An unlocked iPhone on a marble surface

Back in the day, signing up for a handset plan with a telco was almost like making a blood oath. Basically, the second you put pen to paper, you were stuck with that telco unless you wanted to pay the exorbitant contract break fee and phone unlocking fee.

Thankfully, today’s telcos are a little less hardcore and much less likely to strongarm you into loyalty. Just about every postpaid plan now is contract-free, and the phones paired with these plans aren’t locked to a specific network, so you’re free to leave at any time.

But what about those who have older phones, before those archaic rules were scrapped? And what about prepaid customers, who scored a bargain handset only to be unable to switch providers?

Well, we’re here to help find out whether your phone is unlocked or locked to another network, and if it is, help it break free.

How to tell if your Telstra phone is unlocked

There are a few ways to find out whether or not your Telstra phone is unlocked, but aside from contacting Telstra directly, there is no hard and fast rule for identifying a locked phone. Generally speaking, if you purchased your phone on a postpaid plan from around 2015 or later, your phone should already be unlocked. The same applies if it’s an iPhone running iOS 7 or later (basically, any iPhone released in the last decade).

Aside from that, you could always do it the old fashioned way and see if a friend’s SIM card (with a different telco, of course) works with your device. If it does, you’re already unlocked and good to go.

On the other hand, prepaid phones still come network-locked as standard. If you do want to unlock a prepaid handset (or an older postpaid handset) head over to our Telstra phone unlocking guide for a full breakdown of the process and fees involved.

How to tell if your Optus phone is unlocked

Wondering if your Optus phone is unlocked? If you bought it on a postpaid plan anytime from about 2015 onwards (or if it’s an iPhone running iOS 7 or later), it’s almost certainly already unlocked.

However, if it’s a prepaid handset or older postpaid phone, it may still be locked to Optus. In this case, there’s actually a really easy way to find out. To unlock an Optus phone, you have to go through their online unlocking portal. From there, input your IMEI number and fill out your details, then click “next”. It will tell you whether or not your phone is locked to Optus. If it is, you may have to pay an unlocking fee.

If all else fails, you’ll have to contact the Optus support team directly for assistance.

How to tell if your Vodafone phone is unlocked

Finding out if your Vodafone phone is unlocked incredibly simple if you know when you purchased it, as they provide specific dates for when they stopped network-locking their postpaid phones. If you bought your device after 1 August 2013, it won’t be locked to Vodafone.

If you purchased it before this date, or if it’s a prepaid phone, it may be network locked. In that case, finding out for sure is a similar process to Optus – simply visit Vodafone’s device unlocking portal, input your IMEI number and hit ‘Next’. If your phone is not network locked, you should get an ‘IMEI Not Found’ message. If it is locked, head over to our Vodafone phone unlocking guide for a full walkthrough.

This should work in most cases, but if not, reach out to Vodafone customer support for help.

Other providers

These days, Telstra, Optus and Vodafone are the only carriers that sell network-locked phones, and even then, only their prepaid phones are locked. However, it’s possible you still have an old prepaid (or postpaid) phone from 3 Mobile, Crazy John’s Mobile, Boost Mobile or Virgin Mobile Australia.

If you’ve got a phone purchased from 3 Mobile or Crazy John’s, it’s quite possible that it is still locked. Thanks to their mergers with Vodafone, there’s an easy way to find out. All you have to do is visit Vodafone’s phone unlocking portal and fill out your device’s details. It will also tell you how much it will cost to unlock your device.

Boost Mobile is still alive and kicking, but they’ve shifted their focus to SIM-only plans and refurbished devices. Still, if you bought a phone through them before about 2016, it may still be locked to their network. If this is the case, simply contact their support team on 1800 100 933 and request an unlocking code.

Most Virgin Mobile phones should already be unlocked, but if it’s not, you’ll have to go with a third-party phone unlocking service. However, these services can be risky, so it’s probably best to just bite the bullet and upgrade.

Best SIM-only plans for your newly unlocked phone

If you’ve found out your device is already unlocked, you can use it with any SIM-only plan. Here are the 10 most popular contract-free SIM plans right now.