How to unlock an Optus phone

For when you want to opt out of Optus.

Looking to defect from Optus? With the ACCC urging Australians to consider smaller providers in the wake of price hikes from the big three telcos, you might be wondering how exactly to unlock an Optus phone and free yourself up to the massive savings and generous data inclusions that come with MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators). Unlocking an Optus phone might seem like a daunting task, but it’s far easier than you might expect.

To help you break away from Optus, we’ve got a step by step guide (and breakdown of potential fees) to free your phone for good.

How to unlock a postpaid Optus phone

If you’re wondering how to unlock your postpaid Optus phone, you’re in luck. If you bought your phone in the last five or so years, it’s almost certainly unlocked straight out of the box. This means you can go ahead and insert any provider’s SIM card and you shouldn’t have any issues. On the other hand, if you have an older device that you suspect may be locked to Optus, try the steps below, and if that fails, contact the Optus support team for assistance – skip to step two below to see their contact information. Regardless, unlocking a postpaid Optus phone should be absolutely free.

How to unlock a prepaid Optus phone

Here’s where things get a little bit trickier. Almost all prepaid phones sold today are locked to the telco from which they’re purchased. There are a few exceptions (namely the iPhone SE on Telstra, which comes already unlocked), but more often than not, your prepaid phone will be locked to that network.

Thankfully, unlocking your prepaid phone from Optus is easy and, in most cases, free. In fact, it’s pretty much a two-step process.

1. Find your IMEI number

To unlock an Optus phone, you only need one thing: your phone’s IMEI number. Short for International Mobile Equipment Identity, an IMEI is a code (usually about 17 digits long) that’s completely unique to your device. It can often be found on the box your phone came in, but if you no longer have it, there are a couple of other ways to find it.

First, you can simply dial *#06# then press the call button. Instead of actually making a call, this code will simply display your IMEI number on your screen. Be sure to write it down or note it in some way.

There’s one other option if you’re using an Android device. Exact instructions will differ between manufacturers, but essentially you just need to go into your phone’s settings, then click ‘About Phone’, and then ‘IMEI’. Take note of this number. NB: This method doesn’t apply to iOS users, as any iPhone running iOS 7 or later (basically, any iPhone purchased in the last decade) is unlocked by default.

The above process will also work if you’re trying to unlock an Optus tablet. If you have a mobile broadband device you’d like to unlock from Optus, you’ll need to contact their support team directly.

2. Visit Optus’ network unlocking portal

Optus has a relatively straightforward process for unlocking their phones. Once you have your IMEI number, simply visit Optus’ mobile device unlocking portal and fill out the form. You might also need your credit card handy on the off chance there’s a fee to unlock your Optus phone.

In most cases, unlocking an Optus phone is completely free. In fact, you’ll only have to pay a fee if you’ve spent a total of less than $80 over the life of your service. If that’s the case, a fee will apply based on how long your service has been active. If you’ve had the phone for less than six months, you’ll need to pay $80. If you’ve had it longer than six months, that fee goes down to $25.

For those looking to unlock a tablet or mobile broadband device, it’s free to do so if you’ve had it for more than a year. If you’ve had it for less than a year, you’ll be unable to unlock it until you’ve spent at least $100 in total over the life of your service.

If you’re unable to use the online unlocking portal for whatever reason, you’ll have to contact Optus through their website live chat, the My Optus app, or call 133 937 for assistance.

How to switch to another provider

Now onto the good stuff. Now that you’ve freed yourself from Optus, it’s time to save some money. Aussies are positively spoilt for choice when it comes to mobile providers, with 29 available according to the WhistleOut database at the time of writing. Those 29 providers all run on the wholesale network of either Telstra, Optus, or Vodafone.

Changing providers is as simple as ordering a new SIM card and inserting it into your newly unlocked phone. In most cases, you should even be able to keep your Optus number. This can be done when you activate your new SIM card, but if you run into any issues, your new provider will be able to help you out.

Cheaper providers on the Optus network

If you’re keen to save money but want to stick with Optus’ network coverage, it’s worth considering one of the MVNOs that offer cheaper plans on the Optus Wholesale network.

Here are the most popular plans (both prepaid and postpaid) with other providers on the Optus network.

Other providers on other networks

Ready to say goodbye to Optus altogether? There are even more savings to be had with providers on Telstra and Vodafone’s wholesale networks.

Check out the most popular plans below.