How to unlock a Telstra phone

Free yourself from the shackles of the Big T.

Georgia Dixon
Digital Content Editor
Read More
October 10, 2022
3 min read

We are committed to sharing unbiased reviews. Some of the links on our site are from our partners who compensate us. Read our disclosure policies to learn more.

As Australia’s largest telco company, Telstra appeals to many Aussies looking for the best coverage, latest devices and decent perks. However, the Big T is by no means the most affordable mobile provider out there, and switching could save you big bucks, often without having to sacrifice coverage. But if you're looking to unlock a Telstra phone, it's easy to get confused about what you actually need to do.

To help clear things up, we’ll take you through every step (and potential fee) to free your phone from Telstra’s grasp.

How to unlock a postpaid Telstra phone

If you’re wondering how to unlock your postpaid Telstra phone, we have good news. If you purchased your phone in the last seven or so years, it’s probably already unlocked out of the box. This means you can go ahead and pop any provider’s SIM card in there and you shouldn’t have any issues. If you have an older device that you suspect may be locked to Telstra, follow the steps below or contact Telstra's support team for assistance.

How to unlock a prepaid Telstra phone

Here’s where things get a little more complicated. Almost all prepaid phones sold today are locked to the telco from which they're purchased. 

Luckily, unlocking your prepaid phone from Telstra is easy and, if not free, cheap. In fact, it’s pretty much a two-step process.

1. Find your IMEI number

To unlock a Telstra 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.

2. Contact Telstra

Now that you have your IMEI number, you’ll have to contact Telstra (through the MyTelstra app or on 125 8887 from a Telstra prepaid phone, 13 22 00 from a non-Telstra phone) and request to have your phone unlocked. Your operator will talk you through the process, and you may be asked to pay an unlocking fee. This fee depends on how long you’ve had the phone for.

If you’ve had the phone for less than six months (or never activated your service in the first place), you’ll need to pay $80. If you’ve had it longer than six months but less than two years, that fee goes down to $25. If you’ve owned it for more than two years, it should be completely free to unlock.

You'll then get an unlock code which you can enter when you put in your new SIM. 

Note that it can take between seven and ten days to unlock your phone.

How to switch to another provider

Now onto the good stuff. Now that you’ve untethered yourself from Telstra, it’s time to save some cash. Aussies are pretty spoilt for choice when it comes to mobile providers, with a whole host offering service on either Telstra, Optus, or Vodafone networks.

Changing providers is as simple as ordering a new SIM card and inserting it into your newly-unlocked phone. In most cases, you should be able to keep your Telstra number. This can often be done during activation of the new SIM card, but if you run into any issues, your new provider will be able to assist you.

Cheaper providers on the Telstra network

If you’re keen to save money without having to give up Telstra’s superior coverage, it’s worth considering one of the MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) that offer cheaper plans on the Telstra Wholesale network. This network is slightly smaller than what actual Telstra customers get, but it still covers 98.8% of the Australian population, which is actually better coverage than Optus and Vodafone. The only exception here is Boost Mobile, which gets full access to Telstra’s 3G/4G network (no 5G just yet), covering 99.5% of the population.

Here are the most popular plans (both prepaid and month-to-month) with other providers on the Telstra network.

Other providers on other networks

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

Check out the most popular ones below.

FAQs

The price you'll pay to unlock your phone from Telstra depends on how long you've had it. If you've had it for less than six months, you'll pay $80. If you've had it for less than two years, you're up for $25. And if you've had it for more, it's free.

Telstra says it can take between seven and ten days to unlock a phone. 

If you buy a phone from Telstra on an Upfront plan, it will be unlocked. However, all Telstra prepaid phones are locked.

Georgia Dixon
Written by
Georgia Dixon
Georgia Dixon has over seven years' experience writing about all things tech, entertainment and lifestyle, with bylines in TechLife magazine, 7NEWS and Stuff.co.nz. In her spare time, you'll find her playing games and daydreaming about good food, wine, and dogs.

Related Articles

Motorola Razr 2022 5G folded on white table
Hands-on with the Motorola Razr 2022 5G
Motorola's latest riff on the Razr is easier to like, but still hard to recommend.
Astro A30 gaming headset review
The Astro A30 Wireless gaming headset offers versatility at a premium
The new Astro A30 Wireless gaming headset is built for multiplatform gamers also seeking an...
ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16
ROG Zephyrus M16 review: Comfortable wins and familiar sins
ASUS' latest gaming laptop is lean and of means.
Boost Trade-in app
Boost’s new app offers cash for select smartphones and tablets
The new Boost Trade-in app offers a new way to make some quick cash on...