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How to unlock a Vodafone phone
Don't worry, they won't take it personally.
Vodafone (a.k.a. the underdog of Australia's telco triopoly) has long been favoured for its great value plans but criticised for less-than-great coverage. So, if the time has come for you to bid 'adieu' to Voda, this guide is for you. Whether you've got a recent prepaid phone or an older postpaid phone, you might be wondering if it's network locked. To help you find out if it is (or isn't), here's every step and outline of potential fees to help you unlock a Vodafone phone.
How to unlock a postpaid Vodafone phone
If you’re wondering how to unlock a postpaid Vodafone phone, you're in luck. If you purchased your device on a prepaid plan after 1 August 2013, it shouldn't be network locked. However, if you purchased your phone before this date (or through an older retailer like 3 Mobile or Crazy John's), it may be locked to the Vodafone network. In this case, you will need to follow the steps below, but thankfully, the process is completely free for older postpaid devices.
How to unlock a prepaid Vodafone phone
These days, prepaid phones are the only devices that are sold 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 it's safe to assume your prepaid phone is locked to the network you signed up with.
Fortunately, unlocking your prepaid phone from Vodafone is as simple as following two steps. Unfortunately, it won't be free.
1. Find your IMEI number
There's only one thing you need to unlock a Vodafone phone: the 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 a Vodafone tablet. If you want to unlock a mobile broadband device from the Vodafone network, you'll need to follow the process outlined in step 2 to receive your unlocking code. From there, download the unlocking software that matches the manufacturer of your device, found on Vodafone's website.
2. Visit Vodafone's network unlocking portal
Vodafone has a pretty quick and easy process for unlocking their prepaid phones. Once you've got your IMEI number, head over to Vodafone's mobile device unlocking portal and follow the prompts. You'll also need your credit card handy because Vodafone is the only one of our big three telcos that doesn't waive unlocking fees for longtime customers. The least you'll have to pay to unlock your prepaid phone, tablet or mobile broadband devices is $25, which applies if you've owned your device for more than six months. If you’ve had it for less than six months, you’ll need to pay $50.
If you're having difficulty using the online unlocking portal, you’ll have to contact Vodafone support on 1300 650 410 (or 1555 from your mobile).
How to switch to another provider
Now for the fun bit - saving money. After freeing your phone from Vodafone's clutches, you're now able to use any SIM from any provider you want. That's good news because Aussies are spoilt for choice when it comes to mobile providers, with 29 available according to the WhistleOut database at the time of writing. That means you can chop and change as much as you want. All 29 providers 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 Vodafone number. You can do this when activating your new SIM card, but if you encounter any problems along the way, your new provider will be able to help you out.
Cheaper providers on the Vodafone network
If you want to save some cash but still stick with Vodafone's network coverage, it’s worth considering one of the MVNOs that offer cheaper plans on the Vodafone Wholesale network.
Here are the most popular prepaid and postpaid plans with other providers on the Vodafone network.
Other providers on other networks
Want to ditch the Vodafone network altogether? There are even more savings to be had with providers on Telstra and Optus' wholesale networks.
Check out the most popular plans from providers on those networks below.