UNLOCK YOUR PHONE FOR FREE HERE!!
Why should you pay 99p or more for the items on the right of this review? If you are able to find and read this guide, then you have the ability to unlock your own phone without paying somebody else for the privilege. There are a huge number of people listing a mobile phone unlocking service, or offering the software for sale that willl allow you to unlock the phone yourself. This is tantamount to theft as the codes are readily available all over the internet
For those that do not know what unlocking is all about, it simply means that your handset is locked to one operator network, T-Mobile, Vodaphone etc. If you try to use a T-Mobile sim card in a handset supplied by vodaphone, you will see a message telling you something along the lines of "SIM REJECTED" or "SIM DISALLOWED"
Networks subsidise the cost of the handset against the contract that you take out. The true cost of the handset can be hundreds of pounds, (the new N70 is retailing at £300 on the Nokia website) but if you agree to a 12 or 18 month contract, you can quite often receive the latest range-topping handset free, especially if you have a history of high monthly bills!!
The idea behind sim-locking is to protect the networks' investment in the subsidised price of the handset - they have had to buy the phone, and have given it you on the basis that you use their network for the next 12 months. However their price plan may not be ideal for you and another operator may be able to offer a better deal on some items. Vodaphone for example, are quite expensive on internet and web-surfing, but O2 offer some great packages on Mb usage. I have a great contract on Vodaphone for minutes and texts, but for internet use, I swap sim cards to use my O2 PAYG for surfing the mobile internet. I also use foreign PAYG sim cards when I go on holiday - it is still cheaper than using roaming on my home network
So how do you unlock your phone? Most phones can be unlocked by entering a long alpha-numeric code, something that looks like #pw+1234567890**# Many Motorolas can also be unlocked remotely, however the codes are held by Motorola who tend only to release them to trade customers - network providers, Phone shops, repairers etc. Alternatively, they can be 'clipped' - plugged into a laptop or specialist piece of hardware, both of which are readily available in small independent phone shops, or many market stalls for a few pounds. Sony -Ericsson phones also require a cable connection.
Although I am not allowed to post links outside of Ebay in this guide, Google should be your first obvious step. Knowing what to look for is the crucial part though.
Search for nokia (or your handset brand) free unlocking, and you will find thousands of matches to start with.
Avoid any adverts that require you to call a premium rate number, all they are doing is automating the process that you should be doing yourself, and charging you up to £3.00 per minute for the privilege!!
Amongst the search results look for a "DCT4 calculator" or even search for a "free DCT4 calculator". This is the magical piece of software that works out what your unlock code is. It was written (I believe) by somebody known as "hollowman" or "dejan"- the guy (or girl) deserves a medal! The software is in the public domain, and although it is free to use, it is still illegal to distribute it and earn from it yourself - something that the guys listing on the right of this review do not seem bothered about!
There is also website called nokiafree.org that offers reviews, advice, guidance and help on all Nokia related matters, and as you may have guessed, it's free to browse their site! The forums are a hotbed of information on all Nokia issues, written by everyday people with an unhealthy interest in all things cellular and Nokia-like. Crucially though, they offer an online DCT4 calculator that is completely free to use.
Most modern phones from the last few years can be unlocked using this calculator, Alcatel, some Siemens, most Nokia, most Samsung. LG, Panasonic & Sharp amongst others.
The calculator simply asks for your IMEI number, and a 5 digit network operator code (which is usually helpfully supplied the website operator!) After entering in your handset type (3310, 7710 etc) a series of codes are displayed, one of which will unlock your phone when entered. Whilst researching for this guide, I found 28 sites that offered the free online calculator, or free to download. Of these 28, only 3 did not offer comprehensive, or easy to follow instructions.
There is a new breed of sim-lock however, in the form of a BB5 locking protection. Currently this includes the Nokia N series (N70, N80, N90, N91) and the Nokia 6630 & 6680 smart phones. These have the sim lock hard-coded into one of the chips inside the handset, and currently there is no program or software that will crack this. Despite what people are advertising YOU CAN NOT UNLOCK THESE PHONES YOURSELF!! The codes are unique to each handset, and are not linked to the IMEI number. Unless somebody gains access to the list of unlock codes held securely by Nokia, there is no way around this. Even when software has been developed to crack the codes, it will be a case of connecting the hanset to a PC that can read the chips, and display the unlock code. Whoever invents that piece of kit will retire a rich man!
The phone has to be unlocked by a code issued by your network provider, and they will only issue the code to the registered owner and with a valid reason. The most effective and plausible reason is that you have a SIM card issued by your employers that you want to use, or as in the case above, be honest about the price plan - "your minutes and texts package is great, but I need to use the data service of another provider". If you buy one of these phones second hand and try to get it unlocked, you will be facing an almost impossible task.
It is also worth looking at the resale values of unlocked phones - try looking for the Nokia N70 or N80 in the eBay listings - identical phones, brand new in boxes but one is locked and the other not will have a £50 to £75 price difference. You are also offering up your phone to a much larger audience and more likely to obtain a sale.
Remember - an UNLOCKED phone is entirely different to a BLOCKED phone!
Unlocked means any Sim card can be used in it.
BLOCKED MEANS IT HAS BEEN REPORTED STOLEN BY A PREVIOUS OWNER!!!
UPDATE - August 5th 2006
I have received many messages of support for this guide, and it is now firmly in the top 20, so thanks for all who voted. I am regularly asked for a list of handsets that can be remotely unlocked, so I have compiled the following list, which I will update frequently. Remember - Google is your friend!!!
Due to eBay restrictions on amounts of usage, I am sometimes unable to receive or respond to messages sent !!
Nokia DCT3 and DCT4: 1100, 1100a, 1100b, 1101, 1110, 1220, 1260, 1261, 1600, 2100, 2160, 2170, 2180, 2190, 2220, 2221, 2260, 2261, 2270, 2280, 2285, 2300, 2300a, 2600, 2600cn, 2650, 3100, 3100b, 3105, 3108, 3120, 3200, 3200b, 3210, 3220, 3220b, 3230, 3285, 3300, 3300b, 3310, 3315, 3320, 3330, 3350, 3360, 3361, 3390, 3395, 3410, 3510, 3510i, 3520, 3530, 3560, 3570, 3570i, 3585, 3590, 3595, 3600, 3610, 3620, 3650, 3660, 3810, 5100, 5100a, 5110, 5110i, 5120, 5125, 5130, 5130a, 5130b, 5140, 5140b, 5140i, 5146, 5160, 5165, 5170i, 5180, 5185, 5185i, 5190, 5210, 5230, 5510, 6010, 6020, 6020b, 6021, 6030, 6030a, 6090, 6100, 6101, 6102, 6108, 6110, 6110i, 6120, 6130, 6138, 6150, 6150e, 6160, 6160i, 6161, 6162, 6170, 6170b, 6185, 6190, 6200, 6210, 6220, 6225, 6230, 6230i, 6230b, 6250, 6260, 6290, 6310, 6310e, 6310i, 6340, 6340e, 6340i, 6360, 6370, 6385, 6390, 6500, 6510, 6510e, 6560, 6585, 6590, 6600, 6610, 6610i, 6620, 6650, 6660, 6670, 6670b, 6800, 6800a, 6800e, 6810, 6820, 6820a, 6820b, 6822a, 7110, 7160, 7190, 7200, 7210, 7210e, 7210i, 7250, 7250e, 7250i, 7260, 7270, 7280, 7600, 7610, 7610b, 7650, 7690, 7700, 7710, 8210, 8250, 8260, 8265, 8265i, 8270, 8280, 8290, 8310, 8310e, 8310i, 8390, 8390e, 8510, 8800, 8810, 8850, 8855, 8860, 8890, 8910, 8910e, 8910i, 9000, 9000i, 9110, 9110i, 9210, 9210i, 9290, N-Gage, N-Gage QD, N-Gage QDa.
Motorola A008, A009, A388, A830, A835, A920, C300, C330, C331, C332, C333, C336, C350, C359, L7089, M3788, MPX200, P250, P260, P7389, P8767, Startac, T180, T190, T191, T192, T193, T205, T2288, T280, T280i, T720, T720i, T721, T722i, T730, TimePort, V300, V500, V51, V52, V60, V600, V60g, V60i, V66, V66i, V690, V70, V700, V100, V2288, V3682, V3688, V3690
Samsung SGH-A300, SGH-A400, SGH-A800, SGH-E400, SGH-E500, SGH-E700, SGH-E715, SGH-M100, SGH-P400, SGH-S100, SGH-S105, SGH-S300, SGH-S307, SGH-S500, SGH-600, SGH-2100, SGH-V200, SGH-X100, SGH-X600, SGH-R210, SGH-D500
LG 1200, 1300, 510, 520, 510W, 7010, 7020, B1200, B1300, C1200, G510, M1200, M1300, W3000
Siemens ST55 and CL50
FOR INFO - list of all Nokia BB5 models: 3250, 5500 Sport, 6125, 6126, 6131, 6233, 6234, 6270, 6280, 6630, 6630i, 6680, 6681, 6682, 7370, E50, E60, E61, E62, E70, N70, N71, N72, N73, N80, N90, N93
Update: May 2007 - Limited BB5 Unlocking now available!!
A limited number of Nokia BB5 phones are now able to be unlocked - using a software and cable method. These phones are the earlier BB5 editions, and only selected software types.
- Nokia 6630 RAP3G v2.10E PA
- Nokia 6680 RAP3G v2.0E PA
- Nokia 6681 RAP3G v2.0E PA
- Nokia E60 RAP3G v2.20E PA
- Nokia E65 RAP3G v2.20E PA
- Nokia E70 RAP3G v2.20E PA
- Nokia N70 RAP3G v2.20 PA
- Nokia N71 RAP3G v2.20 PA
- Nokia N90 RAP3G v2.11 PA
- Nokia N91 RAP3G v2.20E PA
- Nokia N93 RAP3GS v2.0E PA
For more details on equipment and software needed - Google for "Dejan Kaljevic" and the information he has posted on a number of GSM discussion forums. Be aware that it is still not a task for beginners, and your local independent retailer would still be a preferred option for this method.
Please note - Dejan is pretty much established as the Daddy of unlocking - he is the author of the software, and has released it for public use, BUT not for resale.