EE no longer sells phones that are ‘locked’ to its network in the UK – as it’s now illegal – but up until the end of 2021 it still did so. That means if you have an EE phone there’s a chance you may want to unlock it so that you can use it with another UK network.
You may want to unlock your phone from EE for several reasons. Your contract with EE may be up, in which case you’ve paid off your phone and want to switch to a cheaper plan elsewhere. Or perhaps you’re on Pay As You Go and have decided to change your network for better rates or sign-up bonuses. Or maybe you just inherited your phone from someone else or bought it second-hand.
If you’re unlocking your phone to get a new SIM-only plan, make sure to check out our round up of the best SIM-only deals to make sure you save as much as you can.
Check your device isn’t unlocked automatically
Did you know some devices automatically unlock? Any iPhone sold directly through EE on or after 1 September 2015 unlocks automatically after 18 months. If you have an iPhone from EE, you can text UNLOCK to 150 to check the unlock status of your phone.
Some specific Android devices are also all automatically unlocked now – so if your phone is a Google Pixel, Oppo, or OnePlus, then it should already be unlocked from EE’s network.
Other Android phones may also be unlocked – the best way to test is simply to swap in a SIM from another network, if you or a friend have one, and see if it connects online. If you can’t check that, or if you try it and the phone won’t connect on the other network, then your phone may require manual unlocking – here’s how.
How do I unlock my EE phone?
There are two ways to unlock your phone. The quickest and easiest is to use EE’s online form, which guides you through the process and only takes a few minutes.
If you prefer, you can call EE’s Customer Care line by dialling 150 from your EE phone. It’s free to call, or costs 25p per call if you’re on Pay As You Go. You can see all EE contact numbers here.
If your phone is second-hand, call 0800 956 6000 to unlock.
What do I need to unlock my phone?
You will need your phone number, manufacturer, model, and unique IMEI Number (short for International Mobile Equipment Identity). The IMEI is 15 digits long and can be found in the phone settings, or sometimes printed on the back of the phone or somewhere on its packaging.
If you’re not sure where to check, you can also dial *#06# to get your IMEI Number directly.
If two IMEIs show up your device is probably unlocked already. But if you’re checking online try both IMEIs to be sure.
How much does it cost to unlock an EE phone?
While EE used to charge to unlock some devices, it now unlocks any phone tied to the network for free. So no matter what, you shouldn’t have to pay a penny, unless it’s the cost of dialling the support number.
How long does it take?
If you’re unlocking your phone directly from EE, it can be instant, though it may take up to seven days if EE needs to get the unlock code from the manufacturer.
Is unlocking a phone legal?
Yes. Unlocking a phone is legal in the UK – though this shouldn’t be confused with unblocking, which is illegal. A phone is typically blocked by a network when it is reported stolen or missing – which is why you need to ensure yours isn’t before you start unlocking (so be careful if you’ve bought the phone second-hand online, for instance).
Blocking a phone blacklists its unique MSISDN code, which prevents it from being used across different networks, internationally. Unblocking the phone changes this identifier so that the phone can be used again.
In short, you can unlock your phone, but you shouldn’t unblock your phone.