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How to unlock my phone before sending it to Reconome

Up to 80% of the materials in your old phones are recyclable, so don’t let them sit in the kitchen drawer – or worse, end up in landfill. Use Reconome’s phone recycling service instead.

Nick R.
24/11/2020

Up to 80% of the materials in your old phones are recyclable, so don’t let them sit in the kitchen drawer – or worse, end up in landfill. Use Reconome’s phone recycling service instead.

Our engineers inspect all devices we collect; useful devices are refurbished and those that can’t be refurbished are used for parts or recycled at specialist facilities to avoid any part of the device going to landfill.

For us to accept any phone, it will need to be unlocked. Read our helpful guide on unlocking your smartphone which includes tips for unlocking iPhones and Androids.

What does it mean to unlock my phone?

If a phone is locked, that means it only works with the provider it’s registered to. So if your provider is Vodafone, for example, the phone will only work with a Vodafone SIM in it. By unlocking your old phone, you’re making it possible for other users of the phone to insert a SIM registered with any network.

How do I know if my phone is locked?

This one’s easy – to work out if your phone is locked, insert a SIM from a provider that isn’t your registered network and check if the name of the network appears on your handset. If this happens, your phone’s unlocked. 

Why do I need to unlock my phone?

There’s not just the SIM card benefit. Smartphones tend to run extra security measures that can make the device unusable or prevent our engineers’ deletion software from running if the phone isn’t unlocked.

Easy guide to unlock your iPhone

STEP 1:

Make sure your iPhone is charged to at least 50% battery and connected to Wifi. You’ll need a Wifi connection throughout the process.

STEP 2:

Back up your device, making sure you’ve included photos, contacts and notes.

STEP 3:

Remove any iOS locks:

  • Unpair your Apple watch
  • Sign out of iCloud, iTunes and the App Store:
    • If you’re using iOS 10.3 or later, tap Settings > [your name]. Scroll down and tap Sign Out. Enter your Apple ID password and tap Turn Off.
    • If you’re using iOS 10.2 or earlier, tap Settings > iCloud > Sign Out. Tap Sign Out again, then tap Delete from My [device] and enter your Apple ID password. Then go to Settings > iTunes & App Store > Apple ID > Sign Out.
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STEP 4:

Restore your iPhone to factory settings. Tap General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.

STEP 5:

Remove your SIM card.

STEP 6:

Switch off your iPhone.
Phone not turning on or need to erase multiple devices? Simply log into icloud.com, choose find my iPhone, select the device you want to erase and choose ‘erase iPhone.

Easy guide to unlock your Android

STEP 1:

Make sure your Android is charged to at least 50% battery and connected to Wifi. You’ll need a Wifi connection throughout the process.

STEP 2:

Backup your device, making sure you’ve included photos, contacts and notes.

STEP 3:

  • On a Samsung Galaxy, go to Settings > Lock screen > Screen lock type and choose None
  • On a Huawei, go to Settings > Security & privacy > Screen lock & passwords > Disable lock screen password
  • On a Google Pixel, go to Settings > Security > Screen lock and choose None.

STEP 4:

Remove your Google accounts:

  • On a Samsung Galaxy, go to Settings > Accounts and backup > Accounts and tap on Google, then tap Remove account
  • On a Huawei go to Settings > Users & accounts > Google and tap Remove at the bottom
  • On a Google Pixel, go to Settings > Accounts > Google and tap Remove account
  • Note: If you have more than one Google account registered with your phone, then make sure you remove all of them.

STEP 5:

Restore your Android to factory settings. Go to Settings > System > Advanced > Reset options > tap Erase all data.

STEP 6:

Remove your SIM or memory card.

STEP 7:

Switch off your Android.

Phone not turning on or need to erase multiple devices? Sign into your Google Accounts, then under Sign-in & security select Device activity & security events > REVIEW DEVICES. Then, select device and click REMOVE.

Questions?

Get in touch with us if you have any questions about unlocking your phone or our phone recycling service.


How to unlock your phone

Unlocking a phone can be surprisingly easy once you know how.

  1. First, you’ll need to contact your provider and request an unlock. This must be the original network, not the network of the new SIM you’re trying to use.
  2. Once you’ve had confirmation that your phone has been unlocked by your provider, you can power down the phone, put your new SIM card into the SIM card slot, and turn the phone back on.
  3. Now, try making a call to find out whether or not the unlock has been successful. If you’re able to connect a phone call over the new network, the unlock has worked. If not, get back in touch with your network provider for further assistance.

If you don’t have the original SIM card, you may need to reset the phone before it can be unlocked.


Contact your network provider

Taking a closer look at step one, we’ve listed each of the popular network providers in the UK to help you find out how to go about unlocking your phone. Find your carrier from the list below and follow the instructions provided.

EE

To unlock your EE phone, you must be the account holder for the device and number, have had the device for at least six months, have paid your bill up-to-date and have not reported the device as lost or stolen.

If you have an EE pay monthly device, you’ll be able to get your phone unlocked for free if you’ve finished your contract. If you haven’t, it will cost £8.99 to unlock it. The same goes for a pay as you go device (free if bought direct with EE by the requester, or £8.99 if not).

Any second-hand device locked to EE that you purchased via eBay, Gumtree etc will cost £8.99 to unlock, as will any EE small business devices.

EE aims to unlock your phone within 72 hours, but it can take up to ten days in some cases.

You can find out more about unlocking your EE phone and contact EE directly by clicking here.

Giffgaff

Giffgaff is a bit unusual in that it offers an ‘Unlockapedia’ that you can use to search for your phone make and model to find out how to go about unlocking it. You’ll find the Giffgaff unlockapedia here.

Sky Mobile

Phones purchased via Sky should already be unlocked, so you won’t need to get in touch with the company to unlock your phone. Instead, try your new SIM and it should work. If you’re using an iPhone, you may need to go into Settings > Mobile Data > Mobile Data Options > Mobile Data Network > Reset Settings.

Tesco Mobile

If you’ve got a pay as you go phone with Tesco Mobile, it will be free to unlock 12 months after it was activated. To unlock it before that it’ll cost you £10.

Pay monthly devices are also free to unlock with Tesco Mobile, unless it’s a brand new, flagship phone or tablet, but Tesco will let you know when you get in touch with your unlock request.

It can take up to seven days to unlock a phone on Tesco Mobile. You simply need to complete the online unlocking request form found here.

Three

Three has an online unlocking form available, but if you purchased your phone from Three after 1 January 2014 your device will already be unlocked.

Virgin Mobile

Most Virgin Mobile phones will already be unlocked, so you should have no trouble here. Just try the new SIM card and it should work without requiring any further action.

Vodafone

You’ll be able to use Vodafone’s online unlock request form here. It may take up to 10 working days to receive an unlock code from the company. You’ll need to be up to date with your bills, too.


How to remove Google Cloud

  1. Open Settings on the device.
  2. Scroll down and select Accounts and Backup
  3. Select Accounts
  4. Select the google account to be removed and Select Remove Account.