Saturday, February 23, 2013

Vodafone UK iPhone unlocking

Just thought I'd post this experience incase there are others with the same problem.

Recently moved to Singapore and wanted to use my Vodafone UK iPhone here. There are various places that offer mobile unlocking from a temporary version to a full motherboard circuit change (would wipe all existing data).

I didn't like the idea of having a new circuit board in my phone from someone I didn't know and also the Vodafone UK iPhone unlocking process ended up being free for me (might depend on your contract)


Steps:
  1. Backup to itunes, save photos etc
  2. Contact Vodafone UK and ask for phone to be unlocked, you'll need your IMEI which get from dialling *#06#
    You can contact Vodafone online, no need to call them from another country.
  3. Stay connected to itunes or connect again another time after backup
  4. Insert new SIM card (e.g. from new country.
  5. itunes > info (main page), click "Restore" (you may need to allow itunes to do a full update and the iOS on your phone).
    depending on your data it can take a few hours. (if you have your backup encrypted it'll take longer), if on a Mac I suggest to quite other non-essential programs using: utilities > activity monitor.
  6.  After the restore which resets your phone, you'll either get a message saying congrats phone is unlocked, or a message like:

    "The SIM card inserted in this iPhone does not appear to be supported. Only compatible SIM cards from a supported carrier may be used to activate iPhone. Please insert the SIM card that came with your iPhone or visit a supported carrier store."

    Itunes only showed
    "The SIM card inserted in this iPhone does not appear to be supported
    This iPhone is not currently setup to work with carrier you're attempting to use. Please insert another SIM card from a supported carrier or request that this iPhone be unlocked."

    Even after Vodafone told me the phone was meant to be unlocked.
  7. So I had to place my original old Vodafone UK SIM card back in the iPhone to be able to restore from my backup to it…. (I didn't want to use my old SIM card)
  8. After a few more attempts I contacted Vodafone again (twice more).. One email I got from them had a different IMEI number to mine !
    So you have to wait about 48hrs each time after asking for the unlock to happen before the signal is issued.
  9. Finally third try after about a week (Vodafone unlocked it officially and with no cost) it worked, kinda :) There seemed to be a few apps missing from the iPhone but after quitting iTunes and turning off/on the iPhone then doing a 'sync' (not another full restore), the apps were back. (Can't remember if I also restarted the computer at this stage).
Note:
  • Your lock is reset after the restore so you'll probably want to add that back.
  • It's good to have access to wireless as the phone somehow checks with Apple that it is unlocked.