Locked / Unlocked phones
So you’ve found a better SIM plan than your current one, and you’d like to switch. Unfortunately, after plugging in your new SIM card into your Telstra phone, you can’t seem to get any service. That’s probably because your phone is locked to the Telstra network.
Whenever you purchase a phone directly from a telco, it might be locked to that telco’s network. That means that you won’t be able to use that phone on a different service provider’s network unless you unlock it.
Thankfully, most Telstra customers don’t have to experience this – postpaid customers who purchase their phones from Telstra on contracts and/or month-to-month plans are typically excluded from the locked phone dilemma (at least those who purchased their phones fairly recently). That’s because Telstra believes that because they are on contracts, they will remain with the telco for a long time, allowing Telstra to recoup a lot of money.
Customers on prepaid plans, however, likely have a locked phone. Prepaid phones are typically heavily discounted, and in order to recoup those discounts, telcos like Telstra lock your prepaid phone to ensure you will remain a customer long enough to pay back those discounts.
Fortunately, unlocking your Telstra phone isn’t difficult. We’ll walk you through your options in this post, so read on to get the details.
Pros and Cons of using phones from Telstra
The best part about using phones from Telstra is that you’ll enjoy the widest network coverage in the country. Telstra boasts a mobile network that covers 99.4 percent of the Australian population, so you’ll likely stay connected wherever you go. Even Telstra’s 5G network has rolled out to 75 percent of the population, which is by far the widest in the country.
But Telstra customers also deal with SIM plans that might be quite expensive when compared to smaller telcos. If you’re looking for a cheap phone plan, then Telstra is not the best option – you’ll be better off looking into Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) where you can find phone plans for as low as $5.
How to unlock Telstra phones
As we stated earlier, customers on postpaid or contract Telstra plans likely don’t have a locked phone. But if you’re on a prepaid plan with Telstra, then your phone is probably locked.
If you’re still confused about whether you have a locked handset or not, just borrow a different network’s SIM card from a friend or family member and plug it into your phone. If you’re able to connect, then your phone isn’t locked. If you’re not able to connect, then you’re likely using a locked Telstra phone, so read on to find out how to unlock it.
Here’s how to unlock your Telstra phone:
- Retrieve your phone’s IMEI number by dialing *#06#. You can also find this IMEI number in the battery compartment, behind the battery, if you have a removable battery. And if you still have your phone’s original packaging, you can find the IMEI number there.
- Next, you’ll have to contact Telstra by sending a messageunder the Get help tab in your My Telstra app. You can also get in touch with Telstra dialing 125 8887 from a Telstra phone, 13 22 00 from a non-Telstra phone, or +61 439 125 888 if you’re overseas. Yu can also walk into a Telstra store to have your phone unlocked.
- Finally, a Telstra rep will walk you through the unlock process, and inform you of any fees, which will have to be paid using your debit or credit card.
Telstra might unlock your phone for free, or you might have to pay a fee – it all depends on how long you’ve been a Telstra customer. Here’s a quick look at your likely unlock fees, if any, based on how long you’ve owned your Telstra phone/plan:
- Under 6 months – $80 unlock fee
- 6 months or more, but under 2 years – $25 unlock fee
- 2 years or more – Unlock your Telstra phone for free
Telstra and other phone companies are changing the way they deal with the phone element of their service offerings. It’s far less likely, these days, that your phone will be tied to the network you choose. This is an important change. People are holding on to their phones for longer and longer periods of time – the average is now above 3 years.
That means that, when you’ve unlocked your Telstra phone (if you had one you bought under contract from Telstra in the dim and distant past) you’re really comparing the plans which are available across the market – you’re no longer tied to Telstra in any of the ways you were. That might be one reason Telstra are investing in schemes such as Telstra Plus.