Want to switch your Optus mobile handset to another network, but can't get past the network lock? Here's what you need to do.
- Network locking is rare these days, especially for contract phones
- Cheap prepaid phones are the most likely to be locked
- There may be fees involved if your service hasn't been active for long, or hasn't been recharged to a certain level
At one point in time, pretty much every mobile phone sold in Australia was locked to the network it was sold to work on. In some cases that was to do with the underlying network frequencies, but often it was also simply to lock you, the consumer, into keeping with that network. These days, phones on a contract are almost never network locked, but if you've got a prepaid phone from Optus, it's possible it might be restricted.
Unlocking your Optus mobile phone is a fairly easy procedure, although in some cases a fee may apply. This varies based on your device - Optus has different terms and fees for prepaid phones, tablets or mobile broadband services, and postpaid devices.
How to unlock an Optus phone
- Identify the type of device: The process for unlocking an Optus prepaid device differs depending on your device and type of service, so the first thing to do is figure this out.
- If you've got an iPhone: The unlocking process for iPhone users on the Optus network largely revolves around the iOS version you have installed. If you're using a recent phone (iPhone 4 or better with iOS 7 already installed), then you're already unlocked! If not, upgrade to the latest version of iOS your iPhone 4 (or better) handset can handle, and the unlock will happen automatically. If you're using an older iPhone, you'll need to fully back up and restore your iPhone in order to unlock your device.
- Unlocking other devices: Firstly you'll need your IMEI number, which you can get by dialling *#06# on your device, or are usually written underneath the battery on the back of the device. Then, you'll need to go through the Optus' network unlock page, which will involve entering your IMEI number, paying a fee if applicable (see below), and receiving a code to unlock your device.
Optus charges a fee to unlock your device under certain circumstances. Prepaid mobile phones, prepaid tablets, and postpaid devices together with the length of time you've had the service all play a factor - see below for our breakdown.
- Prepaid mobile phone: Charge your service to $80 value or more; if not, you'll pay $80 if your service has been active less than 6 months, or $25 if you've had it for longer.
- Prepaid tablet/mobile broadband: If your service has been active for more than 12 months, unlocking is free! If not, you'll need to recharge to a total value of $100 to unlock.
- Postpaid devices: There's currently no fee to unlock devices purchased on an Optus plan.
An unlocked handset is one that can be used on any network, and that means you can take advantage of the wide range of plans available to you, especially if you opt for a prepaid phone plan. Mobile number portability allows you to take the same number with you within Australia, so you don't even have to update your contact details when you do.
That means you can take advantage of any special deals that other telcos can offer. It also opens up the phone for international roaming SIMs if you plan to travel, which can be a much cheaper alternative than paying fixed telco roaming rates.
Clearly, you need to make sure that there's enough value in the phone if an unlocking fee will be charged, because there's little point shelling out up to $80 on a phone that didn't cost you that much. Just make sure that you responsibly recycle or re-gift your handset if you're not planning to use it any more.
Put your newly-unlocked phone to good use with one of these mobile plans: