How to check if your phone will work on a new network

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Looking to change network providers? Don't throw away your current handset just yet.

Switching phone networks is easier than ever, but as streamlined as the contract side of this process has become, it isn't always clear whether your current phone will simply work from the get-go with your new network. More often than not, the answer is a welcome "yes"; but it's still worth double-checking before you throw down your hard-earned cash on a new plan that refuses to play nice with your current handset.

Your phone needs to be free from ties to any one provider or network – "unlocked" in mobile jargon – in order to make the switch to a new network without needing to give up your favourite handset. We've laid out some simple steps to determine whether your phone is good to go.

How to check if your phone is unlocked

Most Aussie mobile providers stopped locking their phones quite a few years ago, so if your current handset is reasonably recent, odds are it's unlocked.

To check if your phone is unlocked, you'll need to get hold of a SIM card from another network provider. If you can't borrow one from a friend or family member, you can pick up a cheap pay-as-you-go SIM from one of these providers.

Next, power down your current phone and remove your SIM card using the process detailed in your phone's manual. If you don't have your manual handy, a quick google for your handset's name plus the word "manual" should bring it up online.

Once your SIM card is removed, insert your borrowed/purchased car and turn your phone back on. If you can successfully place a call with the new SIM card installed, your phone is unlocked.

If it does turn out your phone is locked, don't fret. Most providers will let you unlock your phone, sometimes for free, and sometimes for a small fee. For instructions on how to do this, check out our guide to unlocking your mobile phone.

What if I purchased my phone from overseas?

If you bought your phone online from an international retailer such as Amazon or GraysOnline, you'll need to make sure it's compatible with the frequencies used by Australian mobile networks before switching providers. This information should be available in the documentation that came with your phone, or from the retailer you purchased it from. For reference, here are the frequencies used by the major Australian mobile providers:

Australian carriers2G3G4G
TelstraN/A850MHz/2,100MHz700MHz/900MHz/1,800MHz/2,100MHz/2,600MHz
Optus/VirginN/A900MHz/2,100MHz700MHz/1,800MHz/2,100MHz/2,300MHz/2,600MHz
Vodafone900MHz until 31 March 2018850MHz/900MHz/2,100MHz700MHz available in 2018/850MHz/1,800MHz

As long as your phone operates on the same frequencies as the provider you want to switch to, you shouldn't have any problems. Just make sure your phone doesn't only support 2G frequencies, since the 2G network will be completely unavailable in Australia from the end of September 2017 onwards.

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