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How to unlock your phone

sim-card-in-phoneWant to use a new SIM card in your mobile phone, or sell or recycle it for the highest possible price? Chances are you won’t be able to do that until it’s unlocked from its current network. Here’s everything you need to know to get started.


Why do I need to unlock my phone?


When you get a phone from a mobile provider, a lot of the time the provider will lock the handset to its own network – basically to discourage you from getting a SIM from someone else.


It’s a bit uncool of them, really. Thankfully a lot of networks are phasing this practise out – Three no longer locks any of its phones, for instance.


Removing the lock on your phone is a great idea though, as it means you can…


– Switch to a SIM-only plan from a different network and get a better deal

– Use a foreign SIM in your phone when you’re abroad

– Sell your phone to a recycler for a higher price

– Make life easier for its next owner if you sell it on

– Generally get more freedom with your mobile


How to unlock your phone


Before you do anything, check that your phone is definitely locked. Try putting an active SIM from another network into the card slot, and see if it can connect to the network. If you get an error message, then yes, it’s most likely locked. So how can you fix that?


Method 1 – Through your mobile network

The easiest and best way of unlocking your phone – and often the cheapest way too – is to go straight to your mobile network. You need the network that the phone is locked to, not the one you want to switch to. So if your mobile came from Vodafone, and will only take a Vodafone SIM, you’ll have to contact Vodafone.


If you’re no longer within your contract with the network, they’re required to unlock your phone for free if you ask. If you’re still in the contract’s minimum terms, however, or if you bought the phone from your network on pay-as-you-go, you may face a fee. Many will still unlock it cost-free in this case, but some charge up to £15 or so.


To get the unlocking ball rolling, ring the network’s customer service line or use its online portal, and you’ll get instructions on what to do. You’ll usually be given an NUC (network unlock code) to enter, though some networks can unlock it for you remotely.


Method 2 – Through a third party


Going straight to the network to unlock your phone is our recommended method, but sometimes that’s not possible – for example, if it’s an older handset, or second-hand, or if you haven’t been with the network long enough.


The next best option is to go to a third party, such as a local phone shop or an unlocking website.


They’ll charge a little more, and it can take longer to work, but so long as you find a reputable store it should be quick and painless. Again, you’ll often be given an NUC to enter, but some phone shops will do the unlocking for you using a cable.


Method 3 – DIY

For the tech-savvy among you, unlocking your phone yourself is an option.


You can do this by…


Getting a code online and entering it in your phone – You only have a limited number of tries for this though so it’s a bit risky. If it doesn’t work, you’ll need to go to your network or a phone shop anyway.

Using the right cable – This is possible for a few older handsets, and cables can be ordered online. Make sure you know what you’re doing here – we’d recommend trying other methods first.


How long does it take to unlock?


You usually need to allow up to 10 days for an unlock to complete. Sometimes it’ll be done within three days, though occasionally it can take up to four weeks.


How much does it cost?


The cost of unlocking your phone depends on how you do it.


Through a network – Free most of the time, but can cost up to £15.

Through a third party – Usually around £15, but can sometimes cost much more.

DIY – Free with some codes; up to £15 for others; or simply the cost of the cable.


Is it legal to unlock my phone?


Absolutely yes. It is completely legal and above board to get your phone unlocked and use a different network’s SIM in it.

Just be aware that it can invalidate your phone’s warranty – check the terms and conditions if you’re concerned.


Should I get the new Samsung Galaxy S8?

samsung-galaxy-s8The whole tech world is abuzz with talk of the new Samsung mega-mobile: the Galaxy S8, and its taller sibling the Galaxy S8+.


As always, the two phones are technological marvels… but they also come with a flagship price tag. Thinking about buying one, but aren’t sure if it’s worth the cost? Here’s everything you need to know to help you decide.


What’s good about it?


It looks awesome


The S8 has a gorgeous design, with lots of shimmery metal and glass, and – best of all – it has a screen that covers almost the entirety of its surface, complete with curved edges at the sides. And that screen happens to be a Quad HD resolution beauty that’s even HDR-enabled.


It’s got super snappers


Like all Samsung flagships, the Galaxy S8 has got one of the best cameras around – 12MP lens, optical image stabilisation, and it can even record 4K video. The front-facing lens, meanwhile, is a whopping 8MP, making it one of the biggest selfie cameras you’ll find.


It’s tough


The screen is made of ultra-strong Gorilla Glass 5, so it’s not likely to crack any time soon. And it’s IP68 certified, meaning it’s water- and dust-resistant.


It’s powerful


Samsung’s stepped the processors up a notch: the S8 has an octa-core Exynos 8895 chipset. It’s so powerful, in fact, that you can use your phone as a computer with the DeX dock, which hooks it up to your monitor.


It won’t explode


Yes, we know you’re thinking it. Don’t worry – Samsung assures us that there won’t be a repeat of the Note 7 debacle. The batteries are fine, the company says, and they’ve employed extra safety measures to make sure.


What’s bad about it?


It ain’t cheap


Here’s the main kicker. Like all top mobile phones, the Galaxy S8 is a tad on the expensive side.


It really is quite big


Yeah, this phone is huge. The Galaxy S8+ especially so, coming in at about 16cm tall and 7cm wide. If you’ve got small hands, it may genuinely be too large for you to use.


The battery is concerning


Not because of catching-fire-related reasons, of course – but because of its size. The S8 is packing 3,000mAh, the same as the previous Galaxy S7. However, the S8 is more powerful, with a bigger, hungrier screen… so we’re a little worried about how long each charge will last.


Then again, there’s a smaller and much more energy-efficient chipset on board. Perhaps if it’s sucking less power, a bigger battery isn’t necessary.


The fingerprint sensor is a bit annoying


The fingerprint sensor has been shifted to the back of the phone – meaning you’ll probably smudge the camera at some point when you try and use it. You can always use the iris scanner or facial recognition tech on the front, but even that doesn’t work perfectly (and has already been fooled by a photograph).


Okay, how much does it cost?


Are you ready for this? The regular Samsung Galaxy S8 costs £689 to buy outright, while the larger S8+ costs £780. Ouch.


So is it worth it?


If you want an absolutely top-of-the-range smartphone, this is what you have to pay for it. For the specs and features you get with the Galaxy S8… yes, the price adds up. It’s worth it.


That doesn’t mean you should clear out your savings or re-mortgage your house to get your hands on one, though. Have a look at contract plans that can spread the cost out a bit, especially plans like O2 Refresh that keep your SIM tariff separate so you don’t pay too much.


Or, sell on your current phone through SellMyMobile – you’ll get a nice wad of cash to put towards a spanking new S8. It’s better value to buy it upfront, after all.


Did the LG G5 flop because it dared to be different?



The LG G5 was that rarest of things – a smartphone that tried to do something different. Its modular design, which let you add and remove components like better speakers and cameras, was brave. It was unique. And it was a failure.


The company’s next flagship phone – the LG G6 – is now out in the wild, and it’s a bit more… conventional. While excellent by all accounts, it’s clear that LG has retreated to the relative safety of super-sized screens and solid specs.


Which rather begs the question – is originality overrated? Is the future of phones going to consist of selling your old phones to buy a better version of the same thing? And is that necessarily a bad thing?


What was so different about the LG G5?


It’s fair to say that mobile phone manufacturers have fallen into predictable habits – especially when it comes to their flagship devices. Successive handsets sport the same old boasts – bigger screens, faster processors, better cameras and so on. Where there are new features, like the iPhone 6S pressure-sensitive touch screen or Galaxy S6 Edge, they tend to be (admittedly cool) gimmicks that enhance what’s already there rather than revolutionise.


That’s why the LG G5 stood out. You could add new features by removing the band at the bottom of the phone – sort of like removing a clip from a gun – and add new functionality on. It may not have been to everyone’s tastes, but it was something you couldn’t get from Samsung, Apple, Sony and HTC’s uberphones.


LG G5 module


The problem is, as it turns out, not many people really wanted it. LG confirms that sales of the handset were poor, which means that the sale of the add-ons were even less. That might explain why there were only a few of those add-ons available – a snap-on speaker to improve audio, and a few camera attachments were really all that came of the idea.


It also didn’t help that LG insisted on calling those add-ons ‘Friends’ – a spot of marketing drivel so inanely twee that it makes our eyes roll hard enough to stare at our own brains.


LG’s since admitted it was a flop – and 2016 was a pretty painful year for the company as a result. Hence the return to safer ground with the sizably-screened G6.


What could have been


It’s a shame though. For all its mistakes, the G5 shone brightly as a rare example of imagination in a conservative industry – and that’s something indescribably valuable.


The fact is smartphone sales are slowing down. Most people – in the UK at least – now own a mobile phone, and they’re holding onto them for longer and longer before trading up.


There’s a sense that people are waiting for the Next Big Thing™ – a new must-have product that will land with the impact of an iPhone or even an early BlackBerry. If this year’s Mobile World Congress is anything to go by it won’t be this year – the phone that generated the most buzz was a revival of the Nokia 3310. That’s not exactly forward-thinking, is it?


So where can you go for innovation?


We may be waiting for a wow moment, but there have been attempts to do something different over the last few years – you just have to look beyond the big names. The Yotaphone 2, for example, offers a big quirk – it’s dual screen. As well as your standard display, there’s an E ink screen on the back, displaying book or website text, notifications and more.


BlackBerry Passport


And then there are curios like the BlackBerry passport, which is one of the oddest-looking phones of the last few years; the LG G Flex, which was curved like a banana; or the CAT S60, a phone designed to withstand the roughest treatment. Also it had a thermal camera because why not?


I have an LG G5 – what should I do with it?


Well first of all, you could keep it. Support for its – ugh – ‘Friends’ may have dried up but it’s still a good phone. Darn good in fact – a great screen and solid specs make it more than capable of going head to head with the Samsung Galaxy S7.


But if you do want to upgrade – to the new LG G6 or upcoming Samsung Galaxy S8 perhaps – then you should consider selling it. History may mark it as a flop, but it’s still worth a healthy chunk o’ change – as much as £220 if it’s still in good nick.


Simply head over to our homepage and you search for the handset. You’ll get a list of different recyclers who’ll take it off your hands so you can compare them and find the best deal out there.


8 hidden costs when you get a new mobile phone

piggy-bank-with-calculatorSo you’ve saved up your money, broken into your piggy bank, and put together the cash to buy a brand new mobile phone. But it’s not just the handset itself you might need to buy – there are a few other costs that you might not have thought about when you get a new phone or take out a new contract. Here are eight expenses you’ll want to save some budget for.


And psst… Why not sell or recycle your old phone, and use the cash you get to help swallow the costs?


1. Upfront costs on plans


Most pay-monthly contract plans ask for an upfront payment on your new phone. It’s far, far less than buying the whole phone outright – usually somewhere between £10 and £100 – but still something to bear in mind. Look out for plans with a ‘free’ handset if your budget can’t stretch right now.


2. More data


Getting a better phone means you’ll use it more, which means you’ll use more data. And a higher res screen means higher quality video, which means it’ll use more data. Oh, and a better camera means higher quality photos, which means you’ll use more data to upload them… you get the idea.


Yes, getting a new phone generally means you’ll end up using more data than before, especially if you’re upgrading. Remember that when you’re picking out a plan – it’s better to choose one with a slightly higher allowance and pay a little more, than it is to get a lower allowance and pay a lot more for add-ons when you go over.


3. Insurance


Don’t risk breaking or losing a brand new phone without an insurance plan. This is an expense you won’t want to skip – and the more new, expensive, or high-end your phone is, the more you’ll have to pay for even the most basic insurance.

Broken phone

4. Contract crossovers


Switching networks? Watch out – there may be a period when your old and new contracts cross over and you end up paying for them both. Awkward.


It’s easy to avoid that though, or at least reduce the cost a lot. Cancel your current plan, get an end date, then arrange your new one to begin a day or two before then. Do make sure you’re out of your contract’s minimum terms before cancelling, though, or you’ll have even more fees to pay.


5. New phone case


Don’t forget about those funky mobile accessories! When you get a new phone, there’s a high chance it’ll be a different shape from your old one, and that means you’ll need a new case for it. These can cost anything from a fiver for a basic one, right up to £20+ for a really top-quality, super-protective one.


6. New charging cables


While we’re at it, a new phone may also mean a new charging cable. Androids and iPhones both use different types of cable, and some fancy new Androids even come sporting the USB Type-C connection.


Sure, you’ll always get a fresh cable in the box – but it’s good to have a spare.


7. New headphones

Young Teenage Girl Singing along

The latest trend in smartphones, at least high-end ones, is kind of an annoying one: the abolition of the headphone jack. We’ve seen it in the iPhone 7, and you can bet we’ll see it even more in the coming months.


If you don’t want to be fiddling around with adaptors, you’ll need to splash out on new, compatible headphones. Thankfully you can get Bluetooth ones for less than £20 these days.


8. Re-buying your apps


This’ll apply to you if you’re switching between iOS and Android phones.


An app that you paid for in Apple’s App Store can be downloaded again on another iPhone – you won’t need to pay for it again. The same goes for Androids and apps from the Google Play Store. However… an app you bought for your Android will need to be re-bought if you want it on your iPhone, and vice versa.


That’s only a couple of quid per paid app, but add it to the cost of your new headphones, your new case, your insurance… If you’re not careful, you could be out of pocket more than you expect.


How to get rid of an old phone after Christmas

pile-of-broken-mobile-phonesDid you get a new smartphone from Santa this year? Yes? In that case, you’ve probably got your old handset hanging about, unused and gazing up at you with a tear in its eye.


Don’t give in to its guilt trips, we say: get rid of that phone once and for all by sending it off to a brand new home. Here’s everything you need to do to say goodbye to an old mobile.


1. Transfer everything over to your new phone


Get all your apps, media, pictures, files, music, and so on onto your new phone. Sometimes you can do this with the phones’ software – the Move To iOS app is wonderful, and you can transfer everything from one Samsung phone to another using NFC, for instance.


In other cases, you’ll have to utilise cloud software, SD cards, and USB cables to get things moved across.


When it comes to apps, simply sign back into the App Store or Google Play Store, and anything you’ve paid for will still be available for you. (Though sadly this may not be the case if you’re switching between Android and iOS phones.) Just be sure to grab all your login info beforehand.


2. Take out your old SIM card and SD card


Make sure everything of yours is gone from the old phone, including your SD card. You don’t want your photos to end up in the hands of a stranger…


3. Do a factory reset


Once you’re absolutely sure you’ve fetched everything from your phone, perform a factory reset. This’ll delete everything from the hard drive, and restore it to factory settings as though it’s brand new – making it ready to hand over to another owner. It ensures that no one will get their hands on your files and personal data.


You can do this from your phone’s settings – see the full instructions for Android phones here, and instructions for iPhones here.


4. Judge what state it’s in


Is it good as new? Completely broken and unusable? Just a bit scuffed? Phones in different states of repair will bring in different amounts of cash – and it can get rather messy and complicated if you get it wrong the first time around.


Generally, phones being sold on for recycling only need to be categorised as ‘working’, ‘broken’, or ‘new’, which makes life much easier.


– New means it has never been used – perhaps taken out of its packaging and switched on at most

– Working means it’s, well, working as normal

– Broken means it doesn’t work, has a crack in the screen, is physically falling apart, or is otherwise difficult to use – see our blog for more info


5. Choose where to send it


Now that your phone’s ready to go out into the world, you’ll need to decide exactly what you want to do with it.


You could:


– Sell it, either to a friend or using a site like eBay

– Donate it to a charity – Oxfam, for instance, accept old mobile phones

– Recycle it, and earn some cash for doing so – often the same amount you’d get for selling it


If you go the recycling route, search for your phone here on SellMyMobile and compare all the available offers. For some handsets, you could get up to a few hundred pounds – an iPhone 7 can go for £530, for example. When you find an offer you like the look of, click through to the site and follow the instructions.


6. Send it off


We recommend posting your phone by special delivery – even if you’re sending it to a company with a freepost address. With recorded delivery, you can be absolutely certain that it got delivered.


7. Enjoy your newfound wealth


Holla holla get dolla. This is the point where the buyer will check your phone over and send you your money. So it’s time to cash your cheque (or check your bank statement, or PayPal, or whatever) and enjoy your bank account’s nice new balance.


Or if you decided to donate your phone to charity, enjoy your metaphorical, moral wealth – which is ultimately more valuable, even if it won’t get you much in the January sales. Blog

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