How to unlock your Samsung Galaxy S2 from O2, Orange, Three, T-Mobile or Vodafone
May 24th, 2012
If your Galaxy S II is unlocked, you can benefit from cheaper SIM only deals at home and better value deals when you go abroad.
If you purchased your Samsung Galaxy S II (Samsung GT-I9100) on contract from one of the UK’s mobile operators, it’s likely that it’ll be network-locked. This means it can only be used on the network from which you originally purchased it from (as they subsidised the cost of your handset when you purchased it). This causes problems if you want to switch to a different network, use a cheap SIM card when abroad or if you want to pass your Galaxy S II to a friend or family member on a different mobile network. Having a locked handset will also stop you from taking advantage of a super-cheap smartphone SIM-only deals when your contract ends.
In order to use your Galaxy S II on a different network, you’ll need to unlock it first. This article discusses the unlocking with regards to the Galaxy S II in the UK including how to check whether your handset is locked and how to obtain all of the necessary information to unlock your phone. We also outline the different methods of unlocking a Galaxy S II and how much they will cost, including a method that allows you to unlock your phone for free.
What are the benefits of unlocking my Samsung Galaxy S II?
There are multiple benefits to unlocking your handset:
- You will be able to use it on a different network and take advantage of super cheap SIM-only tariffs. SIM-only tariffs are “airtime only” contracts which tend to be much cheaper than traditional mobile phone contracts. You’ll typically save around £180/year when you switch to a SIM-only contract. We’ve got a full review of the UK’s best value smartphone SIM-only tariffs. We recommend the following SIM-only tariffs from Threewhich are great value:
- £12.90/month for 600 minutes, 5000 texts and 1GB internet (12 month contract)
- £6.90/month for 200 minutes, 5000 texts and 500MB internet (12 month contract)
- The One Plan (£25/month for 2000 minutes, 5000 Three-to-Three minutes, 5000 texts, all-you-can-eat data and free tethering) (30 day contract)
If prompted for SIM card size when purchasing a SIM only contract, you should select ‘Standard SIM’ as this is appropriate for the Galaxy S2.
- You will be able to use a local SIM card when you’re abroad. It can often be expensive to use your mobile phone when abroad with your UK SIM card. Whilst some data roaming bundles are now available when visiting the EU, you can often still save substantially by purchasing a local SIM card in the country that you visit. This saving is particularly pronounced for long trips abroad. Unlocking your handset is a pre-requisite to being able to use a different SIM card when abroad.
- You will be able to pass your Galaxy S II to a friend, family member or colleague even if they’re on a different network. If you’re upgrading to the new Samsung Galaxy S3 and somebody that you know wants your old Galaxy S II, you’ll need to unlock it for them if they’re on a different network. It is typically much easier for the original owner of a handset to unlock it.
Is it legal to unlock a handset?
It is totally legal and within the law to unlock a mobile phone handset and official unlocking methods are provided by all of the mobile operators. All of the UK’s networks will unlock your phone upon request but may charge a fee for doing so.
How do I find the IMEI number on my Samsung Galaxy S2?
In order to unlock your Galaxy S2, you’ll need to have your IMEI number to hand. This is a unique 15-digit code that begins with 35 and uniquely identifies your device.
You can find the IMEI number on your handset by opening the phone dialler application and entering *#06#. Write this down somewhere: you’ll need it later on to unlock your phone.
How do I check whether my Galaxy S II is locked?
If you purchased a Samsung Galaxy S II (GT-I9100) directly from a mobile operator either on Pay Monthly or Pay As You Go, chances are that it’ll be network locked. This means you’ll need to unlock your handset before using it on a different mobile network.
One way of checking whether your handset is locked is to order a free Pay As You Go SIM card from another mobile network. Slot this into your handset. The SIM card should be recognised unless your handset is locked, in which case your phone will ask for an unlock code.
Another method of checking whether your handset is locked is to use Samsung’s built-in status checker utility. You can access this by opening up the phone dialler and entering the code *#7465625# (these numbers correspond to the code *#SIMLOCK#). This will open up a dialog entitled “Personalizatiob Status” (sp.). An example screenshot of the dialog is shown on the right.
There are four different ways in which a Galaxy S II can be locked:
- Network Lock (NCK)
- Network Subset Lock (SCK)
- Service Provider Lock (SPCK)
- Corporate Lock
If your Galaxy S II has been fully unlocked, all of these settings should read “OFF” (as pictured on right). If your handset is locked, the “Network Lock” item will read “ON”. Some networks may also apply additional SCK or SPCK locks. You may need this information later on when unlocking your handset.
The official methods of unlocking a Samsung Galaxy S2 are as follows:
How can I unlock my Samsung Galaxy S2 from O2?
If you purchased your Galaxy S2 from O2 on a Pay Monthly contract, they will unlock it S2 free of charge through their online form.
For O2 Pay As You Go customers, you’ll need to wait until 12 months after your original purchase before you can unlock your Galaxy S2. They will charge £15 to your Pay As You Go account for this.
How can I unlock my Samsung Galaxy S2 from Orange?
Orange will unlock your Galaxy S2 providing that you’ve had it for at least 3 months and providing that you do not owe any money on your account. They charge an “administration fee” of £20.42 for the unlocking process. You can unlock your handset by contacting Orange customer services.
How can I unlock my Samsung Galaxy S2 from Three?
Three will unlock your Galaxy S2 for the one-off cost of £15.32. According to their website, you’ll need to have had your phone for at least 30 days and you’ll need to have paid your first bill on-time. They add that you’ll “pay a one-off fee of £15.32. You’ll need to pay this fee over the phone when you call us for your unlock code, using a debit or credit card”.
To unlock your Galaxy S2, call Three customer services on 333 from your handset or 0843 373 3333 from a landline to begin the process.
How can I unlock my Samsung Galaxy S2 from T-Mobile?
According to T-Mobile, you can unlock your handset by contacting their customer services team. Other than that, information is fairly low on the ground regarding unlocking the Galaxy S2 from T-Mobile. If you’ve had success unlocking a Samsung Galaxy S2 from T-Mobile, drop us a comment below and let us know your experiences.
How can I unlock my Samsung Galaxy S2 from Vodafone?
Pay As You Go customers will need to pay £19.99 to unlock a Galaxy S2. This is deducted from your airtime allowance so you should top-up by at least £20 before requesting an unlock code.
See the Vodafone website for more information.
Is it possible to unlock my Galaxy S II for free?
If your Galaxy S II has been rooted, you can try the free “Galaxy S2 SIM Unlock” application. This has been developed by Chainfire at the XDA Developers website. This option is only recommended for advanced users as you will need to “root” your device. Rooting your device will invalidate your warranty and can introduce security vulnerabilities later on. It can also render your device permanently unusable if carried out incorrectly. We would thoroughly recommend unlocking your phone through official methods whenever possible.
Some small shops and newsagents will advertise the fact that they can unlock your handset. They will typically do this using the “free unlocking” methods that we have discussed above (such methods invalidate your handset warranty). We would recommend unlocking your handset officially through your network provider if at all possible.
Will the unlocking instructions here also work for Samsung’s other Galaxy devices?
In general, these unlocking instructions should apply for most of Samsung’s Galaxy-range Android devices including the Samsung Galaxy S (GT-I9000) and the Samsung Galaxy Note (GT-N7000). You can check the model number which applies to your device through the Settings > About phone > Model number menu item. The “Galaxy S2 SIM Unlock” application will not work on other devices, though alternative applications may be available.
I’m looking to upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy S3. What are the options?
The Samsung Galaxy S3 is available on all of the major UK networks. We’ve got a full comparison of the different tariffs available across the UK’s mobile networks.
I'm a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005 with the aim of demystifying mobile technology for the rest of us.
Before writing about mobile technology, my background was in space & atmospheric physics. I have also worked in software development. Nowadays, I help companies to explain mobile technology to their customers. Please check out my portfolio or get in touch for more information. I'm also on Google+.