Unlocking your Apple iPhone

Tags: iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, Unlocking, iPhone 5

Unlock your iPhone through iTunes

If you've bought an iPhone through Vodafone, you can unlock it through iTunes without needing to contact us or go through our website first. The steps below take you through the process.

What does it cost

There's no charge to unlock your iPhone.  

How to tell if your iPhone is locked

There isn't a message that explicitly states that your iPhone is locked.  You just won't get service using a SIM from a different provider, and will see 'Invalid SIM' or 'SOS only' in the top-left corner.

Before you start

  • This guide is written for iTunes 11.  If you're using a different version of iTunes, the exact dialogue messages and locations of features may differ.  We'd suggest you download the current version of iTunes from the Apple website.
  • The process can take quite a few minutes, so try to find a time when it's okay to be without your iPhone for a while
  • Make sure you follow the steps below exactly to ensure everything is backed up, just in case things doesn't go quite to plan

Unlocking step-by-step guide

The steps are listed below, but our video takes you through the process as well:

Step 1

Open iTunes and connect your iPhone up with the USB cable.

Step 2

When your iPhone appears in iTunes, click it.
User-added image

Step 3

Click 'Restore iPhone' from the 'summary' tab.
User-added image
If you're asked about un-transferred purchases, check out these instructions first.

Step 4

If a software update is available for download, you'll be asked to install it.  Select 'download and update' (it'll save having to do later).
iPhone update iOS step

This is likely to be quite large so be careful, it may leave a bit of a hole into your data quota if you're on a low volume plan.

Step 5

This one's important; make sure you select 'back up' (the order of options varies between Mac and PC):

Mac: PC:
User-added image iPhone backup PC

This will save your content, so it can be returned to your iPhone once it's restored.

Step 6

Click  'Restore' to continue.  If you're updating your software as well, it'll be labelled as 'Restore and Update'.
User-added image

Step 7

Wait until the restore is complete, do not disconnect your iPhone. This may take a while (over 30 minutes isn't unusual).

Once your iPhone has been restored, it'll automatically restart.

Step 8

Once your iPhone is back online, disconnect and reconnect the cable for iPhone for it to be recognised by iTunes again.

Select 'restore from this backup' to reinstate the backup you did earlier.

iPhone unlock setup

Step 9

It will take a short while for your backup to be restored to your iPhone. It'll restart again, keep your iPhone connected at this time.

Step 10

Once your iPhone has restarted it should be unlocked.

If you're prompted to update your carrier settings, click 'update settings'.

User-added image

Step 11

Sync your iPhone with iTunes again to restore you apps, music and other iTunes content to it.


Transfer purchases

Step 1

If you get this message when you're trying to restore:
iPhone - transfer purchases
Click 'cancel', and follow these steps before restoring.

Step 2

From the top menu, select 'file' then 'devices'.
Transfer purchases screenshot 1

Step 3

Choose 'transfer purchases from "[your iPhone's name]"'.
iPhone transfer purchases 2
This will transfer any unsynchronised iTunes purchases (or app updates) from your iPhone to your computer.

Step 4

Go back to the top of the page to repeat the unlocking steps.

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