When you buy a new phone, chances are it’ll be locked to the network you bought it on – and if you try to put another network’s Sim card in, it simply won’t work.
Unlocking it means you can use the phone with any compatible Sim card, on any network.
This has several benefits:
Cheaper tariff: If you’re happy with your phone handset, but don’t have a good deal, unlocking it allows you to keep the phone but switch to another network. Plus the fact you don’t need a new phone should enable you to get a better tariff to boot.
Grab promotional deals: Often networks give away free Sim cards, which can come with free texts or calls. Yet if your phone isn’t unlocked, you can’t put them in and take advantage.
Added handset value: Unlocked phones tend to sell for more because they have much wider appeal to users on other networks and in other countries.
Freedom to roam: Unlocking extends to many foreign Sim cards too, so you can eschew the Maltese networks’ expensive overseas rates by getting a local Sim card everywhere you go.
In short, unlocking gives your mobile independence from the network.
Even if you have to pay your network to unlock the handset, unless you’re on a particularly good tariff already, the savings should quickly outweigh the outlay.
Why do mobile phone companies lock phones?
Mobile companies say their phones are already heavily subsidised to entice you to buy them, and they need to make up this shortfall. Yet the reality, as ever, comes down to cold hard cash. For the firms, it wouldn’t make sense to sell you the phone at reduced cost, and then let you take your cash to another network provider.
It’s perfectly legal to unlock your phone.
It’s a common misconception that unlocking your phone is illegal.
Unsurprisingly, mobile phone companies aren’t keen to dispel this myth. The confusion arises because unlocking and unblocking are often mixed up. They mean different things. In a nutshell:
Unlocking is totally legal. It just means making the phone work with any Sim card.
Unblocking is illegal. This is the practice of making a phone work again after it’s been blocked by the networks, usually as a result of its being reported lost or stolen. Unsurprisingly, it’s thoroughly illegal and should not be attempted.
What about my warranty?
While it’s not illegal, unlocking your phone WILL invalidate its warranty in most cases. So make sure you think twice if you’re still in the warranty period and have a super-expensive handset. While it’s possible to ‘re-lock’ some phones, you shouldn’t rely on this.