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How to unlock your Apple iPhone in Australia

  • Apple iPhone needs unlocking to use with a different carrier
  • Avoid expensive roaming charges by unlocking your iPhone
  • How to unlock iPhones on Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and Virgin Mobile
Written by Jesse Somer
09/09/2011

If you have an Apple iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, or iPhone 4 and are considering travelling overseas, you’ll need to unlock the phone from your current phone provider. International roaming costs are exorbitant, so it’s in your best interest to have an unlocked iPhone that is able to have a foreign SIM card inserted when in other countries. It used to be quite expensive to unlock an iPhone, but these days the major Australian telcos have generally made the process simple and easy.

Unlocking a Telstra Apple iPhone:

The majority of Apple iPhones in Australia are using the Telstra network, as Telstra is the main telecommunications provider, and in many instances has the best coverage and fastest speeds via its NextG network. You do pay extra though, and it isn’t always the best service, as the number of users in your location can severely affect network speeds.

Unlocking an Apple iPhone at Telstra is now free of charge. All you have to do is hit ‘Settings’ on the handset, then ‘General’, and then ‘About’. This will show you the iPhone’s unique ‘IMEI number’. Write this down, as you’ll need to tell it to Telstra. Next, call the phone number 125 111 and say ‘Unlock’ when prompted. When you speak to a Telstra personnel member they will ask for the IMEI number.

After three days have passed connect your Apple iPhone to your computer and sync it with iTunes. A notification will come up telling you that a carrier update is available. Install the update and a message will show saying, ‘Your iPhone has been unlocked.’ You can now travel overseas and use cheap foreign networks without having to worry about returning home to ‘bill shock’ caused by extremely high international roaming fees.

Unlocking an Optus Apple iPhone:

Optus locks all of its Apple iPhones on post-paid plans, so if you want to unlock the device you’ll need to call Optus on 1300 075 395. Simply follow the instructions, and then sync the iPhone with iTunes on your computer. If the iPhone was purchased elsewhere than through an Optus plan, you may have to pay an unlocking fee. Optus says it can take up to 10 business days to obtain the Network Unlock Code. If you don’t already have an Apple iPhone, call Optus on 1300 768 194 to find out about plans.

Unlocking a Vodafone Apple iPhone:


Vodafone will only unlock Apple iPhones purchased from a Vodafone outlet in Australia. If you have an Apple iPhone 4, you can get the handset unlocked for free, but if you have an iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS you’ll need to pay a fee. Vodafone has a webpage called, ‘Unlock your device’. If you unlock your iPhone using this online service you’ll save $25 on the unlocking fee.

You’ll need the Apple iPhone’s serial number (IMEI), and if charges are applicable, you’ll also need a credit card. If you have difficulties using the online unlocking system, you can call Vodafone on 1300 650 410, or 1555 from your mobile handset. You will still get the $25 online discount if you followed the online instructions, but failed to unlock the iPhone. There is a grey ‘Difficulties’ button you can also click on, which will submit your issue for resolution to the Vodafone Unlock team.

Vodafone’s unlocking fee structure works like this: It costs $50 to unlock an Apple iPhone 3G, or iPhone 3GS, which can be knocked down to $25 if done online. If you purchased the handset within the last 6 months, there is an additional $50 fee.

Unlocking a Virgin Mobile Apple iPhone:

Virgin Mobile can only unlock Apple iPhones purchased through its own Virgin stores. There are no unlocking fees for any Virgin Mobile Apple iPhone handset. To unlock the iPhone you first need to get the IMEI number. Then call Virgin Mobile customer service on 1300 555 100. Once your unlocking request has been received Virgin will forward it to Apple so it can unlock the device. The unlocking process should take around 3 working days.

Once the iPhone is unlocked you’ll receive a text message telling you so. Next, plug your iPhone into the latest version of iTunes and do a Full Restore. Once the iPhone has been restored you can then use other SIM cards in the handset, then sync it with iTunes to make it work. You can still use your Virgin Mobile SIM card in an unlocked iPhone. If you don’t already have an Apple iPhone, call Virgin Mobile on 1300 881 097.

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