How to unlock a Telstra phone

07 November 2017

Unlocking your Telstra phone can open the door to a world of flexibility and savings, if you know how to shop around for a bargain. If you’re a Telstra customer, getting an unlock should be easy, but it may not be free; read on for everything you need to know about unlocking your smartphone.

Unlocking on Telstra: postpaid and prepaid 

These days, the only Telstra smartphones which should need unlocking are prepaid devices. If you have bought a phone on a contract any time in the last couple of years, it should be unlocked by default. 

Prepaid phones are a bit different. Telcos offer these phones with deep discounts to attract your business, hoping that you will stay on the network for long enough to recoup the discount, and then some. Therefore, all of the Aussie telcos apply a software lock to prepaid phones, preventing you from using them on a competitor’s network until you unlock them. 

With Telstra, you’ll pay an $80 unlocking fee if you want to unlock your prepaid phone within the first 6 months. If you wait a little longer, the fee is reduced to $25 from 6 to 24 months. After two years, you can unlock the phone for free.

Telstra unlock codes

Before you do anything, you will need to know the International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMEI) number for your phone. This is a unique code specific to your phone, and you can find it by typing the following into your phone’s dialler:

  • *#06# (Asterix - Hash - Zero - Six - Hash)

Write down the IMEI number you see on screen. It should be about 17 digits long.

Next, call 125 8880 from your Telstra phone. Follow the prompts to the unlocking menu, where you’ll need to enter your IMEI number. If you need to pay the fee, you can either deduct it from your prepaid credit or by credit card.

Unlocking your Telstra iPhone

If you have bought an older iPhone on a prepaid plan, the process is basically the same, but it takes a bit longer. Follow the process above, and wait until you receive instructions from Apple.

There is a shortcut to discovering your IMEI number on an iPhone though. Simply, go to Settings > General > About, then scroll down to the IMEI entry on the page.

Unlocking benefits: switching plans and overseas roaming

The main reason to unlock a phone is you want to change providers. Unlock your Telstra phone, and you're free to take it to Optus, Vodafone, Virgin Mobile, or basically any large or small telco that offers SIM-only/BYO phone service. If you're not ready to pay for a brand new device, unlocking your handset means you can switch plans and still keep the phone you own and love. 

Another big plus to unlocking your phone? If you're heading overseas and want to buy a local SIM to save on roaming prices - or plan to buy a travel SIM before you fly - you also need to have an unlocked smartphone. If a phone is locked to a network, it prevents every other SIM card from working, not just ones from local competitors - so unlocking your Telstra device means you can save money on overseas roaming. 

Having problems?

If you get stuck at any place in this process, or the whole thing seems too difficult, there's an easy fix. Simply head into a Telstra store, and one of the sales assistants will be able to unlock your phone on the spot. 

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