Just like other countries, the UK is set forth to outlaw the process of locking handsets to networks.
How does that affect me?
Well, if you buy your phone directly from it’s manufacturer or buy it as a “Sim Free” handset, this wont affect you. If you buy your phone from your network provider or have a phone contract plan in place, listen up.
Your phone is locked. There’s almost no doubt about it. Unless you’ve went out of your way to either ask your provider to unlock it or taken it to a third party to do so. This can be a pain for many users who want to sell, change or pass on their phone. Nevermind the hassle of taking it abroad on holiday with you. A locked device has less value and is only usable on the network it’s locked to. It’s even worse if you’ve bought a network locked device second-hand, because the network itself will point blank deny you any rights to unlocking the device and you will have no choice but to go to a third party.
As of December 2021, all phones sold from that point on MUST be unlocked. So if you get an iPhone on contract from Vodafone, it will be usable on EE too. Sadly this doesn’t apply to phones sold before that date, meaning if you take out a contract in November 2021, it will still be locked to that network unless you specifically ask the network to unlock it (which takes 2 months for contracted devices for “fraud prevention”….what?!?)
Ofcom have stated that the average fee for unlocking a device is around 10 pound. From personal previous experience, it can cost all the way up to 70 pound for an our of contract device, and even higher than 120 pound for devices still in contract and under their 2 month mark.
The process of locking phones has been nothing but a way for networks to squeeze every last penny out of consumers, by forcing them to use their network and making it as difficult as possible to move away. Many countries already have this law in place (the rest of Europe).