Country road fall colors scenery near Burnstown, Ontario, Canada. Photo taken yesterday!
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Galetta, Ontario, Canada. Just south of Ottawa.

And where are they going next? We leave November 1st for a six week trip to Romania and Moldova.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Our iPhone is now unlocked!

We had used a borrowed iPhone during our trip to South Korea last October, and we realized how handy it is to have a portable smartphone type of device when you're traveling to a new country.

So when our son got a new iPhone a few months ago, we were thrilled that he gave his old iPhone 4s to us! (Thanks again Alex!).

But the iPhone 4s was "locked" to the Telus network here in Canada. We wanted to have our iPhone unlocked so that it could be used with any SIM card with any cellular carrier in the world.

Here's how we did it...

One of our readers suggested we try, a popular online service that will unlock just about any type of smartphone device.

It's a really simple procedure.

First, you need to get your phone's IMEI number. Every device has a unique 15 digit number that acts as that phone's identifier. Most devices will display the number by entering *#06# using that device's keypad...

Usually, you won't need to hit enter or send. 

The 15 digit number will then pop up on your screen...

15 digit IMEI number.

Once you've sent the IMEI number and your contact info, they'll send instructions on how to unlock your device. Every brand and carrier is different, but usually you'll receive your unlock code with detailed (but easy to follow) instructions on how to proceed within 24 hours of placing your order.

With the iPhone 4s, I had to have a SIM card from a different carrier ready to use. So I put the SIM that is from Bell, currently being used in our mi-fi device into the iPhone. Then. simply had to plug my phone into iTunes, making sure that iTunes was recently updated. Then, after iTunes recognized the device, unplugged it, waited 10 seconds, and plugged it in again.


Simple...just like that!

Using that Bell SIM card, the iPhone searched for a network, found it, and we were online.

Our iPhone 4s, now working perfectly on the Bell network.

Simple procedure, with everything happening as it's supposed to. It depends on your device and carrier, but unlocking prices range from $19.99 to $69.99 USD.

Wouldn't hesitate to use again.

Now, we can use our iPhone in any country that we visit simply by picking up a pay as you go SIM card when we arrive in that particular country. Looking forward to trying it out during our 6 week visit to Colombia this coming November!


  1. Will bookmark this for future reference. We've done something similar while traveling, but for our mi-fi; the Vodafone guy did it for us in Iceland, so if he used a service, not aware of it. We have a Mobal non-smart phone that we use with different SIM cards that we buy in countries that we travel to for any length of time. So far that has been sufficient for our needs ... but good to have this tip in our back-pocket. Especially for when we eventually make it out of the country with our motorhome.

    1. We have a MiFi as well but it is locked here in Canada. We had been thinking of getting it unlocked but now that the iPhone is unlocked we will be able to use it as a hotspot when we are travelling so now we don't really have to worry about the MiFi. We are still using the MiFi here in Canada though.

  2. These kinds of sites always seemed a little shady to me. Besides, US and Canadian carriers are now required to unlock their devices upon customer request (after contractual obligations are met if the device was subsidized). Alex could have had Telus unlock his old iPhone for $35 before giving it to you...

    1. And I'm sure there are some "shady" operations out there bit I checked into this one and it's all on the up and up. Thousands of satisfied customers. Yes, Alex could have paid the $35 to Telus, but he would have had to do that prior to giving up the phone to me, and he would have had to pay it on his Telus account. I'm sure every carrier is a little bit different.

  3. Like Dugg says, carriers have to unlock phones now upon request. We have a pay as you go account with T-Mobile in the US and have bought several phones from them over the years. After owning (and registering) the phone for a certain period of time (I think 3-4 months) you can request a free unlock code. We can then use our new phone in Canada with our 7-11 Speakeasy account or our Mexican Telcel account. Our son tried one of those off shore places once on a Rogers phone. The code they gave him would not work and he was unable to get his money back from them. Much easier nowadays.

    1. Yes, upon request...provided certain conditions are met, and again it's different with every carrier. There are instances where it may be faster and easier using

  4. Excellent info Kevin. Isn't it nice to inherit from our children rather than the other way around. Although I guess the latter is coming.

    1. Yes, it is nice but you are correct it will be the other way around one day!

  5. Hi Kevin, Ruth,
    On our trip this winter when we met at Pilot Knob we have been using our unlocked phone from home. Rogers unlocked it for 50$, in the US we had ATT Sim card, In Mexico Telcel, on the way home ATT again and Rogers at home. We also used the phone as a mobile hot-spot, it was slower than cable at home but worked just fine. The beauty is: you can put money on the ATT account at a million places, on Telcel at every OXXO and some gas stations, We used this solution the first time because there is no more Banda Ancha in Mexico and it worked fine for us. One phone, 3 Sim cards and we spent less than 150 US this winter on Internet and phone.

    1. That is what we plan on doing with our iPhone when we are traveling. We don't have cable and mostly use a cell signal so we are used to the speed. As long as we can both get on the internet we are happy. I think our usage will cost us more than $150 for the winter though!

  6. Handy to know thanks for the tip.


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