With all the talk about free sims in the pay as you go market, it’s easy to confuse the terms sim free (which is what this page is about) and free sim. They mean two completely different things. A free sim, the main focus of this site, is a sim card from a mobile network to provide a service. Most commonly, people are thinking about pay as you go sim cards when they talk about free sims, but sim only and contract sims are also freely available.
Buying A Phone For Any Network
When we talk about sim free, it means a phone which does not come with a sim card. This also means it is not locked to a particular network, which needs a little more explanation.
When you take out a contract and receive your handset, it will usually be locked to the network your contract is with. This prevents you from getting a free phone, and using another network’s sim card in it.
Is It Legal To Unlock A Contract Phone?
Unlocking is legal, there’s no doubt about it. It either involves entering a code from the mobile network the phone is locked to, or using a service to modify the software on the phone.
Of course, you would be legally obliged to pay for the line rental for the length of the contract, and you might be breaking the terms of the contract if you unlock it before the contract is paid up, but there’s plenty of people out there with questionable morals who would still try their luck.
Why Phones Are Locked
The reason phone companies do this is to recoup the cost of the phone. There are few handsets which cost less than a few hundred pounds to buy initially, yet the mobile networks give them away for free, in return for a monthly payment over a period of (usually) up to 24 months. Without this model, you’d be shelling out over £500 for the latest and greatest iPhone before you even made a call.
The Actual Price Of Mobiles
With sim free phones, the price you pay is the ‘real’ price of the phone, although the networks will be able to get them cheaper by buying in bulk.
You will have no obligation to anyone with a sim free handset, and are free to change your sim card and tariff as you see fit. You can still commit to a sim only tariff, and this will often be far cheaper than a traditional contract version.
Freedom To Change
In general, a sim free handset should work with any network (also sometimes referred to as an unlocked phone), although there are some exceptions (such as using a non 3G handset on the Three network may not work, or may have limited functionality).
Hopefully that makes things a little clearer. Put very simply, you should be able to use any of the free sim cards on this site with a sim free phone.