How do I get my Phone Unlocked? (for international use)

What does a locked phone mean?

When a phone is locked it means that it will only accept SIM cards from a particular network provider. This often means that if you buy a phone from Orange (for example) with an Orange SIM card, that phone will only ever work with other Orange SIM cards. In this article, I will answer the questions ‘Why are phones locked?’ and ‘How do I get my Phone Unlocked?’

Why are phones locked?

Network providers like Orange, O2 or T-Mobile like to lock phones so they can keep hold of customers. Contract phones are often locked so that customers can’t easily change networks before the contract has run out. By locking phones, and therefore forcing customers to stay with them, network providers can attract more customers by offering contract phones at lower prices. Some phones are sold already unlocked, although these are often much more expensive.

How do I get my Phone Unlocked? Photography by Irita Kirsbluma on Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)

How do I get my Phone Unlocked?
Photography by Irita Kirsbluma on Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)

How do I get my Phone Unlocked?

This depends on what technology your phone and network provider use. There are two main technologies in mobile phones known as GSM (Global System for Mobiles) and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access). In most of the world GSM is far more common, but in the US many networks use CDMA. If you have a CDMA phone it is basically impossible to unlock it. This is because CDMA phones don’t use SIM cards, so you can only change phones if your network provider allows it. If you have a GSM phone it is much easier to change phones. Some American providers, such as Verizon, now offer global phones that use both GSM and CDMA, although they still have many restrictions placed on them by the network.

What are the benefits?

Unlocking your phone will allow you to change network provider more easily. This means you can shop around for the best deal, without having to get a new phone. It also has many advantages if you are planning on travelling abroad.

How to unlock your phone:

If you have a normal GSM phone i.e. one that has a SIM card, then unlocking your phone is quite simple. Usually the phone will just require a simple code to be entered, this code can often be obtained either by phoning your network provider, or through a third-party company (for a small fee). However if you are on a long-term contract it is unlikely that your network provider will be willing to give you an unlock code.

Some phones do require a connection to an unlocking device. Some services offer this, as do some high-street mobile phone stores, but usually it is easiest to have this done by a third-party company.

How do I get My Phone Unlocked for International Use?

When you unlock your phone you are then able to use SIM cards from international providers with that phone. This can be very helpful if you are planning to travel abroad. Most networks do provide a roaming data service, but these are often far more expensive than the usual rates. If your phone is unlocked you can replace your usual SIM with a cheap card from whichever country or region you are in. Some providers offer cheap continent-wide coverage in Europe and Asia. Unlocking your phone, and swapping your SIM card out, means you will be able to make much cheaper calls while in other countries. Unfortunately, your phone number will change with each new SIM card.



Festivals in the UK – The Top 5 UK Arts Festivals

Festivals in the UK are a big part of British culture. The UK has a great history of internationally based festivals. From day long events to month long affairs – these events draw some of the greatest creative minds and performances from across the globe. Here are just a few of the best arts festivals in the UK…

The Brighton Festival

Brighton Festival is one of the most inspiring arts festivals in the UK. It has a unique approach to organisation. Every year a “guest director” is appointed to take charge of the acts and exhibitions that take place across Brighton and Hove. In the past this has included the experimental musician Brian Eno, and the leader of the Burmese democracy – Aung San Suu Kyi. This year children’s poet Michael Rosen has been appointed guest director. The 2013 festival will also feature recitals by Yuka Ishizuka and Syrian pianist Riyad Nicolas. The Brighton festival has everything from visual arts to circus acts and many more.

The Festival of Ideas – Cambridge

For those looking for a more academically grounded festival, Cambridge’s Festival of Ideas promotes the arts, social sciences and humanities through a series of exhibitions, talks and workshops. It is known for attracting world-renowned speakers. The festival offers a range of presentations on the latest scientific theories and challenging historical exhibits. Best of all though, the Festival of Ideas is free! It is one of the largest free festivals in the UK.

BBC Proms

One of the world’s largest classical music festivals is the BBC Proms. The Proms offer a huge platform for international artists and enquiring audiences alike. With an a variety of opera and symphony performances, the Proms host over 70 main concerts every year. The BBC Proms are one of the best places to see some of the most talented performers from across the globe.

The BBC Proms Photography by amandabhslater on Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)

Festivals in the UK – The BBC Proms
Photography by amandabhslater on Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)

Manchester International Festival – One of the best International Festivals in the UK

The Manchester International Festival is a showcase of original works from a variety of artists from around the world. It is one of the most exciting international festivals in the UK. There is a high quality of international talent on display at the Manchester International festival. Previous years have featured performances by Björk and Malian musical duo Amadou and Mariam. In 2013, the festival is set to showcase Pakistan born spiritual singer Abida Parveen. Also this year will feature a choreographic interpretation of John Cage’s Lecture on Nothing by Berlin-based dance artist Eszter Salamon.

Edinburgh Fringe with bonus Edinburgh Arts – the Largest Arts festivals in the UK

The Edinburgh Fringe festival is one of the largest arts festivals on the globe. It attracts performances from artists the world-over. Much of the attraction of the Fringe Festival comes from it’s very open and relaxed attitude towards performances being planned. It essentially allows anyone with a show and a venue to apply and perform. This has led to a huge international presence at the Fringe, from some of the world’s biggest artists and performers to hidden gems waiting to be discovered.  It is definitely one of the most popular festvals in the UK.

Calling abroad whilst at Festivals in the UK?

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Google Hangouts for Keeping in Touch with Family Abroad

When you have friends and family aborad it is always good to find free ways to contact them. Skype is a very popular VOIP (Voice over Interactive Protocol) that allows you to call and video conference friends abroad for free. However, Google Hangouts are, in my opinion, much better than skype. In this blog, I am going to explain why google hangouts are so great for contacting people abroad.

What is a Google Hangout?

A ‘google hangout’ is the Google Plus video conferencing feature. Google hangouts are free and easy to use. They will also work on your tablet or mobile phone. Google Hangouts can involve more than two people. Away from the family at Christmas? Join them for a post Christmas dinner drink!

Google Plus itself is a social network that will allow you to share information and keep in contact with friends and family. It will allow you to share photos, updates and videos with your friends and family abroad.

How do I get a Google Plus Account?

To be able to do a Google hangouts, you need to set up a Google account. You may already have one set up – you can also sign in through Gmail, YouTube or Android.

When setting up your Google Account, enter your profile details, and select your settings. This will then take you through to set up your Google Plus Bio, so enter your details. If you are concerned about privacy, you can adjust your privacy settings.

If you are logging in through gmail, you will see your Google Plus Profile in the top right of your screen when you are in your gmail inbox. Simply click on the image of you, or the icon, and you will go straight to your Google Plus profile page.

How do you start a Google Hangout?

Firstly, make sure that the person who you want to hangout with is also registered on Google Plus and is online at the same time as you (remember the time differences!). You can add people to your circles and they become contacts. Google Plus circles are great way to organise your contacts. For example, you might have a circle for ‘work’, a circle for ‘friends’ and a circle for ‘family’.

Once you are logged in to your Google Plus account, there will be a button in the top right corner that says ‘start a Hangout’, which you need to click. Name the hangout and invite the person that you want to connect with. When they join the hangout, you will hear the signal and they will appear on your screen.

What are the Advantages and Features of Google Hangouts?

google hangouts

The sound quality is often much better in google hangouts than on skype. In my experience, you hear less feedback and it doesn’t cut you off like skype sometimes can.

Google hangouts are better than skype because you can use the screenshare facility for free. Screensharing is great if you want to share things with your friends and family abroad. Skype have recently started to ask you to upgrade, and charge for this facility.

Google hangouts have a YouTube sharing facility too, so that you can watch YouTube clips together with your friends and family abroad. The Google hangout facility allows you to create a playlist.

My favourite thing about Google hangouts is the special effects. There are sound effects and headgear to make your video call even more exciting! Give your friend a round of applause for saying something great. Give your dad a birthday cake, whilst wearing a pirates hat or say hello to your sister with a dog face!

Pocketdial UK

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European City Destinations – Top 5 Affordable European Cities

Join me on my quest to find the most beautiful and affordable European city destinations. I feel so lucky to live in the UK because we can easily access some of the most beautiful cities in the world. Europe is full of rich culture and architecture. With cheap airlines such as easyJet, it is now more affordable to take a break to European city destinations. Many travellers to the UK embrace this and frequent European cities such as Prague, Paris and Rome.

For this article, I wanted to focus on five of my favourite European city destinations – Riga, Dubrovnik, Florence, Amsterdam and Lisbon. All of these cities can be reached from the UK by plane in less than 3 hours. The cities that I have chosen are not as bustling and busy as the larger capitals such as Paris or Rome. However, I really like the more untouched European capitals. The European city destinations that I have chosen here also work out slightly easier on the budget!

Top European City Destinations – #1 Riga

I tend to view Riga as a more untouched city compared to Prague, but with a similar feel.  It is the capital of Latvia and one of the largest Baltic cities. Riga is famous for its ‘Jugendstil’ (German Art Nouveau) architecture and fantastic nightlife.  The town square displays famous buildings including the house of Blackheads. Riga is one of the most beautiful and exciting European city destinations.


Dubrovnik (Croatia)
Photography by Lena Ni on Flickr

Top European City Destinations –  #2 Dubrovnik

On the coast of Croatia, Dubrovnik is becoming one of the increasingly popular European city destinations. It is known as the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’. It’s not as cheap as you may expect, but it is still much more affordable than London and Paris. The medieval walled

town is stunning. The combination of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture has survived an earthquake and armed conflict. If you enjoy trying local alcoholic beverages, make sure that you try the rakija. It is a kind of plum brandy – strong and sweet!

Top European City Destinations –  #3 Florence

Beautiful Florence is the Art capital of Europe. Walk across the Ponte Vecchio bridge and shop or eat until your heart’s content. If you are an art love, you can’t miss the Ufizzi gallery. Make sure you get there early to avoid the lengthy queues. If you enjoy scenery and gardens, you should check out the Giardino di Boboli (Boboli Gardens). One of the most famous landmarks in Florence is the Duomo (Cathedral). The Duomo is beautiful both inside and out.

Lisbon Photography by Chris Yunker on Flickr

Photography by Chris Yunker on Flickr

Top European City Destinations –  #4 Amsterdam

Amsterdam is popularly known for its legalisation of drugs and prostitution. Prepare yourself to be exposed to the sights and smells that come with this if you are heading into to town! But the red light district is not all that Amsterdam is famous for. Check out some of the amazing museums such as the Nemo science museum and the Van Gogh

Museum. If you are interested in history, visit Anne Frank’s house and find out about their life in hiding as Jews during the second world war.  The multi-story town houses are a beautiful characteristic of Amsterdam.

Top European City Destinations –  #5 Lisbon

Lisbon is the capital of Portugal. It is rich with culture and things to do. For a stunning view of the city, climb the Cristo Rei (statue of Christ) or Caste of Sao Jorge. You will probably need a few days to explore the city itself. If you like sea life, Lisbon has a fantastic aquarium. Make sure that you head out to Belem to visit Jeronimos Monastery and the Tower of Belem. If you have more than a few days in Lisbon, it is worth taking a trip out to Sintra to admire the breath taking palaces.

Call European City Destinations with Pocketdial UK

Did you know that with Pocketdial UK you can call abroad for as little as 1p a minute?

Great for making those important hotel bookings for European city destinations. It is also ideal for contacting friends before you travel. Wherever you may be travelling this summer, have a fantastic trip.