The Ultimate Guide On How To Unlock iPhone's

Today’s the day you finally made the last payment on your iPhone and that baby is officially all yours. What this means is you’re able to use it while traveling abroad with a local SIM card and have the freedom to move networks as you please, right? Don’t start booking your flight to Mexico or running to Verizon just yet as, unfortunately, it’s not quite that straight-forward.

In order to stop somebody from shifting to a competitor’s network before they’ve payed off their iPhone or completed their contract, quite a few carriers place a sim lock (commonly known as as a carrier lock) on their phones. This consequently means that you, or whoever you sell your second hand iPhone to, are stuck with them for the long haul. If you’re thinking this sounds like a extremely dysfunctional partnership, we’d tend to agree with you. Fortunately, along with a little legwork plus an account in good standing, you can be on the way to a network-unlocked iPhone very quickly!

Before we proceed, a quick note on the type of unlocks that are available, and the one's you should steer clear of! There is software to be found that offer a chance to unlock your cellphone yourself, but you need to jailbreak your mobile phone, and this is a stupid idea, for lots of reasons. You can do your own investigating into jail-breaking, but it's very risky, and to be avoided. The easiest way to unlock your iPhone is as simple as speaking directly with your network provider. Your journey to a carrier-unlocked iPhone will depend largely on your network, with the procedure being either comparatively quick and easy or painfully difficult. To help you get a step closer to a life free from carrier-locked tyranny, we rounded up all the steps to be able to obtain an iPhone unlock in this comprehensive guide. Please note that although this was written with iPhone owners in mind, the majority of the advice can easily be carried over to other smartphones.

What Is IMEI Unlocking?

As mentioned previously, when you purchase an iPhone or other smartphone through your cellular carrier, that cellphone will still only work on that specific network until you either request to have your network unlock it or maybe your carrier automatically unlocks it for you (more on that later). Commonly known as a SIM unlock, factory unlock, or network unlock, carrier unlocking means removing a network’s restrictions on a device, so that you can use it with a different cellular provider.

Luckily for us, not all iPhones require unlocking. For example, should you buy your iPhone from Apple and purchase it outright, it will already be unlocked and ready to use with a variety of carriers.

Please be aware, however, not all phones purchased outright from third-party retailers are automatically unlocked. For example, although sold as “unlocked”, smartphones purchased at Best Buy are actually considered universal. So, whenever you insert a SIM card initially, the phone will basically lock itself to the service provider associated with the Sim. Then, seeing that certain networks like T-Mobile will only unlock your iPhone if you bought it directly from them, you may end up with an eternally carrier-locked device. Basically, you wind up paying factory-unlocked prices for a network-locked cellphone.

Why would I Unlock My iPhone?

Possessing a IMEI-unlocked iPhone comes with a number of perks which include the freedom to operate on (pretty much) any network within the Unites States and in another country as well as higher resale values.

  1. Carrier-unlocking offers you the ability to use your mobile phone with the network provider of your choice, almost whenever and wherever you wish (with a few exceptions, as you’ll see later). Such as, if you are currently using T-Mobile but are moving to a new part of the country with weak T-Mobile coverage, you can shift to AT&T in a heartbeat

  2. A Factory-unlocked iPhone makes international travel a piece of cake. Unlocking also provides the ability to use your mobile phone overseas. Worldwide roaming fees, expensive international plans, and crazy dashes for WiFi are a thing of the past with an unlocked iPhone. Simply pop in a SIM card from a local carrier and you’re in business.

  3. Carrier-unlocked iPhones have higher resale values.

Even if you don’t plan on switching networks or traveling internationally in the near future, unlocking your iPhone remains a smart idea. If you ever anticipate trading in your old iPhone when you upgrade, you’ll typically get more money for it if the iPhone is network unlocked due to higher demand for them in the resale market place.

Is it against the law to Network Unlock your phone?

Not at all! Due to the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2014, all US-based cellular providers must allow customers to unlock their phones. However, the circumstances under which a network will unlock a mobile phone differ widely from service provider to service provider. As a rule, the majority of service providers require you to finish your contract, pay for your financial obligations fully, or otherwise have an account in good standing before they’ll assist you to unlock your iPhone.

The way to determine if your iPhone is Unlocked

Before beginning the smartphone-unlocking process, you’ll first need to see if your iPhone has already been unlocked (no need in suffering the hassle when you don’t absolutely need to). All you have to do is make sure that you’re connected with WiFi and insert a brand-new SIM card from an alternative cellular provider and your mobile will do the rest automatically. This validation check normally takes no more than a minute to complete once a SIM has been inserted.

During the verification procedure, you’ll notice that your iPhone will boot onto a white screen and attempt to confirm that it has been unlocked with your network. Should Apple determine that your iPhone is carrier-unlocked, it will return to the home screen and service bars ought to appear from the new carrier. However, if you see a white screen that says SIM Not Supported, your mobile phone will not be unlocked.

How to Unlock iPhones from a Service provider

Having verified your mobile phone is definitely locked to your current cellular provider, next you'll need to look at your service provider’s unlocking eligibility demands. If your iPhone meets those guidelines, you can then request that the device can be unlocked from their network. As hinted at earlier, both the eligibility requirements and the unlocking process vary from company to company. They all have been outlined below for the major carriers including Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T.

Please be aware that, provided you’ve met the unlock requirements and so are completing the network-unlocking directly with your network, requesting that your iPhone be unlocked is often absolutely free. If you choose to use a third party unlocking service, you will be charged, but using a 3rd party company will be your only option if you bought the phone pre-owned. Before you spend any money, try using the directions below as a first step.

Find An iPhone’s IMEI Number

When network-unlocking your iPhone, you'll need to give your service provider the cellphones IMEI number. This unique, 15-digit identifier is fundamentally your cell phone’s VIN or social security number. To find your IMEI, on your phone, go to Settings > General > About and search to the bottom section where it will be listed displayed next to IMEI.

Additionally you can look for the IMEI number on the smartphone housing itself. For older iPhone's (1st-generation SE, 5s, 5c, 5, 6, 6 Plus), the IMEI number may also be imprinted on the back or the SIM tray.

Once you’ve found the IMEI, it highly advisable that you keep it somewhere for safekeeping.

Unlock an iPhone on AT&T

Unlocking an iPhone from the AT&T network is about as uncomplicated as 1-2-3. Just pop on over to the AT&T unlock portal, answer a few questions, and you'll be well on your way to carrier-unlocked freedom.

Once you submit your request, use your IMEI and request reference numbers to review your AT&T unlock status. Once you obtain your verification text or email, simply open it up and click on the confirmation link. That’s it! AT&T will unlock your iPhone in just 2 business days.

For any iPhone to get unlocked from AT&T, it has to fulfill the following requirements:

  • Must not be active on a different AT&T account
  • If it is a work phone, you must have your employer’s permission to unlock it
  • If it is an AT&T PREPAID phone, it must be active for at least six months
  • Must not be reported as lost, stolen, or blocked
  • Must not have a past-due balance

If your iPhone is included in term agreement or installment plan, it requires to also meet these requirements:

  • The device must be active on the AT&T network for at least 60 days
  • The installment plan must be paid off
  • The term agreement must be complete

For in-depth eligibility prerequisites, click here.

Unlock an iPhone on Sprint

Based on when you acquired your phone and if it has got SIM-unlock capabilities, you've got a several different unlock options. In the event you obtained a new iPhone from Sprint after February 2015 (it will be SIM-unlock capable) and it is currently being used on their network, Sprint will unlock it automatically after it meets their qualifications requirements. So, you really don’t have to do anything at all apart from keep your account in good standing. Even so, if your iPhone hasn't been activated or was purchased prior to February 2015, you’ll have to speak to Sprint Customer Care directly to ask for an unlock (either dial *2 on your Sprint phone or dial 888-211-4727).

There has been reports from some Sprint users that the auto-unlock program doesn't necessarily operate as it should, so it’s undoubtedly a good idea to check that your iPhone is unlocked before attempting to change to another service provider or advertising your iPhone as unlocked, if you propose to sell it to a buyback business or on eBay.

For an iPhone to be unlocked from the Sprint network, it must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be on an account in good standing
  • Must not be reported as lost, stolen, or associated with fraud
  • Must have SIM-unlock capabilities (if it doesn’t, it is MSL (Master Subsidy Lock) locked and you will need to call Sprint for the MSL code)
  • Must be active on the Sprint network for at least 40 days

If the iPhone is part of a service agreement, lease agreement, or installment plan, it must also adhere to these requirements:

  • Any lease or installment payments must be fully paid
  • If leased, the end-of-lease purchase option must be fully paid
  • Any early-termination fees must be fully paid

For detailed eligibility conditions, click here.

Unlock an iPhone on T-Mobile

If your reading this and own an Android cellphone and your handset meets the eligibility conditions, consider yourself in luck: You are able to unlock it easily from the handset itself. For the iPhone owners out there, you’ll need to contact T-Mobile’s Team of Experts directly (either dial 611 from your T-Mobile iPhone, call 877-746-0909.

For an iPhone to be unlocked from T-Mobile, it needs to satisfy the following requirements:

  • Must have been purchased directly from T-Mobile
  • Must be paid for in full
  • Must not have been reported as lost, stolen, or blocked
  • For prepaid accounts, it must have been active on the account for at least 12 months

If your iPhone is part of a pre-paid account, it's got to also adhere to the following prerequisites:

  • The account must be in good standing
  • Must have been active on the account for at least 40 days

For precise eligibility prerequisites, click here.

Unlock an iPhone on Verizon

Verizon is, without a doubt, the leading network to use for unlocking an iPhone. Why? Because Verizon will automatically unlock your phone 60 days after the purchase of the handset. If you purchased your iPhone at a retail partner, it will be unlocked automatically 60 days after device activation.

There are no catches. You don’t have to pay off your phone, fulfill any unique conditions, or even get in touch with them to request to unlock your phone from their network. Provided your iPhone hasn’t been reported lost or stolen, simply wait sixty days after purchase or activation and your phone will be good to go.

Don’t believe us? Just click here.

Once I've Unlocked my iPhone — now what?

Several years ago, you’d need to hook your iPhone to iTunes and do a software restore to perform the unlock procedure. Luckily, it’s much simpler these days. All you have to do is stick to the same steps you used earlier to verify if your phone had been unlocked to begin with.

When you don’t have access to a SIM card from a different carrier, you can still confirm that a iPhone has been unlocked using an iTunes software restore. Simply connect your iPhone to a computer running iTunes and click the “restore” option. When the restoration process has finished, you should see a message that says “Congratulations, your iPhone has been unlocked.”

Congratulations! You successfully carrier-unlocked your iPhone! That means you're able to use whatever service provider you wish to now, right? We hate to break this to you, but no. Because of the two different types of systems in use in the Unites States, GSM and CDMA, your choice of cell providers is determined by the model of your iPhone as well as the original network it's locked to. Specifically, Verizon and Sprint are CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) networks, while AT&T, T-Mobile, and most providers in other countries are GSM (Global System for Mobiles) networks.

As you may have guessed, these two different network types will not talk to each other (because that would be too easy). Thankfully, as we approach world wide 5G access and as older networks are retired, it will hopefully cease to be a major issue.

To discover which service providers you can access depending on both of these factors, continue reading.


GSM networks only (AT&T, T-Mobile, international GSM carriers): Original iPhone, iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X

Any carrier worldwide: iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone SE, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max


International networks only: iPhone 4s and iPhone 5

Any carrier worldwide: iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone SE, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max


GSM networks only (AT&T, T-Mobile, international GSM carriers): Original iPhone, iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X

Any carrier worldwide: iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone SE, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max


Compatible with any carrier in the world, but with limitations when using GSM networks: iPhone 4s, iPhone 5

Any carrier worldwide: iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone SE, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max

Will the Unlock last forever?

Yup! Once your phone has been factory-unlocked, it will remain that way for the life span of the handset. You can restore your iPhone or update applications without having to worry about your unlock disappearing afterwards.