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How to unlock an iPhone for use with any carrier

Many iPhone users purchase their phones from a mobile carrier or the Apple store, so their devices are locked to the specific carrier and its network. If you want to switch carriers or sell your iPhone, you will need to unlock it.

How to unlock an iPhone for use with any carrier

What is iPhone unlocking?

Unlocking your iPhone means removing the restrictions that allow it to be used only with a specific carrier. When you buy your iPhone from a mobile carrier with a fixed contract or payment plan, your phone is locked to that carrier. You can only use the iPhone with your current carrier’s SIM card and mobile network. However, you might need to unlock it for several reasons.

Why might I need to unlock my iPhone?

The most common reason for wanting to unlock your iPhone is the need to switch carriers. For example, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon offer their customers iPhones tied to their networks. However, you might want to change to a different mobile service provider if it is offering a better cellular plan, better internet coverage in your area, or simply a lower price.

You might also want to increase the resale value of your iPhone. Unlocked iPhones are more appealing to potential buyers because they offer more flexibility — you can use them with a new SIM card from a different carrier. Also, if you want to buy an iPhone from an individual, ensure the device is not locked to a carrier and free from bloatware. Find out if it hasn’t been jailbroken because jailbreaking your iPhone can be dangerous.

Whatever the reason for unlocking your iPhone, the process is easier than it sounds. But are you allowed to unlock your iPhone?

Unlocking an iPhone is legal in most countries if you follow the instructions provided by your carrier. You should contact your current carrier and ask it to unlock your iPhone, but you might have to wait a few days for it to fulfill your request. Check your carrier’s website to find out about the unlocking procedure.

You must pay all your bills from your carrier to be eligible for unlocking your iPhone. Your carrier will not unlock your device if you have outstanding bills or if it has flagged your phone for fraud. Also, some carriers will demand that you be their customer for a certain period (up to 60 days, depending on the carrier and the country you are in) before it agrees to unlock your phone — this demand prevents theft and other fraudulent activities.

You should only use the official unlocking methods provided by your carrier or Apple. Using unauthorized third-party unlocking methods or software might violate terms of service, void your phone warranty, breach your contract, and even be illegal. The websites that offer instructions for unauthorized unlocking methods tend to host malicious ads and links, so be careful. Learn more about iPhone protection in our blog post on smartphone security before you unlock your iPhone from your carrier.

How to check if your iPhone is locked or not

Before you attempt to unlock your iPhone, you will need to find out if your iPhone is locked. You can follow these easy steps to find out if it’s locked or not:

  1. Go to your phone’s “Settings” app > “General” > “About.”
  2. Scroll down to “Carrier lock.”
  3. If you see the message “No SIM restrictions,” it means that your iPhone is unlocked. However, if the message says “SIM locked,” your iPhone is locked.

How to unlock your iPhone from a carrier

Only your carrier can unlock your iPhone. You should contact your carrier’s customer support or visit its website to request to have your iPhone unlocked. You can take these steps to unlock your iPhone:

  1. Check for eligibility. Make sure you have fully paid off your device and fulfilled all contractual obligations with your carrier. If you have signed up for a plan, you will need to complete the payment period.
  2. Contact your carrier’s customer support via phone, email, or live chat. With some carriers, you can also fill out a request to unlock your phone on their website.
  3. Verify your identity. The carrier will need to verify your identity and ensure you are the rightful owner of the iPhone you want to unlock. You might have to provide your mobile phone number, personal details, and other information to confirm your identity.
  4. Wait for confirmation. The carrier will process your request. You might have to wait a few days to a couple of weeks for it to unlock your device.
  5. Complete the unlocking process. The carrier will provide you with instructions that you will have to follow to finish the process of unlocking your iPhone.
  6. Receive confirmation. Your carrier will send you a confirmation message informing you that your iPhone has been unlocked.

Specific steps and instructions for unlocking your iPhone might vary depending on your carrier and the country you are in. You can always visit your carrier’s website’s FAQ section for answers or contact their customer support for guidance.

How do I set up an unlocked iPhone with a new mobile carrier?

Once your iPhone has been unlocked, you can easily set it up with a new carrier by taking these steps:

  1. Turn off your iPhone and remove the old SIM card.
  2. Insert the new SIM card provided by your new carrier into your iPhone.
  3. Turn on your iPhone. It will detect the new SIM card and prompt you to activate it. Follow the instructions to complete activation.
  4. Connect to Wi-Fi or cellular data.
  5. Update carrier settings (if necessary). Your phone will prompt you to download and install updates if needed.
  6. Test the carrier. Call or send a message to see if setting up the new carrier worked.

That’s it! You’re set to use your iPhone with the new carrier.

How do I remove the existing carrier without a new SIM card?

You can remove the existing carrier without a new SIM card by restoring your device:

  1. Back up your iPhone (learn how to do it on Apple’s website).
  2. Erase your iPhone.
  3. Restore your phone if you want to use it yourself. Do not restore it if you want to give it to someone else (the person you give it to will be able to set it up as a new device).

What carriers can I use after unlocking my iPhone?

If you own one of the latest versions of an iPhone, you will be able to use it with all mobile carriers. Older iPhone models, however, might not work on some networks. To be sure your iPhone will work on the network of a potential carrier, check your phone’s technical specifications and contact your carrier to enquire if your phone and their network are compatible.

To check the tech specs of your iPhone, go to “Settings” > “General” > “About.” In the “About” section, you will find details about your phone, like model name, model number, serial number, and more. Knowing your iPhone’s specifications will help you deal with carriers and ensure your device will work across their networks.