An unlocked iPhone can be used with any carrier, while a locked iPhone will only work with the carrier it is locked to. It’s important to check if your iPhone is unlocked before trying to switch carriers or if you buy a used iPhone.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll outline several methods to check iphone unlock status using the IMEI number, settings, SIM card, and online IMEI checkers.
1: Check iPhone Unlock Status with Your Carrier
The most accurate way to check if your iPhone is unlocked is by contacting your carrier.
Here’s how to check with your carrier:
- Call your cell phone carrier’s customer service line.
- Provide the representative with your iPhone’s IMEI number or serial number.
- Ask the representative to check if your iPhone is unlocked in their system.
- If your iPhone is locked, request for it to be unlocked. This can take 1-3 business days.
Once the carrier confirms your iPhone is unlocked in their system, you can use it with any carrier worldwide by simply swapping the SIM card.
2: Use IMEI Number to Check iPhone Unlock Status
Every iPhone has a unique 15-digit IMEI number that can be used to check if the device is locked or unlocked.
Follow these steps to use the IMEI number:
- Locate your iPhone’s IMEI number under Settings > General > About. Or dial *#06# on the phone dialpad.
- Go to a free online IMEI checker website or app and enter the IMEI.
- The results will show the unlock status, confirming if the iPhone is locked, unlocked, or blacklisted.
Online IMEI checkers like IMEI.info and UnlockBoot are quick and easy ways to check the unlock status remotely. However, they may not be 100% accurate. Confirm with your carrier for guaranteed results.
3: Check iPhone Unlock Status in Settings
You can quickly check your iPhone’s unlock status right in the Settings app:
- Open Settings > General > About.
- Look for “Carrier Lock” or “SIM Lock”.
- If it says “No SIM restrictions” or “No SIM lock”, then your iPhone is unlocked.
- If it says anything else, your iPhone is likely still locked to a carrier.
While this method is fast, it doesn’t always provide reliable results. So you may need to double check using another method.
4: Insert a Different Carrier’s SIM Card
One way to test if your iPhone is unlocked is to insert a different carrier’s SIM card. You will need to have a SIM card from another carrier for this to work.
Follow these steps:
- Turn your iPhone off and eject the SIM card tray.
- Insert the SIM card from the other carrier and turn your iPhone back on.
- If you get an error message, your iPhone is still locked. If it connects and works, then your iPhone is unlocked.
Just make sure the SIM cards are the same size and your iPhone supports the carrier. If not, you’ll get errors even if your device is unlocked.
5: Unlocked vs. Locked iPhone – What’s the Difference?
- Unlocked iPhone – Can be used with any GSM carrier worldwide simply by inserting a supported SIM card. Works on networks like AT&T, T-Mobile, Vodafone, etc.
- Locked iPhone – Restricted to only working on the carrier it is locked to. Won’t accept other carriers’ SIM cards.
6: Why You Should Unlock Your iPhone
Here are some of the top benefits of unlocking your iPhone:
- Use your iPhone with cheap pre-paid SIM cards while traveling internationally.
- Switch between carriers freely without having to purchase a new phone.
- Sell your used iPhone for more money since it works on any carrier.
- Avoid being locked into an expensive long-term contract with a single carrier.
7: What to Do If Your iPhone is Locked
If you determine your iPhone is still locked to a specific carrier, here are your options:
- Contact your carrier and request for them to unlock it. This is usually done after fully paying off the phone or finishing your contract term.
- Use a third-party unlocking service. They can unlock your iPhone remotely, typically in 1-3 days, for a fee.
- Perform a factory reset – This doesn’t unlock your iPhone but it may allow you to use the original carrier SIM card again if you can’t get past the activation screen.
An unlocked iPhone offers more freedom and flexibility to use whatever carrier you want. Following the steps in this guide will help you quickly determine your iPhone’s unlock status so you can use it on any mobile network worldwide.
Frequently Asked Questions about Unlocked iPhones
How can I unlock my iPhone?
Contact your current carrier and request they unlock your iPhone. This allows you to then use it on other domestic and international carriers. Third party unlocking services can also unlock your iPhone remotely.
Is buying an unlocked iPhone better?
Buying a factory unlocked iPhone lets you use any carrier right away. Unlocked phones have more resale value too. But unlocked iPhones tend to cost more upfront.
Can I unlock an iPhone myself?
No, there is no way to unlock an iPhone by yourself unless you have the carrier unlock codes. You must contact your carrier or use a third party unlocking service for all official unlocks.
Does an unlocked iPhone work with Verizon/Sprint?
Unlocked iPhones work great with GSM networks like AT&T and T-Mobile. But they won’t work on CDMA networks like Verizon or Sprint unless specifically designed for CDMA too.
How much does it cost to unlock an iPhone?
Carrier unlocks are usually free after completing your contract term. Third party unlocks range from $15-$30 on average. Some carriers charge an unlocking fee around $50.
Can I still use an unlocked iPhone with my original carrier?
Yes, an unlocked iPhone will still work perfectly fine with the original carrier it was first activated on. Unlocking it does not prevent you from using that carrier.
If I switch carriers do I need a new iPhone?
If your iPhone is unlocked, you don’t need a new iPhone when switching carriers. Just get a new SIM, activate it with the new carrier, and start using your same iPhone.
Hopefully this guide has equipped you with the knowledge to check your iPhone’s unlock status. Armed with this information, you can use your iPhone seamlessly across multiple carriers for ultimate flexibility and cost savings.