3 Methods to Check if iPhone is Unlocked or Locked

If are looking for reliable ways to check if your iPhone is locked or unlocked, you have come to the right place. Having a locked iPhone sucks. In fact, over 60% of all iPhones worldwide do have a carrier SIM Lock. That means that those iPhones can only be used with SIM Cards from that specific carrier / network. Now imagine you want to switch to a cheaper carrier. You can’t just put the new SIM Card into your iPhone if its locked. Or if you want to travel abroad, you can’t buy a local SIM Card and use it. In short: Locked iPhones are a real problem. And the worst thing about it is that you can’t just go into the Settings of your iPhone and check if its locked or unlocked. In fact, many people who bought a second-hand iPhone realize way to late that their iPhone is actually locked to a specific carrier – and sometimes even iCloud locked. But more on that later.

If you got yourself a pre-owned or used iPhone, you might ask yourself: Is my Phone is unlocked or locked?
In this blog post, I am going to show you methods and services to identify if an iPhone is locked or unlocked, blacklisted or clean, in-contract or not. And much more.

Reading Material: If you are into details and Crash Tests, read the “CRASH TEST: Which iPhone IMEI Check Company should I trust” post

How to check if iPhone is unlocked ( or locked )

In short, the simplest way to check that would be if you buy a SIM Card from another carrier, activate it, then put it inside your iPhone and check if it has signal or not. If you can make a phone call with SIM cards of two different carriers, it means that your iPhone is unlocked. If it doesn’t work, it COULD mean that your iPhone is locked. It could be something else as well.

Of course Apple has the information if your iPhone is locked or unlocked. They know everything. But because they don’t want this “hidden issue” to be public, they won’t tell you. You can drive to the nearest Apple Store and talk to them, but they won’t tell you. It is unbelievable. I have tried it sooo many times, but they claim that you need to contact your carrier.

There are services online that have access to this database and they can check if an iPhone is unlocked or locked. All you need to know is the IMEI number of your iPhone, which is something like a serial number. It is usually 15 digits. If its not on the back of your iPhone, you can go to Settings->General->About. With that information, you can request an IMEI Network Check for your iPhone. Usually within 5-10 minutes, you will receive the results from the Apple database with 100% accuracy. You will know if your iPhone has a SIM Lock or not. And if it has a SIM Lock, they will also tell you which network / carrier actually locked it. With that information, you could proceed and unlock your iPhone.

Best IMEI SIM Lock & Network Check Service by UnlockSpector

There are many of fake or free IMEI Check services online, but they are not reliable and their information can not be verified. One service that we use all the time is called UnlockSpector. It’s the cheapest and fastest way to check the IMEI of an iPhone. Not only will they tell you if your iPhone is locked or unlocked, but they can also check if your iPhone is blacklisted or clean. This is extremely important if you want to unlock your iPhone, because blacklisted devices ( = reported as lost or stolen ) are harder to unlock.

Check if iPhone is unlocked with UnlockSpector


How to tell if an iPhone is unlocked or locked

There are several ways to check if your iPhone is unlocked or locked, but before we jump into that,I want you to understand why I it is so important to know if your iPhone is unlocked or not.

You don’t want to buy a locked iPhone which is more like an iPod touch – you cannot use your own network or carrier and in the worse, the iPhone won’t even get activated.

SIM locks in general cause many different types of problems. If you want to change your network, travel abroad or if you want to sell your iPhone, you obviously want to make sure that it can be used in another country’s network.

If your iPhone can not be used with other providers or networks, you have locked iPhone!
And those are usually worth 20-40% less than an unlocked iPhone!

And if it turns out that your iPhone is really locked to a network, then you should find out the so called “Initial Lock Network”.
Thats basically the network that locked your iPhone in the beginning and you need this information to be able to unlock your locked iPhone.

My experiences of NOT knowing if an iPhone is unlocked or locked

My first experience: I bought a locked second-hand iPhone online

Couple of years ago, I bought an iPhone 4s on eBay and when I tried to use my own SIM card, all I could see on my iPhone screen was “SIM Invalid“.

Yes, you guessed it right: The seller had sold me a locked iPhone!

From my own research, I know that there are sooooooo many people who still buy locked or stolen iPhones on eBay, Craigslist or Amazon and realize it when it’s way too late. And the seller is all gone. That’s why it’s so important to check if an iPhone is locked or not BEFORE you buy an iPhone. Really, always check if the iPhone is unlocked or locked before purchasing an iPhone!


My second experience: My brother got me a blacklisted iPhone

My younger brother wanted to make me happy for my birthday. And he knew I am on AT&T USA. And because he is so cheap, he bought me iPhone that was locked to AT&T. Just because it was cheaper than an unlocked iPhone.

Just when I wanted to use it with my SIM Card, the same thing happened.
After doing some checks, it turned out: The iPhone was blacklisted by AT&T, because it was In-Contract.

So now I had a locked AND blacklisted iPhone that acted like an iPod touch since I couldn’t use it at all.
It took me a while until i realized that it is possible to unlock blacklisted iPhones, but it was much more expensive than if the iPhone was clean.


My third (and last) experience: I bought a unlocked iPhone with iCloud activated

Totally defeated by the previous two experiences, I wanted to make things right.

So when I wanted to upgrade to an iPhone 6s ( I was using the iPhone 6 which I bought unlocked directly in an Apple Store ), I  knew I had to know if the iPhone is unlocked and find out if it’s a blacklisted iPhone or not.

Check if my iPhone is Locked for free-Nailed itI was browsing Craigslist and found an ad that was selling an unlocked & unblacklisted iPhone. I met with the seller and while we were standing there, I put in my own SIM Card in his iPhone, and it worked. I was happy – I found a cheap iPhone, everything worked and I thought let’s do it. We agreed to the price, and the seller started to restore the iPhone because his own data was still there.
But guess what: He did restore the iPhone, but he still left the iCloud activated. iCloud is a service by Apple that allows you to remotely BLOCK an iPhone.

So this time, my iPhone was in fact unlocked and unblacklisted, but because he didn’t remove the iCloud, I had to sign in with HIS iCloud ID. Which i obviously didn’t have.

At the end, I found a Unlock provider that helped me ( I will put some links at the end of this article ). They unlocked my iPhone 6s, and I still got a better final price than buying it from Apple unlocked. Yaaaay!


Checking iPhone is unlocked – and NOT BLACKLISTED!

iPhone Network Locks suck. You got that. But there is more.
An iPhone might also have other reasons of why it cannot work with the Mobile Network you want.

Can you unlock blacklisted iPhone 5The most common one is if your iPhone gets blacklisted

iPhones get blacklisted by mobile networks, insurances and by the police. Some reasons:

  • an iPhone got stolen and the original owner reported it to the police -> the police blacklists that iPhone so it cannot be used
  • an iPhone got involved in a fraud activity and law enforcements blacklisted it
  • an iPhone owner didn’t pay the contract bills and the mobile network blacklisted it
  • an iPhone was claimed as lost and the insurance blacklisted the iPhone

Now before you ask, YES, there are ways to unlock stolen iPhones, but they are more expensive that unlocking clean iPhones.
So if you are in the process of buying an used iPhone, you might want to check for these hidden problems FIRST.


3 Methods to check if an iPhone is unlocked or not!

These are many different methods to check if your iPhone is unlocked or locked.

Some are free, some are paid, but the last method will actually reveal much more than just your Lock Status.

So let’s get started.. This post is all about finding out if your iPhone is locked or unlocked!

iPhone IMEI Network Check The simplest way to check if your iPhone is unlocked or locked

Put a SIM Card from another network / carrier into your iPhone

This is probably the simplest way to check if your iPhone is unlocked or locked, but you must have a SIM card different from the carrier you were using before.

Change the SIM-Card

Change the SIM-Card

You could buy a SIM Card from eBay or ask your friend if he can borrow his.

If you are able to use your iPhone with another SIM Card from another provider, it means that your iPhone is unlocked.

How to use another SIM card in your iPhone:

  1. Shut down your iPhone by holding down the Sleep / Wake button until “slide to power off” appears. Then slide the red arrow to shut your iPhone down.
  2. Find the card holder of your SIM card, which is along the edge of your iPhone, and eject it by using a paper clip (push it in the small hole).
  3. Replace the SIM card of your iPhone with the different SIM card (and different carrier) and close the card holder.
  4. Turn your iPhone on and then try to make a call. If you can make a call, then your iPhone is not locked. If a problem occurs, then your iPhone is locked.


IMEI Network iPhone Check Look into the Carrier Settings to check if your iPhone is unlocked or locked

Check the Carrier Settings in your iPhone for Carrier Lock related hints

Check Carrier Settings

Check Carrier Settings

This is a very practical way to check if your iPhone is locked or unlocked, but you need to know that it is not very reliable.

It is based on the idea of checking carrier’s settings on your iPhone:

You can use this method to check if you are able to modify or view carrier and network settings.

If you can, it doesn’t give you a guarantee that your iPhone is unlocked. But it means you can change your APN or see carrier details. And that’s something, isn’t it?

How to check your iPhone Carrier’s Settings:

  1. Tap “Settings” and then locate the “Carrier” and “Cellular” tabs.
    If the “Cellular Data Network” appears, it means that either your carrier allows you to change your APN or you have an unlocked iPhone or you unlocked it.
  2. Eject your SIM card and shut down your iPhone. Power it back on and make sure that the carrier status says “No SIM” or “Service Unavailable“. Go to “Settings” and check if “Cellular” and “Carrier” is still there. If yes, then most likely your iPhone is unlocked


IMEI Network Check The quickest and most reliable way to check if your iPhone is unlocked or locked

Check your iPhone with an IMEI Unlock Checker Service

Comparing Top 3 IMEI Check Companies
We created a very detailed review of the top 3 IMEI Check companies, that can provide you accurate and up to date SIM-Lock, Network, Blacklist, iCloud, Warranty, Contract and Financial information.

You will be able to choose the right IMEI Check Company for your device whether you need a:

  • Detailed Report of our IMEI number
  • A report of the Lock status of your device and a guaranteed unlock suggestion
  • A PDF report of your iPhone to prove that current status of your device

Check which IMEI Check Company is ideal for your situation

If you want to quickly check if your iPhone is unlocked or not with 100% guarantee and without a SIM Card, there is no way around an IMEI Check.
In fact, it’s the easiest method to check if your iPhone is locked or unlocked AND receive all the information you could need about your device.
An iPhone Check Service will check if your iPhone has a SIM Lock by requesting that information directly from Apple’s GSX server. Those servers basically track all information about your iPhone, including the Lock Status of your IMEI. IMEI is the 15-digit “serial number” of your iPhone that you can easily get in your settings or by dialing *#06# in the phone app. Using the IMEI number to check if an iPhone is unlocked is completely risk-free, even if your iPhone is stolen or lost.

With your IMEI report, you can reveal if your iPhone is unlocked or locked within minutes. A SIM Lock Report will provide you the actual SIM Lock Status as well as the Initial Lock Network. It will save you lots of headaches and money, especially when you want to get it unlocked! And no SIM Card is needed!

Besides the SIM Lock Checking, you can also check if your iPhone has any other hidden problems.
You can easily find out if the iPhone is reported as stolen and got blacklisted or if it’s iCloud locked. They will even tell you if the IMEI got replaced or if the iPhone is still In-Contract.

The coolest thing about their IMEI report is that it will also tell you if the iPhone is still under warranty. So you could return it to Apple without any worrying.

If it turns out that your iPhone is in fact locked or blacklisted, UnlockSpector will guide you into getting that iPhone unlocked ( and even unblacklisted ) remotely.

Even if you know that your iPhone is locked, I highly recommend that you perform a IMEI Check before you try to unlock it. 

Also, you do not want to get involved with the law by selling or buying stolen iPhones. Instead of wasting your time, find out what is locking your iPhone with UnlockSpector.com

These are the information that your IMEI Check Report will reveal:
Network Identification: Their SIM Lock Check will basically reveal Lock Status and the Initial Lock Network.
Blacklist Status
Reason of Blacklist
Network and Country that blacklisted your iPhone
Find My iPhone status
iCloud Status
Warranty Status
Contract Status
Replacement Status
Technical Details
Suggestion of an Unlocking service specific for your iPhone
Let me show you how a IMEI Check Report looks that reveals if your iPhone is locked or unlocked ( and much more information about your device ):

How to Check your IMEI Unlock Status

Step 1:
Get your IMEI

IMEI is the 15-digit serial number of your iPhone:

Go to “Settings” -> “General” -> “About” on your iPhone

Find your IMEI to check if your iPhone is locked or not

Other ways to find your IMEI number:

– by dialing *#06# in the phone app.
– You could open iTunes without connecting your iPhone
– Through the SIM tray of your iPhone
– From the back of your iPhone

Step 2: 
Request your IMEI Check Report

It will reveal everything you need to know about your iPhone

Go to UnlockSpector and check your IMEI 

IMEI Report that shows if iPhone is unlocked or locked

If the SIM Lock Check tells you that the iPhone is unlocked, you can consider yourself lucky 😉

If you already bought a locked iPhone, checking your IMEI will help you figure out which network is locking your iPhone and how to get your iPhone unlocked securely. The SIM Lock Check will tell you which carrier your iPhone is locked to. Always make a IMEI SIM Lock Check first to check if the iPhone is locked or not.

Do you have locked iPhone?

Here is how to get it unlocked securely!

OK, do not worry. There are ways to get your iPhone working and activated.

In order to get an iPhone unlocked, you need to be able to answer the following questions.

UnlockSpector will be able to provide you answers to these questions. IMEI iPhone Network Check

1 ) Which network / carrier is your iPhone locked to?

If you have an IMEI Status Report by now, you will most likely already know the name and country of the lock carrier. Here is a list of common lock networks:

  • AT&T USA
  • T-Mobile USA
  • Sprint USA
  • Bell Canada
  • Telus Canada
  • O2/Tesco UK
  • Vodafone UK
  • Softbank Japan
  • KDDI Japan
  •  More than 500 Mobile Networks can be unlocked via iPhoneUnlock.Zone (Tested & Verified unlock provider).

2 ) Is your iPhone blacklisted?

To unlock your locked iPhone securely, it is very important to find out if your iPhone is blacklisted or not.

An IMEI Blacklist Check will reveal if your iPhone is reported as lost, stolen, in-contract or has unpaid bills from a carrier.

These are the common reasons that would get an iPhone blacklisted. Unlocking can be quite expensive and you don’t want to end up ordering a wrong Unlock solution and getting your refund denied. If your iPhone is blacklisted and you select an Unlock Service that is for CLEAN iPhones, most Unlock providers will deny a refund. With an IMEI Check Report, you can make an informed decision.

If your iPhone is blacklisted, it will require a special unlock service.

3 ) Is iCloud deactivated?

iCloud needs to be deactivated otherwise it is not possible to use the iPhone. Many unlock providers even require that you turn of iCloud.

If you cannot deactivate iCloud ( e.g. you don’t have the Apple ID and password ), you cannot unlock / use the iPhone.


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  1. Santosh says:

    Hi UltraSnow,
    thanks for the article.
    I purchased two iPhone 4 on the streets in Ireland and now I want them to get unlocked.
    I don’t know original network carrier, unlock status and blocked status. How can I get them?
    Finally, i want to know unlock price for my both iphones.

    1. Zisis ( User Karma: 54996 ) says:

      Hey Santosh,

      You will need an IMEI Status Report to find which network they are locked to. UnlockSpector ( see links above ) will provide you a full iPhone Unlock Check service.
      Let us know if you have any other questions.
      Best regards,
      Zisis from the UltraSnow Team

  2. Terri says:

    I did method #2…But when I got to this step “Power it back on and make sure that the carrier status says “No SIM” or “Service Unavailable“. Go to “Settings” and check if “Cellular” and “Carrier” are still there. “…..Carrier was missing from menu, but Cellular said “No SIM”…is it locked or unlocked?

    1. Zisis ( User Karma: 54996 ) says:

      Hey Terri,
      that’s the problem. No one can tell you 100% if your iPhone is unlocked or locked.
      From what you say, it does not seem to be Unlocked.

      Have you tried using a different SIM-Card with your iPhone? If you get a signal, then it means that your iPhone is really Unlocked.

      Again, the best and easiest way is to get a full iPhone IMEI Status Report by UnlockSpector which will not only inform you if your iPhone is Locked/Unlocked, but also if it is CLEAN/BLACKLISTED and iCloud LOCKED/UNLOCKED. UnlockSpector will also provide you a suggestion that will help you make your iPhone unlocked and usabe again.

    1. Zisis ( User Karma: 54996 ) says:

      Hey Heaven,

      There is not an application that can unlock your iPhone. There is used to be some software unlocks that required jailbreaking your iPhone, but they do not work anymore.
      With the IMEI Factory Unlock methods, it is much easier to just request an iPhone Unlock.
      Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Best regards,
      Zisis from UltraSnow Team

  3. Kelly says:

    Hello I’d like to unlock my iPhone 6 plus but it’s T-Mobile locked how do I go about getting it unlocked?

    1. Jason ( User Karma: 54996 ) says:

      Hello Kelly,

      do you know if its blacklisted or not?
      If you do know, you would also need to know which T-Mobile network it is locked to. T-Mobile is in USA, but also in Germany. So you will have to be a bit more specific!

      You can go to the following link and answer 4 simple questions. Based on your answers, you will be suggested with a service which can unlock your iPhone’s network!

      Request an iPhone Unlock service for your iPhone

    1. Makis Kimas ( User Karma: 10 ) says:

      Ι know that is a little bit late for an answer but they instantly send you the IMEI Check report to your email with all the information about your iPhone. Apart from that, they advise you how to unlock your iPhone!

  4. derek says:

    I have a unlocked Sprint iPhone 5s . Can I use it with a Sprint prepaid SIM card? Or a metropcs SIM card? A metro pcs rep told me they never are able to use unlocked Sprint phones because of some SIM block?

    1. Makis Kimas ( User Karma: 10 ) says:

      This is not a matter of a specific Carrier. If your iPhone is SIMlocked by Sprint then you can only use Sprint SIM cards. What you need to do in order to be 100% sure about the overall lock status of your iPhone is this:
      Do an IMEI Check to uncover all hidden iPhone’s issues
      You can unlock any iPhone of any Carrier if you know your exact situation
      If you are completely sure that it is only simlocked then go to iPhoneUnlock.Zone and unlock your iPhone permanently!
      Tell me how it went!

  5. deepak sharma says:

    Hlw sir, my iphone 4s was bought in USA and after i bring it to india , and tried indian sim the phone show the signal strength and there was a msg that activation reqd ,i tried activating through wifi but atlast it show sim carrier not supported ,so is it locked or unlocked ? Coz it show network strength when i insert indian sim card .

  6. deepak sharma says:

    my iphone 4s was bought in USA and after i bring it to india , and tried indian sim the phone show the signal strength and there was a msg that activation reqd ,i tried activating through wifi but atlast it show sim carrier not supported ,so is it locked or unlocked ? Coz it show network strength when i insert indian sim card .

    1. Makis Kimas ( User Karma: 10 ) says:

      Did you try to use another SIM Card from India and had the same results?
      The only way to be 100% sure about your iPhone’s Network, Blacklist, iCloud Lock status or any other hidden issue, you will need a full IMEI Check Service
      Then we will know if it is really simlocked, in which carrier, if it has any other issue or if your iPhone has a hardware problem with the SIM tray (unlocking won’t help you in this case as you understand)

  7. Sunil says:

    such a relief. I was browsing for hours, until i found out about UnlockSpector through this post. I wanted to say THANK YOU ( whoever you guys are ).
    I am running a mobile shop in Italy and the IMEI report was very helpful for me and my customers. In this business, i know many free imei check tools provide wrong results.

    In case you think its scam or not legit, you can check out their reviews https://www.sitejabber.com/reviews/www.unlockspector.com

    Again, great post.

  8. prudhvi says:

    one of my friend have iphone 6splus at&t us carrier, is it possible to unlock the phone. even we don’t have icloud details.

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