Finding out your iPhone’s lock status (es) is important for several reasons. If you are not too sure about it, here is a guide to check if iPhone is unlocked (US).
When you get your hands on that iPhone, perhaps the new iPhone 8, the first thing you will do is turn it on and unlock the screen to start using it. It is unusual to switch on your iPhone only to discover that you cannot use it for one reason or another. Often, it is the same problem – you have a locked iPhone.
Unfortunately, there are different kinds of lock states that affect iPhones. It makes it difficult to know if an iPhone is locked or unlocked just by looking at it. How can you tell for sure if your iPhone is unlocked?
I put together a straightforward guide to walk you through the process to check if iPhone is unlocked (US).
Why are Some iPhones Locked and Others Unlocked?
The only type of branding you will see on an iPhone includes the Apple logo and some details about the iPhone printed on its back cover. It would be helpful if the iPhone also came with even a removable sticker to let you know your iPhone is locked or unlocked. The only way to know for sure is to use different methods to check if iPhone is unlocked (US).
Where you buy an iPhone determines its lock status, but even then, there could be other hidden issues with the iPhone that appear once you start using the phone. Everyone knows that iPhones bought from an Apple store are not locked, or they are factory unlocked. However, if you buy an iPhone from a network carrier, it might have a SIM/network lock.
It gets even more complicated when you buy a used iPhone online because it can have several lock statuses. Also, some iPhones come with “temporary lock,” which can get unlocked at a later date. Others end up permanently unlocked making the iPhone completely unusable. It all sounds confusing, but understanding more about the iPhone lock states that exist can help.
The Different Kinds of Lock States Found on iPhones
An iPhone’s lock status/state just refers to the situation that is preventing you from using its full functions and features or even using the iPhone entirely. It is never clear from the start what type of lock an iPhone has, but you can find out with the methods I will share on how to check if iPhone is unlocked (US).
It helps to start with understanding the types of locks iPhone users encounter.
The iPhone iCloud Activation Lock
When Apple introduced the iCloud, many iPhone users had mixed reactions to it. The activation lock is one of the features that came with the iCloud. It uses the iPhone owner’s Apple ID details to protect the phone’s contents if it gets stolen. Soon, iPhone users started realizing that the iCloud Activation Lock created a new type of iPhone problem.
Several iPhone users who buy their phones from online markets such as eBay, Amazon, or Craigslist have encountered the activation lock. It prevents the new iPhone owner from accessing the iPhone’s features and functions if they cannot bypass the iCloud Activation Lock screen.
The problem is usually that the iPhone was either reported as a stolen device. Sometimes, the original iPhone owner forgets to unlink the iPhone from their iCloud account.
Knowing the particular situation can help identify the best approach to unlock an iCloud locked iPhone. It also determines if the iPhone can get unlocked or not.
iPhone SIM/Network Lock
When you buy an iPhone from a carrier, it either comes with a SIM lock or region lock. The difference is that a SIM lock allows you to use the iPhone using a particular carrier’s SIM card anywhere across the globe. The region lock, on the other hand, restricts the iPhone use within a specific country and using a particular carrier’s SIM.
Another rare type of iPhone lock initiated by carriers is the subscriber lock. With this kind of lock, you can only use the iPhone with particular SIM used during the activation process.
Carrier locks are usually temporary, and the iPhone can get unlocked after a period. Often, you can unlock a SIM-locked iPhone two years after finishing its contract payments.
Some carriers allow you to unlock your iPhone before the contract ends if you can pay an early termination fee (ETF) for the service. Even if you wait out the two years to unlock your iPhone, your carrier might still charge you for the service.
If an iPhone you bought has an activation lock, more than often it is also blacklisted. An iPhone can become blacklisted due to several reasons including:
- The iPhone got stolen, and the original iPhone owner’s carrier provider blacklisted it.
- An iPhone owner who lost their phone or had it stolen places an insurance claim that is successful. The insurance provider then has the stolen device’s IMEI number blacklisted.
- An iPhone user fails to make payments on the iPhone they got from a carrier.
Only the original iPhone owner can get an iPhone unblacklisted. They either pay up pending contract dues or mediate on behalf of the new iPhone owner to have the carrier remove the iPhone from the blacklist.
How to Check if iPhone is Unlocked (US)
For this post, we are focusing on the carrier lock and how you can find out if your iPhone is network locked or not. There are four ways to check if iPhone is unlocked (US):
Method #4 Check if iPhone is Unlocked (US) Using a SIM Card Check
The first way to find out if your iPhone is carrier locked or not is by performing a SIM check. You will need to get a second SIM card if you do not already have one. Alternatively, borrow one that can go into the SIM tray.
Simply swap out the SIM inside your phone for another one (if you were already using one in it) or try out your old SIM if you just got the iPhone.
If none of the SIM cards work, or perhaps one works and another doesn’t, it means that the iPhone is carrier locked. The messages you get when you try SIM cards that don’t work include “SIM not Supported” or “Invalid SIM card.”
Method #3 Check if iPhone is Unlocked (US) Through the iPhone Settings
If you have the iPhone in your possession and can access its features; try out the settings check.
The settings check option involves going to the iPhone Settings and looking for the “Cellular Data Network” or “Mobile Data Network” option. If you can see the option, then it means that the iPhone is unlocked. If you cannot see the option, then it means that your iPhone is locked.
Method #2 Check if iPhone is Unlocked (US) Through iTunes
Try the iTunes restore process if the other two suggested methods do not work. Connect your iPhone, via USB, to a computer and open iTunes. If a “SIM is not supported” message appears, then it means that you cannot backup and then delete the iPhone.
An iTunes restore is a possible way of unlocking a SIM-locked iPhone. If you are not able to access the iPhone through iTunes, it means that this is not a likely carrier unlock method.
Method #1 Check if iPhone is Unlocked (US) iPhone IMEI Check
If you tried the iPhone lock check recommendations listed above and none worked, next go for a full IMEI status check. This iPhone method should be the first thing any pre-owned iPhone buyer does. However, some people make that mistake of buying an iPhone out of excitement and not performing the IMEI check.
Sometimes, you may even get an iPhone status check done, and it comes clean only for the iPhone to get locked later on. The main reason why you want to perform a full IMEI status check is to reveal everything about the iPhone.
I recommend using a trusted and reliable site such as UnlockSpector to carry out the iPhone status check. The iPhone state check will unveil everything about the iPhone including its blacklist status and the service provider that blacklisted the iPhone. Other elements the status check reveals include the iCloud lock state, warranty, IMEI status, contract status, and carrier lock eligibility.
So you now know how to check if iPhone is unlocked (US). Do you have a SIM-locked iPhone that you need unlocked? Get a complete step by step guide from our Ebook How to Solve iPhone Carrier Lock Issues.