iPhone Unlocking became the hottest topic among Apple community since day one! Owning a smartphone is great indeed (an iPhone is even better) but what can you do when you are limited in using only one Mobile Network’s SIM Cards and only inside your country because of the SIM Lock feature?
And this is just the pick of the iceberg. As soon as you decide to purchase a refurbished iPhone, you will also have to deal with iCloud Activation Lock, Blacklist Status and a ton of iPhone Hidden Issues that can render your iPhone useless or spoil any attempt of iPhone Unlocking.
In this article, I will show you everything about iPhone Unlocking and most importantly, how to check an iPhone’s IMEI number and a) make sure that the second handed iPhone you will buy will be unlocked and fully functional and of course, b) you will successfully unlock the problematic iPhone
My first experience with iPhone Unlocking
A few years back, I decided to buy a pre-owned iPhone 5 from eBay. I am very lucky because in my country, all mobiles are unlocked (cheers from Greece), so I totally ignored the SIM Lock issue. Of course, I knew (without much detail) that an iPhone can be Blacklisted or iCloud Locked but I strongly believed that used items sold on online markets are checked by them. But Ι was so wrong!!!
As soon as I turned on the iPhone, I was stuck in iCloud Activation Lock Screen.
Later on, I discovered that the refurbished iPhone 5 I bought had all the problems a second handed iPhone might have. It was simlocked, blacklisted and iCloud Locked and €300 were gone. But this was only the beginning of the disaster!
But before that, I googled iPhone Unlocking and found out about Network Lock Removal, iCloud Activation Lock Bypass Tools and blacklisted iPhones. I became hysterical and picked the first iPhone Unlock Provider that seemed right without much thought and without checking the iPhone first (I also didn’t know anything about iPhone IMEI Checking). And that was my second mistake, leading me in paying €200 for useless iPhone Unlocking Services.
Then I found this blog, Unlock.Ultrasnow.EU. The articles I found here made me understand all my errors and on top of that, the guys here helped me to fully unlock my iPhone 5 with success!
So, after €600-700, I decided to take action and became a part of the Ultrasnow Team and here I am, helping you avoiding the mistakes I did back then. I will tell you more about my iPhone 5 Unlocking experience while we unraveling the tangle of iPhone Unlocking.
Step by Step Guide to iPhone Unlocking
Probably you already bought a problematic used iPhone like me from an online market, a local store or through a personal transaction and now you try to figure out how the hell you are going to Carrier Unlock it. Maybe you are the original owner of the iPhone and you want to make the smart move and free it from your Wireless Network’s boundaries. It makes no difference! Follow these steps and nothing will go wrong ever again.
Step 1: iPhone Checking
Yeap, that’s right. iPhone Unlocking starts with iPhone Checking but let me take this one step further. If you check a used iPhone before you buy it then you won’t be messed up in this kind of situations and if you do, you will know it from the start. You will know the exact issues with the iPhone, how to deal with them and how much it will cost you in the end.
Here is the list of all the issues that can make an iPhone a bad bargain, useless or mess with SIM Unlocking.
How can I check an iPhone?
I really can see the look on your face because this was how I looked when I found out about all these issues.
The most obvious way to check an iPhone is to insert your SIM Card and try to make a call. If you can, the iPhone is unlocked or so it seems. But as you saw there are hidden issues that can lock the iPhone after a while or relock it even if you successfully unlock it the first time. On top of that, you must be able to hold the iPhone in your hands to check it with your SIM card and when you use an online market, this is not an option.
The best way to check an iPhone is the IMEI Check Service. The only thing you need is the iPhone IMEI number (check out here all the ways to find it)
In a few hours or a couple of days, you will receive an IMEI Check Report containing all the info you saw above. This info is extracted from Apple GSX Databases and only official Apple’s partners have access to these servers.
There are quite a few iPhone GSX Check Service providers out there and some of them even claim that they offer their services for free. But guess what! We tested 27 iPhone IMEI Check Companies by changing on purpose some iPhone values or leaving a few contract bills unpaid in order to temporarily blacklist some of our own iPhones and to our surprise, only 3 IMEI GSX providers had access to Apple’s GSX Databases. All the others gave us fake info, for free or not!
So, iPhone IMEI Check Service is superb but the provider you will choose makes the difference! My favorite of the 3 authorized IMEI Check Providers is UnlockSpector because they will not only get you accurate info but they will also help you unlock your iPhone with the appropriate iPhone Unlocking services!
Back to my story, if I only knew about iPhone IMEI Check Service from the start, I would never spend €200 on useless iPhone Unlocking Methods or even better I would never buy that crappy iPhone 5 to begin with! But the lesson was learned and now I’m sure that you will never get scammed again!
Step 2: Activating an iCloud Locked iPhone
(if your iPhone is not iCloud Locked, skip to part 3)
If you have to deal with an iCloud locked iPhone, then the iCloud Activation Lock must be removed first before doing anything else. Why? Because it’s not 100% sure that you will be able to deactivate the iCloud Lock, so spending money to SIM unlock an iCloud Locked iPhone is pointless!
If you google ”iCloud Unlocking”, you will immediately see many available iCloud Bypass Software like:
- Open My iCloud Easy Unlock Tool
- iCloud Remover
- iCloud Unlocking Tool
- Unlock iCloud Generator
- iCloud Bypass Tool
- iCloud Unlocking Service
- Bypass iCloud Activation Tool
- Bypass iCloud Lock Screen
- Remove iCloud Activation Lock Tool
- Free iCloud Lock Removal Software
and a large number of YouTube iCloud Unlock Tutorials!
But unfortunately, all of them exist with only one goal: To take your money and leave your iPhone iCloud Locked. Some of them are even more dangerous by using Malware & Spyware to gain access to your credit/debit card account! On the other hand, YouTube iCloud Lock Bypass tutorials are harmless and free but this doesn’t change the fact that they are also useless and time-consuming. And since I said free, there are also many free iCloud Bypass Tools but as always, they are not. The providers will ask for money eventually!
But why people insist on using these iCloud Hacking Tools?
The truth is that some of them used to work until iOS 8. I know this from first hand since I try to use 2 of them back then. The first one was free… NOT! They asked me to pay $50 after a few days because there was a problem with my iPhone 5 Baseband and iCloud Unlocking Software compatibility. I gave the money but again nothing happen and they never respond again to any of my emails. A friend of mine suggested me to use another one that worked for him. It cost $30, seemed solid but again it failed.
The release of iOS 9 was the end of all iCloud Unlock Tools because it made iCloud Activation Lock an unremovable built-in app and one and the same with Find My iPhone feature. So, is iCloud Activation Lock unhackable???
Of course, not! iCloud accounts had been compromised and some of our visitors reported that their iPhone was stolen but after a few days the iCloud Lock was disabled. I even met a hacker personally, who iCloud Unlocked an iPhone 7 with iOS 10.1 I gave him, in front of my very own eyes. It took him months to develop that software which was not always successful but worked from time to time. But he knew that if he did that online and offer his iCloud Unlocking Software, he would end up behind bars pretty soon.
Let’s all agree to this: It is so frustrating to buy a second-hand iPhone and discover that it is iCloud Locked but at the same time this means that this iPhone was stolen or lost. No one should be able to turn off iCloud Activation Lock without original owner’s blessings and this is exactly what Apple accomplished since iOS 9.
Only the person who iCloud Locked the iPhone can remove the iCloud Activation Lock and deactivate Find My iPhone, so when you are looking for iCloud Unlocking Services, in fact, you are looking for the iPhone’s original owner!
If you take a look at the iCloud Activation Lock Screen, most times you will see that the original owner had left a message with a phone number or an email address.
Your only hope of iCloud Lock Removal is to reach the original owner and ask for it.
Believe it or not, most of the times the original owner will gladly accept to iCloud Unlock the iPhone and the reason is simple: You were both victims of the same iPhone thief. As soon as you explain the situation and most importantly, if you have a proof of purchase, the original owner will understand you and turn off iCloud Activation Lock ASAP.
Other times, the original may ask for money to remove the iCloud Lock, offer you money to return the iPhone or simply refuse. In these cases, all you have to do is negotiate for the best outcome. After all, iCloud Unlocking is in original owner’s hands and there is nothing else you can do!
But sometimes, the message with original owner’s contact information is absent, so what can you do?
How to find the iPhone’s original owner
The only iCloud Unlocking Service you can use to find the iPhone original owner is the iCloud ID Finder!
This service has authorized access to Apple’s iCloud Databases and all you need in order to use it is:
- The iCloud Locked iPhone’s IMEI Number (check out the link I provided in the previous step)
- The iCloud Locked iPhone’s UDID Number (check out this link and find your iPhone UDID Number)
In a couple of days, you will be provided with full info of the iCloud Locked iPhone’s original owner
On top of that, iCloud ID Finder gives you another option, previously unavailable. If the original owner is not responding, you can use the info you got and make a Formal iCloud Lock Removal Request to Apple and Apple will immediately arrange a meeting between you and the original owner.
This is how I managed to disable Find My iPhone Activation Lock on my refurbished iPhone 5. After the 2 failed attempts, I used the iCloud ID Finder (it was called iCloud Contact Information Service back then), the original owner didn’t respond (I was calling and keep sending emails for 2 weeks), so I made the Formal iCloud Lock Removal Request and Apple set an audience with the original owner and after 5 minutes, iCloud Activation Lock was history.
Step 3: How to SIM Unlock your iPhone
Finally, it’s time to Carrier unlock any iPhone without further problems because:
- We IMEI checked the iPhone, and we are sure about the actual issues and the network unlocking eligibility
- We found the iPhone’s original owner and iCloud Activation Lock is off
I talk with many people every day and help them with iPhone Unlocking. Many of them believe that there are many ways to unlock an iPhone but this is not true. Many previously popular iPhone Unlocking options don’t work anymore and these are:
- The Software SIM Unlocking Method: This used to be the most famous iPhone Unlocking method. You had to jailbreak your iPhone first and then download a special software, like Ultrasn0w or Redsn0w, for free from Cydia. This method had iOS version and baseband limitations. Moreover, if you wanted to update your iOS, you had to repeat the whole process as long as that new iOS version could be jailbroken and Software Method could unlock it. Software Carrier Unlocking Method worked until iOS 6.1.6.
- The Hardware SIM Unlocking Method: This was the most dangerous iPhone Unlocking solution. With products like Turbo-SIM, X-SIM, R-SIM and Gevey, you had to buy a custom made SIM card and squeeze it along yours inside the SIM Tray. It had only 30% success ratio, it would probably damage your iPhone, any kind of Warranty was spoiled and there were iPhone model, iOS version and baseband limitations. Hardware Network Unlocking Method ”worked” until iPhone 4s.
- YouTube iPhone Unlocking Tutorials: Like the YouTube iCloud Unlocking Tutorials, there’s nothing more to say here. All of the remain useless and time-consuming (and believe me I spent days testing them)
So, since September 2012, there are only 2 iPhone Unlocking Options.
1. Using Mobile Network’s SIM Lock Deactivation Services
If you are the original owner of the iPhone, contact your Wireless Network and check out if you can unlock your iPhone with their services. But it won’t be a walk in the park on a sunny day.
Carriers don’t want us to SIM unlock our iPhones and you will have to deal with a ton of paperwork and annoying requirements like:
- The contract holder’s name and contract number
- To be or have been a customer of that Mobile Network
- The phone number
- Original owner’s social security number or password
- A finished contract and/or device payment plan or a specific period of time spent under contract
- Overseas deployment papers (for cases like military personnel on campaign)
- Ridiculous amounts of money
So, don’t be disappointed if you can’t use these Network Lock Removal Services. Of course, if you bought a refurbished iPhone it will be impossible.
2. The IMEI Unlock Method
Ok, this is the real deal. It was there from the start and never failed any of us since day 1. IMEI Unlock Service is also known as Factory Unlock and works every time for a simple reason:
It has certified access to Apple’s GSX Databases. In there, it will locate your iPhone and change the SIM Lock Status from Locked to UNLOCKED, permanently!
Premium Factory Unlock and Blacklisted iPhones
As I said, blacklisted iPhones can be SIM unlocked with IMEI Unlock Service. It costs and takes more because the iPhone Unlocking process is more difficult but you need to be aware of a few things before proceeding.
A blacklisted iPhone will be Carrier Unlocked but it will remain blacklisted inside the country it was blacklisted at first place and maybe 1 or 2 neighboring countries if they share their blacklists.
- If your iPhone was blacklisted for LOST/STOLEN/FRAUD ACTIVITIES/REPLACED IMEI reasons, you won’t be able to use it in that country (or countries). But if you live in that country then you can always sell it as unlocked to a foreign student or a tourist, via an online market to any part of the world or even keep the unlocked blacklisted iPhone and use it when you travel abroad with local SIM Cards. In the end, you will cover all or some part of your money loss or even make a few bucks or at least you will have a globally unlocked iPhone!
- If your iPhone was blacklisted for PENDING CONTRACT BILLS, you will be able to use all GSM networks worldwide except the one that blacklisted the iPhone. In fact, when you IMEI Check the iPhone and know that this is your blacklist issue, you can contact the Carrier and find out how much is the debt. Maybe it is cheap and you can pay for it and unblacklist the iPhone. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the iPhone will be SIM Unlocked at the same time.
This is how I successfully unlocked my iPhone 5. The IMEI Unlock Provider I used (the very same I suggested you), advised me to use an iPhone IMEI Check Service and found out that my iPhone was SIM Locked and Blacklisted as stolen by AT&T USA. Since I live in Greece, I got the Premium IMEI Unlock Service and after 9 days my iPhone 5 was free as a bird. But I still can’t use it inside the USA ;-).
Thanx to all of you who read the whole post. I know that it was big but now we covered everything about iPhone Unlocking. Here in Unlock.Ultrasnow.EU we constantly check and test the most popular and trusted IMEI Unlock providers to ensure that nothing will go wrong with your iPhone Unlocking experience and post our results on our iPhone Unlock Comparison Page.
Leave a comment below if you still have questions or need our help and until next time, take care iPhone Unlockers!