In order to be able to use your iPhone without any restrictions, you need to know how to check if your iPhone is unlocked.
A locked iPhone can only use SIM-Cards from one specific carrier, whereas an unlocked one, is allowed to use ANY mobile network you want worldwide.
There are plenty of methods to check if iPhone is unlocked, 3 very common and easy, and 4 more that require a few more steps.
Check below the overview of the 7 methods that will help you to check if your iPhone is unlocked:
|iPhone’s Settings||Easy||Not accurate||Cannot find lock carrier|
|Two SIM-Cards||Easy||Very accurate||Cannot find lock carrier|
|Online IMEI Checker||Easy||100% accurate||Full info – Paid service|
|Through Carrier||Medium||Low accuracy||Need to know the carrier|
|Through Seller||Difficult||Low accuracy||Difficult to locate the seller|
|iPhone’s Documentation||Medium||Accurate||Rarely available|
|Through Service Plan||Easy||Accurate||Full info if available|
1 – How to Check if iPhone is Unlocked through Settings
- Need to have access to the iPhone (cannot be done remotely)
- iPhone should now be iCloud Locked
You can apply this method to any iPhone but as we stated at the beginning, this is not 100% accurate for iPhones with an older iOS version than 14.
For older than iOS 14 version iPhones
Turn on your iPhone and follow the instructions below:
- Tap on “Settings”
- Go to “Mobile Data” (or “Cellular”) -> “Mobile Data Options” (or “Cellular Data Options”)
- Find the “Mobile Data Network” (or “Cellular Data Network”) option
- After tapping it, you will either be presented with some options or not
- If you see some options: The iPhone might be unlocked
- If you do not see anything: The iPhone most likely it is locked
However, things are much better with iPhones that have an iOS 14 or later version.
For iPhones with iOS 14.X.X version
The process is even easier (not that the previous one was difficult) and it is 100% accurate for checking if your iPhone is locked or unlocked.
- Go to “Settings”
- Tap on “General” and then on “About”
- Scroll down and find the “Carrier Lock” label
- If its value is “No SIM restrictions” then your iPhone is unlocked
- If it is something else, then your iPhone is locked
2 – How to Check if iPhone is Unlocked with a SIM-Card
- Need to have access to the iPhone (cannot be done remotely)
- Need to have at least two SIM-Cards from different keywords
This is one of the most accurate ways to figure out if your iPhone is locked or unlocked. The process is very simple.
How to check if iPhone is Unlocked with a SIM-Card
- Turn off the iPhone and insert the original SIM-Card into the SIM-Tray
- Turn on the iPhone and try to make a phone call (you should be able to connect with a carrier and have a signal)
- Turn off the iPhone and insert the second SIM-Card from the other carrier
- Turn on the iPhone and wait to get a signal
- If you can normally make phone calls then your iPhone is unlocked
- If you cannot get a signal then your iPhone is locked
How to check if iPhone is Unlocked without a SIM-Card
- Need to have access to the iPhone to find the device’s IMEI number
If your iPhone does not have a SIM-Card you will need to find if its IMEI number is registered as locked or unlocked in Apple’s databases (Read more on GSX databases).
Using online tools and services that have access to these databases, you can extract the SIM-Lock information of your iPhone’s IMEI number (each iPhone has a unique IMEI number).
This method will be covered in detail to the following method, which is how to check if your iPhone is unlocked with an Online IMEI checker.
3 – How to Check if iPhone is Unlocked through an Online IMEI Check service
- Should know the IMEI or MEID number of the iPhone you want to check
- Get it from the seller (which is not always the safest option)
- Have the device on your hands to find out its IMEI number (100% accurate)
There are many ways to find your iPhone’s IMEI number and the quickest one is by dialing *#06# (it will appear on your iPhone’s screen).
Online IMEI Check services are paid ones. There are a few companies that claim to check IMEI numbers for free but the information they provide is not accurate (random outcome on SIM-Lock and Blacklist statuses).
The only way for an Online IMEI Check service to be 100% accurate is to:
- Have access to Apple’s databases (GSX)
- Have access to GSMA databases
From the GSX database, you can learn if an iPhone is Locked or Unlocked, which carrier is locking it, various basic iPhone information, iCloud and Find My iPhone status, Warranty status, and IMEI/Serial replacement status.
From the GSMA database, you can learn if your iPhone is CLEAN or Blacklisted, which carrier blacklisted it, and the blacklist reason, country, and date/time.
How To Check If iPhone Is Unlocked With IMEI Or MEID
The process of checking if your iPhone is locked or unlocked is almost similar to all companies that offer Online IMEI Check services.
You will be asked for:
- Your iPhone’s IMEI number
- Email address to receive the IMEI results
Some companies offer on-site results, which means that you might not be asked to type your email address.
“Screenshot was taken by iPhoneUnlock.Zone’s Online IMEI Checker – They will send the IMEI results to your email address and generate an online IMEI Report instantly”
After the payment is completed, the full IMEI report should be delivered to you through email or get redirected to a different page with your iPhone’s IMEI Check results
“On-site IMEI Check results by iPhoneUnlock.Zone”
Usually, IMEI Check companies, except for telling you if your iPhone is locked or unlocked, will suggest methods and services that can fix it. If not, you can find out more about the costs of unlocking your iPhone (free methods are included).
Free vs Paid IMEI Check services
We slightly “touched” what the companies with FREE IMEI check do but let’s dive into it more.
There are a few companies that provide accurate free IMEI Check reports but there is a catch.
Those reports will include:
- iPhone model
- Warranty (not all of them)
This is called a device checkup and not an IMEI Check. The device checkup breaks down the IMEI number (and the Serial number) and can find information about the make, model, and specifications of the device.
The IMEI/Serial numbers are being generated based on the device’s specifications. The SIM-Lock, Carrier, Blacklist, iCloud, and others, are not being taken into account.
The companies that offer free IMEI Check services will never include the SIM-Lock, Carrier, Blacklist, iCloud, and IMEI/Serial replacement statuses. This info require access to GSX and GSMA databases, which are not for public use.
The Paid IMEI Check services are being provided by companies that have access to GSX and GSMA databases. Every time they need to check an IMEI number they have to pay in order to access them and fetch all available lock and blacklist info.
In short, it is not possible to offer free IMEI Check services, unless you are willing to get charged for generating an IMEI Check report and giving it away for free (which none does).
4 – How to Check if iPhone is Unlocked by calling the carrier
- Know in which carrier your iPhone has been activated (before or currently)
- Have a SIM-Card that allows you to make phone calls (you must have physical access to the iPhone)
This is not one of my favorite methods, since you will have to make a lot of assumptions in order to call the right carrier.
However, if you know or suspect what carrier your iPhone was using in the past, you can try calling them and ask them about its lock status. Carriers, will not tell you in which network your iPhone is locked to if it is not in their network (some exceptions exist, but it really depends on the agent you will get connected to).
If you are lucky enough to have a SIM card that allows you to make phone calls, then you should call that carrier and they will definitely tell you if your iPhone is locked or not. If it is locked, it is also certain that your iPhone is locked on them.
5 – How to check if iPhone is Unlocked by contacting the seller
Normally, the seller should be 100% transparent upfront and state if the iPhone is locked or unlocked. However, it is not unlikely (very rare though) for a seller to not know if their iPhone is unlocked, especially if the owner is not very tech-savvy.
It costs nothing to contact the seller and inform them about your iPhone’s status. They should contact the network they were using, find out if the iPhone is locked or unlocked, and update you.
Also, the most popular online stores such as Amazon and eBay will help you with the refunding procedure if you can prove that the description of the product you purchased was not accurate.
- Try to keep the conversation between you and the seller handy
- Use email for your communication
- It will help you to provide evidence to Amazon, eBay, PayPal, …
6 – How to check if iPhone is Unlocked via its documentation
Normally, when someone sells an iPhone through Amazon, eBay, or even in person, should also hand you over the whole documentation that comes with the box.
There is should state if the iPhone is Unlocked or if it is under contract.
It is always best to check the documentation before buying an iPhone but it is a solution to check if your iPhone is unlocked or locked afterward.
7 – How to check if iPhone is Unlocked by finding its service plan
Generally, the iPhones (and all phones) can have the following service plans:
- No contract
Prepaid and Pay-as-you-go service plans usually require an unlocked iPhone.
iPhones that are under contract are always locked.
iPhones without a contract are fully unlocked.
You will have to scan through the product description and the advertisement of an iPhone. If you encounter any of those words, you will be able to determine if the iPhone is locked or unlocked.
What to do if your iPhone turned out to be locked?
- The first thing you should do is to find out which carrier is locking your iPhone
- Contact the carrier and request a free unlock
If your iPhone is eligible for an unlock the carrier will take of it.
If your unlock request gets rejected, you should try to return it to its seller and get a full refund. If that’s not possible, you will have to find a compatible IMEI Unlock service specifically for your iPhone’s lock carrier (an iPhone IMEI Unlock check service can do that for you instantly).
FAQ – User Questions on “How to check if iPhone is Unlocked”
We gathered a list of the most common user questions we have received all these years about “How to check if my iPhone is Unlocked” and a few more questions from other websites.
I want to buy an iPhone from an online store and in the title, it says “iPhone 12 (AT&T)”. What does that mean? Is it unlocked?
The title implies that the iPhone 12 is an AT&T device and it will only work with AT&T SIM-Cards. It is locked on AT&T USA network. However, if the seller is also the owner of that iPhone, he/she can send an unlock request to the AT&T and fully unlock it!
I send an unlock request to my iPhone’s lock carrier (Straight Talk). When should my iPhone get unlocked?
Normally, the whole unlock request process takes around 3-5 business days. AT&T is an exception (the whole process is automated) and it only takes a few minutes/hours. If for any reason they take longer than a week, you can restart the unlock request process. You can read more about unlocking a Straight Talk iPhone here.
I need to quickly check if an iPhone is locked or unlocked. For instance, I want to visit a store and be able to quickly identify the SIM-Lock status of an iPhone. What method should I use?
In this case, you have two options:
- Ask the seller to put your SIM-Card and check if you can make a phone call
- Dial *#06# , get the IMEI number, and do an online IMEI Check with instant results
I found an iPhone to buy but on the top left corner it has “T-Mobile”. Does this mean that it is locked on the T-Mobile network?
It depends. The T-Mobile on the top left corner means that it is currently connected to the T-Mobile network. It might be locked on T-Mobile but it is not possible to be 100% sure by only that info. You will have to try a different SIM-Card to verify its SIM-Lock status or order an IMEI Check.
My iPhone has Dual SIM. Do I need to unlock both of those SIMs to be able to use them without any problems?
This is a very common question since the whole unlocking process requires the IMEI number of the iPhone. The lock is applied to an IMEI number but at the end, the device is being locked. So, by unlocking the iPhone, you will be able to use any two compatible SIM-Cards you want. You do not have to unlock both IMEI numbers.