Here is the ultimate guide to iPhone Unlock!
The IMEI number
Because IMEI is simply the key to all iPhone locks.
What is the IMEI Number?
But this is a very general and technical term that you will find on Wikipedia along with a vast amount of information.
The IMEI is the identity card of the iPhone. By itself, it contains information only about the origin, model, and the serial number of the iPhone. The real power lies in the registration of the iPhone in two central IMEI databases.
GSX & GSMA IMEI Databases
GSMA stands for “Global System for Mobile Communications” and is an organization that represents the interests of all mobile networks worldwide.
The responsibilities of this organization are unlimited, but what is important to us is that the GSMA databases contain information about the complete status of all IMEI numbers.
- Are there unpaid bills or installments?
- Is it a loaner phone?
- Is it stolen?
- Has it been blacklisted for any other reason like a fraud?
- From which network and in which country has it been blacklisted?
The list of IMEI information found in GSMA databases is huge. Basically, through GSMA, mobile networks use the IMEI number to determine if an iPhone is allowed to use their services and of course, block them at will.
Companies offering IMEI Check services must have access to GSMA databases in order to be able to provide accurate and up-to-date information.
Apple GSX Database
Apple Global Service Exchange is a valuable tool. Apple and its affiliates can perform individual services, repairs, and other management settings through GSX.
The GSX Database, in turn, contains information on all Apple IMEI numbers related to repairs, services, and locks and is widely used by companies offering IMEI Check services, as they can instantly detect
- Tether (and Next Tether) Policy ID
- First Activation with Network
- Contract Status
- Insurance / Apple Warranty Status
- iCloud lock
- Any IMEI / iDevice replacement
and many other IMEI info, absolutely essential for unlocking an iPhone.
How to find the IMEI on an iPhone
It is no coincidence that buying any unlocking service, without having previously IMEI checked the iPhone, is doomed to fail without you being able to get your money back.
What is iPhone IMEI Check?
The companies that offer such services have access to the GSX and GSMA IMEI databases and in a few seconds you can find out the complete history of an iPhone along with all the locking problems that accompany it.
Can I IMEI Check my iPhone for free?
In any case, they always succeed in the iPhone model and in the state of Apple Warranty because this information is really free and available to anyone through Apple’s CheckCoverage page. GSMA & GSX access is a paid service, so whoever provides real IMEI Checking always charges for the delivery of the IMEI report.
What should be included in a complete IMEI Report?
General IMEI info
- Model (Αs well as storage and color)
- IMEI2 (Αvailable on iPhone XS and beyond for eSIM)
- Serial Number
- Activation Status (Activated/Not Activated)
- AppleCare Eligibility (Yes/No)
- Warranty Status (Under/Out Of Warranty)
- Telephone Technical Support (Active/Expired)
- Repairs and Service Coverage (Active/Expired)
Contract IMEI info
- Contract Status (Active/Expired)
- Valid Purchase Date
- Registered (Yes/No)
- Replaced Device (Yes/No)
- Replaced IMEI (Yes/No)
- Replaced Serial (Yes/No)
- Loaner (Yes/No)
SIM Lock IMEI info
- SIM Lock Status (Locked/Unlocked)
- SIM Lock Carrier (Ιn case it’s SIM Locked)
- Tether / Next Tether Policy ID
Financial IMEI info
- Outstanding Financial Balance (Unpaid Bills/Pending Installment Plan)
Blacklist IMEI info
- Blacklist Status (CLEAN/Blacklisted/Blocked)
- Blacklisted as (Stolen/Lost/Replaced/Lost)
- Blacklisted by (Carrier in case it’s Blacklisted)
- Blacklisted in (Country in case it’s Blacklisted)
- Blacklisted Date
iCloud Lock IMEI info
- iCloud Lock Status: ON/OFF
- iCloud Status: CLEAN/LOST/ERASED
- First of all, the iPhone can be locked in more ways than you suspect
- There is a specific order of priority as to what needs to be unlocked first
- Especially in the case of a used iPhone, the information you have from the seller is probably completely wrong
- Every unlock service has strict requirements and is much more than the model and network that has locked the iPhone
There are many types of locks that require different services and should be dealt with in the proper order since most of the time an iPhone is locked with two or more locks.
The SIM Lock
The SIM lock was the first to be created. Mobile phones became a must shortly before the end of 2000 but networks were having the following problem. In order to acquire as many subscribers as possible, they offered mobiles by signing the contract. But nothing stopped the subscriber from breaking the agreement, even getting the mobile for free and using other SIM Cards from cheaper networks.
The SIM lock put an end to this situation. Today most people prefer to get the latest iPhone model, like the iPhone 12 which is released in a few weeks, through a network in installments. The contract in this case lasts at least two years and the network will not unlock the iPhone until it expires. The problem, however, gets even bigger as networks often refuse to unlock the device even when the contract has expired.
This is how the concept of the blacklist was created. Since each phone has a unique IMEI, when the theft or loss is reported by the original owner on the network, the phone is recorded as blacklisted in the databases. Although it started as an anti-theft measure, the blacklist was also used to address other issues.
- Block phone usage in case of Unpaid bills or installments
- Replacing the device with a new one
- Illegal IMEI change by replacing the logical board
- Involvement of the phone in criminal activity
What does it mean that an iPhone is blacklisted?
The blacklist is valid nationally. A blacklisted iPhone will not work with any network in the Carrier country that blocked it regardless of whether it is SIM Locked or Unlocked.
- If it is SIM Locked it will not work anywhere in the world
- If SIM Unlocked it will work everywhere except this country
- It will not work anywhere if it is SIM Locked at the same time
- It will work everywhere except these countries if SIM unlocked
The iCloud Lock
Apple, in turn, wanting to help fight theft of its devices developed the iCloud lock. The owner of any iDevice (iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple Watch, Mac), creates an Apple ID and password which are directly linked to the device.
On each restart, update or reset, iPhone displays the Activation Lock screen.
The problem with used locked iPhones and online markets
Based only on the seller’s description you always risk buying a SIM Locked, iCloud Locked, or Blacklisted iPhone. And it is not uncommon for the iPhone to be locked in all ways at once.
Three steps to unlock your iPhone
However, the methodology you need to follow to successfully unlock an iPhone, regardless of the type of lock, is always the same:
- iPhone lock problem identification
- Find the appropriate unlock service
- Check device compatibility with existing unlock services
How do all iPhone Unlock services work?
- SIM Locked > Unlocked
- Blacklisted > CLEAN
- iCloud Lock ON > OFF
In order for the Locked status to be changed to Unlocked in the IMEI databases, all those elements that I showed in what a complete IMEI Check must include must have specific values. Even if one is not what it should be, unlocking the iPhone will fail. That is, the overall IMEI status of an iPhone makes it eligible or not for unlock.
At the same time, there are no IMEI Unlock services for all iPhones. Networks don’t want their phones to get unlocked by third-party sources, so they are constantly searching for and repairing loopholes used by IMEI Unlock vendors. Despite the permanent results of IMEI Unlock, the service itself is not always available and not necessarily under the same conditions when it comes back online.
Most companies just tell you that you are responsible for whether the iPhone meets all the unlocking requirements without warning you of the consequences. Of course, the service will not work but you will not receive any compensation. Basically, with the few dollars they ask for, they check the iPhone.
- If it is eligible you will be asked for extra money as the cheapest iPhone Unlock service costs $50
- If not, they will just keep the money you originally gave
iPhone SIM Unlock
Only then is our iPhone completely unlocked.
Mobile Networks' SIM Unlock Policy
Each network has its own SIM Unlock policy and the iPhone must meet all the requirements to unlock it through the network. But some conditions are common to all.
- iPhone must be locked from the network we are requesting SIM Unlock
- We need to be network subscribers with the iPhone we want to unlock
- There can’t be any unpaid bills or outstanding installments
- It can’t be blacklisted
- The contract must have expired or there must be a minimum amount of time that iPhone is enabled with network services, usually at least 6 months
How to apply for SIM Unlock on the carrier?
Primarily, you must be the original owner, the person who signed the contract. However, the vast majority are people who bought a used iPhone and got stuck on the SIM Not Supported screen.
There is no way to request SIM unlock if you want to unlock a used iPhone. The only exception is AT&T in the US.
In the past you would have had alternatives through various methods but in recent years only the iPhone IMEI Unlock has remained.
Also known as Factory Unlock, it is directly related to and dependent on the iPhone IMEI. The process is completely wireless and usually takes a couple of weeks. In the end, all you have to do is a simple restore in iTunes and now you have got rid of the SIM lock once and for all.
Factory Unlock Services
The network SIM unlock policy and other elements of the overall IMEI status of the iPhone determine exactly what service you need.
For Clean iPhone
But there are many more small details depending on the network to make the iPhone compatible with some CLEAN IMEI Unlock service. For example:
- SPCS must be turned off on US Sprint iPhones
- US AT&T iPhones must not be subject to Next Tether Policy ID: 23
- US Verizon iPhones must not be subject to Next Tether Policy ID: 2320
- Tracfone / Straight Talk iPhones require a special IMEI Check to determine if they are ready for unlock. Only a few IMEI Check providers can provide it
- UK EE (T-Mobile, Orange) iPhone Unlock has different requirements depending on whether the iPhone is on the network for more or less than six months
For Blacklisted iPhone
However, I should point out a very important detail. SIM Unlocking a blacklisted iPhone does not allow you to use it in the country where it was blacklisted and the reason is that it remains blacklisted. Νow you can use it with any SIM Card you want abroad, extremely useful if you travel often, or sell it as unlocked at its maximum market value as a used iPhone.
But if you want to use it in the country that was blacklisted you will need a Blacklist Removal service.
For Unpaid iPhone
Unlike blacklisted iPhones, simply SIM unlocking an unpaid iPhone will allow us to use it worldwide with all networks. The only network we will not be able to use is the one to which the debt is still pending.
However, there are separate cases, such as T-Mobile and Verizon, where the iPhone can sometimes not get unlocked unless unblocked first. This procedure is also known as Unbar and is usually the same as the corresponding blacklist removal service.
When the iPhone is active on another account
iPhone Blacklist Removal
How to clean a blacklisted iPhone
This is an IMEI service that is subject to the same conditions and features that I mentioned for Factory Unlock (However many blacklist removal services apply to both iPhone and Android phones) but with a different mission. With IMEI Blacklist Removal, the iPhone is located in the databases but this time it cleans the blacklist status.
The reason and the network that put the iPhone on the blacklist play a dominant role since many times they are not stolen but something else has happened. There are even more extreme cases where the iPhone is SIM Locked on a network but blacklisted by a different one.
To avoid unpleasant surprises, I highly recommend an iPhone Blacklist Removal IMEI Check. This way you will know exactly what happened, if you can unblacklist it, if the service is available, and of course how much it costs.
Beware of Chimaera Device Policy
This happens when the device is stolen from a store, warehouse, or during transport. Apple also uses these iPhones as samples in its physical stores and official retailers.
Doing a Blacklist Check, you see nothing but the term Chimaera Device Policy everywhere. You should be absolutely sure that you haven’t got a Chimaera iPhone since at the moment there is no way to unlock it or clean it.
How to iCloud Unlock an iPhone
These tools are mostly free and are supposed to hack the iCloud lock. What they are really doing is nothing more than imposing hidden charges through fake contests while others are even more dangerous as they try to steal your personal information (especially your credit or debit card code).
But what they can not change is the activation of Lost Mode through Find My iPhone. In this case the iPhone is registered in the iCloud database as lost and at least until today no one has been able to change it.
IMEI iCloud Unlock has more prerequisites but certainly cannot be applied to lost iDevices. And I say iDevices because you can also unlock iCloud Locked iPads and Apple Watches as long as they meet the requirements and there is a service immediately available.
All you have to do is to make sure if your iCloud Locked device can be unlocked.
iPhone Unlock Costs
How much will it cost us to unlock an iPhone?
Although prices vary from IMEI unlock vendor to another, there is a general idea.
- The cheapest Factory Unlock service costs about $50 and is most often intended for Clean iPhones.
- Blacklist Removal services usually start at $80
- iCloud Unlock services are usually expensive but many start at $140
The secret of iPhone Unlock success lies in the initial investment:
An accurate & complete IMEI Check
- Full knowledge of the iPhone IMEI status
- Which services are appropriate for the situation
- If the iPhone is eligible for them
- The most economical services from IMEI Unlock vendors with the highest success rates
- Money-back guarantee for all iPhone Unlock services
- Ongoing support from IMEI Unlock experts
This way you have both peace of mind and the confidence that you are not wasting your money on services that you don’t need or aren’t suitable for your iPhone.