An iPhone SIM Unlock or iPhone Carrier Unlock is a service that can remove the limitations of your iPhone to only use SIM-Cards from a specific carrier.
In order to pick the right iPhone SIM Unlock service for your device and be 100% sure that it will get unlocked, you must know which Carrier is locking it and which Carrier Unlock method is appropriate.
This guide includes everything about getting your iPhone SIM Unlocked and use any carrier you want.
How does a iPhone SIM Lock work?
Every carrier has the right to lock an iPhone. This means that the iPhone only accepts SIM cards from the locking carrier. That’s when an iPhone is SIM Locked and the SIM Not Supported error appears on the screen.
Buying locked vs. unlocked iPhones: Why would anyone buy a SIM locked iPhone? You can buy a brand new iPhone 11 Pro Max, 256 GB for $1249 from the Apple Store. The iPhone will be unlocked and you will be able to use any SIM you want anywhere in the world.
The alternative to buying a carrier unlocked iPhone would be this: You buy an iPhone through a carrier like AT&T. You are then required to sign a 30-month contract. For this period, you will be able to use the iPhone with SIM cards ONLY FROM AT&T.
The advantage of paying in 30 monthly installments at the cost of a contract and being limited in using a single network in just one country seems small, but it is not. You get a SIM locked iPhone.
Why don’t carriers want you to SIM unlock the iPhone?
It is in the best interest of a Carrier to protect their investment.
This means that a Carrier locked iPhone will force its user to continue paying the contract bills & installments. You are locked to the carrier.
If for any reason the user stops paying, then the Carrier has the right to disconnect this device from their network, but keep the iPhone SIM Lock on. This will prevent the user from skipping the required payments and continue using their iPhone.
Even after the successful completion of all payments, most Carriers will not automatically unlock the iPhone. The owner must request and initiate this Carrier Unlock procedure to get the iPhone unlocked.
Do you want to get your iPhone unlocked the easy way?
Everything you need to get your iPhone unlocked
The information you will get from this iPhone IMEI Unlock Check service will be necessary to successfully unlock your iPhone.
Many pre owned iPhones need to get SIM unlocked.
The risk of buying a second-hand iPhone with lock issues is very common amongst Amazon, eBay and Craigslist online buyers. Second hand iPhones are sold for low prices. Unfortunately, you cannot rely on the seller’s product description, since an iPhone can have more than one lock, with the most common being a SIM-Lock.
How to unlock an iPhone and use any SIM card you want
There are many ways to get your iPhone unlocked. Some have higher costs. You can read more about the cost to get your iPhone unlocked.
Deciding which SIM Unlocking method to pick, depends on the status of the iPhone you want to carrier unlock. There is not ONE SOLUTION for every iPhone, so it is important to know which method can deliver you a fully unlocked iPhone.
Method 1: SIM Unlocking the iPhone through the Carrier
Pros and Cons:
- Only the initial iPhone buyer can request it
- Has strong requirements, many rejections
- Takes about 1-2 weeks, depending on the Carrier
Contacting the network that is locking your iPhone is the most obvious option. After many years of legal disputes, since 21st of December 2017, all carriers must unlock any iPhone for free (just as AT&T does with their AT&T Unlock Device request form) or at a very small cost if it meets some requirements:
- It is locked by the mobile network
- Has not been stolen, lost, replaced, or involved in some fraud (simply put, not being blacklisted)
- There are no unpaid bills or other debts
- The contract has expired or a specific prerequisite period has elapsed (usually 90 to 180 days)
Every network has its own iPhone SIM Unlock policy and it is very common to deny unlocking an iPhone even if you meet all the unlock conditions. Most carriers have very complicated unlocking policies, that basically exclude a very large percentage of all unlocking requests.
When you are the original owner you know very well which carrier has locked your iPhone and you can contact them, learn if the iPhone is eligible for an unlock and ask for the carrier to unlock it. If you don’t know which carrier locked your iPhone, you will need an IMEI Check.
If you have a used iPhone, it is impossible to learn all this information without contacting the previous owner. Unfortunately, even after finding out the identity of the network, requesting from them to SIM Unlock your iPhone has a high chance to get rejected. These services are only available to the original owner (the person who signed the contract).
Unlocking your iPhone through the network services should be your first choice. If it is not available for you or the carrier unlock request gets rejected, then you should try the second method, which is the iPhone IMEI Unlock.
Method 2: iPhone IMEI Unlock – The Best Alternative so far
Pros and Cons:
- Anyone can request it
- Usually takes 1-3 days
- Have specific requirements & restrictions
This method (aka Factory Unlock or Official Unlock) remains the most popular for the past 8 years, for very good reasons!
It is fast, permanent and only your iPhone’s IMEI number is required.
The iPhone IMEI Unlock Method was able to SIM-Unlock almost all Carriers. But today, the SIM Unlocking servers have requirements, such as the following:
- The mobile carrier which has locked the phone
Although it supports a large variety of carriers worldwide, unfortunately, it is not available for all of them. In fact, 3rd party IMEI Network Unlock Services have permanent results but they can get online or offline at any given moment without prior notice.
- The financial balance
If there are unpaid debts, this method is limited to fewer networks (Learn how to Unlock iPhone with Unpaid Balance).
- Premium Unblacklist service required for blacklisted iPhones
In this case, only a handful of carriers are supported. Read more on How to achieve an iPhone IMEI Blacklist Removal and Unlock / Unblacklist an iPhone.
- iPhone Eligibility
During an IMEI iPhone SIM Unlock process, the IMEI number of the iPhone is submitted to a server. No all servers have the same requirements. Some of them are simple, but others support only very specific cases. The most common example is the Sprint USA IMEI Unlock service, which only supports devices that have their SPCS value “YES”.
In order to check the availability and eligibility of a Carrier Unlock service, there are services like iPhone IMEI Unlock Check that will help you to do so easily and quickly.
Method 3: iPhone SIM Unlock with Hardware method
The hardware methods do not use any tools or online services. You need to squeeze a special card inside the SIM tray of an iPhone and follow a few steps (Read more to our iPhone Hardware Unlock guide).
After testing this service with many locked iPhones, we reached to the following conclusions:
- it rarely works
- there are iPhone model, Mobile Network and iOS version requirements
- In case of a successful unlock, you cannot update to any future iOS since it will relock your device and render the “special card” useless
- the problems it can create could cost you more than the price of that “special card” (For instance, damaging the iPhone’s SIM tray)
Method 4: iPhone SIM Unlock with Software method
There was a time where you could jailbreak your iPhone, download the UltraSnow hack and get your iPhone unlocked. This method is still available only for older iPhone models, up to iPhone 4.
There is no SIM unlock software for iPhones from 2011 onwards. If you see a site advertising any type of software that can carrier unlock your device is very simply a fraud.
Recommended Method: IMEI Unlock service will remove an iPhone’s SIM Lock
The IMEI Unlock is the most popular, since it will permanently unlock your iPhone. However, an IMEI Unlock Check should be your first step before getting your iPhone unlocked. It will identify the carrier that is locking your iPhone, so you can get the IMEI Unlock your iPhone requires.
If you are unsure about which method is the right one and if you have doubt about the iPhone Lock Carrier, it is highly recommended to perform a complete IMEI Check first. This way, you will know the exact status of your iPhone. A provider that has specialised on getting iPhones unlocked it www.iPhoneUnlock.Zone.
Before you buy an iPhone SIM Unlock IMEI service, make sure to check your IMEI status of your iPhone and let iPhone Unlock experts provide you with the appropriate solution based on the information of your iPhone’s IMEI Check report.