Case Study: How Our Customer Managed to Track His Stolen iPhone using ICCID and CTN

Losing your iPhone is a nightmare, but with improved technology and a special database access, we helped reunite our customer with his stolen iPhone.

Most people think that once you lost your iPhone you will never see it back, unless, if the person who found your iPhone is kind enough to return it to you. If you’ve installed Apple’s Find My iPhone, potentially it may help you find it as well, but not always.

Let’s admit it, the iPhone is a highly desirable device. A lot of people couldn’t resist it if they found one or if they can buy it at a good price (stolen ones are usually sold cheap).

I’m writing this case study to share with you guys how we helped one of our many customers track and find his iPhone back. It took him less than a week to find the whereabouts of his stolen iPhone which is quite impressive. Normally there’s no chance for you to find out about what happened to your iPhone or even with the police’s help, it will take ages before they would have any information about your iPhone’s whereabouts. Please be sure to read my blog on ‘It’s Possible to Track Your Stolen with ICCID and CTN‘ which I wrote two weeks ago.

Our customer, Mr. S used our service called ‘Find Your Stolen or Missing iPhone‘ last week. He lost a 16GB iPhone 5 which was purchased around December last year.

We only need two piece of information to help track his iPhone.

  • The IMEI number – can be found on the box, receipt or invoice from the store you purchased it. Your carrier may have this information as well.
  • The phone number of the SIM card that went missing with the iPhone.

We need the phone number just for comparison whether it’s the same or different with the missing number. It’s not really necessary to have this information but it will be very useful.

After Mr. S placed his orders, we used his IMEI to check his iPhone information on Apple’s database. The basic check didn’t return any useful information so we used a more advanced check that returned the following:

  • First Unbrick Date: 12/18/12 [this shows when the iPhone was first restored using iTunes, unbrick is Apple’s internal terminology for ‘restore’]
  • MAC Address: 30F7C570xxxx [the iPhone’s hardware address, not important for tracking]
  • Last Unbrick Date: 06/01/13 [the date of when the iPhone was last restored using iTunes]
  • ICCID: 898602A119128xxxxxxx [the information needed to track his phone, the SIM’s card unique identifier]
  • Unbricked: true [means it’s already restored]
  • Unlocked: true [means it’s already unlocked]
  • Unlock Date: 06/01/13 [self explanatory]

The query didn’t return any phone number; although sometimes it would if the iPhone’s FaceTime is activated, but with the ICCID, it now gives him a step closer to find his iPhone. This website has an ICCID reverse lookup function that will tell you the carrier and phone number tied to the ICCID. Upon entering the ICCID, it returned the following result:

Based on screenshot above, it has been identified that the carrier used on his iPhone is from China Mobile (he was using China Unicom before), the phone number is 1571xxxxxxx (the last 7 digits were intentionally concealed), the SIM card was made in year 2012 and the current location is at Guangdong Province in China.

Mr. S lost his iPhone in Beijing and now it has traveled to the South of China which is approximately 2,000km away. With China Mobile and police’s help, he’s now able to locate the current user of his iPhone.

This service is available to all users worldwide and not specifically in China. It’s quicker if the missing iPhone has been restored on iTunes with a SIM card inserted and FaceTime activated. If you just lost your iPhone, consider using our service here.

Our other IMEI related services are also helping those who have been scammed into buying blacklisted iPhones. As many of you are aware, once a device is blacklisted by a carrier, it can never be used.

If you happen to be a victim of a scam and have no way to use your iPhone again, be sure to check our IMEI/ESN/MEID services to see if there’s a possible solution for you.

Future Camera Sensors Made of Graphene is the Solution for Extremely Low Light Photography

Most of our photos look dull or bad when shot using our iPhone or any smartphone in low light conditions. This will become a thing of a past with a revolutionary camera sensor.

We regularly use our iPhones to take photos for almost any occasion. We can take brilliant results when it’s bright and sunny but it gets really bad when photos are taken indoors or when it’s dim. Although our eyes are able to adapt to low light conditions pretty well, our smartphone cameras or digital cameras are still not capable of doing that. Software enhancement or better lenses are able to improve our photos like the one on Nokia’s Lumia 928, but it’s still not up to the level that we expected.

Meanwhile, scientists at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) of Singapore has invented a new camera sensor that’s a thousand times more sensitive than current camera sensors used on our iPhones and digital cameras. The new sensor is made from graphene is able to detect broad spectrum light, from the visible to mid-infrared, with high photoresponse or sensitivity.

Graphene, as shown in the photo above, is a million times smaller than the thickest human hair (only one-atom thick) and is made of pure carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb structure. Graphene has a high electrical conductivity and it’s also durable and flexible.

The inventor of this sensor, Assistant Professor Wang Qijie said:

“We have shown that it is now possible to create cheap, sensitive and flexible photo sensors from graphene alone. We expect our innovation will have great impact not only on the consumer imaging industry, but also in satellite imaging and communication industries, as well as the mid-infrared applications”

The graphene sensor is also very energy efficient which is 10 times less energy than current sensors, that means we can have improved battery life on our devices especially our iPhones which constantly have issues with short battery life.

If you wish to learn more about this exciting discovery, you can check the article here. Hopefully smartphone makers would adapt this technology soon so that everyone can enjoy low light photography and we can take great fireworks photos during a grand celebration.

Source: Nanyang Technological University. “Clear photos in dim light: New sensor a thousand times more sensitive than current camera sensors.” ScienceDaily, 30 May 2013. Web. 3 Jun. 2013.

iOS 6 Unknown Data Leakage: Another Reason to Unlock Your AT&T iPhone to Change Carrier?

Some users reported about mysterious data usage or leakage on their AT&T phones. Should you change carrier?

Apple and AT&T are currently on a blame game about mysterious data leakage and excessive data usage in iOS 6. While they’re pointing fingers, iPhone users are affected by this issue and it’s been largely debated on Apple’s support forum. The discussion thread now has more than 100,000 views since iOS 6 was launched. You can also read an article about this on Forbes.

Apple is usually fast in fixing this type of problem especially if it involves data and security. When Verizon’s customers were complaining about huge data consumption last October, Apple quickly released carrier settings update for Verizon iPhones. Unfortunately, AT&T customers are not that lucky, at least not yet.

The guy that wrote the article on Forbes put up some fixes as suggested by AT&T support on his website (you may want to try yourself if you’re affected):

iOS 6: Setup to Optimize Cellular Data Usage…
Many of the iPhone 5 iOS default network Settings are intended to create best user experience and performance, by utilizing available WiFi and high speed LTE and/or 4G Cellular Data networks.

If your cellular data plan is limited, less than a One GB per month, it would be wise to work through the defaults, and turn off those services that are not important to you.

Network Reset: reset the network connection…
Make sure you know [or have saved] your various wifi passwords so you can quickly set them up again.
Settings, General, Reset, Reset Network Settings.

Cellular Data: turn it Off when you don’t need it…
This may sound messy, but it is really no more so than turning off WiFi, or Bluetooth, when you know you will not be using it. Maybe Apple will move this setting to the front page of Settings, as they have done with Bluetooth in iOS 6
Settings, General, Cellular, Cellular Data, Off.

iCloud Backup: Turn it Off except when you need to do a Backup to iCloud…
Otherwise iPhone will automatically do a Backup over WiFi and/or Cellular Network, while it is on Power, and sleeping.
Settings, iCloud, Storage and Backup, iCloud Backup, Off.

iCloud Documents & Data: turn off the use of the Cellular Data connection, until you need it…
Settings, iCloud, Documents & Data, Use Cellular Data, Off.

Location Services: make sure only the apps you consider critical are switched on…
These are new Settings in iOS 6.
Settings, Privacy, Location Services, and turn Off each Application that is not important to you.
Obviously you would tend to leave On Maps, Photo, Find Friends, Find My iPhone, Weather and Siri.

System Services: apparently, some of these can be demanding on Cellular Network usage…
Settings, Privacy, Location Services, and scroll down past the notes at the bottom of the list of Applications, and select System Services, and turn them all Off except Cell Network Search.
If the Maps Traffic service is important to you, turn it On, but be warned it may be a bit of a hog.

Notification Centre: work through each Application carefully, to determine what you really do need real time?
Settings, Notifications, select each Application, and turn Notification Centre, Off, if you do not need Notification in real time…

Siri: every iPhone User now understand how to use Siri…
However you should be aware that Siri support has been expanded significantly in iOS 6, to include operation of your iPhone, to send text, make appointments, find restaurants, make bookings, and handle your dictation. The catch is that Siri services contacts the Apple Server via the network to translate your voice, do the searches, and return your results. You can leave Siri On but be aware of using Siri, when you are only connected via Cellular Data, and low on Data Usage remaining…
Settings, General, Siri, Siri, On. by default,…

There is also a new setting included in several Applications which allow you to turn off the Cellular Data Connection while they are active…
Music: Settings, Music, Use Cellular Data, Off.
iTunes and App Store: Settings, iTunes and App Store, Use Cellular Data, Off.
Podcasts: Settings, Podcasts, Auto-Downloads, Use Cellular Data, Off.

Mail: you can set up mail to better manage Cellular Data Usage, if it suits your operation…
Settings, Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Fetch New Data, Push, Off, and set Fetch to Manually.
And select, Advanced, and for each Mail Account, Select Schedule, Manually.

And finally, here are a few more services you can probably do without, to further reduce Cellular Data usage…
Advertising: Settings, General, About, scroll down to Advertising, Limit Ad Tracking, On.
Diagnostics and Usage: Settings, General, About, scroll down to Diagnostics & Usage, Don’t Send, On.

Some more tips…
For heavy data transmissions sessions on WiFi, switch to Airplane Mode, then switch WiFi back on again while your session is in progress. This mode will prevent iOS 6 from switching the Cellular Data midway through the session, should WiFi stumble….

It would be nice if Apple and AT&T can work together to find the underlying issues and release a permanent fix. This is not an anomaly for sure judging by the thread on Apple’s support forum.

Are you affected by this? Have you considered unlocking your AT&T iPhone to change to a different carrier?

iPhone with APAC Service Activation Policy Can Now Be Officially IMEI Unlocked

If you’ve done an IMEI check before, some of you may notice that you have an iPhone with APAC Next Tether Activation or Applied Policy. What’s all this? Let me explain.

First of all, it’s important for you to know that all iDevices including iPhone, iPad or iPod touch will need to go through an activation process during their life cycle. This is designed by Apple so these devices are activated legitimately and can be tracked in their database.

Device activation sometimes can be a pain, especially if you encounter activation issues such as the one that requires you to enter ZIP/SSN, invalid SIM card error (usually caused by locked iPhone) or even error caused by Apple blacklist.

According to the iPhoneWiki, “Activation is the process by which a new (or newly restored) iPhone or iPod touch can get by the “Emergency Call Screen” (iPhone) or “Connect to iTunes” screen (not to be confused with Recovery Mode; the activation screen has a battery icon in the top right corner to indicate this) to access the SpringBoard.

iTunes connects to Apple’s activation server called ‘Albert’ to complete the activation process.

If you do a general IMEI check using Apple’s GSX access, a typical result you will get:

MODEL: IPHONE 4 16GB BLACK
IMEI: 0128xx00937xxxx
SERIAL: 61136ZLxxxx
CTN: 82102839xxxx (what’s this? Click here to learn more)
iOS: 5.0
MAC Address: 28E02C2A9B62
ICCID: 89823003100110xxxxx (what’s this? Click here to learn more)
Last Restored: 2011-10-14
Network Unlocked: False
Activation Status: Yes
Activation Date: 2011-10-07
Activated Carrier: KT Freetel – Korea, Repub
Original Carrier: Korea KTF
Applied Policy Id: 58 – APAC Service

Notice the line in bold above, it says Applied Policy APAC Service. APAC is a short form Asia Pacific which consists of all countries in Asia and the Pacific region.

iPhones sold in this region may not necessarily be tied to a specific carrier; so if you get an IMEI check with the result above, the activation or applied policy can be changed to ‘Unlocked.’ The status can be changed by using our APAC iPhone unlocking service.

One final tip: Your iPhone’s next tether activation policy or applied policy is the “carrier” or status of your iPhone. Any other status besides “unlock” means your iPhone is still not officially unlocked. An example of an already unlocked iPhone would be:

IMEI: 0128xx00937xxxx
Serial Number: 61136ZLxxxx
Part Description: IPHONE 4 16GB BLACK
Product Version: 6.1.2
Coverage Status: Out of Warranty
Coverage End Date:
First Unbrick Date: 07/10/11
Last Unbrick Date: 17/05/13
Next Tether Activation Policy Description: Unlock.
Lock Status: Unlocked

Thanks to the our customer who owns the iPhone above, who officially unlocked his APAC iPhone with us a few days ago.

How to Fix Could Not Activate iPhone iTunes Error caused by Apple Database Blacklist

Due to Apple’s tight control on its systems, you may encounter this issue when activating your iPhone. Here’s what you can try.

Apple is probably the only smartphone producer that does phone unlocking remotely. As you probably already know, iPhone unlocking is done via iTunes. When you connect your iPhone to the computer, iTunes will read the IMEI and send it to Apple’s activation server. The server then checks their database that stores information on every iPhone that was ever produced to determine if your iPhone is eligible for unlocking. If your iPhone has been “flagged” as “unlocked”, iTunes will receive the status and unlocks your iPhone automatically.

There are a few ways how you can get your iPhone unlocked:

Many companies which are providing iPhone unlocking service sometimes mess up with people’s iPhone’s and its information on Apple database which causes activation problems after doing a full restore on iTunes. This can also happen if your iPhone that you unlocked was never activated first or it has been marked “blacklisted” (bad IMEI). If you’re not familiar with blacklisted iPhone, this post on What Ever Happens to IMEI Blacklisted iPhones or Other Popular Smartphones? will help you understand more.

iPhone activation problems error message which you may encounter on iTunes would be:

“Your request couldn’t be processed. We’re sorry, but there was an error processing your request. Please try again later”

While on your iPhone you will see the error as shown on top of this post:

“Your iPhone can not be activated at this time because the activation server is temporarily unavailable. Try connecting your iPhone to iTunes to activate it, or try again in a couple of minutes.

If this problem persists contact Apple Support at apple.com/support”

Clearly, the first thing you should try is to contacting Apple support directly. You can check their support information on Apple’s website.

If for any reason that’s not possible for you to do, using a different and newer SIM card might also fix this activation problem. Apple seemed to have changed something on iOS 6 that doesn’t allow old SIM cards to activate iOS 6.

Next, also try to activate it at another location such as your home, friend’s house or Starbucks. Sometimes, your iTunes is not able to connect to Apple’s activation server especially if you’re trying to activate your iPhone in your office. Corporate offices usually have firewalls or antivirus which may potentially block your computer’s data ports (virtual) and prevents iTunes from communicating properly with Apple’s activation server.

If you’ve tried all the above then there’s a high chance that your iPhone is blacklisted by Apple or there is an issue with your iPhone’s activation certificate. This requires manual fix on their database. Thankfully, there’s still hope on fixing activation issue with your iPhone by using our service here.

This has been done many times, once you have purchased this service we will take care of everything and let you know as soon as you can proceed with next steps.