Unlocking your iPhone for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. Here are the 10 things you should know about unlocking iPhones.
In many parts of the world, people don’t have to deal with unlocking their iPhones because they are already unlocked when purchased.
An unlocked iPhone simply means you can switch SIM card from any carrier without any problem.
However, most iPhones sold in the USA, Canada and some countries in Europe are usually locked which doesn’t allow you to switch carrier unless if you pay the device in full etc.
So what are the 10 things you should know about unlocking an iPhone? We compile a list for your below.
1. Increases Value
There’s no solid reason why you shouldn’t unlock your iPhone because unlocking it allows you to change carrier freely. It also allows you to use it overseas when traveling. Ultimately, an unlocked iPhone will increase its value.
2. Software Method
A few years ago, it was possible to unlock an iPhone via software. Essentially, it’s a process of ‘jailbreaking’ the device and then installing some software to unlock it. This method is now obsolete unless if you still own an iPhone 4.
3. Hardware Method
At one point, hardware method was the only way to unlock an iPhone. This is done by using a tiny piece of hardware interposed together with the SIM card. This method is still being used but can be a hassle.
4. Official Method
Official unlocking method is how Apple designs it to be – by marking the device as locked or unlocked on the Apple database. Once the iPhone is marked unlocked by your carrier, connect your iPhone to iTunes or swap it with a non-official SIM card (different carrier) to unlock it. This article explains in detail about iPhone unlocking for US carriers.
5. Variable Completion Time
This indicates the completion time to unlock your iPhone. The reason it can’t be immediate is because the orders are processed in bulk and not individually. The completion time can vary between a few hours to 3 weeks, depending on the carrier. Some examples below are the current time frame to unlock:
AT&T iPhone 7, 7 Plus (and earlier models) – 24 hours with premium service
Sprint iPhone 7, 7 Plus (and earlier models) – 1 to 3 business days with premium service
T-Mobile iPhone 7, 7 Plus (and earlier models) – 7-10 business days only for non-blacklisted iPhone
TracFone, GSM Default Policy etc. – 10-20 business days but low success
6. Mostly done by Third Party
Third party here means vendors or sellers providing iPhone unlocking service such as the ones you see on our online store. Apple or the carrier rarely unlock the iPhone unless if you’ve fulfilled with their unlocking criteria.
7. Carrier Blacklist
Bad IMEI is also another way of explaining carrier blacklist. Usually carrier will blacklist an iPhone if it has unpaid bills, reported lost/stolen, fraud and other reasons. You can use this website to check the blacklist status for free. Most blacklisted iPhones can still be unlocked to be used overseas.
8. Some Carriers Can’t be Unlocked
There are certain carriers which are extremely difficult to be unlocked such as TracFone, StraightTalk and some other smaller carriers. It may be possible using Worldwide unlock service but it has re-locking risks.
9. iCloud Locked
You need to be aware that you’re able to activate an iCloud locked iPhone before attempting to unlock it. Even if you’re able to unlock it from carrier restriction, an iCloud locked iPhone will not do you any good since you can’t even access it.
10. Lucrative but Risky Business
If you’re looking into doing your own unlocking business, it’s lucrative but risky as well because of various reasons such as the possible delays and stiff competition. You can learn more if here if you wish to do your own iPhone unlocking business.
Those are the 10 most important things about unlocking an iPhone. If you have any question please leave your comments below.
Samsung Galaxy! It’s either you love it or hate it. But you’re going to hate it if it has a bad ESN. So here’s what you can do with it.
Just a few days ago someone leaked on the internet of the new Samsung Galaxy S8. If you’re a Samsung Galaxy fan, of course you would think it’s gorgeous.
Since this website is not going to be 100% on iPhones, we will occasionally write about Samsung too.
What if you bought a Samsung with a bad ESN, or in other words a Samsung that is blacklisted, or has a bad IMEI?
First of all, you’re probably upset with yourself right now for buying a bad ESN Samsung Galaxy because no one has ever advised you anything about what to do before buying a used smartphone on the internet or from a stranger.
You probably found this article because you realised that you bought a blacklisted Samsung Galaxy, which you may think a bit too late now.
While it’s crucial to find a way to get out from this mess, perhaps you should first know why smartphones can have bad ESN.
ESN or MEID or IMEI are the unique identifier of any smartphone. Each one is unique and no single device will have the same ESN or IMEI despite having so many different smartphone manufacturers.
The ESN can be found by dialling *#06# followed by the dial button or behind the battery.
Prior to 2012, phone theft was growing an alarming rate around the world because stolen smartphones can be re-used again simply by changing the SIM card.
Thieves were able to get away with it and constantly making money by stealing and reselling these devices.
However, that was addressed in a way that carriers can block devices that are reported lost or stolen from connecting to the network.
This is typically what happens especially if you’ve purchased a used smartphone, used it for a while and then suddenly you’re getting a ‘no service’ message on the phone.
Smartphones don’t only get stolen or lost, but some people take advantage by filing insurance claims.
All of these contribute to smartphones being blacklisted.
Well, not to worry yet. Let’s go through each one below and see what’t the best thing you can do if you’ve already got this Samsung which you can’t use.
5 Things You Can Do if You Have a Samsung Galaxy with Bad ESN
1. Verify Your Samsung’s ESN or Smartphone Status First
This is probably the first thing you should be doing. A lot of sites in America provide free checks to verify if your Samsung device has bad ESN or not.
Here are some websites you can use to check:
CheckESNfree.com – allows checks for multiple carriers including Canadian blacklist. All you need is the 14 or 15 digit ESN/IMEI, choose the carrier and click submit. It will return the status immediately. You are entitled to do free 30 checks daily
Swappa.com – this page is only accessible in the US. So if you’re trying to access from countries outside of USA, you will get an error message. The checking procedure is the same as using CheckESNfree.com.
2. Call the Carrier
There’s always a small possibility that the result from the two sites above may not be 100% accurate. If you know what carrier is your Samsung Galaxy locked to, call the carrier directly to verify.
For your convenience, here are the customer service numbers for major US carriers:
AT&T: +1 800-331-0500
T-Mobile: +1 877-453-1304
Sprint: +1 888-211-4727
Verizon: +1 800-922-0204
Before calling them, get the ESN ready so that you are readily to pass the ESN for checking.
3. Get it Unlocked
If you managed to confirm that the ESN is bad, then consider getting it unlocked.
Normally, if the Samsung Galaxy has a bad ESN, blocked or blacklisted due to unpaid bills, unlocking it still allows you to switch to another carrier.
Unlocking a Samsung Galaxy is slightly different compared to iPhones. It relies on getting the network code from Samsung database.
So you got your brand new iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus but can’t bear the charges because it’s locked. Worst of all, you purchased it from someone and it’s blacklisted or the IMEI is bad. Now what?
Most people would want to unlock their iPhone because it helps to increase its resell value and you’re also able to use it overseas.
Unlocking your iPhone means removing the restrictions which allows you to switch to another carrier simply by swapping to another SIM card.
If you are keen to unlock your iPhone, it is crucial to know some of the terms used and all other information to make you well aware of the choices available out there to make the process to unlock your iPhone as smooth as possible.
It will also help you to save money and avoid any possible risk or issues.
Types of iPhone Unlocking Terms
There are multiple terms used in the industry for unlocking iPhones:
1. IMEI Unlock
2. MEID Unlock
3. Permanent IMEI Unlock
4. Official iPhone Unlock
5. Official Factory Unlock
Fundamentally, they all mean the same but here are some explanation.
IMEI is short for International Mobile Equipment Identifier and each iPhone has a unique IMEI. You can find the IMEI of your iPhone under Settings > General > About. It is also known as MEID or ESN.
The word permanent here means the unlock is done on the Apple database so once the iPhone is unlocked, it will remain unlocked forever.
It is called official because the unlock is done ‘officially’ on the Apple database.
Some countries have laws which are not allowing carriers to lock the iPhones, so the iPhones which are made for certain countries or markets are already unlocked right at the moment when they come out from the factory.
The unlocking process is done remotely.
On the Apple database, there are two database fields which define whether the iPhone is locked or unlocked. They are:
Next Tether Activation Policy
Factory (default) SIM Lock Status
Each time you do a full restore or changing the SIM card on your iPhone, you are required to activate it. Your iPhone will connect to Apple’s database, do a cross match to check the activation policy and returns the status to iTunes or your iPhone.
If the next tether activation policy says that it’s multimode-unlock (you can do a check here if you wish to know), your iPhone will be unlocked automatically once you have done a full restore on iTunes or upon changing a different SIM card.
Factory (default) SIM Lock Status is explained earlier – the iPhone is already set as unlocked when it came out from the factory.
The price to unlock your iPhone depends on which country or carrier the iPhone is locked to. Some carriers do provide the unlocking service at no cost, for as long as you fulfil the criteria set by the carrier.
For instance, AT&T will unlock your iPhone for free based on the following:
Customer’s account must be in good standing, their device cannot be associated with a current and active term commitment on an AT&T customer account, and they need to have fulfilled their contract term, upgraded under one of our upgrade policies or paid an early termination fee.
This can be done simply by reaching out to the customer support directly. The instructions that we wrote here a few years ago should still be applicable and valid.
The first few models were prone to hardware and software exploits. Hackers were able to unlock the iPhone simply by running a software to first ‘jailbreak’ the iPhone and then patch it with a hacked software to unlock the iPhone.
The iPhone 4 was the last model that was exploitable via this method.
If you’re not eligible for a free unlock, your only option is to engage with an unlocking service provider to get your iPhone unlocked safely and remotely.
As there are different types of US carrier locked iPhones, each one has different time-frame and price to get the iPhone unlocked. I will go through each one.
How about Blacklisted iPhone 7?
Blacklisting of iPhone and smartphones in the USA started around 4 years ago as part of the government’s effort to reduce phone thefts.
This has been done in Europe, Australia and Japan much earlier.
Blacklisted iPhone is also known as iPhone with Bad IMEI, Bad ESN, Blocked IMEI, Blocked ESN and the common terms used to remove it from blacklist is blacklist removal, ESN cleaning, ESN clearing, unbarring etc.
We shall explain these in details later.
AT&T iPhone 7, 7 Plus and all earlier models
AT&T was the first carrier to introduce the iPhone. Unlocking the AT&T iPhone used to be the biggest pain that hackers like GeoHot had to resort to unlocking his first iPhone by hacking the hardware.
It was until around 4 years ago when it was possible to unlock the AT&T iPhone remotely via the IMEI unlock method. When the service first started or offered, the cost was around US$150 and above.
Nowadays, unlocking service providers use the term ‘success rate’ rated in percentage when unlocking AT&T iPhones. There is no direct explanation why certain services have different success rates.
The rule of thumb is that the higher the cost to unlock, the higher the success rate to unlock an AT&T iPhone.
There are five different types of pricing-tiers to unlock any AT&T iPhone:
(i) Clean AT&T iPhone
This simply means your AT&T account is in good standing, your device is not associated with a current and active term commitment on an AT&T account, you have fulfilled their contract term, you have upgraded under their upgrade policies or paid an early termination fee.
Exactly what was explained earlier. This unlock can be done at almost no cost, and unlocking service provider can unlock it within 12-24 hours.
(ii) In-Contract AT&T iPhone
Normally, AT&T will not unlock the iPhone if it’s still under contract. Using the IMEI unlocking service provider, it can be unlocked if it’s under contract. However, the current success rate for this service is around 30-60%.
(iii) AT&T iPhone with Unpaid Bills
This is very similar to the unlock which is also under contract but the account has outstanding balance. This device usually gets blocked on AT&T only. Once it’s unlocked, you can switch carrier.
(iv) AT&T iPhone with Active Line
iPhone with Active Line means the device is activated with another customer’s account. There is an unlock available for this which is much cheaper than premium service (explained below). The success rate is around 80-90%.
(v) AT&T iPhone Fraud
There have been instances when devices are purchased using fraud identity or payment. This happens occasionally and we do get this unlocking request. Buyers who unknowingly purchased used iPhone may encounter this type of status.
It’s still possible to unlock it at affordable price, at an around 80-90% success.
(vi) AT&T iPhone that is Lost/Missing/Stolen
This method is also called the premium service because it allows unlocking of the device even if it blacklisted or has a bad IMEI.
It will unlock the AT&T iPhone even if the device has all problems stated above. Since it’s a premium service, it will be charged at premium price close to $100 for a typical remote unlocking service provider.
The only downside is that once it has been blacklisted by AT&T, it can’t be used on any other network.
It will only work outside of USA. However, do note that some countries do take the blacklist information and will block the device from carrier’s network.
T-Mobile iPhone 7, 7 Plus and all earlier models
T-Mobile iPhone is another carrier which used to be easy to be unlocked. However since late last year, unlocking service providers are having a tough time to unlock as completion time got extended.
Essentially there are only two types of unlock available for T-Mobile as described below.
(i) Clean T-Mobile iPhone
Just like the AT&T iPhone, clean IMEI means the device is not blocked or blacklisted in T-Mobile’s database. The good thing is that T-Mobile provides free access for you to check the status of your T-Mobile iPhone 7 at no cost.
If you have an iPhone 7 either from Virgin or Boost, the guide below can be used to unlock your iPhone 7.
(i) Unlocking for Sprint iPhone 7 with Clean Status
This is the simplest and cheapest available option to unlock your Sprint iPhone. Clean status means the iPhone has clean record or in other words clean ESN. It also means the iPhone has good standing on the Sprint database and not blacklisted.
If you run a check on a clean Sprint iPhone on the Sprint database, it will return the following result:
Model: IPH 6S PLUS ROSE 16GB SGL
Model Number: IP6SP16GBRS1
Manufacturer: APPLE, INC
BLACKLIST STATUS: CLEAN (FAILED DEACTIVATION)
If you notice the Blacklist Status shows that it’s clean.
Just like doing the check for T-Mobile, simply enter the 14 (not 15) digit IMEI of your Verizon iPhone 7.
If the message says you can’t activate the device at this time, it means the device is blocked on all US network.
Otherwise, it will show that it’s ready for activation or the status is clean.
If for any reason it’s blocked, it can also be cleaned or removed from blacklist for as long as the status is not fraud.
The recent check made available by Apple on its database provides additional info such as the one shown below in bold:
Model: IPHONE 6 PLUS GOLD 16GB
Estimated Purchase Date: 04.06.2015
Coverage: OUT OF WARRANTY (NO COVERAGE)
Sold To: VERIZON WIRELESS – D239301
Initial Activation Policy ID: 2023
Initial Activation Policy Details: US VERIZON LTE MM N61/N56/N51/N48/N42 ACTIVATION POLICY
Purchase Country: UNITED STATES
Factory (default) SIM Lock Status: UNLOCKED
Blacklist Status: CLEAN Blacklisted By: VERIZON WIRELESS Blacklisted On: 2016-09-15 14:12:27.0 Blacklisted Country: UNITED STATES Removed By: VERIZON WIRELESS Removed On: 2016-09-19 10:16:05.0 Removed Country: UNITED STATES
The additional information shows if the device was blacklisted before, and whether the blacklist was removed.
How to Restore a Blacklisted iPhone 7 on iTunes?
This is quite a common question asked by people who unknowingly purchased a blacklisted iPhone.
As explained earlier, the blacklisting of smartphones are done on the carrier database so restoring it on iTunes won’t make any difference.
You may be able to restore it, activate it as long as there’s no iCloud activation lock enabled. Once you try to connect to carrier’s network, you will only see ‘No Service’ because the IMEI is blacklisted.
Does Jailbreaking Remove the Blacklist for iPhone 7?
Jailbreaking is a method developed by hackers to remove the security restrictions set by Apple in iOS. It allows you to install additional plugins or tweaks for your iPhone’s software.
Since the blacklist is done on the carrier database, jailbreaking doesn’t resolve the issue of blacklisted iPhone 7, unless if there’s a way for the jailbreak to mask the IMEI or alter the IMEI to something else.
A few years ago, iOS hacker called MuscleNerd claimed that he was able to change the IMEI of an iPhone.
However, due to legality, he didn’t release the hack.
In some older smartphones, flashing the hardware would remove the blacklist. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for iPhones.
You made it to the end of this article. In conclusion, the process to unlock your iPhone 7 can be confusing especially if you’re new to this.
However, if you read the article properly, you should have a better understanding of how it gets done. Although iPhone 7 is mentioned throughout the article, this guide is applicable on most iPhone models.
Please do be careful before buying any used device. Always check it first using the free checkers available.
If you need any help, please do get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to guide you with the process.
Last but not least, if you find this article helpful, please share it on your social media.
Are you currently deciding whether to purchase an iPhone from Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon? Here are 8 great reasons why you should get a Sprint iPhone.
Low Cost Unlimited Data for Individual Plans
Sprint is considered as a newcomer in the industry for offering iPhones which gives them the edge to give competitive plans and pricing.
This website gives a lot of comprehensive reviews of various plans offered by Sprint.
Cheaper to Unlock
AT&T used to be the best network to get your iPhone unlocked, followed by T-Mobile and Verizon. Sprint used to be the hardest to get it unlocked until recently. It can be unlocked at low cost for as long as the device has clean status.
Even if the device is blocked, barred or blacklisted (bad ESN), it’s still possible to unlock it for use outside of USA.
Unlocked iPhones will always have higher resale values.
Since Sprint iPhones are easy to be unlocked, it makes attractive for people to buy it and switch network.
Options to Clear Bad ESN
If for any reason you purchased a used Sprint iPhone or an unopened iPhone that has a bad ESN (blacklisted IMEI), fret not because there are options for you to clear or fix the bad ESN in order for you to use it on all network again.
As a good practice before buying any device, be sure to use free tools like this to check the ESN status to make sure that the ESN is clear.
Here’s the option for you in case your Sprint iPhone has a bad ESN and you need to clean it.
Option to Lease
Some people love to upgrade their phones every year so Sprint allows you to lease some phones so that you can always get the latest.
In addition, Sprint comes with 30-day guarantee so if you’re not happy with it for any reason, you can cancel it and get a full refund.
Friendly Customer Service
If you’re looking into communicating with someone friendly for supporting all your needs, you should really consider getting a Sprint iPhone because they were rated one of the best for last year. Good and friendly customer service mean the company has invested a large amount of money to make sure their customers are happy.
Perks for Travellers
Frequent travellers to Mexico and Canada would love to be on Sprint’s plans because of its unlimited talk, text, and data in both these countries. It also provides unlimited text and data at lower speeds in around 180 countries worldwide so travellers would be able to enjoy these perks.
There you have it! Would you be considering to get a Sprint iPhone now?