5 Things You Can Do to Activate a Blacklisted iPhone

(Last Updated On: August 7, 2020)

Did you buy a blacklisted iPhone? Don’t worry as here are the 5 things you can do to activate a blacklisted iPhone.


A lot of people get good deals when buying iPhone online, but they ended up buying blacklisted iPhones. One of biggest mistakes of buying a used iPhone online is not checking whether the iPhone has been activated or not.

2 Ways a Blacklisted iPhone Can Affect its Activation

There are two ways to define a blacklisted iPhone in terms of how it can affect its activation.

iCloud Activation Lock

The first level of blockage would the iCloud Activation Lock being enabled. This is by far the most common issues encountered by people.

The activation is enabled whether it’s reported lost/stolen or simply just activated to prevent being misused.

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Apple Server Activation Lock

Aside from that, there’s also a high level activation blockage from the Apple server which says something like “This iPhone cannot be activated.”

Another activation issue is with a message saying “There is a problem with your iPhone.”


Enterprise level activation via MDM is also possible.

A few years back, we wrote a blog post about ‘What Ever Happens to IMEI Blacklisted iPhones or Other Popular Smartphones?‘ That article will help you understand more on why your iPhone got blacklisted in the first place.

5 Things You Can Do to Activate a Blacklisted iPhone

Here are few things you can try to allow you to use your iPhone again.

Dispute it with the seller

If you bought the blacklisted iPhone on eBay, you can ask for a refund from the seller by following the refund procedures set by eBay.

However it may not be possible if it’s purchased on other sites which don’t protect the buyers. Buying it from the streets can be risky as well.

In any case if you purchased it online and paid using PayPal, you’re usually protected.

Contact the Authority

Did you have enough info of the device’s original owner or the person who sold it to you? Although not all authorities may be able to assist, but it’s better than doing nothing at all.

In some countries the authority is able to reach out to carrier to identify the person who has your device.

Check Online Forums or Quora

Apple designed the iPhone to prevent any possible way to activate it if the iCloud is enabled. However, there have been instances whereby people have found ways to activate it especially if the iOS is still running on older versions.

Get the iCloud Activation E-mail Address

If the phone is stuck on activation, it will hint the email address on the screen. Although it’s not always possible to guess the correct email, you can use this service to get the full email address.

Once you get the full email address, then refer to point #10.

Remove the iCloud Activation Lock (iCloud Unlock)

This is the last resort if you’re not able to activate it using all the possible methods above.

Do note this service has 99.99% success so please consider using the service below to remove the iCloud activation lock on your device.

What Can You Do Once You’ve Activated a Blacklisted iPhone?

There’s still a market for your blacklisted iPhone.

If you live in the USA, there are many people who travel there and to purchase iPhones to bring back to their home countries.

This is where your iPhone becomes valuable. If you have an AT&T iPhone that’s already officially unlocked but blacklisted, you can sell it off to them.

They always want to find good deals while they’re there and even though it’s blacklisted in the USA, it can still be used in other countries.

We’ve also recently published a full guide on how to unlock a blacklisted T-Mobile iPhone.

Summary of Steps to Activate a Blacklisted iPhone

  1. Check if the iCloud Activation is Enabled or Disabled
  2. If you decide to use the device, remove the iCloud Lock
  3. Once completed, unlock the iPhone
  4. Else, follow the steps above on ways to activate it

Here are the links for Step (2) for iCloud lock removal and Step (3) to unlock the iPhone.

It’s not fun to deal with all these but by using common sense and a bit of research, there’s always a way to minimise your loss.

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