6 Things You Can Do with an iPhone that Has Bad ESN or Blacklisted IMEI

(Last Updated On: July 13, 2020)

The sweet deal you recently got when buying your iPhone turned out to be a nightmare. Don’t worry, here are 6 things you can do with an iPhone that has bad ESN or blacklisted IMEI.

6 Things You Can Do with an iPhone that Has Bad ESN or Blacklisted IMEI


The first thing you found out when you got your iPhone is that it’s not getting any signal from your carrier, or that probably happened a few days after your purchase.

You’re pretty sure that there’s no hardware issue but after spending hours online looking for a solution or explanation, you finally found out that the iPhone IMEI – is a blacklisted IMEI by your network provider. Perhaps, you’re also checking if there’s any possible workaround to fix your blacklisted iPhone.


Not too long ago, we wrote a blog post about ‘What Ever Happens to IMEI Blacklisted iPhones or Other Popular Smartphones?‘ This will help you understand more on why your iPhone is blacklisted in the first place.

It may feel that it’s the end of the world. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Someone out there had gone through what you’re feeling right now. Let’s get things straight and check out these helpful tips.

In order for you to verify that it has bad ESN, you can use free checker by the carriers such as the free Verizon checker tool, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint. Each one will return instant result upon submitting your device 15-digit IMEI.

The IMEI or ESN can be founder under Settings > General > About or simply type the following on your iPhone:


It’s a 15-digit that is unique for each device ever produced by Apple.

If your iPhone is from the UK, you can use the checkmend site which is a paid service to check the blacklist status. There are paid checkers for global carriers which can be found in our online Store.

6 Things You Can Do with an iPhone that Has Bad ESN or Blacklisted IMEI

Request a refund from your seller

There’s no guarantee for this, but if you bought it used on eBay, you can ask for a refund from the seller by following the refund procedures set by eBay. You will have to arrange to have it shipped back to the seller, once he or she confirms that the iPhone is in order, eBay will release the funds back to your bank account.

The case may be different if you got your blacklisted iPhone over on Craigslist or on the street. It may be difficult to get your money back because these types of sellers probably won’t entertain your calls at all. They may use a temporary email address and will no longer respond to your email.

The last resort would be reporting it to the authority. If you made the exchange at a public area with CCTV, there may be a footage of when the transaction took place.

Courtesy: Hamilton County

A lot of places in the US have designated areas for internet purchases to protect both buyers and sellers. So do check again as this can be a good proof to get the seller to return and refund you.

Use it as an iPod or games console

Since you can’t make calls with your iPhone, just use it as an iPod or install as many games as you can to keep you entertained for hours.

You can also download movies and TV series on it which you can watch while on the subway or hanging out in the park.

If you have kids, it can be a good device for home use.

Aside from that, there’s really nothing much you can do with the iPhone, really.

Also read 13 Things You Can Do with a Blacklisted or Stolen iPhone

Get the ESN or IMEI Cleaned

There’s a bit of a good news if you have a blacklisted iPhone that’s locked to AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile (USA and UK), Orange (UK) and EE (UK). It’s possible to remove them from blacklist (fix for blacklisted iPhone). Currently, many other network are still not supported.

The IMEI blacklist removal we provide are highly reliable and have helped many people to use their iPhones again. You might also want to know that these services are not limited for iPhone only, any device such as iPad or Android smartphone can only also be removed from network blacklist.

The video proof below shows a T-Mobile device that’s blacklisted using the free checker by T-Mobile:

After the device was removed from the blacklist remotely, the device is verified ‘cleaned’:

Click on the link below to learn more:

If the device – iPhone, iPad WiFi, Apple Watch (iWatch), iPod has iCloud lock on it, you can also remove it by one of the method below:

Once the device’s bad IMEI is fixed, you can use the IMEI blacklist checker to verify the status. This tool is available online to provide you instant blacklist status.

Swap the Logic Board

Since IMEI blacklist is usually localized to a country’s particular service provider, that means your iPhone’s IMEI is not blacklisted in other countries.

For instance, if you have a factory unlocked AT&T iPhone that’s blacklisted in the USA, if you travel to Australia it will work perfectly on any network there; unless if they start sharing databases with their US counterparts.

There isn’t a way to change the IMEI of an iPhone except by physically replacing the baseband and CPU chips; and this is only possible on iPhone 4 and earlier models. Attempting to change the chips on iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 or any iPhone model for that matter will only cause damage to your iPhone.

This is the reason why swapping the logic board is quite a practical solution. We do provide this a service or if you can find someone who’s willing to swap with you, we can help facilitate this process.

For later models, kindly contact us as Apple put more restrictions on this.

Get it officially unlocked and sell it

There’s still a market for your blacklisted iPhone. If you live in the USA, you know that there are millions of foreigners coming to your country especially students.

When they finish their studies, mostly would return 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.

A lot of people get good deals when buying AT&T or T-Mobile iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus online (and even the latest iPhone 7/7+/8/8+/X), but they ended up buying blacklisted iPhones.

However, AT&TT-Mobile or Sprint iPhone 6/6+ that is blacklisted can still be unlocked. We wrote a complete guide on ‘The Only Price Comparison Chart to Know to Unlock iPhone by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile & Verizon‘ which you should read.

There are some mobile phone stores who buys blacklisted iPhones without the need to unlock it. They might do some of the things suggested above.

Please be sure to tell them the whole truth about the history of the phone to avoid any complication later. Remember that honesty is the best policy.

So do explain to your potential buyer that the iPhone is blacklisted in your current location but will work fine in his or her country. Don’t forget to checkout other network that we can officially unlock.

Related: Which iPhone carrier can be unlocked even if blacklisted?

Sell it as spare parts

If all fails, your last resort would be taking it apart and cannibalize it for parts. Check on YouTube on how to take apart the iPhone. As long as you have the right tools and follow the steps, you can really take apart everything safely.

The screen, logic board, back casing, dock connector can all be sold separately.


Below is the rough guideline on how much each part would cost depending on the model of your iPhone:

  • Screen US$60-70
  • Casing US$30
  • Logic board US$100 but cheaper if iCloud locked
  • Battery US$20
  • Screws US$5-10
  • Other components e.g. headphone jack US$20-30
  • Box US$5-10
  • Headphones US$30
  • Charger US$10-20

If you add up all of these, you can get around $200-300, still not too bad. The only downside is probably nobody wants to buy the other smaller components. It will get harder to sell off everything.

Your local repair shop may be keen to buy your iPhone. Just go around and ask if they’re keen. Some of them may hesitate fearing that the iPhone may be stolen and they don’t wish to get into trouble.

Anyway, selling the parts may help someone with a broken iPhone and one of the parts may help revive his or her iPhone again. It’s not the most ideal but you might doing other people a big favor while getting back some of your hard earned cash.

How much should you sell a blacklisted iPhone?

First of all, an unlocked iPhone usually has better value because it can be used outside of USA or whichever country where it’s blacklisted. Try to browse on eBay or any sites which sell used smartphones. That should give you a rough estimation on how it should be priced. iPhone factory unlock service is availble on our Store.

Some people were also wondering if jailbreaking the iPhone would fix the bad ESN? Unfortunately, jailbreaking blacklisted iPhone won’t fix it because the IMEI is still blacklisted by carrier. Lost or stolen iPhone is probably the most challenging to deal with.

Updating the iOS for iPhone or flashing the firmware for Android devices will not make any difference since the bad IMEI or bad ESN will not be removed from carriers’ databases. If you do a factory reset, it won’t do any good too.

Consider yourself lucky if you bumped into this post while trying to find a used iPhone. The blog post we wrote about 5 Tips on Buying Used iPhone Online on eBay or Craigslist to Avoid Scam will help you prevent all these from happening.

iCloud Activation Lock on Bad ESN iPhone

The worst case if the iPhone has its iCloud activation lock enabled. If you’re new to iPhone, all Apple devices need to be activated before use. If the device is locked with iCloud, a valid username and password need to be entered to activate the device.

Not having the correct credentials will render the device useless. There are two types of iCloud locked status – clean and lost/stolen. The latter is the toughest to deal with. Normally, the message from the original owner will be shown on the screen including the contact details as shown below.


Last but not least, most of the tips above are also applicable for current models such as iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus and future models of iPhones e.g iPhone 8, iPhone X and iPhone X Plus etc. If you own smartphones from other brands such as Samsung, LG, HTC etc., the advise above can also be applied.

Other Activation Issues that You Might Encounter

Besides the ones I’ve shared earlier, there are also activation that requires you to enter the ZIP or SSN number registered with the iPhone. This is applicable to US based iPhones only.

In some cases, Apple will also fully block a device from being activated. You won’t be able to view the iCloud screen at all.


Always keep in mind to do iPhone blacklist check before buying second hand iPhones. The internet is full of resources, especially free IMEI blacklist checkers to furnish you the blacklist status of any device. Research is an important aspect when buying anything on the internet so please do consider all of the above before buying anything.

Any other tips to add?


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