10 Things You Should Know about Unlocking iPhones [2021 Guide]

(Last Updated On: December 31, 2020)

Unlocking your iPhone for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. Here are the 10 things you should know about unlocking iPhones.


Why Unlock an iPhone?

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.

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.

Software Method to Unlock iPhone

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.

Hardware Method to Unlock iPhone

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.

Official Method to Unlock iPhone

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.

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 – 24 hours with premium service
  • Sprint iPhone – 1 to 3 business days with premium service
  • T-Mobile iPhone – 7-10 business days only for non-blacklisted iPhone
  • TracFone, GSM Default Policy etc. – 10-20 business days but low success

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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