The Beginner’s Guide to Blacklisted and Blocked iPhone [2020 Version]

(Last Updated On: May 23, 2020)

Are you lost and confused about blacklisted iPhone? This is the beginner’s guide to blacklisted and blocked iPhone explained the simplest way possible.

Beginner's Guide to Blacklisted and Blocked iPhone

The internet is a double-edge sword. It can provide you with any information that you want but it can also be very confusing especially if you’re new to certain topics. This is why we’ve decided to create this article to help beginners understand more about blacklisted iPhone.

Introduction to Blacklisted iPhone

The terms blacklisted iPhone didn’t exist prior to 2013. Due to million of devices were stolen or reported lost in the US each year, the US wireless industry through its trade group the CTIA came up with a centralized smartphone blacklist database.

Beginner's Guide to Blacklisted and Blocked iPhone

Each time a smartphone is reported lost or stolen, the smartphone information is added into this database. Since each device comes with a unique identifier called the ESN (electronic serial number) or IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity), the blacklist is done by using this identifier.

For instance, if an iPhone is reported stolen to AT&T, the IMEI will be blacklisted and then the information is synced automatically with all other carriers such as Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. This is to ensure so that the device cannot be used or activated on another network.

In some South American countries, the carriers there copy the blacklist information as well which prevents any smartphone imported from the US to be used there.

Symptoms of Blacklisted iPhone

People who accidentally bought a blacklisted iPhone would normally think there’s a hardware issue with the iPhone because of the ‘No Service’ appearing on the screen. At times, the carrier is shown but you’re not able to make any calls, no data and can’t send any SMS.

Check for Blacklisted iPhone

In order for you to check or verify whether an iPhone is blacklisted, there are a few online tools available that you can use to check it for free. T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T have the tools available for use. There are also third party tools such as or

Beginner's Guide to Blacklisted and Blocked iPhone

The example above is the free checker offered by T-Mobile.

How to Activate a Blacklisted iPhone?

A blacklisted iPhone can also mean the iPhone is stuck on Apple’s iCloud activation mode. This is a security feature that comes with the iOS to disable access to iPhone that’s lost or stolen.

Beginner's Guide to Blacklisted and Blocked iPhone

An iCloud account is required to activate a blacklisted iPhone. Do note though, an iPhone that requires iCloud activation doesn’t necessarily mean it’s blacklisted by carrier. So, before buying any used device, it’s best to check that the Activation Lock is turned off and it has not blacklisted by any carrier.

Blacklisted IMEI Fix

Blacklisted iPhones and other smartphones are flooded in the used smartphone market. Many people were enticed with the low price when purchasing a used iPhone but later found out that it’s blacklisted. The best way to fix a blacklisted IMEI is to alter the status on the carrier database although this is not always possible.

iPhone Blacklist Unlock

People usually think that unlocking the iPhone for use on another carrier will fix the issue. Due to carrier blacklist database is shared across all carriers, unlocking it will not do you any good. You’re still stuck with an unlocked iPhone that can’t be used on any carrier. However, it may work in other countries since the IMEI is only blacklisted locally. There’s no guarantee that it will definitely work overseas.

Unlock Blacklisted iPhone for Free

In general, there’s no such as thing as free lunch. It’s the same case for blacklisted iPhone too. There’s no free unlock available but there is a service that provides a free blacklist removal if the unlock is done simultaneously.

How to Unblacklist an iPhone for Free?

As explained earlier, there’s no really a free service to unblacklist or to remove the blacklist of an iPhone. Unless if the iPhone is blacklisted by accident or it was reported wrongly, one can call the carrier and request for the blacklist to be removed. If that’s not an option, you can consider for a bundled service which will unblacklist it for free and then unlocking it using a combo paid service.

iPhone Blacklist Removal Tool

So far, there’s no such tool available in the market. However, in the early days, you can change the IMEI of an iPhone using a software. It was also possible to change the IMEI chip that stores the IMEI information. This of course requires a lot of work which is high risk. The only way to remove the blacklist now is to do it on the blacklist database. You can explore all possible options to remove an iPhone’s blacklist here.

AT&T iPhone Blacklist Removal

For AT&T iPhone, it can be blacklisted or blocked due to the reasons below:

  • Lost
  • Stolen
  • Unpaid Bills
  • Fraud

In fact, all other carriers have similar reasons. Some carriers will also block or blacklist a phone if it has unpaid bills, outstanding balance. This is also known as financed devices.

Just like above, all the possible options to fix the blacklist are available on this link. As this is a highly specialized service, additional time is needed especially if the servers are busy or under heavy load.


It’s not fun to have a blacklisted iPhone. We hope this article gave readers more clarity about blacklisted iPhone and ways to fix it. If fixing it is no longer a viable option, you can consider selling the iPhone.

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