SUMMARY: If your iPhone has an iCloud account lock on it, it means that regardless of how much you paid for your second-hand phone, the previous owner can still block you from using it. They can do this by keeping the iPhone locked to their iCloud account and not allowing you to log into the phone.
The only way around this is to get an iCloud account unlock. It frees your iPhone from the previous owner’s iCloud account and allows you to setup your iCloud account on that phone, meaning you can start making calls, sending messages, and using apps.
Of the 9 iCloud activation unlock services we found and 3 we tested, the fastest, cheapest, and best supported iCloud unlock provider is iPhone IMEI. They unlocked all 6 iCloud accounts we sent them, for the least money, and did it in the fastest time.
Unlock your iCloud account with iPhone IMEI now.
At the start of 2014, Apple added a quirk to iOS7 that changed the way that iPhone accounts were made available. It was a little thing called iCloud Activation Lock. The change made to iOS 7 (and carried through to iOS8 and iOS9) is that your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch is now locked to your personal iCloud account. This means when you restart your Apple device you have to enter your iCloud username and password to access the features, functions, and files.
This isn’t a big problem when you’re just using your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch, but when you buy a second-hand iPhone from StarGazer77 on eBay, and he doesn’t either remove his iCloud details or give you his access details, the phone is useless. Literally, useless. It doesn’t matter if you reset it, jailbreak it, allow the battery to run completely flat, or pay someone to hack into it, you couldn’t use the phone. That means your $400 is down the drain, and you’re left with most expensive paperweight you’ve ever purchased.
In response to the massive demand that suddenly sprung up from disgruntled consumers who’d legitimately bought an iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch and couldn’t use it, clever providers started investigating ways to bypass this barrier. There were a lot of false starts and loopholes closed by Apple, but eventually, a fool-proof loophole emerged. And now, you can get the iCloud activation lock removed and use the iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch you paid your hard earned money for.
Choosing the right iCloud Unlock Provider
With all the providers flooding the market, it became difficult to tell who could legitimately unlock your iCloud account and who was just a scam shopfront setup to rip you off. After being scammed three times by ‘Official’ iCloud unlock solutions, I decided to test and review them to find out who was the most reliable.
Why I’m qualified to tell you this
There are no degrees available in iCloud unlocking so there are no technical qualifications I could hold to make me more qualified than the next guy to tell you about iCloud unlock, but there is one thing that makes me more of an expert than anyone else: testing.
I’ve reviewed 9 iCloud unlock providers and tested 3 unlock providers on all active iPhone models. And the simple fact that I’ve actually tested these providers with all iPhone models makes me the expert in the space.
There are other reviews available but most of them have never reviewed even one carrier, let alone reviewed all nine. That’s why I’m qualified to tell you this.
iCloud Unlock Test Methodology
The way I conducted these tests was simple. First of all, I Googled iCloud unlock providers and drew up a list of everyone I could find. After removing services that didn’t look like they were still active, I was left with nine services.
The next step in the process was to cull that list down from nine operators to my top three. I wanted my test of each operator to be comprehensive and complete and it wasn’t possible to rigorously test all 9 operators. To do this, I jumped onto review websites such as TrustPilot, RipoffReport, and TrustmarkReviews to weed out any obviously dodgy operators.
I read the reviews and tallied up the average score of each service provider giving me an average score for each. I cut the lowest scoring six services and was left with three to test.
To make sure I had enough iPhones to thoroughly test each provider, I put the call out to all my readers to get iPhones that need iCloud unlocking. I wanted to get people in a variety of countries and using a variety of iPhone models.
Of the 73 who responded, I chose 18 to test (6 for each provider):
- 1 x iPhone 4
- 1 x iPhone 4s
- 2 x iPhone 5
- 2 x iPhone 5c
- 3 x iPhone 5s
- 2 x iPhone 6
- 2 x iPhone 6 Plus
- 3 x iPhone 6s
- 1 x iPhone 6s Plus
- 1 x iPhone SE
The chosen applicants then sent me their IMEI codes and I placed the orders.
The iCloud unlock providers were judged based on 4 criteria:
Criteria 1: Price
Price range varied greatly between providers. Some were as little as $15 whilst others were as much as $149. There are very few people on this earth who can purchase services without being price conscious so this is where we started our assessment.
Criteria 2: Customer service
Handing over your iPhone details and a chunk of cash to an unknown website to perform a service you know very little about can be a little nerve-wracking, but having a supportive and understanding person on the other end of the customer support line can help calm those nerves.
We tested each service provider three times during the course of the unlocking process:
- Before the purchase
- After the purchase but before the unlock was complete
- After the unlock was complete
This was to get a comprehensive understanding of who was really there to help and who was there just to take your money.
Criteria 3: Success
What the point in great prices and caring customer support if they can deliver on what they promised? Because of this, the third criteria is: success. It’s a simple pass/fail criteria. If the iCloud account was unlocked, it was a success. If not, then no.
Criteria 4: Speed
Getting your iCloud account unlocked is great, but waiting can be frustrating. To compare apples to apples, we didn’t assess the sites on how long they said it would take to unlock the iCloud account, just how long it actually took to unlock them.
The Top 3 iCloud Unlock Providers
As with anything in life, not all iCloud activation unlock providers are the same. Some have low prices but no customer support. Some will answer your email within five minutes, but take four weeks to unlock your iPhone.
After assessing 9 providers and testing 3, these are the top three iCloud unlock providers:
1. iPhone IMEI – 9.5/10 (Best iCloud Unlock Provider)
iPhoneIMEI.net is my number 1 choice for iCloud unlocks. We’ve tested them based on the above four criteria and they came out top in all four.
PROs: First of all, they unlocked every iPhone we sent them. They were assigned an iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6s to unlock and completed every single one of them (the only one to do so). That’s always a good place to start.
Secondly, they unlocked them all quickly. The total time for unlocking all six iPhones was only a TOTAL of 8 days. This is the breakdown:
- iPhone 4s – 1 day
- iPhone 5 – 2 days
- iPhone 5s – 1 day
- iPhone 5c – 1 day
- iPhone 6 – 2 days
- iPhone 6s – 2 days
When you consider that most iCloud unlock providers take at least a week, this is stellar.
Thirdly, their customer support rocks. I contacted them before, during, and after the unlock was completed and the most I ever had to wait to hear back was forty-five minutes. And even better than that, when I did contact them, they were polite, helpful, and answered my questions completely.
And finally, they’re the cheapest of the bunch. They might only be $1 cheaper than our #2 recommendation, but we live in a world where every dollar counts and it’s better to have it in your pocket than someone else’s!
CONs: Unfortunately, there’s nothing really to write here. I try to make my reviews as unbiased and even-handed as possible and I don’t have anything to add right now. Could their customer support have responded in less than 45 minutes? Sure, they could have, but it wouldn’t have made that much difference. Could they have unlocked all the iCloud accounts in less time? Possibly, but it wouldn’t have made that much difference.
Without nit-picking for the sake of it, there’s nothing to really add here.
OVERALL: iPhoneIMEI.net were the only unlock provider to unlock all 6 iCloud accounts and because of that, they’re my #1 choice. And if that wasn’t enough, they have great customer service, the cheapest prices (even if it’s only by $1), and they’re the fastest of the group.
If you’re iPhone is locked to an iCloud account and you need to get it unlocked, you need to use iPhoneIMEI.net.
2. Official iPhone Unlock – 7.5/10 (Use if iPhoneIMEI isn’t working)
Official iPhone Unlock is my second choice. Not because they’re a terrible provider, but simply because they’re not as good as iPhoneIMEI.
PROs: Official iPhone Unlock mostly do what they say they’re going to do. I purchased 6 iCloud unlocks and they managed to unlock 5 of them. 5 out of 6 isn’t bad when you consider that most providers have less than a 50% success rate, but it’s still not 6 out of 6.
The total time it took to unlock the iCloud accounts was longer than advertised (12 days total), but they still delivered. Here’s a breakdown of how long it took to unlock each iCloud account.
- iPhone 4 – 3 day
- iPhone 5c – 4 days
- iPhone 6 Plus – 1 day
- iPhone 6s – 3 days
- iPhone 6s Plus – 3 days
- iPhone SE – Could not unlock
Their customer support is efficient and will answer your questions, but it might take a few days. And as I said above, they’re only $1 more expensive than iPhoneIMEI.
CONs: Firstly, they failed to unlock 1 iCloud account. Yes, they gave us a refund straight away, but they still failed to deliver.
Secondly, their unlock times are a slower as well. iPhoneIMEI was unlocking iCloud accounts in 1-2 days, these guys are more like 3-4 days. It’s not a HUGE issue, but it’s still twice as long to wait without a phone you’ve already paid for.
And finally, whilst their customer support responded in a few days, their responses were always curt and specific. There was nothing in the email other than the only information they needed to answer the question. Whilst they technically did their job, it was very cold and clinical.
OVERALL: Official iPhone Unlock are a solid provider and there’s a better-than-average chance your iCloud account will be unlocked, but why take the risk when iPhoneIMEI are more reliable and cheaper?
You can check out their website here: Official iPhone Unlock
3. IMEI Codes – 5.5/10 (Not recommended)
****NOTE: IMEICodes no longer offer iCloud Unlock********
IMEICodes were my third choice, but now no longer do iCloud unlocks. That is, of course, insinuating they were able to unlock iCloud accounts before.
Yes, they advertised they were able to unlock iCloud accounts and were happy to take my money to do so, but in the end, were only able to unlock 2 out of the 6 iCloud accounts I paid for.
Sure, they refunded my money and apologised claiming that 50% was the industry average, but it still took over 2 weeks to get a refund.
If they were still able to unlock iCloud accounts, I would say “Use them only as a last resort”, but I don’t need to now they’ve acknowledged that it’s not their bag.
If iPhone IMEI aren’t available and you need an iCloud unlock, you can check out IMEICodes here.
Having an iPhone locked to someone else’s iCloud account sucks. They can effectively hold you ransom and make you pay whatever they wanted to get access to the phone you’ve already paid for. And nobody wants that. iCloud unlock services are now available and you can beat their scams without having to pay them a cent.
Of the 9 iCloud unlock providers we found and the 3 we tested, the winner was clear: iPhone IMEI.
They’re the fastest, cheapest, have the more responsive customer support, and were the only provider who successfully completed all 6 iCloud unlocks we sent them.
If you need an iCloud Unlock for your iPhone, visit iPhone IMEI today.
UPDATED: May 11, 2017 – Our method still works on all iPhone 5 models