UPDATED: February 27, 2016 – Our method still works on all iPhone 5 models
Summary: Of three available unlock methods for iPhone 5, 5s, and 5c, the only reliable and effective one is IMEI Unlocking (sometimes called factory unlocking). Software unlocking hasn’t worked since the iPhone 3 was released, and hardware locking is a dangerous scam that could destroy your iPhone while also voiding your warranty.
IMEI Unlocking doesn’t require you voiding your warranty or downloading potential virus’ to your phone. All you need to do is get a phone industry insider to add your iPhone to the global database of iPhone’s that are able to be used on any network and you’re free to choose whichever carrier you want!
The best place to get an IMEI unlock depends on your location.
If you’re inside the US or Canada, unlock your iPhone 5 using iPhoneIMEI. The fast, cheap, and have great support but have a limited range of unlocks outside North America.
If you’re outside the US or Canada, use Official iPhone Unlock. They have iPhone 5 Unlocks for just about every country and have excellent phone support to back it up. They’re a little more expensive for North America but outside that, they’re the best.
There’s nothing worse that being locked to a poor quality iPhone 5 carrier.
They hold it over your head like a death sentence “Sure, we have poor service. Sure, we want to charge you crazy global roaming fees. Sure, we’re expensive. But there’s nothing you can do about it!”
In any other industry, this wouldn’t fly. Which car manufacturer gets to decide what petrol company you use? Which computer store gets to decide what electricity provider you choose?
None, that’s how many. Yet phone carriers have been doing it for years and getting away with it.
Lucky for you, they can’t do it anymore because you can now unlock your iPhone and get away from your carrier whenever you want to.
There are three primary unlock methods you can choose from, but only one that works.
Here’s a breakdown of the three iPhone 5 / 5s / 5c unlock methods (including the only one that’s actually worthwhile):
Option #1: Software unlock
(Which doesn’t work)
I’ve fallen for this scam. Actually, I’ll let you in on a secret – I have fallen for this scam twice. It consists of a great looking website that claims it’s software can unlock your iPhone.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work and hasn’t worked since Apple released the iPhone 3. They plugged the flaw in the system and now software unlocking is a dirty lie.
Please don’t fall into the same trap as me and fall for this.
Avoid unlocking software for the iPhone 5, 5c and 5s at all costs.
Option #2: Hardware unlocking
(Which will void your warranty)
Hardware unlocking is another one of those ‘guaranteed’ methods that just isn’t worth the risk.
To do it, you have to take your iPhone into some back alley in a dodgy part of town, and a creepy looking stranger will ask you for $100+ to modify the hardware of your iPhone.
That’s right, someone you’ve never met before and have no reason to trust is going to use his dirty, greasy hands to open your iPhone and change the physical chips and wiring inside.
Yes, it’s as bad as it sounds.
The worst part is that even if he is successful (which they are in about 30% of the time), you’ll be left without a warranty. Is that what you want? A 30% chance of success and no warranty?
No, me neither.
It’s best to stay WELL away from hardware unlocking.
Option #3: Network or IMEI unlocking
(The ONLY reliable and permanent method)
The final, and only reliable, safe, and permanent, unlock for your iPhone 5, 5s, or 5c, is IMEI or Network Unlocking.
Every iPhone ever produced as a unique identifying code known as it’s IMEI code. Apple has a global database of these codes where every iPhone is listed.
As well as listing the iPhone’s model number, colour, memory size, and production date, it also lists whether the iPhone is locked to a particular network.
An IMEI Unlock simply involves getting your iPhone’s IMEI lock status changed from ‘locked’ to ‘unlocked’.
There’s no malicious software to download, and no dangerous looking stranger has to open up your iPhone and void your warranty. All that needs to happen is for your iPhone’s status to be changed on Apple’s global database.
It’s that simple.
Because of this, IMEI or Network Unlocking is the ONLY unlock method I recommend.
But where do you get one? And who do you get it through?
Well, I don’t have contacts who can do this, but there are companies who know industry insiders who can get your iPhone unlocked quickly and easily.
Here are my top 3 recommendations:
The Top 3 iPhone 5 / 5s / 5c IMEI Unlock Services
So now that you know what unlocking is and what methods you should avoid, here are the top 3 services that I have used to unlock the iPhone 5, 5c and 5s.
1. iPhoneIMEI (9.5/10) – The best choice for IMEI unlocks inside the US and Canada
iPhoneIMEI are without a doubt my #1 choice for iPhone 5, 5s, and 5c unlocks.
PROs: First of all, they’re cheap. They’re consistently 20% – 30% cheaper than just about every other IMEI unlock service on the web.
Normally, when someone’s that much cheaper than their competitors, it means you’re getting an inferior quality product, but that’s not the case with iPhoneIMEI They’re cheaper because they process more unlocks than any other unlock service (according to one customer support representative, they’re processing more than 200 unlocks per day). The more you process, the cheaper it becomes and that means they can unlock your iPhone for less.
My big concern with their cheap prices was it was going to mean no customer support. I was glad to be proven wrong. When I needed an update on how much longer the unlock was going to take (turns out it had already been unlocked and their notification email was in my junk folder), their support team responded within 7 minutes. Amazing.
And finally, the last reason why iPhoneIMEI are #1 on my list is the speed of their unlocks. The very nature of iPhone unlocking makes it’s an uncertain and slow process. Some unlocking companies I’ve used (see below) have taken up to 45 days to give me what I paid for. I was very happy when my AT&T unlock was processed in less than 3 hours… That’s what I call service!
CONs: The only downside with iPhoneIMEI is they don’t have the biggest range of unlocks outside North America. There’s a few there, but it’s not as comprehensive as the #2 on my list.
If you’re not in North America, definitely check out iPhoneIMEI but you might have to keep scrolling.
SUMMARY: iPhoneIMEI are cheap, fast, and have fantastic customer support. Whilst they don’t have the biggest range of unlocks, if you’re in the US or Canada, you should definitely use them to unlock your iPhone today!
If you’re on a tight budget, don’t want to wait weeks, and you’re in the US or Canada, unlock your iPhone with iPhoneIMEI now.
2. Official iPhone Unlock (9/10) – Unlock your iPhone 5 if you’re outside North America
Official iPhone Unlock is another great unlock company.
PROs: First of all, they’re not some flash-in-the-pan startup that’s popped up in the last few months. They’ve been around since the first generations of the iPhone, and they’re very experienced with the iPhone 5, the iPhone 5s, and the iPhone 5c. I’ve used them more than once, and so have many of my family and friends.
Secondly, they’re fast. Like REALLY fast. When I first used them, I started the process on a Friday night. I though there’s no way this would be completed until at least Tuesday. However on Saturday morning, I was surprised to find an email to say that my iPhone 5 was now unlocked. They really are ahead of the game here.
Thirdly, they have unlocks available for just about every carrier in the world. Seriously, try them. Locked to Orange in the UK? They can unlock it. Softbank in Japan? They can unlock it. Bharti Airtel in India? They can unlock it. Any phone, any carrier, any country. It’s truly amazing.
And finally, their customer support rocks. When my mum unlocked her iPhone 5c, she managed to put the wrong email address in… (She’s not too tech savvy). To make sure we didn’t miss any notifications, I called them (Yes, they have phone support) immediately to fix it all up and it was all done in less than 3 minutes.
CONs: Whilst they can unlock just about any carrier in any country, they are a little more expensive in North America, especially with AT&T. If you’re not in the US or Canada, definitely try them out but if you are, I’d go with iPhoneIMEI.
SUMMARY: Official iPhone Unlock are a great choice to unlock your iPhone 5 if you’re outside North America. They’re fast, cheap, have great support, and the biggest range of unlocks on the market.
To unlock your iPhone outside the US or Canada, head to Official iPhone Unlock today.
3. IMEI Codes (5/10 – Not recommended)
IMEI Codes is my final iPhone 5 unlocking alternative to iUnlock Pro. Maybe alternative is the wrong word; distant back up is more like it.
They will unlock the iPhone 5, 5c and 5s however don’t expect a quick unlock or a detailed email answer to any of your questions. It is a no frills unlocking service that should only be used if my other two picks aren’t available.
Of the three iPhone 5 / 5s / 5c unlocks available, only one is safe and effective.
- Software unlocking doesn’t to work
- Hardware unlocking can damage your iPhone and void your warranty
- IMEI unlocking is the only truly effective and safe method for unlocking your iPhone 5 / 5s / 5c
There are several iPhone IMEI unlocking services available, and the best one for you depends on your location.
If you’re locked to a carrier inside the US or Canada, iPhoneIMEI. They’re fast, cheap, reliable, and have excellent support for any carrier in North America or Canada.
If you’re locked to a carrier outside the US or Canada, use Official iPhone Unlock. They have the biggest range of iPhone unlocks, the best prices, the fastest customer service, and will have your iPhone unlocked in as little as 24 hours, but are more expensive in North America.