UPDATED: August 11, 2017 – Our method still works on all iPhone 7 models
Summary: Owning the brand new iPhone 7 or 7 plus is exciting. Being locked to a carrier who charges through the roof and gives you substandard customer service is not.
If you want to switch to a carrier that actually provides value for money, or even just want to be able to use a local carrier while overseas, you need an IMEI unlock. An IMEI unlock safely and permanently frees your iPhone 7 from your carrier meaning you’re able to use your phone with whichever provider you want.
The cheapest and most reliable iPhone 7 IMEI provider to use depends on your location.
If you’re locked to a carrier inside the US, Canada, or the UK, use iPhoneIMEI.net. They have the best prices, best support, and are the most reliable provider we tested, but have a limited range of unlocks outside North America and the UK.
If you’re locked to a carrier outside the US, Canada, and the UK, use OfficialiPhoneUnlock. They have can untether your iPhone from almost every service provider in the world, have great prices, solid support (including phone support) and are very reliable, but are slightly more expensive than iPhoneIMEI.
The Complete iPhone 7 / 7 Plus Unlocking Guide
The latest and greatest iPhone has landed on our shores, and with it comes the same old problems. Phone service providers are still charging ridiculous fees, providing poor network availability and customer service, and charging crazy international roaming fees to anyone who heads overseas.
These high rates and substandard service wouldn’t be acceptable in any other industry, but companies like AT&T, Sprint, O2, and Vodafone can get away with it because of phone locking.
Phone locking is where your mobile device is tied to a particular carrier and you’re not able to use it with any other carrier. This means they can charge what they want and provide as little as they want and they know you’re not going to leave them.
That is, of course, unless you unlock your iPhone 7 or 7 plus.
Phone unlocking is where you remove the restrictions that prevent you from using your phone with another carrier and get the freedom to escape all the problems they’re creating.
There are three methods for unlocking available on the market. But, only one that works…
iPhone 7 Unlock Method 1: Software Unlocking
(Hasn’t worked since the iPhone 3G)
The first iPhone unlocking method to appear on the market was the software unlock. It first became available when the iPhone 3G first hit the market and exploited a hardware loophole on the phone to allow some users to move their phone to any carrier they wanted.
Unfortunately, this method was identified by Apple and the loophole was closed with the release of the iPhone 4 meaning that it’s not effective on the iPhone 7.
iPhone 7 Unlock Method 2: Hardware Method
(Dangerous, unreliable, and will void your warranty)
The next method identified once the software unlocking loophole was closed was hardware process. Hardware unlocking is where you pay a suspicious looking guy in a suspicious looking back alley to physically open up your phone and play with its internal hardware.
It’s dangerous, dirty, only has a 30% effectiveness rate, and will completely void your warranty in the off-chance it does work. Does that sound like something you want to do to your brand new iPhone 7 / 7 Plus? No, I didn’t think so.
iPhone 7 Unlock Method 3: IMEI Unlocking
(Only safe and effective method for iPhone 7 / 7 Plus)
The final, and only effective method for unlocking a mobile device is the IMEI or factory unlock. An IMEI is the unique identifying code used to identify your phone. Each device has a different IMEI and it’s stored on the Apple database along with other identifying features, including model number, colour, storage size, year of production, and most importantly, whether it’s locked to a particular network.
An IMEI solution is where the status of your iPhone is changed from being locked to a particular network to being unlocked on the Apple database.
This is safe, effective, permanent, and most importantly, does not void your warranty. Because of this, an IMEI unlock is the only iPhone 7 or 7 Plus method I recommend.
IMEI Unlock Provider Testing Process
The explosion of iPhone sales over the last 8 years has been followed by an explosion of IMEI unlock providers. And as with any industry, the quality, level of service, and reliability of those providers varies greatly.
To make sure you only end use an IMEI provider who’s going to deliver, I’ve gone through and reviewed and tested the major players in the industry. Even though I’ve already done this with both iPhone 5/S/C/ and iPhone 6/6 Plus/6s/6s Plus, it was important to make sure that these service providers could deliver with the newest Apple 7. Here’s how I conducted that test.
Finding Test Subjects
Probably the hardest part of this test was finding enough people with an 7 or 7 Plus who wanted them freed up! It’s a new phone and most people haven’t had enough time to become dissatisfied with the level of service provided just yet. But, I didn’t manage to find 8 Apple 7 phone owners and 4 iPhone 7 Plus owners through my network of friends and website readers to test these IMEI providers with.
These phones were locked to the following networks:
- 3 x iPhone 7’s locked to AT&T USA
- 2 x iPhone 7’s locked to Sprint USA
- 1 x iPhone 7 locked to Vodafone UK
- 1 x iPhone 7 locked to O2 UK
- 1 x iPhone 7 locked to T-Mobile USA
- 1 x iPhone 7 Plus locked to AT&T USA
- 1 x iPhone 7 Plus locked to EE UK
- 1 x iPhone 7 Plus locked to KDDI Japan
- 1 x iPhone 7 Plus locked to Rogers Canada
Culling Down Factory Unlock Providers
The first step in testing these factory providers was to reduce the 29 providers down to a number I could test. I only had 12 phones to play with and I wanted to test each provider with multiple phones so I had to reduce the number down to three.
To do this, I created a list of unlock providers and then set about reading through various online review websites like TrustPilot, Ripoff Report, and Trustmark Reviews to find who was legitimate provider and who was simply running a scam.
It was easy to weed out the obvious scams and keep reducing the list until I had what looked like the top three iPhone 7 IMEI providers.
The test itself was simple. I purchased 4 iPhone 7 IMEI unlocks from each of three providers I’d identified as being legitimate.
There are 6 criteria I used to judge the performance of these providers:
Criteria 1: Success of unlock
This has to be #1 here: did they or did they not deliver on their promise to free the phone they were paid to unlock? If they did, hooray! If they didn’t, boo!
Success / failure is critical because THAT’S WHAT THEY’RE PAID TO DO.
Criteria 2: Range of services available
There’s no point in recommending an IMEI provider if they can only unlock iPhone 7’s locked to some obscure carrier in a small eastern-European country that no-one’s ever heard of.
The recommended provider needs to have solutions for a wide range of carriers from a wide range of countries, otherwise, there would be no point in recommending them.
Criteria 3: Cost
It’s great for these providers to have a wide range and actually deliver on their promises, but if each methods costs more than the phone they’re unlocking, what’s the point?
Because of this, the third criteria used to judge the quality of the providers was cost, with preference given to the cheapest provider who could deliver a quality product.
Criteria 4: Payment Methods
Can free up my iPhone 7? Great. Have a big range of unlocks? Awesome. Have decent prices? Excellent. Only accept payments with seashells sent via registered post to the Solomon Islands? Bad. Obviously, this isn’t a real scenario, but there are some IMEI providers who only accept Western Union money transfer, which is a pain in the arse, whereas other accept PayPal and all major credit cards. It’s pretty easy to guess who I’m going to recommend.
Criteria 5: Customer Service
Paying someone you’ve never met before to perform a process you’re not familiar with can be a nerve-wracking experience. The only thing that can calm these nerves is solid customer service.
Because of this, each provider will be tested three times through the services’ process for their contact types, politeness, responsiveness, and helpfulness
Criteria 6: Speed
While you want your mobile device unlocked, you don’t want to have to wait any longer than necessary to change networks. Because of this, each provider will be judged on how long it takes them to complete the unlock.
What to expect when using iPhoneIMEI.Net or OfficialUnlock
1. First you will need to figure out your devices’s IMEI code. This is the unique number for your iPhone 7 that iPhoneIMEI.net need to identify and unlock your device. There are three methods:
- Method 1: Dial *#06# and it will send back the IMEI code
- Method 2: For iPhone 5 or newer, the IMEI number is located on the rear of the phone device.
- Method 3: All non-activated phones, find the little “i” button on the activation screen, click it and you’ll see the IMEI on the following screen
Top 3 IMEI Unlock Providers for iPhone 7/7 Plus
The tests have been completed and the results are in. If you need to unlock your iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, these are the three best IMEI providers on the market, in order of preference:
#1. iPhoneIMEI.net (9.5/10 – Use if you’re inside the USA, Canada, or the UK)
The #1 IMEI provider I found for iPhone 7 and 7 Plus was iPhoneIMEI.net. They’re fast, reliable, reasonably priced, have great customer support, and most importantly, unlocked all 4 iPhones we paid them for. Their range is limited outside of the USA, Canada, and the UK, but as those countries make up about 80% of unlocks, they get my vote as #1.
PROs: The biggest pro of iPhone IMEI is that of the three unlock providers we tested, they were the only unlock provider that unlocked all 4 mobile devices we paid them for. That’s the biggest pro because it means you’re going to get what you paid them for. Simple as that.
But, that’s not the only place where they stood out. On average, they were 17% cheaper than the other unlock providers. Prices varied between phone service providers and countries, but when we averaged out the costs differences, it came to 17%.
The other area that really separated them from the crowd was their customer support. I contacted them three times — once before purchasing the unlock, once during the process, and once after the unlock was complete — and they responded quickly, with the information I requested, and in a polite and helpful manner.
Their service delivery times were the same as our #2 recommendation (an average of 48 hours), which is excellent, but not a point of difference.
CONs: The only real con for iPhoneIMEI is their limited range of unlocks. They can free your iPhone 7 or 7 Plus from just about every phone service provider inside the US, Canada, and the UK, but you might not find the provider you want if you’re outside those areas.
OVERALL: With great prices, helpful and polite customer support, and a 100% success rate on all 4 unlocks, iPhoneIMEI is my #1 recommendation if you’re inside the US, UK, or Canada.
If your iPhone 7 or 7 Plus is locked to a carrier inside the US, UK, or Canada, go to iPhone IMEI now.
#2 Official iPhone Unlock (9/10 – Use if your outside the USA, UK, or Canada)
Official iPhone Unlock is the #2 provider on the list. On customer service, speed, and price, they matched iPhoneIMEI, and on range of unlocks, they have even more than iPhoneIMEI, but there was one problem.They were only able to unlock 3 of the 4 iPhone 7’s we paid for…
PROs: Official iPhone Unlock do a lot of things well. Their prices, customer support, and unlock speed were all the same as iPhoneIMEI. They were 16% cheaper than the average, they averaged 2 days for each of the unlocks they completed, and responded politely to our customer support enquiries.
The one really big pro that separates them from the rest of the providers is that they have the biggest range of unlocks available anywhere on the market. And not just by 10% or 15%; the difference is huge. I couldn’t tell you exactly how many phone service providers are on their list, but I’d guess they have just about every provider in every country in the world.
CONs: There’s only one con here, but it’s a big one. Of the 4 iPhone 7 unlocks we purchased, they only unlocked 3 of them. They were successful with the AT&T USA, Rogers Canada, and EE UK, but couldn’t get KDDI Japan to work. To be fair, they warned that they were having trouble getting KDDI unlocked when we placed our order, but it was still a failure.
OVERALL: Official iPhone Unlock are a solid provider. They’re reasonably priced, quick, have great customer service, and the biggest range of unlocks available on the market. Whilst they only managed to unlock 3 of the 4 unlocks we purchased, they did warn us that they weren’t having success with that particular phone service provider.
If you’re locked to a carrier outside the US, UK, or Canada, head to Official iPhone Unlock now.
#3 Keys2iPhone (5/10 – Don’t use them)
KeysiPhone are the final provider on my list, and they’re here for a reason. Sure, they managed to complete 2 of the 4 unlocks we paid for, but that was only after asking us for an additional payment that was as much as we originally paid! And if that wasn’t enough…
PROs: The only real pro is that they completed 2 unlocks. There’s really not much else to say here.
CONs: Where do they start?
- They only completed 50% of the unlocks we purchased
- It took an average of 5 days to complete those unlocks
- They only completed them after requiring additional payments of what we originally paid for the unlocks! Apparently, they had to use premium services to unlock those two phones…
- Their customer service is terrible. They only responded to our pre-sales emails and completely ignored our support emails
- We had to file chargebacks to get refunds for two unlocks they couldn’t complete
Plenty of cons. Not the kind of company I would trust with my money or iPhone.
OVERALL: They completed two of the four unlocks we paid for and everything else went poorly. Their support, trying to get refunds, their unlock time, everything was poor. Don’t use these guys.
There are three methods available for unlocking your iPhone 7 or 7 Plus: software unlocking, hardware unlocking and IMEI or factory unlocking. Software unlocking hasn’t worked since the iPhone 3G, hardware unlocking is dangerous and will void your warranty, meaning that IMEI unlocking is the only safe way to unlock your iPhone 7 or 7 Plus.
I evaluated 29 providers and tested 3 and the IMEI unlock provider you should use depends on your location.
If you’re locked to a carrier inside the US, UK, or Canada, use iPhoneIMEI. They specialise in unlocks inside the US, UK, and Canada and have the cheapest prices, fastest unlocks and polite and responsive customer support. They were the only provider to complete all 4 unlocks we purchased. They have a limited range outside the US, UK, and Canada, but if you’re inside those regions, you’ll get a great deal.
If you’re locked to a carrier outside the US, UK and Canada, use Official iPhone Unlock. They match iPhoneIMEI on price, speed, and customer support and have a huge range of unlocks available from almost every unlock provider around the world. Yes, they failed to unlock our iPhone 7 Plus locked to KDDI Japan, but they warned us about that when we placed our order.