Whether you’re buying a new or pre-owned iPhone, it’s a good idea to take a look at whether it’s locked or unlocked. This can have a big impact on what mobile carrier you’re able to connect with as well as the price you pay for your new phone.
You can’t tell just by looking whether your phone is unlocked though, which is why we’re here to help you check on the status of your iPhone before you buy it.
What is an Unlocked iPhone?
The lock is essentially a software code that’s put on the iPhone by the manufacturer to meet operator requirements, attaching the iPhone to a carrier. This means that an unlocked iPhone is a phone that isn’t limited to a particular carrier.
You can switch your phone from one network to another and it will still work just fine. Usually, iPhones bought directly from Apple will be unlocked.
If you buy your phone used or from a specific carrier though, the phone is generally locked until the contract is completely paid off, or until the previous owner’s contract is paid off.
Since iPhones are not branded by specific mobile carriers, you can’t determine the carrier just by looking. You’ll have to check whether the iPhone is locked or not if you’re buying and would like to switch your carrier.
How To Check If iPhone is Unlocked
Unlocking your phone is important if you’d like to change carriers, which is why many people like to perform this check on the iPhone before they buy one.
You have a few different methods you can choose from to perform this check, the simplest one being the SIM card check.
Is My iPhone Unlocked – SIM Card Check
All you have to do is take out your iPhone’s SIM card and put one in for a different carrier. Make a phone call using that SIM card and see if it connects. If the phone call doesn’t connect, then the iPhone is locked.
You can try this method easily if you have a friend using a different carrier for their phone, although not everyone has a SIM card readily available to them.
You might be able to walk into a store for a different carrier and ask to borrow a SIM card though.
This might not work for all other carriers, but some are very accommodating and will simply hand you a SIM card for a few moments. It should only take a few seconds to have your answer.
How to Know if iPhone Is Unlocked – Check Settings App
Head on over to your Settings app and tap into the Mobile Data and Mobile Data Options. Check to see your Mobile Data Network – if you see the option for your network, this means that your phone is unlocked.
If you do not see the option, it won’t appear on locked iPhones. This isn’t completely effective though and should be double-checked.
Call Your Carrier
This solution is a bit more difficult and may not always work, since carriers do not always tell you whether the phone is locked or unlocked over the phone. However, it’s the surest way for you to know the status of your device.
Keep in mind that this method takes some time, since you have to wait for the carrier to get back to you. You may have to spend time on the phone with customer service, but you will know for sure.
Find Your IMEI Number
You can actually use a couple online tools to check if your phone is locked using its IMEI number. This is the serial number of your iPhone that communicates with Apple servers and provides all the information you need about your Apple device.
You’ll have to pay about three dollars to perform the check, but a few tools are free after you locate your IMEI number. You can find your IMEI number using a few methods. First, you can take a look at the back of your iPhone to see if it’s there, or head on into Settings then to About.
You can also find the IMEI number by connecting your phone to your computer and launching iTunes. Just go to Device Summary and click on the phone number.
You also have the option of checking your device’s original packaging and barcode, or even looking at the SIM card tray in some cases.
How To Know If Your iPhone Is Unlocked – Online Tools
Once you have that IMEI, your checker will let you know whether your phone is locked or unlocked. However, it will not unlock your iPhone for you. Regardless of what checker you use, make sure it has GSX access, which connects right to Apple.
This will provide you with the most up-to-date information about your iPhone. You can find this out by looking at the website you’ve chosen to see if there is a GSX report in the “Next Tether Policy” value.
After you’re sure of your website, input the number, prove you’re not a robot with the captcha and take a look at the information given to you by the website. Then, look for the Lock Status to see if you’re locked or unlocked.
Word of Caution
If you’re buying a used iPhone from someone, of course you’ll want to know whether it’s locked or not. However, also check to be sure that it’s not on the GSM blacklist. This is a list of stolen phones that can be identified by their IMEI numbers. You can check this with IMEI checkers or by contacting any wireless carrier. Once you’re sure of your phone’s status, contact a mobile carrier if you’d like help getting it unlocked.
Technology can seem daunting at times, but knowing whether your iPhone is locked or or not doesn’t have to be complicated. Perform a couple of these checks to see if your phone is unlocked and whether you can use it on another mobile carrier.
Even though you can’t tell your phone’s status just by looking at it, our tips make it easy to purchase your phone with peace of mind.