This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)
(Updated Testing Results for 2019)
Want to know how to unlock iPhone 7?
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 device with whichever provider you want.
The cheapest and most reliable iPhone 7 IMEI provider to use depends on your location.
Unlocking Guide – How To Unlock Your iPhone 7/Plus & 7s/Plus?
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.
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 device 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…
Method #1: Software Method
(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 device to allow some users to move their device to any carrier they wanted.
Method #2: Hardware Method
(Dangerous, unreliable, and will void your warranty)
You can also get your iPhone 7 unlocked by the hardware method. This 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 device and play with its internal hardware.
Method #3: IMEI Unlocking
(Only safe and effective method for iPhone 7 / 7 Plus)
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.
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.
- Skip testing methodology and go straight to test results
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 iPhone 7’s were locked to the following networks:
- 3 x locked to AT&T USA
- 2 x locked to Sprint USA
- 1 x locked to Vodafone UK
- 1 x locked to O2 UK
- 1 x locked to T-Mobile USA
These iPhone 7’s Plus were locked to the following networks:
- 1 x locked to AT&T USA
- 1 x locked to EE UK
- 1 x locked to KDDI Japan
- 1 x 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 and Ripoff Report 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 DoctorUnlock or another recommended option DirectUnlocks?
First you will need to figure out your devices’s IMEI code. This is the unique number for your iPhone 7 that the provider needs 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 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.
2. Model of your device
You will also need to know the model of your device such as the iPhone 4, 5, 5c, 5s, 6, 6 plus, 7, 7 plus, iPad 2 etc.
3. Fill out the requested details
4. Click the Unlock now! button
5. Pay the service fee using your credit card
6. Supply your email address to get updates on the unlock status
7. Enjoy your phone!
Celebrate your newly freed mobile phone within a few days.
Top 3 IMEI Unlock Providers for iPhone 7/7 Plus
#1. DoctorUnlock (9.5/10 – Use inside the USA, UK or Canada)
The #1 IMEI provider I found for iPhone 7 and 7 Plus was DoctorUnlock. 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 DoctorUnlock 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 DoctorUnlock.net 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, DoctorUnlock is my #1 recommendation if you’re inside the US, UK, or Canada.
#2 DirectUnlocks (9/10 – Use outside the USA, UK, or Canada)
DirectUnlocks is the #2 provider on the list. On customer service, speed, and price, they matched DoctorUnlock, and on range of unlocks, they have even more than Keys2iPhone, but there was one problem.They were only able to unlock 3 of the 4 iPhone 7’s we paid for…
- DirectUnlocks do a lot of things well. Their prices, customer support, and unlock speed were all the same as DoctorUnlock..
- They averaged 2 days for each of the unlocks they completed.
- They responded politely to our customer support enquiries.
- They were 16% cheaper than the average.
- 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.
- 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.
DirectUnlocks 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.
#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…
- The only real pro is that they completed 2 unlocks. There’s really not much else to say here.
- 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.
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. Plenty of cons. Not the kind of company I would trust with my money or iPhone.
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.
Related articles on Why The Lucky Stiff: