This article explains how you can check if an iPhone is unlocked, or locked to a specific cellular network. The difference is that an unlocked iPhone can be used on any network (like, only on Verizon, T Mobile, Sprint, etc.) while a locked iPhone can only be used only on the carrier it’s locked to. For example, a Verizon iPhone may be “locked” to work exclusively on the Verizon network and it cannot be activated on a competing carrier’s network. This is also called “SIM lock”.
Cellular carriers install software on the iPhone to lock it to their network. Unlocking involves disabling this software. This way, by locking, carriers are able to offer subsidized devices. This is why unlocked iPhones are worth more money. This may be especially important if you plan to buy a used iPhone because if you are not careful your new iPhone may not work on your cell carrier.
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It is always a good idea to check a new (or used) iPhone to see if it’s locked. If it is unlocked, you can switch carriers freely. You can operate your iPhone on another compatible wireless network if it is unlocked.
It is important to note that the following methods will work if you want to check to see if your iPhone and iPad is locked or not.
Is my iPhone unlocked?
There are a few ways to check if your iPhone or iPad is unlocked.
iOS 14 or iPadOS 14
The new iOS and iPadOS update offer a new feature you can use if your iPhone or iPad is running iOS 14 or newer. This new feature offers a quick and easy way to find out if your device is unlocked or not. Here is how:
- On your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > General > About.
- Scroll down and find “Carrier Lock” or “Network Provider Lock”.
- If you see No SIM restrictions, this means that the iPhone or iPad is completely unlocked.
If you are not using iOS 14 (running iOS 13 or earlier) then see the methods below:
- On your device (iPhone or iPad), go to Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data Options (or Mobile Data > Mobile Data Options).
- If you see “Cellular Data Network” or “Mobile Data Network” as an option. If you see any of them, your iPhone is probably unlocked.
This is the easiest method but it is not foolproof.
Method # 2
This involves checking If an iPhone is unlocked via a SIM Card. We will remove the current SIM card in your iPhone and put another SIM card to see if it works. Just make sure that the SIM isn’t from the same carrier. This method # 2 will let you know for sure if your device is unlocked.
Here is how:
- Turn off your iPhone.
- Locate the SIM tray (located usually on the right side of your iPhone).
- Use a SIM card ejector tool (or a paperclip) to remove the iPhone’s SIM card. Insert the paperclip into the hole beside the tray.
- Remove the current SIM card from the tray and replace it with another SIM card from a different carrier.
- Turn on your device.
- Your iPhone will automatically detect the carrier if it is unlocked. if your phone is locked, your iPhone will display a message saying the phone is currently locked. To be 100 percent sure, place a call to see if the call connects. If you can make a call, then your phone is unlocked.
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What if your iPhone is locked?
So you checked and learned that your newly purchased iPhone is locked? Call the carrier it’s locked to. The carrier can unlock it. However, carriers often have a few requirements before it can be unlocked. For example:
- Verizon iPhones remain locked for 60 days after they are purchased. Verizon will automatically unlock your device after the 60 day lock period.
- AT&T lets you submit an online unlock request. You can do so by going to https://www.att.com/deviceunlock/
- If you are a Sprint customer, you can call Sprint support at 888-211-4727.
- If this is a T Mobile device, you can call them at 1-877-746-0909.
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