What to do with a locked iPhone – When buying a new iPhone, rarely anyone encounters problems; this threatens only those who prefer to buy the device from their hands or save money on the gray market. But the second category of people may well encounter such a thing as a locked iPhone. We tell you what this means and what ways to solve the problem are.
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What is a locked iPhone
In some countries, there is a practice of linking the device to a contract with a mobile operator – this is done in the USA, Australia, Canada and some European countries. This means that the production blocked (lock sim) the ability to use a smartphone with SIM cards from other telecom operators. Such iPhones are called locked, blocked. If you try to use it with a SIM card from another operator, it will report an error, and there will be no connection to the cellular network, you will not be able to make and receive calls.
Locked phones can be significantly cheaper, since the manufacturer pays the difference in price to the manufacturer, but you won’t be able to use such a phone in other countries.
Which countries and operators block the iPhone most often:
- USA – AT&T, Sprint, T-mobile, Verizon, Xfinity, Cellular;
- UK – Tesco, Orange, T-mobile, Vodafone;
- Canada – Flex, SaskTel, Telus, Videotron;
- France – Orange, SFR;
- Spain – Movistar, Orange, Vodafone;
- Israel – Cellcom, Orange, Pelephone;
- Germany – O2, T-mobile, Vodafone;
- Sweden – Three, Halebop, Telia;
- Finland – DNA;
- Türkiye – Avea, Turkcell, Vodafone, etc.
During the activation process of a locked phone, the procedure for reading IMSI, a unique code that any SIM card has, is violated. However, there are several ways to unbind iPhone from a specific carrier.
How to check if iPhone is locked
When buying a phone, you can quickly check if there are any problems with blocking SIM cards. For starters, you can check with the seller for information: if he says that the status of the device is sim free, this means that you can insert a card of any operator. If the status is locked, then the phone is tied to the services of a specific operator. All official sellers sell unlocked iPhones.
The easiest way to check the iPhone for blocking is in the settings: Settings – General – About this device. Next, you should look for the line Blocking by the operator. If the status of this line is “Sim without restrictions”, the phone can be freely tied to any telecom operator.
Right at the time of purchase, you can try to insert your SIM card into the slot – this is the easiest way to check. The operator’s logo and “sticks” of communication should appear in the top panel – this means that the phone has registered on the network and can be used freely.
If the message Activation Required appears in the status panel or on the screen, then you are dealing with a locked phone. Now you know how not to buy a locked iPhone.
But what if the purchase is made via the Internet, and there is no way to hold the phone in your hands before that? Experts advise checking by IMEI.
To begin with, let’s recall what IMEI is – this is a unique 15-digit number assigned to each phone at the factory.
Here’s how you can find out your IMEI:
- it is usually indicated on the warranty card, on the box or on the sales receipt;
- it can also be found on a sticker under the battery, in those models where it is possible to see the battery without much difficulty;
- the easiest way is to type the command* # 06 # _pon the phone keypad;
- in the phone settings – Settings – General – About this device.
There are a lot of sites on the Internet that offer checking the phone by IMEI, that is, obtaining certain information by code. It is believed that this is how you can find out whether the iPhone is locked.
Recently, most free sites for checking IMEI have stopped working, but there are resources where you can still find out such information for a small fee. For example, the site imei.info. Basic data about the device, the most minimal set on it can be seen for free. But you can check which operator the phone is linked to only after payment. Such a check costs 2.99 USD, the amount is currently paid only with a foreign bank card.
Such verification services really allow you to determine if the iPhone has a sim lock. But no one is immune from the fact that the seller will send the wrong IMEI when buying remotely.
However, even if it was the locked version of the phone that fell into your hands, or you intentionally saved money, there are ways to unlock the iPhone.
How to unlock a locked iPhone officially
For instructions on how to unlock your iPhone for use with another carrier, visit the official Apple support site. There it is proposed to go the legal way and ask the current telecom operator to remove the blocking. The fact is that Apple cannot, for its part, unlock such a phone, the responsibility for this lies only with the current (attached) telecom operator.
Apple offers to contact the operator through its own website, first selecting the country, service provider, and then filling out a feedback form describing your problem. At the same time, you can expect the blocking to be lifted for several days, sometimes more than a week. The operator will definitely confirm the unlocking of the iPhone after this time. Then you can do the following:
- set up eSIM on an unlocked iPhone;
- remove the old SIM card and insert a new one, which will work after unlocking by the operator;
- delete data from the iPhone, thereby restoring it to its original state with factory settings; Before doing this, be sure to make a backup copy.
If the “SIM is not supported on this iPhone” message reappears, you need to contact your carrier and get confirmation that the lock has been unlocked on their system.e likelihood that a mobile operator will unlock an iPhone depends on many factors, as each operator has internal rules and regulations. So, if the previous owners used the SIM cards of the linked operator for a long enough time and paid the bills, that is, they complied with the terms of the contract, the operator will definitely approve the request for unblocking. This is the surest option, in which the iPhone becomes “free”, re-unlocking is not required. This process may take up to 30 days.
There are many intermediary firms that deal with the official unbinding (“unlocking”) of Apple phones for a fee. They carry out the procedure remotely, directly through the operator’s server, while the phone does not need to be sent. To provide the service, you must provide IMEI.
Hardware way to reset iPhone lock
A locked iPhone can be unlocked not only officially through an operator, but also by hardware – this will require the so-called turbo sim. It is a microcircuit that is installed together with a SIM card in the card tray. This chip contains the IMSI chips of the operators of the country in which the iPhone is tied. Thus, the phone with the help of these chips determines the iPhone as “its own”, and the activation process is successful.
This method looks simple and reliable, but it also has undoubted disadvantages:
- activation will need to be repeated every time the iPhone loses the network or even after a simple reboot; it is necessary to constantly monitor that the battery is not completely discharged;
- it is forbidden to update iOS, it is also impossible to restore the state of the phone from a backup using iTunes, because after that the turbo sim will fly off again;
- there are difficulties with iMessage and FaceTime video calls, and voice communication may not be the best quality.
Turbo-sim is a rather complex device, it is created for a specific phone model, that is, you cannot buy a universal model for any version of the iPhone. However, it can be configured for multiple operators to solve the problem of regional binding.
There are also very expensive turbo sims that fit different models and versions of iOS. Upon purchase, along with the card, a device is issued for use and activation, and the setup process can be done independently. An unlocked phone with a turbo sim will work, and buying it will not be a waste of money.
How to untie iPhone through an intermediary
Let’s talk about the semi-official way to untie the iPhone. The fact is that the operator will not approve the unlocking of a phone that has not yet expired a contract, still has debts for communication, or is considered lost. But intermediary services have learned to bypass such blocking. They do the unbinding by accessing the databases of mobile operators through the provider. This is a very complex process, consisting of a whole chain of performers. Its essence is that at a certain time, literally for several hours, access to the database of the desired operator, to which the phone is locked, is opened, and in this database you can change the status to unlock.
Unlocking will happen like this. If the intermediary managed to edit the data on the blocking status, during switching on with a new SIM, he will contact the server and send data about himself: time zone, which GSM networks are nearby. If the server answers that it is impossible to work in these networks, a message will appear that the SIM card is invalid. But after unlocking, the information on the server is updated, and the iPhone receives a response that network access is allowed. After restarting, the server will see the new status, so the iPhone will work well with SIM cards from any service providers.
The service is provided without guarantees, that is, the intermediary expects that the unlock will not fly off, but if it ever does fly off, the money will not be returned. Such an operation costs from 15 to 150 dollars, depending on the operator, and the execution time takes up to a month, since no one knows at what point the window of opportunities for editing the iPhone status will open. To perform the operation, it is enough to send the device’s IMEI to the service.
If we turn to the websites of intermediary companies, we will see that services for many operators and countries are not available and are not active at the moment. This is because the operators constantly monitor vulnerabilities in their databases and close the possibility for their unofficial editing. But time passes, and loopholes are found again, which is why the terms for the provision of services are also not regulated.
About the unofficial unlocking of a locked phone
Along with the semi-official unlock, which we talked about above, there is an unofficial unlock without the participation of the operator. This is literally a hack attack on the GSX databases and overwriting information about a specific device. This works in difficult cases: when a block was made for several operators at once, when the phone is blacklisted for debts, when there is a regional block.
The main disadvantage of the method is that the temporary unlock will fly off as soon as the device is updated or a simple reboot occurs. The operator detects an error in the databases and fixes it, and the iPhone user stops seeing the SIM card again. Every year, the iOS operating system is becoming more and more advanced, the methods of protecting carrier databases are also improving, and there are fewer and fewer opportunities for unofficial unlocking.
How to choose an intermediary for unlocking
The easiest way to unlock your iPhone yourself is with a turbo sim, you just need to buy it and insert it into the slot. Other unlocking methods will not be able to be performed on your own, since even for companies with many years of experience it takes months, and at the same time it does not always end successfully.
When looking for an executing company online, pay attention to the following points:
- how long has the contractor been working in this field;
- does he have a service center with a real office that you can come to;
- is it possible to receive a check / receipt for payment for services;
- what terms the contractor promises – remember that they must be at least 15-30 days.
Note that the lack of guarantees now is a normal practice, since it is not known exactly when the window of opportunity for unlocking the iPhone will appear and whether the reset will be possible at all.
A locked iPhone is one that is configured to work only with SIM cards from one operator or only in one region. This is done so that the phone is bought along with a contract for the services of a specific cellular operator. Sim lock is a standard practice for the USA, Australia, in Europe you can also buy such phones.
If such a phone gets to a new owner in another country, he will not accept another SIM card, so calls will be unavailable. The purchase may be completely useless. To prevent this from happening, when buying a used phone, it is advised to check if the iPhone is not locked. If you already own such a phone, try using one of three unlock methods: turbo sim, official unlock through contacting the operator, and unofficial unlock. For the last two cases, the help of experienced intermediaries will be required.
The main conclusion that can be drawn from the article is this: if you haven’t bought a locked iPhone yet, don’t even think about it. You will save several thousand rubles, but spend a lot of nerves and time. As a result, your efforts to untie may remain unsuccessful, and the phone will become only an illustration of the proverb “The miser pays twice.”