How to easily check if your iPhone is unlocked or not

Apple iPhones are one of the most coveted gadgets globally, but due to their high price, not everyone is able to get their hands on them. The iPhone fans who are short on budget, usually buy second-hand iPhones to meet their needs. However, there are many risks associated with buying a second-hand iPhone, including the risk of it being locked. You can save yourself this risk if you check if the iPhone is unlocked or not, which is very easy to do.

check if iPhone is unlocked

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Locked or unlocked iPhone: what does it mean?

iPhones can either be locked or unlocked, and it is very important for you to know the type you have. If an iPhone is unlocked, you can use it on any network, while a locked iPhone can only be used on a specific network.

It is always better to buy an unlocked iPhone as you can change your service provider any time. There are other benefits as well, such as it helps reduce roaming charges, commands a higher resale value and is easier to sell.

Usually, if you buy an iPhone directly from Apple by paying the full price, you get an unlocked handset. On the other hand, if you bought it from a carrier or under a plan, it will be locked. The lock, or your agreement with the carrier is normally 18 or 24 months, during which time you pay for the cost of the device.

When buying a second-hand phone, it is not possible to tell just by looking at the handset if it is locked or unlocked. Many sellers of second-hand phones don’t reveal it as well, unless you specifically ask for it. Also, it has been seen, some iPhones are locked when sold, but get unlocked sometime later once the original owner pays the balance amount.

Now that you know what locked and unlocked iPhones are, let’s discuss the ways to check if an iPhone is unlocked or not.

How to check if iPhone is unlocked or locked

The easiest way to check if an iPhone is unlocked or not, is to look in the settings. For this, you should be able to power up the iPhone and have access to the cellular settings. Now, follow the below steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Mobile Data > Mobile Data Options.
  2. Search for an option titled Mobile Data Network or Cellular Data Network.

If this option is there, it means your iPhone is likely unlocked. The option to choose Mobile Data Network is not there in the locked phones. Though this method is simple, it is not 100% accurate. If you want to know for sure, there is another method that will confirm if the iPhone is locked or unlocked.

For this method, you should have two SIM cards from different carriers. Now, follow the below steps:

  1. Use the current SIM card in the iPhone to make a call, and make sure the call connects.
  2. Switch off the iPhone, and use the SIM-card ejector tool to eject the SIM card.
  3. Put in a new SIM card and power on the iPhone.
  4. Make a phone call and check if the call connects or not.

If the call connects, it means your iPhone is unlocked, but if you face issues in connecting the call, it means the iPhone is locked.

One more way to check if an iPhone is unlocked is by resetting to factory defaults and restoring through iTunes. Once you do so, you will see a “Congratulations, the iPhone is unlocked” message. This will mean that the iPhone has been unlocked.

More ways to check

There are a few online tools as well that would help you check if your iPhone is unlocked or not. These tools use your IMEI number to check the lock status of the phone. However, the majority of such tools have a cost involved and there is no way to tell if they are accurate or not. So, it is recommended that you first read the reviews and then select any such online tool.

To use such a tool, you should know your iPhone’s IMEI number. If you don’t have the IMEI number, then don’t worry, you can easily get it from the settings. To get the IMEI number, follow the below steps:

  1. Go to the Settings app, and select General.
  2. Tap About, and on the next screen, scroll down to the IMEI number.

Once you have the IMEI number, go to the online tool and enter the IMEI number. If it is a paid tool, then you will have to make the payment first. Once you have made the payment, click on the Check button, you will be presented with a report. In the report, check your device’s status.

You can also ask your service provider if the iPhone is locked or not. Your service provider will also ask for the IMEI number. Once you provide the IMEI number, the service provider may take a while to get back to you.

You can refer to the below video as well:



About the Author

Aman Jain
Aman is MBA (Finance) with an experience on both Marketing and Finance side. He has worked as a Risk Analyst for AIR Worldwide, and is currently leading VeRa FinServ, a Financial Research firm. Favorite pastimes include watching science fiction movies, reviewing tech gadgets, playing PC games and cricket. - Email him at amanjain@valuewalk.com