iPhone 5 owners who don’t want to use any of the three official iPhone carriers – AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon- in the US or want to use the iPhone 5 outside the states will most likely have to unlock their iPhone 5. The process of unlocking an iPhone 5 vary from carriers and depends how the phone was bought (full price or subsidy).
If you bought an iPhone 5 from AT&T, Verizon or Sprint and would like to unlock it to use it with T-Mobile or any other GSM carrier, here’s what you’ll need to do…
Unlocking an AT&T iPhone 5
First, lets begin with AT&T iPhone 5 model. If you bought an AT&T iPhone 5 at full price either from Apple or AT&T, your iPhone 5 is already unlocked. In this case you will not have to contact AT&T to get the phone unlocked; all you’ll have to do is restore the iPhone in iTunes. After restoring the iPhone in iTunes, you should see the usual unlock message in iTunes that says: “Congratulations, your iPhone has been unlocked.”
Now, those who bought an AT&T-subsidized iPhone 5 won’t be able to unlock their phone that easy or free. Since AT&T does’t unlock iPhone for free (or at all) unless the contract has ended, you will have to buy an unlock for your iPhone 5 from someone else - not AT&T. You can buy the unlock service for your iPhone 5 very cheap from eBay, or look on your local Craigslist to find someone who does it locally. iPhone 5 unlocking service can be found on eBay cheap and easy, just search ‘unlock iPhone 5 imei‘. You’ll need to provide the seller the iPhone 5′s IMEI number, which can be found on Settings > About IMEI. After the seller tells you that your IMEI has been proceeded, simply restore your iPhone in iTunes and the iPhone should have been unlocked by now.
Unlocking Verizon iPhone 5
If you for somehow want to unlock a Verizon iPhone 5, then you will not have to unlock it because Verizon iPhone 5s are factory unlocked out of the box. Nope, Verizon is not been that nice. The FCC forced Verizon to not lock any device that runs the 700 MHz spectrum, which is the spectrum Verizon uses for its LTE network. The LTE on Verizon iPhone 5, however, is not compatible with AT&T or other carriers LTE. The phone will be limited to AT&T’s HPSA+, same for T-Mobile. This video shows how it functions…
Unlocking Sprint iPhone 5
Although the Sprint iPhone 5 is a CDMA model like Verizon’s iPhone 5, the Sprint iPhone 5 does not come unlocked out of the box. The only way to unlock an iPhone 5 on Sprint is by calling Sprint and request for an unlock. Sprint will unlock the phone only if the phone is in a good standing account. After the unlock is done, the Sprint iPhone 5 will only work with international carriers – US carriers will still remain locked.
Using the unlocked iPhone 5 with another carrier
Now that your iPhone 5 is unlocked, it can be used with others GSM carriers. Since the iPhone 5 uses nano-SIMs, you will have to check if the carrier offer nano-SIMs. If not, the SIM will have to be cut so it can be in the iPhone 5 SIM tray. T-Mobile currently offers nano-SIM for iPhone 5 users.