Nearly a decade ago, unlocking an iPhone was a major hassle. You had to resort to shady and unreliable methods such as hacking your iPhone, buying a SIM interposer, or even using vulnerabilities found on carriers’ sites. Thankfully, all of that hassle is a thing of the past. Carriers, with the exception of some, have made it very simple to unlock any iPhone sold by them.
Although unlocking an iPhone is now simple, each major American carrier which includes AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile has different policies and methods which you must follow and comply with before your iPhone gets SIM unlocked.
Advantages of unlocking an iPhone
First, although you already have your own specific reason for wanting to unlock your iPhone in the first place, there are many additional advantages you’re probably unaware of. These advantages include:
- Higher resale value
- Can easily change carrier
- Avoid high roaming fees when traveling abroad by using a local carrier
- Phone not tied to one specific carrier, can easily find a cheaper carrier plan
Where can you buy unlocked iPhones?
In case you still have not purchased an unlocked iPhone or are planning to buy another one in the future, another important thing to know is where is the best and most reliable place to buy an unlocked iPhone.
If your main concern is that the iPhone is unlocked, you should buy the iPhone straight from Apple. This is because, although all carriers have the option of paying for the iPhone in full, the phone will still be tied to the carrier who you originally purchased it from.
Before unlocking the device you will be obligated to comply with any unlock requirements from the carrier even if you paid for the device in full.
Because of this, the best place to buy an unlocked iPhone is Apple.com or at an Apple retail store. When buying it online, make sure to select the option that says “Connect to any carrier later” under Connectivity. Choose a carrier.
Additionally, with the exception of AT&T, all carrier-specific iPhones financed through Apple.com come unlocked. This means if you choose T-Mobile or Verizon as your carrier to finance the iPhone on Apple.com, the phone will be unlocked out of the box.
Unlock AT&T iPhone for free, even without account
AT&T, which was the iPhone’s exclusive carrier for half decade, was the first carrier to make the official unlocking process easy for its customers.
Through its portal, you can unlock any AT&T iPhone yourself very fast and for free. And best of all, you do not need to be a current or past customer in order to submit an unlock request.
After submitting an iPhone unlock request, AT&T will send you an email once your device’s request is approved. Beyond that point, all you’ll need to do is insert a non-AT&T SIM card into your iPhone.
Unfortunately, if the iPhone was financed through Apple, AT&T will not approve your unlock request unless the device is fully paid off.
Why your AT&T unlock request might get denied
Although it rarely happens, if you do not comply with AT&T’s most important unlock requirements, your unlock request will be denied. This rejection will occur if:
- Your device is not paid off
- The device is still on an installment plan
- The device has not been active for at least 60 days, even if paid in full
- The iPhone has been reported lost or stolen
Unlock Verizon iPhone
Verizon is the easiest carrier to get your phone unlocked, you do not need a Verizon iPhone unlock service or anything like that. This is because starting with the iPhone 5, Verizon was legally forced by the Federal Communication Commission to not lock any sold phone that was capable of LTE connectivity.
Verizon a few years after, with the permission of the FCC, implemented a policy that automatically unlocks their phones 60 days after purchase or activation.
If you purchased the iPhone directly from a Verizon corporate store or Verizon.com, your iPhone will automatically get unlocked after 60 days of the purchase.
On the other hand, with the exception of Apple, if you bought your Verizon iPhone from a Verizon partner such as Best Buy the device will be unlocked 60 days after activation.
If you buy the Verizon iPhone through Apple, the device will be unlocked on day one and you will not need to wait for the 60-day unlock period.
So in the end it does not matter if you’re not a current or former Verizon customer. The device should automatically be unlocked without you having to do anything.
Unlock T-Mobile iPhone free
When it comes to unlocking an iPhone, T-Mobile is stricter than AT&T and Verizon. Unlike AT&T, T-Mobile will not unlock an iPhone for you if you’re not a current or former account holder. For former customers, they will not accept unlock requests unless you were the original purchaser of the iPhone.
This can be a problem with older devices. Luckily most modern phones now support remote unlock. After your iPhone meets T-Mobile’s unlocking requirements, the device will be automatically remotely unlocked within two business days.
If your T-Mobile iPhone is still not unlocked or T-Mobile denied an unlocked request, it was because:
- The device was not originally sold by T-Mobile
- The iPhone was reported lost or stolen
- The account that purchased the device owes money to T-Mobile
- The account holder has not fully paid off the iPhone
If the device gets fully paid off, then the unlocking process will automatically start 40 days after the device was activated.
In the future, to avoid this 40-day waiting period to get your iPhone unlocked, you should buy the iPhone through Apple. The reason for this is that all iPhones sold by Apple are unlocked out of the box, even if it’s financed and not fully paid off.
Only the AT&T model of the iPhone will not come unlocked out of the box when purchased from Apple.
T-Mobile temporarily unlocks iPhone
Until recently, if you asked a T-Mobile rep to temporarily unlock your iPhone because you were going overseas, they would’ve submitted an unlock request to Apple. Surprisingly, there’s no such thing as temporary iPhone unlock, there’s no mechanism for that.
What the rep would then do was submit a normal (permanent) unlock request to Apple. This would have unlocked any iPhones that were not fully paid off, which is against T-Mobile’s unlock requirements.
Since people started abusing this and lying to T-Mobile reps, reps no longer have the option of submitting unlock requests unless the phone is completely paid off.