Have you just purchased a second-hand iPhone and want to know if it will work with your current SIM card? To avoid any unpleasant surprises, it is essential to check whether the device is not locked to a specific carrier. In this tutorial, you will find the procedure to determine if your iPhone is locked, along with advice on how to use it with another carrier’s network.

What is a Locked Phone?

Mobile carriers often offer enticing deals on specific iPhone models. In exchange for a discounted price, you commit to paying a mobile plan for 12 or 24 months at a pre-set price determined by the carrier.

At first glance, these deals may seem financially attractive, particularly for consumers who do not want to buy an iPhone at full price in an Apple Store. However, most people are unaware that iPhones sold by mobile service providers are usually locked.

This means that these devices only work on the network of the carrier from which they were purchased. It becomes impossible to change the SIM card or use your iPhone with another carrier’s mobile plan.

Locking is particularly disadvantageous for iPhone owners, as it significantly limits their choice of mobile plans. They cannot subscribe to a mobile plan that suits their needs and must settle for the offer provided by the carrier tied to their phone.

If you travel abroad frequently, you will not be able to use a local SIM card on your iPhone and take advantage of the advantageous rates offered by the country’s carriers. The same problem arises if you wish to give your smartphone to a friend or family member using a different mobile carrier.

Check if Your iPhone is Locked or Unlocked

There is no visible difference between an unlocked and a locked iPhone. Both phones look identical. Apple prohibits mobile carriers from adding their logo to the phone’s chassis or any inscription that might suggest the phone is tied to a specific carrier.

To find the answer to your question “Is my iPhone unlocked?”, you will need to check the iOS settings. As you will see, the operation to determine if your device is locked is relatively quick and straightforward.

  1. Open your iPhone’s Settings
  2. Click on the Cellular Data section
  3. Verify that the Network Selection option is displayed on your smartphone screen

In most cases, the presence of this function is enough to determine if the iPhone is locked or not. However, sometimes this option may be present on a locked iPhone. In such cases, you need to investigate further:

  1. Click on the Network Selection option
  2. Uncheck the Automatic box and wait to see if the names of mobile carriers appear in the drop-down list

This means that your iPhone is indeed unlocked, and you can use it with any carrier. However, for peace of mind, it is recommended to perform an additional verification by inserting another carrier’s SIM card into your iPhone.

Swap the SIM Card to Verify if the iPhone is Unlocked

To perform this operation, you need two active and operational SIM cards from different carriers. Make sure this is the case.

Each carrier has a specific procedure for activating a new SIM card. However, in most cases, activation can be done directly through the customer portal. If in doubt, do not hesitate to contact your mobile internet service provider’s customer service.

Follow the steps below to swap the SIM card and verify if your iPhone is unlocked:

  1. Power off your iPhone by holding the side button for a few seconds
  2. Slide the slider to the right to turn off the device
  3. Locate the SIM card slot (you may need to remove the protective case or any elements blocking access)
  4. Retrieve the SIM card extraction tool provided with your iPhone (or use a straightened paperclip if you have lost the tool)
  5. Insert the extraction tool or paperclip into the small hole provided for this purpose
  6. Apply pressure to eject the SIM card tray
  7. Be cautious when removing the tray as it can be fragile; excessive force may damage your iPhone
  8. Gently remove the tray and the SIM card
  9. Place the second carrier’s SIM card into the tray
  10. Ensure the new SIM card is the same size
  11. Reinsert the tray into the iPhone’s slot
  12. Apply slight pressure to ensure the tray is correctly inserted
  13. Power on your iPhone by holding the power button for a few seconds until the Apple logo appears on the screen
  14. Check that the name of your carrier appears in the top-left corner of your screen
  15. If nothing appears, this is a bad sign
  16. Open the Phone app and wait a few seconds
  17. Try dialing a phone number

After following the steps above, you should now know if your iPhone is locked or not. If you see a message like “Invalid SIM card” or “Enter activation code,” there is a high chance that your phone is locked to the original carrier.

For safety reasons, consider repeating this test with several other SIM cards. If necessary, ask family members to lend you their SIM cards and repeat the procedure described above.

Using the IMEI Code to Determine if Your iPhone is Locked

There is another method to determine if your iPhone is locked or not. You will need to use your phone’s IMEI code for this. For those who do not know, this unique identification number, consisting of 15 to 17 digits, is used by carriers to identify phones on the network. It also serves to block devices in case of theft.

The iPhone’s IMEI code can be found on the packaging box. However, you can also find this identification number directly from the iOS settings:

  1. Click on the Settings icon shaped like a gear
  2. Select the General section
  3. Tap on the Information option

Once you have the IMEI code, you can contact the carrier from whom you purchased your device and ask if the iPhone is locked. Alternatively, you can use specialized online sites to check your iPhone’s lock status by simply entering the IMEI number into their system.

However, be cautious when using these sites and ensure you choose a reliable and secure site to avoid any risk of hacking or data theft. Keep in mind that some of these tools may charge a fee.

FAQ

How do I know if my iPhone is locked or unlocked?

You can check if your iPhone is locked or unlocked by following the steps mentioned above under “Check if Your iPhone is Locked or Unlocked.” Another method is to use the IMEI code and contact your carrier or use a specialized online site to check the lock status.

What should I do if my iPhone is locked to a specific carrier?

If your iPhone is locked to a specific carrier, you can contact the carrier and request an unlock. Carriers may have specific requirements, such as being a customer for a certain period or having fully paid off the device, before unlocking the phone. Once your carrier unlocks your iPhone, you can use it with any other compatible carrier.

Can I unlock my iPhone myself?

While there are third-party tools and services that claim to unlock iPhones, it is not recommended to use them. Unauthorized unlocking methods may void your warranty or even damage your device. The safest way to unlock your iPhone is by contacting the carrier from which it was purchased and requesting an official unlock.