How to Check if iPhone is Unlocked or Not

Jun 17, 2013 - 14 Comments

Check if an iPhone is unlocked An unlocked iPhone means it can use any cellular network, so long as you have a compatible carrier SIM card. Due to this, unlocked iPhones are more valuable and highly desired for both local and international users, because it allows you to use any GSM carrier whether at home or abroad just by swapping out SIM cards. But how do you know if an iPhone is unlocked or not? You usually can’t tell just by looking at it, but we’ll show you how to find out if the device is factory unlocked or not using one of three methods. If you plan on doing some international travel, you’ll want to check before you leave. Similarly, if you plan on buying or selling an iPhone, you’ll want to check if its unlocked or not before completing the transaction.

First, here are a few safe assumptions: if an iPhone was bought on contract, it will probably remain locked to that carrier. Exceptions to this are if an iPhone has been manually unlocked by a provider (many CDMA carriers will unlock the SIM card slot on iPhone models even while in contract, you just have to ask), or if an iPhone has ended its contract and the device has been unlocked per request, such as you can do with AT&T. On the other hand, if you know that the iPhone was bought unlocked from Apple by paying full price, then you don’t need to do anything other than swap in whatever carrier SIM card you want to use.

Let’s get on with three easy ways to check the unlock status of any iPhone:

Method 1: The Easiest Way to Check if an iPhone is Unlocked: SIM Cards

By far the simplest way to determine if an iPhone is unlocked or not is to swap in another GSM provider SIM card, wait a moment or two, and see if the iPhone gets service. That’s all you will need to do, but this assumes you have access to another GSM SIM. For example, in the USA you could check if an AT&T iPhone is unlocked simply by borrowing a T-Mobile SIM card, placing it in the iPhone, and seeing if the device gets service. Either use a friends SIM card or visit a T-Mobile store and they’ll be able to check for you. If you don’t have access to alternative provider SIM cards, you can also check through the web using the next method.

Method 2: Checking iPhone Unlock Status via Web Service

Don’t have an alternate carrier SIM card available? No big deal, you can use a free web service called IMEI Info to check an iPhone’s unlock status, but there’s a catch; you have to use a Facebook account and click a “Like” button to actually determine if the device is locked or unlocked. If you’re OK with that, the service is extremely easy to use:

  • Find the iPhone IMEI number by dialing *#06# on the phone – you do not need cell service to dial that number, the iPhone just has to be turned on. If the *#06# trick doesn’t work, you can also find the IMEI from iTunes, on the back of iPhone 5, on the devices SIM card slot, or through the iPhone itself as described here
  • Head over to the IMEI.info site
  • Enter the devices IMEI number exactly as shown, click “Check”, then at the next screen choose the big green “SIMLOCK & WARRANTY” button under the Free checks header, followed by the Like button as requested

Check if an iPhone is factory unlocked

After you click the “SIMLOCK” button, you’ll have to “Like” the IMEI service on Facebook to actually get the unlock status of the iPhone. It may take a moment or two as a server is accessed where the IMEI numbers are checked against. When finished, you’ll find the iPhone’s status as well as some other information:

iPhone unlocked status as shown by IMEI

IMEI.info does have a limitation in place for checking up to three IMEI numbers per day, that limit is IP based and not cookie based, so you’ll need to use a proxy or VPN if you want to go beyond that limit for some reason or another. And yes, IMEI Info will also find unlock statuses of Android phones and other devices as well, even the antiquated dumb phones of yesteryear.

Method 3. Checking Unlock Status with iTunes by Restoring

One final method of checking an iPhone’s unlock status is by resetting to factory defaults and restoring through iTunes by connecting the device to a PC, if you see the familiar “Congratulations, the iPhone is unlocked” message you know the iPhone has been unlocked:

iPhone unlocked message in iTunes

This message is what you’ll see if you went through the free unlocking methods offered by AT&T after a contract is over, or if you requested a SIM unlock through Verizon or Sprint while still on contract.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone, Tips & Tricks

14 Comments

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  1. Shanice says:

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  2. Dariya Bayar says:

    When I checked if my iPhone has or hasn’t factory unlock, on SIM lock it was said Unknown. What does it mean?

  3. DG says:

    IMEI method only gives an error after harvesting Facebook info. I smell a scam.

  4. Krishna says:

    Hi
    Thanks for the info.
    Method 3 has helped me.

  5. My Name says:

    IMEI scam…they want you to sign in, like their page, but then they tell you their service is unavailable.

  6. they tell you their service unavailable, but you can pay for a more reliable service! BS!

  7. Aldrin says:

    Yeah, When I checked if my iPhone is locked or not, on SIM lock it said Unknown. What does it mean?

  8. Cassy says:

    I have tried method number two but it did not work even after liking their page!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I tried method 3 and itunes did not tell me if my device was unlocked even though I was approved for an unlock through my carrier. Before I tried method 3, I tried method 1 with a SIM card from a different carrier and it worked.

  10. Nirav patel says:

    My iphone buysecond hand from use and me live in india ,how to me check my iphone are factory lock or unlock, all indian simcard are provide service ii my iphone plz rply good ans

  11. nirjar says:

    my phone has finished the contract and i want to use it in india , how cani get it unlocked?

  12. tim says:

    This service is temporarily not available, check again ina few days or try paid version which works well.
    How to find lock status in my iPhone check result?

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