How to Check What Cellular Carrier Network an iPhone Uses (or Used)

Feb 8, 2015 - 66 Comments

What cell network an iPhone uses

Knowing what network an iPhone uses can be important for trying to repurpose an old device, buying a used iPhone, or simply to determine if a particular iPhone will work on a network of choice. While the iPhones top status bar will show the carrier name of an active cellular network, if the device isn’t activated or doesn’t have a SIM card, it won’t display anything other than “No Service” in the status bar. That doesn’t mean you can’t find out what network the device is locked to or last used though.

Even if an iPhone has no service, no SIM card, and no activation on a CDMA network, you can still find out what cell carrier network the device was recently using or attached to by going to the device Settings.

How to Check What Carrier an iPhone Uses

Here’s how quickly check this in iOS on an iPhone:

  1. Open the Settings app on the iPhone and choose ‘General’ and then go to “About”
  2. Scroll down to find the following two items in the list, these may be different:
    • Network: This is the currently active network if one is available – this is not necessarily what the device will be locked to however, it’s only what cell network it is actively connected to – this will show as blank if there is no active network or no SIM card
    • Carrier: This is what you’re looking for to show you what network the iPhone last used, and in most cases, what network the iPhone is actually locked to. Carrier will also show the carrier settings version, sometimes carrier updates arrive separately from the general iOS software version to enable certain functionality

    Check cellular carrier on the iPhone even without a SIM card or cell service

    In the example screenshot, the Carrier of this particular iPhone shows AT&T (followed by the carrier software version) – this is the last network that the iPhone used, was bought with, and wants to join.

    So you may be wondering about phones that are bought unlocked, and maybe about an iPhone that has been unlocked through AT&T (like the phone in this screenshot), in these cases, the “Carrier” setting will show the last cellular carrier network that was joined or used. In other words, if you have an unlocked iPhone that was bought off contract at full price, and you mostly recently used a T-Mobile SIM, it would show that. Or if the iPhone was mostly recently using Verizon or Sprint, it would show that. This all matters for who and what can use a particular iPhone on a given network, though it’s important to point out that unlocking an iPhone makes the preferred cellular carrier irrelevant, if it’s an option. You can always check to see if an iPhone is unlocked by trying to use a different provider SIM card, if it works immediately, you’ll know the device is unlocked.

    Check iPhone carrier use and active network

    Aside from casual use and figuring out what network an iPhone can use, this can also be helpful for using ipcc files correctly. For those interested in gathering even more information an iPhone carrier (an active one, anyway), entering into Field Test Mode settings has some much more technical details available, far beyond just telling you which cell provider a device is actively using.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Alicia says:

    How do I know what carrier my iPhone 4 is locked too can u help it’s saying sim not supported when I put my sim in

  2. Jami says:

    I bought an iPhone 6s plus and the person I bought it from didn’t tell me that they had put the password in too many times and the iPhone was locked so long story short I was able to unlock it but now my iPhone say I need to activate it so I put compatible Sim card in it with service and I internet but my iPhone keeps telling me to connect to itunes so when I connect it to itunes nothing happens it just keeps telling me to disconnect my iPhone and try reconnect it and it also says that it can not get my iPhone information because it can not connect to the server so what am I supposed to do now? I also do not k own who the last carrier was on my iphone please help me out with this problem so I can finally use my iPhone 6s plus please my imei number is:
    35 328507 648377 5 and my serial number is: C39QLU3TGRWJ Please help me…

    • mmcom says:

      The iPhone is telling you what to do, try to put in a SIM card then connect it to iTunes. The Sim card must be active.

      Take it to an Apple Store, they can help you through this if the process is buggy. Apple is good at solving these problems.

    • Renson muthomi ngurwe says:

      i can fix that

  3. Anthony says:

    The issue I have is that I can’t even get into the phone in the first place. It’s brand new and I’m stuck on the start-up screens. My good buddy who I bought it from says it’s from the same carrier…

  4. Bala says:

    Hi, Recently I got my iPhone 6s+ from US which is of simple carrier to India but here I could not find any unlockers of simple carrier.can u please suggest how to unlock

    • Dipta says:

      Hi, Did you able to unlock your iphone. I am facing the same problem now. can you suggest me how to do it if you know.


  5. Adewale says:

    I have iphone 4 S , imei 990001861344802 and it carrier locked is saying sim activation.kindly help me

  6. Andy says:

    This info is wrong – – the phone will always show the carrier for the last SIM card that was inserted. That does NOT mean the phone is unlocked for that carrier.

    • Juice says:

      This information is correct, Andy is wrong. An incompatible SIM card will not work on a iPhone. You must use an unlocked phone with a compatible cellular SIM card that is activated.

  7. Spandana says:

    Recently I got my iPhone se from US which is of simple carrier to India but here I could not find any unlockers of simple carrier.can u please suggest how to unlock

  8. Gary Kingsland says:

    I want to know the carrier 353824083891065

  9. henry says:

    i want to know the carrier . thanks 013895000824654

  10. emmet says:

    the imei is on the sim tray!! then use google to find a imei checker

  11. mush says:

    hi my iphone 4 shows no service.what can do for it to get the network bars

  12. eric says:

    can you please tell me what carrier this iphone 7 is from?


  13. Dickson says:

    I have this iPhone that I brought from my friend few days from now. When I started using it with my SIM card, I found out that I cannot send text with numbers that start with +639****** but I can text numbers that start 09****. It’s hard for me because I can’t reply automatically I have to retype the number into 09****., can you help me please?

  14. Larrykelvin says:

    Hi! So i read through your post and found it helpful. The only problem i have is that on my iPhone 4s, under carrier it says

    Carrier 24.0

    Exactly right where yours says At&T 16.0 on the screenshot

  15. Sunil says:

    Hello I have iPhone6s icloud and carrier both locked can you help me please?

  16. Jeremy says:

    We have an Iphone 5 with no sim card. in the settings for network and carrier it says “not availible. Is there somewhere else to look?

  17. Catherine says:

    Hi I’m having the same problem i bought a iPhone 6s and the guy didn’t pay it of and it sprint lock plz help me out

  18. Erick says:

    Hi I bought a new iPhone 4 and the network is locked Pliz help me know the carrier it’s model iPhone 4 A1332
    This my IMEI 012839005730400

  19. Michael t.b says:

    I try different sim for the sim activation but i didnt find the correct carrier can some one could help please is iphone 5s – 013845008846100 thanks advance !

  20. Sandra says:

    Someone gave me an iPhone 6plus that used in the US, he has reset it back to factory settings “now its like a new phone” (he said)but I don’t know how to unlock the network so that it can make use of a Nigeria Sim

  21. Jay anne says:

    Can you please help me find what carrier this iphone 5c?.my friend tell me that this iphone is from UK..but i can’t use it because it’s locked and it’s not openline here in the philippines

  22. Toni-Ann says:

    can you please tell me what carrier this iphone 6 is from? 359305063389316

  23. Chad says:

    What if my iPhone screen doesn’t work am I still able to find out what carrier my phone is locked to without going to an Apple store or anything?

  24. Suzn says:

    Can anyone check which carrier my phone is locked too.
    Would be a great help.

  25. chester says:

    I bougth iphone 4s, i put a new sim card… And when i open it, then connect to wifi for the activation… It says (activation server cant be reached) something like that… Can someone help me… TYA

  26. Brandon says:

    My iphone 5 is at the activation screen and I don’t know what carry the phone is because I can’t got to settings until the phone is activated. How do I find the carrier from the activation screen

  27. Sonya says:

    How do I no if my iPhone 6p is unlocked for any carrier or who my service is with

  28. Anna says:

    I need to know the carrier please. The IMEI is 013835003773813

  29. darius says:

    hi i have an iphone 5s and i dont know the carrier when i check the info in settings it indicate the details of a sim card am trying to use my imei is 013888008124409.

  30. Obamina says:

    I bougth iPhone 4,I reset it, am trying to configure it and I found out that is locked and I don’t know the network is locked to please help

  31. Christie says:

    I bought a Iphone 5s it is suppose to be unlocked and a Verizon carrier. I went to Verizon to have a sims card and service put on the phone. When Verizon put the IMEI number in the system my phone would not pull up. In the About in my phone it shows it’s a Verizon carrier. What do I do?

  32. Demetria Morris says:

    I bought a iphone 5c from a person who says it was an unlocked phone but apparently it wasn’t cause I couldnt connect to the provider of my choice,but now that I had a sprint sim card in the phone it now says sprint for the carrier,so how can I find out which network this phone belongs to.

  33. Lewis says:

    My ime bomber is 352053063724119

  34. Lewis says:

    How can I find out wha sim my I phone 5s takes its never been yet d on its brand new

  35. fidelis says:

    I have a new iphone I bought from a friend in Ghana which is factory reset..I am not sure whether it is locked or unlocked. I turned it on to access the settings but I can’t get to it..Can you help

    • UnlockAgents says:

      If there is a SIM card in it and you still cannot access the settings, it means the phone is still locked.

  36. brian roberts says:

    Bought iphone 6s did a check it says not blacklisted and ready for activation but whin i install my straighttalk sim it says sim not supported. I cant even get to the settings to check the original carrier because its starts at setup. If you could help then thanks a bunch

  37. daniel mere says:

    please i bought an iphone from someone, i tried to upgrade the ios, now the phone is locked… and it says i should contact the carrier and i dont now the carrier please what can i do as i cant access the phone settings… please help me…. thanks

  38. atime peter says:

    I have a problem,my sister bought a used iPhone 5c from US,its locked so I can’t use it over here in Nigeria,because I’ve been unable to locate the carrier before I unlock,how do I known the carrier since it can get to the settings

  39. happy says:

    i want to know the carrier . thanks 012536004495502

    • UnlockAgents says:

      This may be an AT&T iPhone 4.

      • Melissa says:

        I just bought an iPhone off offer up, I went to iTunes to set the phone up but it won’t let me it just says insert SIM card,won’t let me proceed to register or anything, how do I find the provider if I can’t access info on phone?

  40. Ponytail says:

    Just bought a 6 off offer up but theres no sims card nd ion no wat carrier its with can u help me

  41. Cj says:

    So What Your Saying Is , If It Has A Carrier In The “Carrier” Slot , Then It’s Locked To That Carrier?

  42. Starla says:

    I have a iphone6 that won’t turn all the way on so I don’t know what carrier it is

  43. Victor Espinoza says:

    I bought an I phone from my friend the iPhone he said it was from Japan or something because recently I went to every phone store and my phone couldn’t connect to their network how could I find out bc it shows the carrier but it’s the one I used before

  44. Beth says:

    I can’t even get to general setting because SIM card isn’t right.

  45. Zac says:

    Hi I have a iPhone 4 but it hasn’t be activated and I can’t get past the starting bit because I don’t know what network please help

  46. priya says:

    i bought a new iphone 6 frm someone, can i know the last sim used in my phone

  47. Jerry says:

    My iphone was last used by a different carrier called Airtel but thats not the carrier it was locked to. Carrier only shows the last sim card used in that iphone pls help me solve this i wanna know the carrier its locked to.

  48. Prathamesh says:

    Even i have a sa.e problem. Thing is my iphone 5s is upadted to latest oftware too can u tell me which ceraion of rsim might work

  49. Aaron says:

    I have a few iphone I got in bulk but all are factory reset so I can not access the settings to find out what carrier they are for. Is there any other way to find out?

  50. Dee says:

    Rsim 9, Rsim 10, thats the only way thst u can use ur iphone.

  51. Alex says:


    So i read through your post and found it helpful. The only problem i have is that on my iPhone 5, under carrier it says

    Carrier 19.0

    Exactly right where yours says At&T 18.0

    Though I’ve never heard of a carrier called “Carrier” in Japan.

    I bought it from someone a couple weeks ago, but he sad it was locked and he never gave me a sim card. My 1st iPhone I bought it cause i thought the unlocking was a simple task. but I guess not.

    He did say later on in an email that it was from AU company which is one of the japanese companies I know of.

    I was wondering if you knew what I could do to unlock it? Your help would be greatly appreciated!! Have a good day!

    Thank You


    • Laura says:

      Hi Alex, I am having the same issue on my phone where it says carrier 19.0. Can you tell me how you resolved this? Thanks

  52. mastewal Alemu says:

    I can’t create new apple ID in Ethiopia because no regional support on my Apple Iphone 3Gs 16 GB, Ios ver-4.1

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