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The Definative Guide On How To Unlock An iPhone XS Max

The Essential Guide On How To Unlock iPhone's

So, you've at long last fulfilled the contract on your iPhone and it's eventually all yours. Which means you’re able to use it while traveling overseas with a local SIM card and are free to move networks as you please, right? Don’t start booking your flight to Australia or running to Sprint quite yet since, unfortunately, it’s not quite that clear-cut.

So as to prevent people from swapping to a rival’s network before they’ve paid off their iPhone or completed their contract, quite a few carriers put a lock (commonly known as as a network lock) on their smartphones. This inevitably means that you, or whomever you sell your pre-owned iPhone to, are tied to them in the future. If you’re thinking this sounds like a rather dysfunctional relationship, we're inclined to agree with you. Happily, with a bit of legwork as well as an account in good standing, you are on your way to a network-unlocked iPhone in no time!

Before we go on, just a quick note on the type of unlocks that are available, and the one's you should avoid! There are apps to be found that offer a chance to unlock your cell phone yourself, but they require you to jailbreak your smartphone, and this is a dumb move, for a lot of reasons. You can do your own investigation into jail-breaking, but it's fraught with danger, and to be avoided. The simplest way to unlock your iPhone is actually by talking directly with your cellular provider. The journey to a carrier-unlocked iPhone depends largely on your network, with the procedure being either relatively quick and simple or painfully tedious. To get you one step closer to a life free from carrier-locked tyranny, we put together all the steps to be able to obtain an iPhone unlock in this comprehensive guide. Please note that although this was written with iPhone owners in mind, a great deal of the recommendations may be used for other smartphones.

What Is IMEI Unlocking?

As noted earlier, when you buy an iPhone or some other smartphone from your cellular carrier, that smartphone is only going to function on that specific network until you either request to have your carrier unlock it or maybe your carrier automatically unlocks it for you (read more about that later). Often called a SIM unlock, factory unlock, or network unlock, carrier unlocking means removing a network’s restrictions on a device, enabling you to use it with a different cellular provider.

Luckily, not every iPhone have to be unlocked. For example, if you buy your iPhone straight from Apple and pay for it in cash, it will already be unlocked and ready to use with a variety of carriers.

You should be aware, however, not all phones bought outright from third-party retailers are automatically unlocked. For example, although sold as “unlocked”, smartphone's purchased at Best Buy are actually considered universal. So, when you insert a Sim for the first time, the cell phone will basically lock itself to the network associated with the Sim. Subsequently, seeing that certain service providers like T-Mobile may only unlock your iPhone if you purchased it directly from them, you can end up having an permanently carrier-locked device. In other words, you wind up paying factory-unlocked prices for a network-locked cellphone.

Why Should I Unlock My iPhone?

Having a SIM-unlocked iPhone comes with a number of benefits such as the ability to utilize (pretty much) any network within the Unites States and overseas as well as higher second-hand values.

  1. IMEI-unlocking provides you the freedom to use your smartphone with the cellular provider of your choice, almost whenever and wherever you wish (with a few exceptions, as you’ll find out later on). For instance, if you're currently using T-Mobile but are relocating to a new area of the country with bad T-Mobile coverage, you'll be able to shift to AT&T in a heartbeat

  2. A Carrier-unlocked iPhone makes international travel a cinch. Unlocking also provides the flexibility to use your mobile phone overseas. Worldwide roaming fees, costly international plans, and mad dashes for WiFi are a thing of the past with an unlocked iPhone. Merely pop in a SIM card from a local carrier and you're good to go.

  3. Network-unlocked iPhones have far higher resale values.

In the event you don’t anticipate swapping carriers or heading overseas any time soon, unlocking your iPhone is still a good idea. If you anticipate trading in your old iPhone whenever you upgrade, you’ll usually get more cash for it if the iPhone is carrier unlocked due to greater demand for them on the resale marketplace.

Is it unlawful to Network Unlock your mobile phone?

Certainly not! As a result of Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2014, all US-based cellular providers have to allow people to unlock their phones. However, the conditions under which a service provider will unlock a mobile phone vary widely from carrier to carrier. Typically, nearly all service providers require you to complete your contract, pay for your financial obligations in full, or otherwise have an account in good standing before they’ll permit you to unlock your iPhone.

The way to find out if your iPhone is Unlocked

Before you begin the phone-unlocking process, you’ll first want to determine whether your iPhone has already been unlocked (no sense in going through the hassle when you don’t actually need to). All you need to do is make sure that you’re connected with WiFi and insert a brand new SIM card from an alternative service provider and your smartphone will do the rest automatically. This authentication check generally takes under a minute to complete after a SIM has been inserted.

Throughout the verification process, you’ll find that your iPhone will boot onto a white screen and attempt to validate that it has been unlocked with your network. Should Apple verify that your iPhone is carrier-unlocked, it will return to the home screen and signal bars will appear from the new network. However, if a white screen appears that says SIM Not Supported, your iPhone is not unlocked.

How to Unlock iPhones from a Service provider

Having confirmed your phone is definitely locked to your current cellular provider, next you'll need to take a look at your network’s unlocking eligibility demands. Should your iPhone meet their criteria, you can then request that the handset can be unlocked from their network. As suggested earlier, both the eligibility requirements and the unlocking process vary from carrier to carrier. Each has been outlined below for the major carriers including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

Please be aware that, provided you have met the unlock requirements and so are completing the network-unlocking directly with your provider, asking for your iPhone be unlocked can be completely free. Should you decide to use a 3rd party unlocking service provider, you will need to pay for the privilege, but working with a 3rd party service is going to be your only option if you are not the original owner of the phone. Before you spend any money, try using the directions outlined below first.

How To Locate Your iPhone’s IMEI Number

When network-unlocking your iPhone, you'll need to supply your service provider the cellphones IMEI number. This unique, 15-digit identifier is effectively your smartphone’s VIN or social security number. To find your IMEI, on your phone, go to Settings > General > About and search to the bottom of the list where it will be listed displayed next to IMEI.

You can also search for the number on the mobile phone shell itself. For earlier iPhone models (6, 6 Plus, 1st-generation SE, 5s, 5c, 5), the IMEI number will also be imprinted on the back or the SIM tray.

When you’ve found the IMEI, it highly advisable that you keep it somewhere for safekeeping.

Unlock an iPhone on AT&T

Unlocking an iPhone from AT&T is about as uncomplicated as A-B-C. Just pop on over to the AT&T website, answer a few questions, and you’re well on your way to network-unlocked freedom.

Once you submit your request, use your IMEI and request reference numbers to check on your AT&T unlocking status. After you acquire your verification text or email, simply open it up then click on the verification link. That's all there is to it! AT&T will unlock your iPhone within two business days.

For any iPhone to get unlocked from AT&T, it's got to meet the following requirements:

  • Must not have a past-due balance
  • Must not be active on a different AT&T account
  • If it is a work phone, you must have your employer’s permission to unlock it
  • If it is an AT&T PREPAID phone, it must be active for at least six months
  • Must not be reported as lost, stolen, or blocked

If the iPhone is part of a term agreement or installment plan, it has to also meet these requirements:

  • The installment plan must be paid off
  • The term agreement must be complete
  • The device must be active on the AT&T network for at least 60 days

For detailed eligibility requirements, click here.

Unlock an iPhone on Sprint

Depending on when you bought your phone and if it has got SIM-unlock capabilities, you have a several different unlock options. In the event you purchased a new iPhone from Sprint after February 2015 (it will be SIM-unlock capable) and it's actively being used on their network, Sprint should unlock it automatically after it meets their qualifications requirements. So, you actually don’t have to do anything besides keep your account in good order. However, if your iPhone is inactive or was purchased prior to February 2015, you’ll need to contact Sprint Customer Service directly to request an unlock (either dial *2 on your Sprint phone or call 888-211-4727).

We have seen reports from some Sprint clients that the auto-unlock program doesn't necessarily operate as it should, so it’s certainly a very good idea to confirm that your iPhone has been unlocked before attempting to switch to another service provider or advertising your iPhone as unlocked, if you propose to sell it to a buyback business or on auction web sites.

For an iPhone to get unlocked from the Sprint network, it must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Must be on an account in good standing
  • Must not be reported as lost, stolen, or associated with fraud
  • Must have SIM-unlock capabilities (if it doesn’t, it is MSL (Master Subsidy Lock) locked and you will need to call Sprint for the MSL code)
  • Must be active on the Sprint network for at least 40 days

If your iPhone is part of a service agreement, lease agreement, or installment plan, it has to also meet these requirements:

  • Any lease or installment payments must be fully paid
  • If leased, the end-of-lease purchase option must be fully paid
  • Any early-termination fees must be fully paid

For detailed eligibility requirements, click here.

Unlock an iPhone on T-Mobile

If you’re an Android smartphone owner reading this and your handset meets the eligibility conditions, consider yourself fortunate: You are able to unlock it right from the phone itself. For all you iPhone owners out there, you’ll need to get in touch with T-Mobile’s Group of Specialists directly (either dial 611 from your T-Mobile iPhone, call 877-746-0909.

To have an iPhone unlocked from T-Mobile, it has to adhere to the following conditions:

  • Must not have been reported as lost, stolen, or blocked
  • For prepaid accounts, it must have been active on the account for at least 12 months
  • Must have been purchased directly from T-Mobile
  • Must be paid for in full

If the iPhone is part of a postpaid account, it must also meet these prerequisites:

  • The account must be in good standing
  • Must have been active on the account for at least 40 days

For in depth eligibility prerequisites, click here.

Unlock an iPhone on Verizon

Verizon is, by far, the leading carrier to use for unlocking an iPhone. Why? Because Verizon will automatically unlock your phone Sixty days after the purchase of the handset. If you obtained your iPhone from a retail partner, it will be unlocked automatically 60 days after device activation.

There are no catches. You don’t have to pay off your phone, meet any special prerequisites, or even contact them to request to unlock your phone from their network. So long as your iPhone hasn’t been reported lost or stolen, merely wait 60 days after purchase or activation and your phone will be a-ok.

Don’t believe us? Just click here.

Once I've Unlocked my iPhone — what do I do now?

Several years ago, you’d have to connect your iPhone to iTunes and complete a software restore to complete the unlock process. Fortunately, it’s a lot easier now. All you have to do is stick to the same steps you followed earlier to find out whether your phone is unlocked in the first place.

When you don’t have access to a Sim from a different carrier, you may still confirm that your iPhone has been unlocked by performing iTunes software restore. Simply hook up your iPhone with a computer running iTunes and hit the “restore” option. When the restoration process has completed, you should see a message which says “Congratulations, your iPhone has been unlocked.”

Good job! You successfully factory-unlocked your iPhone! Which means your able to use whatever carrier you want to now, true? We hate to break this to you, but sadly not. As a result of two different kinds of systems used in the US, GSM and CDMA, your available network providers depends on the type of your iPhone as well as the original network it's locked to. Primarily, Verizon and Sprint are CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) networks, while AT&T, T-Mobile, and the majority of service providers abroad are GSM (Global System for Mobiles) networks.

As you may have guessed, both these different network types don't talk to each other (because that's too logical). Thankfully, as we move closer to world wide 5G access and as older networks are retired, this will hopefully no longer be a challenge.

To discover which carriers you have access to depending on both of these factors, carry on reading.


GSM networks only (AT&T, T-Mobile, international GSM carriers): Original iPhone, iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X

Any carrier worldwide: iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone SE, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max


International networks only: iPhone 4s and iPhone 5

Any carrier worldwide: iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone SE, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max


GSM networks only (AT&T, T-Mobile, international GSM carriers): Original iPhone, iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X

Any carrier worldwide: iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone SE, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max


Compatible with any carrier in the world, but with limitations when using GSM networks: iPhone 4s, iPhone 5

Any carrier worldwide: iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone SE, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max

Will the Unlock last forever?

You got it! After your phone has been carrier-unlocked, it is going to stay that way for the lifetime of the handset. You can restore your iPhone or up-date applications without having to worry about your unlock disappearing afterwards.

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Abel SlaterAbel Slater
Joined: March 4th, 2021
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