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The Ultimate Guide On How To Unlock An iPhone 12 Pro

The Essential Guide On How To Unlock iPhone's

So, you've finally completed the contract on your iPhone and that baby is officially all yours. That means you’re able to use it while traveling overseas with a domestic SIM card and are free to swap networks as you please, right? Don’t start booking your flight to Aruba or running to AT&T quite yet because, unfortunately, it’s not quite that straightforward.

So as to prevent somebody from switching over to a rival’s network before they’ve paid off their iPhone or fulfilled their contract, a lot of carriers place a sim lock (sometimes known as a carrier lock) on their cell phones. This ultimately guarantees that you, or the person you sell your second-hand iPhone to, are stuck with them for the long term. If you’re thinking this sounds like a pretty dysfunctional working relationship, we're inclined to agree with you. Luckily, with a bit of effort plus an account in good standing, you can be on the right track to a network-unlocked iPhone in no time!

Before we proceed, just a quick note on the kind of unlocks that are available, and the one's you should steer clear of! There is software in existence that provide the capability to unlock a cellphone yourself, but you need to jailbreak your smartphone, and this is not a smart move, for lots of reasons. You can do your own investigating into jail-breaking, but it's fraught with danger, and to be avoided. The best way to unlock your iPhone is as simple as speaking directly with your wireless provider. Your journey to a carrier-unlocked iPhone will depend largely on your network, with the procedure being either reasonably quick and painless or painfully challenging. To get you one step closer to a life free from carrier-locked tyranny, we rounded up all the steps on how to get an iPhone unlock in this comprehensive guide. Please be aware that while this was written with iPhone owners in mind, plenty of the advice could be carried over to other smartphones.

What Is IMEI Unlocking?

As noted before, when you buy an iPhone or some other smartphone from your network carrier, that cell phone will only function on that specific network unless you either request to have your carrier unlock it or your carrier automatically unlocks it for you (read more about that later). Also referred to as 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.

The good news is, not every iPhone require unlocking. For example, if you buy your iPhone directly from Apple and purchase it outright, it should already be unlocked and able to use with a variety of carriers.

Please note, however, not all phones bought outright from third-party retailers are automatically unlocked. For instance, although sold as “unlocked”, mobile phones purchased at Best Buy are actually considered universal. So, whenever you insert a SIM card initially, the phone will effectively lock itself to the provider linked to the Sim. Then, seeing that certain service providers like T-Mobile will only unlock your iPhone if you purchased it directly from them, you could end up having an permanently network-locked device. In other words, you find yourself paying factory-unlocked prices to get a carrier-locked mobile phone.

Why would I Unlock My iPhone?

Having a carrier-unlocked iPhone comes with a good number of benefits which include the ability to utilize (virtually) any network both in the Unites States and in another country and increased secondhand values.

  1. Carrier-unlocking allows you the flexibility to use your cell phone with the cellular provider of your choice, almost wherever and whenever you wish (with several exceptions, as you’ll find out in a while). For instance, if you are currently using T-Mobile but are relocating to a new area of the country with poor T-Mobile coverage, you'll be able to swap to AT&T on a dime

  2. A Network-unlocked iPhone makes international travel a piece of cake. Unlocking also offers you the ability to use your smartphone in another country. Worldwide roaming fees, costly international plans, and mad dashes for WiFi are a thing of the past with an unlocked iPhone. Merely put in a SIM card from a local carrier and you're good to go.

  3. SIM-unlocked iPhones have higher resale values.

Even when you don’t anticipate switching service providers or heading overseas any time soon, unlocking your iPhone is still a good idea. If you plan on trading in your old iPhone once you upgrade, you’ll usually get more cash for it if the iPhone is already network unlocked because of a higher interest in them on the resale market place.

Is it against the law to IMEI Unlock your smartphone?

Definitely not! Due to the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, finalized into law by President Barack Obama in 2014, all US-based cellular providers must allow customers to unlock their phones. However, the conditions under which a carrier will unlock a smartphone differ greatly from network to network. Typically, most service providers require you to complete your contract, cover your financial obligations fully, or at a minimum have an account in good standing before they’ll will let you unlock your iPhone.

How you can determine whether your iPhone is Unlocked

Before starting the iPhone-unlocking process, you’ll first want to find out if your iPhone is already unlocked (no need in enduring the hassle when you don’t absolutely need to). All you need to do is make sure that you’re connected with WiFi and insert a new SIM card from another cellular provider and your iPhone will do the rest automatically. This verification check usually takes less than a minute to finish once a new SIM has been inserted.

During the verification process, you’ll note that your iPhone will boot to a white screen and attempt to establish that it has been unlocked with your network. Should Apple verify that your iPhone is IMEI-unlocked, it will go back to the home screen and signal bars ought to appear from the new carrier. However, if you see a white screen that says SIM Not Supported, your mobile phone has not been unlocked.

How to Unlock iPhones from a Provider

Once you determine that your cellphone is definitely locked to your current network provider, next you'll need to look at your service provider’s unlocking eligibility conditions. Should your iPhone meet those guidelines, you can ask them if the handset can be unlocked from their network. As suggested previously, both the eligibility requirements and the unlocking process vary from network to network. Each one has been outlined below for the major carriers including Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.

Please be aware that, provided you’ve met the unlock requirements and therefore are completing the network-unlocking directly with your provider, asking for your iPhone be unlocked is often absolutely free. If you opt to work through a 3rd party unlocking company, you're going to be charged, but utilizing a 3rd party provider 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 below first.

How To Locate An iPhone’s IMEI Number

When network-unlocking your iPhone, you will have to give your provider the handsets IMEI number. This unique, 15-digit identifier is fundamentally your cell phone’s VIN or social security number. To locate your IMEI, on your phone, select Settings > General > About and search to the bottom section where you'll see it displayed next to IMEI.

You can also look for the number on the smartphone outer shell itself. For earlier iPhone's (1st-generation SE, 5s, 5c, 5, 6, 6 Plus), the number may also be written on the back or the SIM tray.

Once you’ve located the IMEI number, it highly advisable that you keep it someplace for safekeeping.

Unlock an iPhone on AT&T

Unlocking your iPhone from the AT&T network is about as easy as it gets. Just pop on across to the AT&T unlock portal, answer a few straightforward questions, and you'll be well on your way to IMEI-unlocked freedom.

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

For any iPhone to be unlocked from the AT&T network, it must meet the following requirements:

  • 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
  • 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

When the iPhone is included in term agreement or installment plan, it's got to also meet these requirements:

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

For in-depth eligibility conditions, click here.

Unlock an iPhone on Sprint

Depending on when you purchased your phone and if it has SIM-unlock capabilities, you have a couple of different unlock options. If you obtained a new iPhone from Sprint after February 2015 (it should be SIM-unlock capable) and it's currently being used on their network, Sprint should unlock it automatically once it meets their qualifications requirements. So, you really don’t need to do anything at all apart from keep your account in good standing. However, if your iPhone hasn't been activated or was purchased before February 2015, you’ll have to get in touch with Sprint Customer Service directly to request an unlock (either dial *2 on your Sprint phone or dial 888-211-4727).

There has been reports from some Sprint users that the auto-unlock program does not always operate as it should, so it’s undoubtedly a very good idea to confirm that your iPhone has been unlocked before attempting to move to another provider or advertising your iPhone as unlocked, if you're planning to sell it to a buyback company or on eBay.

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

  • 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 the iPhone is part of a service agreement, lease agreement, or installment plan, it must also adhere to 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 prerequisites, click here.

Unlock an iPhone on T-Mobile

If your reading this and own an Android phone and your device satisfies the eligibility prerequisites, consider yourself fortunate: You are able to unlock it easily from the phone itself. For those iPhone owners out there, you’ll need to contact T-Mobile’s Team of Experts directly (either dial 611 from your T-Mobile iPhone, call 877-746-0909.

To have an iPhone unlocked from T-Mobile, it must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Must have been purchased directly from T-Mobile
  • Must be paid for in full
  • 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

If the iPhone is part of a postpaid account, it has to also fulfill the following requirements:

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

For in-depth eligibility conditions, click here.

Unlock an iPhone on Verizon

Verizon is, without a doubt, the top provider to work with for unlocking an iPhone. Why? Because Verizon will automatically unlock your phone 60 days after the purchase of the handset. If you obtained your iPhone at a retail partner, it'll be unlocked automatically 60 days after device activation.

There are no catches. You don’t have to pay off your phone, fulfill any specific prerequisites, or even contact them to ask to unlock your phone from their network. As long as your iPhone hasn’t been reported lost or stolen, simply wait a couple of months following purchase or activation and your phone will be all set.

Don’t believe us? Just click here.

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

Several years ago, you’d need to connect your iPhone up to iTunes and do a software restore to complete the unlock procedure. Thankfully, it’s much easier today. All you need to do is go through same steps you used earlier to find out whether your phone is unlocked to start with.

If you don’t have access to a SIM card from a different carrier, you can still confirm that your iPhone has been unlocked by performing iTunes software restore. Just hook up your iPhone with a computer running iTunes and press the “restore” option. After the restoration process has completed, you will see a message that says “Congratulations, your iPhone has been unlocked.”

Great job! You successfully officially-unlocked your iPhone! That means you can use whichever network you would like to now, right? We hate to tell you this, but no. Because of the two different types of networks deployed in the Unites States, CDMA and GSM, your choice of mobile phone providers is determined by the model of your iPhone and 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 providers in other countries are GSM (Global System for Mobiles) networks.

As you may have guessed, both of these different network types will not talk to each other (because that would be too easy). Thankfully, as we move closer to global 5G access and as older networks are phased out, it will hopefully no longer be an issue.

To find out which service providers you can access determined by these two 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! Once your phone has been network-unlocked, it is going to remain like that for the lifetime of the device. You are able to restore your iPhone or update apps without worrying about your unlock disappearing afterwards.

About This Author

Abel SlaterAbel Slater
Joined: March 4th, 2021
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