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How to unlock an iPhone for use with any carrier

Illustration of an iPhone unlocked for use with any carrier

Fast fix

To check if your iPhone is unlocked:

  1. Open Settings > General > About. 
  2. Look for Carrier Lock. If it says NO SIM restrictions, your Phone is unlocked. If it says SIM locked, it’s probably locked. 

So, you want to switch carriers? All good, but first, you’ll need to check if your iPhone® is locked to your current carrier. Not sure what that means? We’ll explain and walk you through what to do next. At Asurion, we tackle all your tech questions, whether you’re thinking of trading in your old iPhone or setting up a new one, we can help. Here’s our guide on how to unlock your iPhone. 

What does it mean for an iPhone to be unlocked?

Your iPhone is either locked (connected to one carrier) or unlocked (free to use with any carrier). 

  • When you buy an iPhone from a major carrier, like AT&T® or Verizon®, you’re typically tied to them—the phone is locked—for the duration of your contract. 
  • When you buy a new iPhone from the Apple® store or stores like Best Buy®, it’s unlocked by default. 
  • A used iPhone is unlocked if the person you’re buying it from has completed their contract and paid for the device in full. 

How to tell if your phone is unlocked 

Here’s how to find out if your iPhone is unlocked so it will work with any service provider. 

Check your settings

  1. Open Settings > General > About and scroll to Carrier Lock
  2. If you see No SIM restrictions, your iPhone is unlocked. If it says SIM locked, you likely have some installments left on your monthly payment plan.

Check with your carrier

  • Call your carrier. They’ll be able to tell you if your iPhone is locked and if you meet the eligibility requirements, they can unlock it for you. 
  • Visit your carrier’s website. You may need to enter your iPhone’s serial number (Go to Settings > General > About and look for the Serial number) as well as the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number for their request form.

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Benefits of unlocking your iPhone 

Here are three important reasons you may want to unlock your device: 

The ability to switch carriers 

Carriers lock iPhones you bought from them until you’ve fulfilled your contract. If you want to switch carriers, you’ll need to make sure your iPhone is unlocked by contacting your original carrier.

Upcoming international travel

A SIM card, or Subscriber Identity Module card, stores the data for your phone, including your phone number, billing information, and carrier. If you’re traveling out of the country, you may want to swap out your SIM card for an international SIM card or a country dependent SIM card from your specific destination. This could help you avoid additional costs by using a less expensive calling plan during your travels. But your iPhone will need to be unlocked first. 

You want to sell your iPhone 

If you’re thinking about selling your iPhone or giving it away, you’ll need to ensure your device is unlocked before transferring it to its new owner.  

How to unlock your iPhone 

If your iPhone is locked, the only way to unlock it is through your carrier. If your contract is complete and your device is paid off, your carrier can unlock your iPhone for you. Either call them or go online to make a request to unlock your phone. 

After your carrier confirms that they unlocked your iPhone, it’s a good idea to back up your iPhone. Then, turn off your phone and do one of the following to complete the unlocking process:

Tried these steps and still need help? We got you. Get your tech problem solved when you call or chat with an expert now.

*The Asurion® trademarks and logos are the property of Asurion, LLC. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Asurion is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by any of the respective owners of the other trademarks appearing herein.*


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