What to do with a carrier locked iphone

Basically, the primary solution to this problem is going to your operator for assistance but sometimes even they might not be able to help you.

So, today in this article we are going to discuss various ways in which you can unlock your carrier locked iPhone.

  • Part 1. What Does Carrier Locked Mean on iPhone?
  • Part 2. How to Tell if an iPhone is Carrier Locked?
  • Part 3. How to Know Which Carrier My iPhone is Locked to for Free?
  • Part 4. How to Unlock a Carrier Locked iPhone for Free?
  • Part 5. Paid Ways to Unlock a Carrier Locked iPhone (Faster)
  • Part 6. Comparison: Which Method is the Best One?
  • Part 7. Can You Trade in a Carrier Locked iPhone

Part 1. What Does Carrier Locked Mean on iPhone?

Operators try to prevent the users from moving to other operators by locking their iPhones. When one buys an iPhone from a carrier, the carrier configures the iPhone so that the phone only accepts the sim cards from that carrier to be used. This method also prevents users from using the iPhone outside of their country.

A carrier-locked iPhone means you can only use your iPhone with a specific SIM card from a carrier that locked your iPhone or in a particular country. To switch to other carriers or use it in another country, you’ll have to unlock your iPhone carrier.

Selling a locked iPhone would even fetch less amount than an unlocked iPhone. All this creates a series of problems for the user.

Part 2. How to Tell if an iPhone is Carrier Locked?

How does one even get to know whether their iPhone is locked or not? We are going to discuss three ways here.

1. From the Settings App

Step 1. Opening the Settings app on your iPhone

Step 2. Go to General > About

Step 4. At the bottom, you would find the Carrier Lock option.

  • If “No SIM restrictions” is shown then your iPhone is unlocked.
  • If it’s “SIM locked”, then your iPhone is locked.

What to do with a carrier locked iphone

What to do with a carrier locked iphone

2. Using a SIM Card That from Another Carrier

Step 1. Switch off the iPhone

Step 2. Open the SIM Card tray to remove the present SIM Card.

Step 3. Replace it with a new SIM Card, and power on your iPhone.

If the SIM card works normally (you can send messages, make phone calls, or use cellular data), your iPhone is unlocked.

3. Using an IMEI Checker

Step 1. Find the IMEI number of your iPhone by dialing *#06#

What to do with a carrier locked iphone

Step 2. Submit the IMEI number on an IMEI checker website to check the carrier lock status.

Part 3. How to Know Which Carrier My iPhone is Locked to for Free?

After finding out whether your iPhone is locked or not, you might have another question: which carrier your iPhone is locked to. You might even search for free websites online to check this.

But unfortunately, there is no freeway to check which carrier your iPhone is locked to.

The only way to find out is through an IMEI checker. WipeLock IMEI Checker is one of the best IMEI checkers on the market with its low fees & fast service.

Most online IMEI checkers generate the IMEI reports automatically from an outdated database. The accuracy is far low compared with WipeLock IMEI Checker because WipeLock will always check the IMEI manually to ensure 100% accuracy.

What to do with a carrier locked iphone

Part 4. How to Unlock a Carrier Locked iPhone for Free?

Unlocking your iPhone from the carrier can be done in many ways, online or offline. But the only free way is to contact your carrier.

1. Things to Know Before Unlocking

  • You have to clear up all your bills that your iPhone conjures up. Many carriers refuse to unlock your iPhone if you still have a payment plan to complete, according to the FCC.
  • You should be mindful to read through your carrier’s “unlocking policy”.
  • Some carriers might not have the option of “unlocking”, so you need to take steps accordingly.

2. Steps to Unlock a Carrier Locked iPhone for Free

Step 1. Visit Apple Support page to find whether your carrier offers an unlock service.

Step 2. If there is an option of “Unlocking”, then your carrier can help you unlock your iPhone for free.

What to do with a carrier locked iphone

Step 3. After following through with the above steps, the only thing left to do is to contact your carrier. And offer the information they required.

You can do this by calling customer care, or if your operator provides the service of unlocking online, you can go through their portal to avail of the service.

CarrierPriceContact InfoAT&TFree800-331-0500Boost MobileFree1-866-402-7366Consumer CellularFree(888) 345-5509CREDO MobileFree800-411-0848CricketFree1-800-274-2538MetroPCSFree888-863-8768Mint SIMN/A213-372-7777Net10 WirelessFree1-877-836-2368Page PlusFree800-550-2436Simple MobileFree1-877-878-7908SprintFree888-211-4727Straight TalkFree1-877-430-2355T-MobileFree1-800-866-2453TelloN/A1-866-377-0294TextNowN/A226-476-1578TingN/A1-855-846-4389Total WirelessFree1-866-663-3633TracfoneFree1-800-867-7183U.S. CellularFree1-888-944-9400Ultra MobileN/A1-888-777-0446VerizonN/A800-922-0204Virgin MobileN/A1-888-322-1122Xfinity MobileFree1-888-936-4968

Step 4. Wait for them to unlock your phone with IMEI number for free, this will take up to 15 working days.

3. Steps to Activate Your iPhone

Unlike Android phones, which require an unlock PIN to activate, iPhone doesn’t require it. Once your carrier has unlocked your iPhone, you need to activate it before it can work.

Here are two ways:

With a SIM Card from Another Carrier

Note that this way only work when you have a SIM card from another carrier!

Step 1. Remove your original SIM card from your iPhone.

Step 2. Insert a new SIM card from another carrier. Then your iPhone will be activated and work normally on the new carrier.

Erase with iTunes

If you don’t have a new SIM card from a carrier other than your current carrier, you’ll have to erase your iPhone. Don’t worry, you can make a backup first to avoid data loss.

Step 1. Connect your iPhone to computer.

Step 2. Launch iTunes and select your iPhone.

What to do with a carrier locked iphone

Step 3. Click on Back Up Now.

Step 4. After the backup process complete, click on Restore iPhone.

Step 5. Finally, restore the backup made in the step 1 by clicking on Restore Backup.

Besides using iTunes, you can also back up your iPhone to iCloud and erase it from Settings.

4. Limitations

  • Some carriers will take up to 15 business days to unlock your iPhone which could be very time-consuming for you.
  • If you are still on a payment plan for your iPhone, then you can’t unlock your device until you have completely paid for it.
  • Some carriers require you to use your iPhone on their network for at least 6 months before unlocking which is very inconvenient as you might have to face bad connectivity for that period of time.

Part 5. Paid Ways to Unlock a Carrier Locked iPhone (Faster)

If you don’t care much about the monetary aspect & want a hassle-free fast unlocking for your iPhone, you can easily look into some paid options.

The paid ways of unlocking a carrier locked iPhone outperform the free options. These options are much faster, more efficient & convenient to follow through.

The following ways can bypass the limits of the freeway:

1. DirectUnlocks

DirectUnlocks is one of the best online tools that offer iPhone unlocking services. They have the edge over their competitors as they have direct links with manufacturer’s databases, which allow DirectUnlocks to find out the model & make of your device with just the IMEI number.

What to do with a carrier locked iphone

DirectUnlocks helps in securely unlocking your carrier locked iPhone permanently without any damage. Since they are recognized & authorized by the manufacturers, it means they’re 100% legit & legal.

Step 1. Visit the official website of DirectUnlocks iPhone unlock.

Step 2. You have to choose the network of your device that you want to unlock.

Step 3. Provide the IMEI number of your iPhone.

What to do with a carrier locked iphone

Step 4. Complete the payment.

What to do with a carrier locked iphone

You could track your order on their website & wait for the unlock complete confirmation mail.

What to do with a carrier locked iphone

What to do with a carrier locked iphone


  • Bypass all the limitations of the above free way
  • Permanently unlock: your iPhone won’t be locked again
  • Fast unlock: the unlock process will take no more than 24 hours
  • Remotely unlock: you just need to offer the IMEI number, the team of experts will help you unlock
  • 100% success rate


UB SIM is one of the new innovations in the tech industry that helps with the problem of unlocking. With the help of this hardware, you can unlock an iPhone very easily without any hassle.

UB SIM is 100% reliable, has strong signals & is very stable. You can enjoy 4G, 5G, or LTE with the help of this. It provides an ICCID Mode, making configuring your device with other SIMs very easy.

The configuration of the sim card takes less than 5 minutes with the help of the intelligent menu. It is the quickest solution for your unlocking problem.

If you end up buying the product, then here is the guide for using it:

Step 1. Insert the UB SIM into your device along with your SIM card.

Step 2. The UB SIM menu will appear after about 5 seconds. You have to select the ICCID Mode & also enter the ICCID code.

Step 3. You have to accept after the Setup OK message appears. This process could be followed over a Wi-Fi network.


  • Bypass all the limits of the above free way
  • Fastest unlock: the unlock process will take only a few minutes
  • Supports all carriers in the USA


  • You should be careful to update the iOS version, which may cause the UB SIM doesn’t work.

3. Jailbreak Carrier Locked iPhone

Recently, more and more software enables users to unlock a carrier locked iPhone by jailbreak. The unlocking process might seem complicated to a non-tech person.

The mechanism goes like this- the software jailbreaks your iPhone to unlock it with the help of in-built Checkra1n.

Steps to Jailbreak Carrier Locked iPhone

Step 1. Download the software on your laptop or desktop.

Step 2. Your iPhone should be connected to the desktop or laptop.

Step 3. You need to jailbreak your device, the Checkra1n tool that is built into the software would help you to perform the task.

Step 4. After jailbreaking your device, the software will check if your device is eligible for further procedure. Your device’s information will be displayed on the screen.

Step 5. Before you disconnect the SIM, you should disconnect & then again connect the device to your computer or laptop. Then, you have to click on the unlock button to get rid of the SIM lock.


  • The software will jailbreak your device to unlock it from the carrier which might raise privacy concerns.
  • This kind of software only supports iPhone 5s – iPhone X for the operation which means you are not provided a good solution for unlocking for other models.
  • Only iOS 14.8 and below are eligible for using this software, which is a very inefficient feature of this software.

Part 6. Comparison: Which Method is the Best One?

To help you make your best choice, we compared the above methods for you.

 CompatibilityTime to UnlockPriceOur RatingsContact CarrierAll iPhone models & iOS versionsUp to 15 working daysFree4.5/5DirectUnlocksAll iPhone models & iOS versionsWithin 24 hours$284.8/5UB SIMAll iPhone models
may not support the latest iOS version5 minutes$394.5/5Jailbreak SoftwareiPhone 5s – iPhone X
iOS 14.8 and below30 minutes$39.953/5

Part 7. Can You Trade in a Carrier Locked iPhone

Yes you can! All you need to do is find a recycling company that accepts carrier-locked iPhones and then ships them there with shipping materials included.

One thing to note is that selling a locked iPhone would even fetch less amount than an unlocked iPhone. All this creates a series of problems for the user.


All in all, a person might have many reasons for which they would want to unlock their carrier locked iPhone. It might be for reselling, not wanting to pay for roaming charges, for better connectivity provided by other operators & many more. The operators will always try to keep their client base with them by making it very hard for the users to switch over.

But fortunately, nowadays, we have many options to counter the tactics of these firms. You can follow any of the above-mentioned methods to do just that!

About Author

Darren has been passionate about ios devices ever since he got his first iPhone since 2013, while he was still a student in junior high school. He currently uses an iPhone 11 and iPad Pro, and he’s become the go-to guy for many of his friends who have mobile device unlocking-related problems.

Can I unlock a carrier locked phone?

When a handset is locked it means it will only work with the provider that you bought it from. If your phone is locked it won't automatically become unlocked when your contract expires with your provider. You'll have to specifically ask your carrier to unlock it.

How much does it cost to unlock a carrier locked iPhone?

Below is the overview of how much to unlock a phone with third-party services: iPhone: $20 to $80 for some carriers and $120 to $220 for premium & high guaranteed unlocks. Samsung: Start at $3 and range between $20 to $30 for higher-end models. Models with some carriers even cost up to $80.

Why can't I unlock my iPhone carrier?

If you owe money on your phone, or haven't paid your bill in full that month, your carrier will likely refuse to unlock your iPhone until you do. You can remain a customer after you unlock an iPhone. If you want to pay your phone off and unlock it – but remain on your current plan – that's likely fine.

Does resetting iPhone remove carrier lock?

Restoring the phone to factory settings will not remove the carrier lock. You should contact your carrier to arrange for that before restoring the phone. Factory resetting or Restoring as it is known it wipes all user data from the device and puts everything back the way it was when it was first taken out of the box.